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Thread: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

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    Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys,

    Just stumbed across this site and love it, been losing lots of valuable time reading up on the threads.

    Last night I purchased a Sunbeam EM4800C & EM0480 grinder (grinder was brand new, machine was close to new). The lovely girl who sold it to me was an ex-barista and really knew her stuff so she gave me a couple of tips to get me started. Alas, my soul for a good coffee, as mine arent the best at the moment. Im finding that the pull is coming through too quickly and seems somewhat watery. Im using Di Bella beans on grind setting 10 and tamping with reasonable force, however if I set the grind to anything less than 10 the machine sputters around the grouphead seal and doesnt pull the shot through well.

    I know one of the main things that Im wanting to do is to change to unpressurised baskets, will this make a difference to the issue Im having? Any tips to help a coffee loving noob would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Ditch the pressurised basket pronto - youll never look back.

    You should be able to go finer on the grinds and the seal shouldnt be an issue on a new machine. My only suggestion is make sure youre not overpacking the basket (ie too high/too full).
    Fill with loose grinds to the top, scrape level with a knife and tamp while to tryingto leave about 5mm from top edge. Give the tamp a twist to polish/smooth the top surface.




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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 51767D4C47667464767F7F130 link=1324691934/1#1 date=1324693066
    Ditch the pressurised basket pronto - youll never look back.

    You should be able to go finer on the grinds and the seal shouldnt be an issue on a new machine.* My only suggestion is make sure youre not overpacking the basket (ie too high/too full).
    Fill with loose grinds to the top, scrape level with a knife and tamp while to tryingto leave about 5mm from top edge.* Give the tamp a twist to polish/smooth the top surface.


    Thanks for the advise... the machine is "near" new, hopefully thats not sales speak for flogged to within an inch of its life. I do believe I may be overpacking the basket slightly, Ill try a little less grinds. How hard should I be tamping? Ive heard 15kg, but I have no idea how to translate that into force feel.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Tamp according to what you can do consistently and comfortably. Then use the grind settings as your variable for flow/pressure - this will change with different beans or even as your beans absorb moisture in the grinder. Ive heard some cafes will grind finer so they dont get RSI tamping all day.

    The other thing woud be to look at the gasket and check its clean. Regular machine hygiene is a good habit. Use a wet cloth/sponge to keep the screen and gasket clean (after running a quick hot rinse through).

    I was a chronic overpacker - a habit learnt off the DVD that came with the machine. It took two worn out collars (from have to screw the handle in tight) before I learnt to back off, and grind a bit finer.

    Enjoy.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Ok, just tried it on grind setting 8, tamping down hardish (using the single shot basket this time) and following the above filling instructions (level with rim, scrape off, tamp down and twist), still to no avail, checked the seal and its nice and clean with no gunk around it, yet still cant get a seal on the PF

  6. #6
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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Anyone with a Sunbeam EM4800C got any ideas about a cause/solution for PF leaks?

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    I just noticed on the last pull that the PF handle seems to move down slightly as the pressure builds, shortly after this, the sputtering starts, have managed to only make 2 (weak) coffees from this machine and have nearly used an entire 500gms of di bella beans :(

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    500g :o This is where a pressure guage would come in handy.

    MAybe check a couple of things first:

    1. Pump water through a single floor basket & see if it leaks with no back pressure.

    2. Pump water through a pressure basket & see if it leaks.

    Maybe? youre creating too much back pressure - Ive avoided the single basket cause I always overdo it.

    As a starting point for double (single floor basket), the result should be about 60ml in 20 seconds.

    You could try starting with a coarse (almost sandy) grind and gradually work your way finer?

    BTW supermarket beans are a learners best friend. ;)

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 4463685952736171636A6A060 link=1324691934/7#7 date=1324704932
    500g :o* This is where a pressure guage would come in handy.

    MAybe check a couple of things first:

    1. Pump water through a single floor basket & see if it leaks with no back pressure.

    2. Pump water through a pressure basket & see if it leaks.

    Maybe? youre creating too much back pressure - Ive avoided the single basket cause I always overdo it.

    As a starting point for double (single floor basket), the result should be about 60ml in 20 seconds.

    You could try starting with a coarse (almost sandy) grind and gradually work your way finer?

    BTW supermarket beans are a learners best friend.* ;)
    Great minds think alike, I just tried to run straight water through the grouphead without any grinds in the basket, single shot basket caused sputtering and very little flow, double shot basket flowed freely. Filled the double basket with grind setting 10 beans and still got some sputtering, its frustrating as I know around the 10-11 mark I can get a shot to pull through, but its weak and watery, not the nice strong espresso hit I want, which a finer grind would give me. Grrr... side note, just invested in 1kg of coffee club (read: practice) beans... If I can get a half decent cup out of them, i should be able to make some phenomenal coffee from good beans!!

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    May have to replace the group seal. You could also be getting channeling, I had a lot of problems on my EM4800 with channeling.
    Are you tamping around the edges (North - South - East - West pattern)? Also you may be able to tighten the group head further as you start to pull the shot, ive found mine will tighten up a little bit more.

    You may also try grinding a little finer, and tamping more lightly.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 567F7065110 link=1324691934/9#9 date=1324712565
    May have to replace the group seal. You could also be getting channeling, I had a lot of problems on my EM4800 with channeling.
    Are you tamping around the edges (North - South - East - West pattern)? Also you may be able to tighten the group head further as you start to pull the shot, ive found mine will tighten up a little bit more.

    You may also try grinding a little finer, and tamping more lightly.
    Hi Gnat,

    My first thought was the seal too, except if it was the seal, you would expect it to not hold pressure regardless of the grind that is in the bucket. Ive done a fair bit of experimenting this afternoon and noticed the following:

    Single scoop bucket: Will always cause sputtering, even with an empty bucket

    Double scoop bucket: Provided grind is 10+ on the EM0480 grind settings, will pull through, but require a full double shot (60ml) for a strong enough coffee for 1 person. Finer grind WILL cause sputtering, everytime without fail, irrispective of how tight I have the grouphead in or lighter/heavier tamping.

    As far as the N-S-E-W tamping goes, this is the first ive heard of this, im a newbie when it comes to home made espresso (i research a lot, so learn terms and techniques quickly), care to explain?

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 466D75587B630C0 link=1324691934/0#0 date=1324691934
    been [s]losing[/s] wisely spending lots of valuable time reading up on the threads
    there, fixed it for you ;)

    but seriously, do check the group seal and collar. The symptoms sound similar to a warn collar, which is strange given its near-new. And yes, different baskets could have different effects on "spluttering" if theyre pressurised. The smaller one will build up pressure faster than the double. Forget the single for now anyway - it will take a different grind and dose than the double, and its just a bunch more variables to play with. Once youve mastered the double, then try the single.

    NSEW means press the tamper at the 12oclock edge of the basket, then at the 6oclock edge, then 3, then 9. Its useful if your tamper is a different size to your basket, but if theyre the same (to less than 1mm) its probably not necessary.

    The other thing to check would be the grinder - grind a pinch onto paper and have a close look and feel - does it look fairly consistent in size? Also, tiny changes to the grind can have a large effect, so make your changes in tiny increments. The pressurised basket will also hamper your efforts to find the "sweet spot".

    I dont know how to "measure" the collar, but there are lots of posts here about padding it with spacers, so you can check those to see if your symptoms are the same. Seems a shame to have to do that with a newish machine, but what youre extracting quick and watery is probably what the last owners called good coffee... either that or its the reason they returned it!

    hope that helps a bit. I dont actually own one of these so I cant comment definitively!

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Wait, hang on I may have missed this. Are you still using the pressurised baskets? If so, grind size and tamping have almost zero effect on your coffee. Pretty much the only thing that will happen with a finer grind/harder tamp is that the machine will choke and splutter. This would be the problem that you have having.

    The single-shot pressurised basket may have some grinds blocking the single hole at the bottom, or some between the filter walls, this would certainly cause the spluttering - there is no where for the water to go.

    Get an unpressurised basket asap, otherwise you will not see very much improvement at all, regardless of your tamp and grind settings.

    EDIT: Merry Christmas all! Santa delivered a shiny new tamp :)

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    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    I had the same grinder and found providing the beans you have a good quality and are fresh i set my grind setting to between 1-3. With that i was able to achieve approx 30ml of coffee in 20-30 seconds which was of a good consistency.

    As for the machine i agree with comments above lose the pressurized baskets

    Good luck and i hope it works out for you :)

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Thanks to the 2 guys above... Anyone got any suggestions of places to buy unpressurised baskets? Either in Brisbane or online?

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Breville will send you out the twin pack (single shot and double shot baskets, both unpressurised), or ring your closest Breville service centre and see if you can buy it off them. I dont have the part numbers on me, but they have been posted in these forums a few times.

    The baskets for the 800ES fit our EM4800s perfectly.

    There is also a Krups basket (again, quick search for the part number and links) that will fit, but may not seal against the group head as securely as the Breville ones (there is no ridge along the rim)

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Just to add wight to the theory, I had a pressurised basket block in between the two "floors". I tried unblocking the pin-sized hole in the underside and itd block up again with the built up crud almost straight away.

    Since it was no good I took it to the shed and drilled a larger hole in it, cleaned it up and made do until a replacement was available. (In my case, it ended up being excuse to buy a Sunbeam 6910 many years ago)

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 79524A67445C330 link=1324691934/14#14 date=1324813422
    Thanks to the 2 guys above... Anyone got any suggestions of places to buy unpressurised baskets?* Either in Brisbane or online?
    Hi there JayTwo, I would really recommend the Breville baskets over the Krups... My housemate bought my old EM3600 off me, with it the Breville baskets I bought. As much as I have tried to convince him otherwise, he doesnt use them, much to my disgust (he buys pre-ground supermarket coffee)... I might be able to see if he is willing to sell them on to you? We live in Brisbane, so postage would be cheap...

    David
    (btw, they are "brand" new... not wanting to say near-new based on this thread, I used them very little, and upgrade to my Perfetta soon after buying them, and the housemate has never used them).

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 1035223D306C540 link=1324691934/17#17 date=1324891254
    Quote Originally Posted by 79524A67445C330 link=1324691934/14#14 date=1324813422
    Thanks to the 2 guys above... Anyone got any suggestions of places to buy unpressurised baskets?* Either in Brisbane or online?
    Hi there JayTwo, I would really recommend the Breville baskets over the Krups... My housemate bought my old EM3600 off me, with it the Breville baskets I bought. As much as I have tried to convince him otherwise, he doesnt use them, much to my disgust (he buys pre-ground supermarket coffee)... I might be able to see if he is willing to sell them on to you? We live in Brisbane, so postage would be cheap...

    David
    (btw, they are "brand" new... not wanting to say near-new based on this thread, I used them very little, and upgrade to my Perfetta soon after buying them, and the housemate has never used them).

    David, I would be eternally grateful if you were able to see if he is willing to sell. Glad to either have them posted to me, or I can collect them if you wish.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 002B331E3D254A0 link=1324691934/18#18 date=1324892780
    David, I would be eternally grateful if you were able to see if he is willing to sell.* Glad to either have them posted to me, or I can collect them if you wish.
    Sent you a PM.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    If the baskets from David dont work out, the "Pay It Forward" thread has instructions on where to send your existing pressurised baskets for no-cost modifying.

    Im still thinking you might be over-dosing. I suggest locking in the handle and basket *without grounds* and notice how far the handle turns and how easy/hard it is to lock. It should be exactly the same with grounds. The grounds should be about 2 mm clear of the shower screen when dry to allow for expansion.

    I only had trouble with the handle backing off when I overdosed the basket. As the grounds expand the pressure can really build.

    Good luck.

    Greg

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Just to provide a bit of an update, it looks as though I was overpacking the basket somewhat. I can now pull a shot through on setting 9 without sputtering, still coming through too quickly, but Id say thats more to do with using pressurised baskets than anything else (thanks to David8 for hooking me up with some unpressurised ones). Here is my first attempt at a latte macchiato (excuse the quality, for some reason my phone decided to focus on the background and not the coffee cup).


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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    How did it taste?

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 504F485042270 link=1324691934/22#22 date=1325119118
    How did it taste?
    Im still using my "practice" coffee club beans... Lets just say it was "as good as it could be". I had a laugh.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    How are those unpressurised baskets going? Can you tell the difference?

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 4F6A7D626F330B0 link=1324691934/24#24 date=1325156385
    How are those unpressurised baskets going? Can you tell the difference?
    Still having issues with the PF sputtering at any grind less than 10, have tried just about everything I can. Softer tamp, harder tamp, underdosing, overdosing, just cant seem to get it to pull though at the right strength/speed. Ugh, getting close to my wits end with it!

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    EM4800C has a severely concave shower screen. Its not really designed for precision dose and tamping, but for putting pre-ground coffee in with the pressurised basket and getting a fairly low grade "espresso" gushing out. EM5900 is really the minimum I would recommend to anyone.

    Stalled / splutting shots are more often the result of overdosing than of too fine a grind or tamp. Heres where scales come in handy.

    The adjustment of the Sunbeam grinders is lousy. One notch can sometimes be the difference between gushing and stalling, so you need to adjust tamp and dose beyond that.

    If youre getting water leaking out the group seals are no good or you arent locking it tight enough - if theres any movement of it hold in place while you pour - again, your budget machine isnt really made for barista-like packing and tamping.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    I can get decent (if not terribly consistent) results from the EM4800C, using the krups double basket (which need the krups seals to work properly - krups baskets with the Sunbeam seal leak like crazy at the pressure needed to get a decent shot).

    I find overdosing the double basket slightly works best (too much will choke the machine- there seems to be a very fine line between what chokes it completely and what results in a decent cup of espresso.) It doesnt play nice with even slightly stale coffee beans - anything over three weeks post roast seems much more likely to result in gushers (I suspect thats the inability to fine tune the grind on the Sunbeam grinder as anything else).

    At its best I with fresh coffee I can get really good syrupy shots that stand up well as espressos, but it is hard to get that consistently. But with fresh coffee even its worst will be perfectly acceptable in a milk based drink.

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Quote Originally Posted by 2A011934170F600 link=1324691934/25#25 date=1325195295

    Still having issues with the PF sputtering at any grind less than 10, have tried just about everything I can.* Softer tamp, harder tamp, underdosing, overdosing, just cant seem to get it to pull though at the right strength/speed.* Ugh, getting close to my wits end with it!
    Have you checked how clean the seal is? I dont know how they are constructed, but it might be that youve got grounds under the seal (not between the pf and the seal, but between the seal and the machine body). When its cool, remove the power and water, tip it on the side and have a good look.

    Gonzo

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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Hi all!

    Just to let you Brisbane based Coffee Lovers about where to get these seals (June 2012)

    Sparkys electrical 07) 3362 7129:

    Stocks both the
    Sunbeam Group Head Seal EM48119 ($9.90)
    Krups Brew Head Seal MS-620342 ($7.95)

    Helpful on the phone too - would probably mail them to you if desperate!

    Directions:
    Cnr Hudson Road in Albion
    http://maps.google.com.au/local_url?dq=sparkys+electrical+albion&q=https://plus.google.com/104434517882701710699/about%3Fgl%3Dau%26hl%3Den&s=ANYYN7ms4_i_h_K-ce638r5glS0zpBXp-g&dtab=2


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    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    I had the same trouble with my 4800C seal when it was fairly new. I changed the seal a havent had an issue since. Maybe the standard factory fit seal is not the best. I would change the seal if I was you. Good Luck



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