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Thread: Advice for beginner please!

  1. #1
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    Advice for beginner please!

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

    I have just purchased my first espresso machine and grinder ;
    Grinder : Breville Smart Grinder (BCG800)
    Machine : Sunbeam Cafe Crema 2 (EM4820)

    I'm still playing around with grind sizes and how firmly to tamp - but am happy so far with what I was able to make on my first attempts (I expected worse before I learnt the art!).
    But I'd like to quickly get to the place where I'm getting the best out of them that I can.
    Finding the line between the coffee coming through too quickly or too slowly is going to take me some experimenting I think - but that's Ok.

    Even though this is my first post on coffee snobs (please be gentle!), I have been lurking here for a little while and have read discussions about how little things people do to change their machines/grinders. (eg. pressurrised vs un-pressurrised baskets etc). And the processes people use.
    I admit to being a little lost at understanding all the terminology though (I've been reading it, but don't always understand exactly what they mean).

    As a complete noob, is anyone able to offer any general hints and tips about how to get the best out of my two new purchases?
    Are there any parts/accessories which I should definitely look at changing? (and where should I get those)?
    Any general tips on how the process I should know? I've read I'm supposed to aim for about 30 mls in 30 seconds - but I haven't been able to get there yet - it's been either too fast or only dripping through too slowly.

    I enjoy both short blacks and latte - though milk texturing is something I am not doing very well yet.

    Can anyone please give me some starting advice?
    Both on the "how" and also if there are any bits I should change?

    Much thanks,
    Chris

  2. #2
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    Hi ThunderChild,

    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that machine comes with double-walled filter baskets. If you look at the baskets, they have have lots of holes when looking from the top and only one little hole on the bottom. If this is the case with yours you need to find some normal single walled baskets. I'm not sure if you can buy them, but I think others have cut the bottom layer (with the single hole) off. You'll need to do a search.

    After you do this you'll hopefully find getting a good dose and grind not too much trouble. There are plenty of guides around on how to do this. Basic points to help searching are:
    - use fresh beans (avoid super-market stuff) and grind fresh
    - use the 5 cent test to get a dose starting point, then adjust grind to get about 30mL in about 30 seconds
    - remember the 30/30 thing is just a rule of thumb to get started. I would suggest making and tasting shots on either side of this to see what effect it has and to see what you like
    - it does take practice to get a nice shot reasonably consistently on that machine

    Hope this helps,

    Pete

  3. #3
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    Just to clarify, it's 30ml in 30 seconds from a single basket, 60 ml in 30 sec from a double basket.

    If you have pressurised baskets and wanted them converted to un-pressurised there is a member who will modify them for you for the cost of postage (there's a sticky in the Pay it Forward forum).

    Milk texturing on a thermoblock machine will always be a bit of a challenge, the steam tends to be quite wet out of them.

    Stick with it and you should be able to get some pretty decent coffee out of that combo.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ArtW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrewster View Post
    Just to clarify, it's 30ml in 30 seconds from a single basket, 60 ml in 30 sec from a double basket.
    Always wondered, a) does the 30 seconds include the 5 or so seconds with the pump running waiting for the espresso to emerge? and b) is the 60ml measured from the top of the crema (which then reduces in size as it dissapates) or should the espresso be greater than 60ml to compensate for the dissapation?
    Hildy likes this.

  5. #5
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    You've hit on two hotly contested topics already - full marks! The most common (and possibly practical) answers are a) you start timing when the pump starts (but as you get the idea you'll see watching the shot and cutting when (or just before) it starts to blond means that the exact timing is not so important) and b) when the shot hits your target volume as it pours (so will include the crema). You can avoid the crema issue by weighing your shots - again, best to do some searching and make up your mind on this one. I agree with jb - you can make good coffee with your gear.

    A tip re foaming - don't try and use a big jug. I would try no bigger than about 450 mL (I think that machine comes with one of these). So you'll be steaming just over half that volume of milk at a time. You can produce textured milk good enough to do latte art, but it will take practice.

    Pete

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete39 View Post
    Hi ThunderChild,

    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that machine comes with double-walled filter baskets. If you look at the baskets, they have have lots of holes when looking from the top and only one little hole on the bottom. If this is the case with yours you need to find some normal single walled baskets. I'm not sure if you can buy them, but I think others have cut the bottom layer (with the single hole) off. You'll need to do a search.

    After you do this you'll hopefully find getting a good dose and grind not too much trouble. There are plenty of guides around on how to do this. Basic points to help searching are:
    - use fresh beans (avoid super-market stuff) and grind fresh
    - use the 5 cent test to get a dose starting point, then adjust grind to get about 30mL in about 30 seconds
    - remember the 30/30 thing is just a rule of thumb to get started. I would suggest making and tasting shots on either side of this to see what effect it has and to see what you like
    - it does take practice to get a nice shot reasonably consistently on that machine

    Hope this helps,

    Pete
    Thanks - I will take a look when I get home to see if I can work out if they're double or single walled. But my memory tells me that there were multiple holes looking from both top and bottom.
    But from the answers here, it sounds like ensuring I have single walled baskets would be the only change to make?
    And after that, just practice and experiment with grinds and amounts...

    ... and I'm starting to feel a little relieved to hear that it is possible to make something at least passable with my setup.
    After a little bit of time lurking here, I was starting to worry that unless I was willing to drop a ton of coin on the hardware, that I'd never see a nice coffee. But I was never going to afford an expensive machine.

  7. #7
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    If you want to be really accurate then you may need to measure by weight, otherwise it depends on how much crema we're talking about. If there's not much crema on top of coffee liquor as the shot is pouring, then stopping when the top of the crema reaches the mark is appropriate. If you're getting a huge amount of crema, ie the liquor is hardly visible beneath the crema, then if you stop the shot when the crema reaches the mark you will have pulled a ristretto. When the crema settles you'll be luck to have half the amount.

    If it hasn't already blonded, I stop the pour when there's as much crema above the mark as below and if I wait until it settles I usually find that it's about right.

    Andrew

  8. #8
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    hey many thanks for all the posts here - i'd never seen this thread before and i've just got the same gear - i even just unpacked the grinder from the box...
    i'll definitely be on the lookout for a single walled double
    and i've come across the same problems of dialling in - Thunderchild i'd love to know how your travelling with yr settings
    cheers
    2ffy

  9. #9
    Junior Member phil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThunderChild View Post
    I enjoy both short blacks and latte - though milk texturing is something I am not doing very well yet.
    Milk texturing is quite a challenge sometimes it took me a bit of practice and youtube investigating to texture my milk, If you fill your jug till half way and let out a bit of steam first as there is always a bit of water that comes out first, put the steam wand just below the surface of the milk and listen for a slurping noise, you should see the milk swirl into the tip of the wand, When the milk has risen just put the steam wand into the milk about 3/4 down ( Not all the way on the bottom) If you dont have a thermometer just put you hand under the jug as you heat the milk and when it is too hot the leave your hand on it, it is done.



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