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Thread: New to CS and enjoying the reading

  1. #1
    maxrob200
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    New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi everyone,
    I signed up to CS 4 weeks ago and have been lurking as well as reading everything on the site and familiarising myself with the various buzzwords! You guys are serious about coffee! Anyway, as a first foray into espresso making, I bought a very slightly used Gaggia Coffee Deluxe off ebay and pulled my first few shots today. Is this machine much different to the Classic which is recommended as a good strating machine? The Deluxe was really cheap to buy on ebay so I got it due to budget constraints. Once I get the coffee bug, I will probably invest in a better machine but a good Grinder is next on the Buy list. As the machine has not been used for awhile, I descaled it first ( bi-cab and vinegar mix, as I couldnt find any descaling soultion at the shopping centre today) and ran it for several fills until i was certain that the water was clean. As I dont have a grinder yet, I used some supermarket pre-ground stuff as a test bed for making espresso. No crema as described by CSers!

    The portafiller appears to be non-pressurised and is 58mm (like Classic). The tamper is a bit of plastic which will have to go - Pullman Tamper?
    How much coffee do I put in the double basket and once tamped down, where should the level be from the top edge of the PF? The puck varies in moistness, no channeling Should it be dry after the shot. OK, its supermarket coffee so I shouldnt ex[ect too much until I buy some fresh stuff. Instead of the "milk frother" doodad that sucks milk out of the container, I have got a stainless steel 600ml jug with the spout protruding in the right place I had a laugh (according to description in the site). It seems to make good foam...first time I opened the steam valve too close to the surface of the milk and I got a milk bath, but second time around I made sure that it was under the surface and released the steam gradually. What type of gurgling sounds should I hear to tell me I am on the right track?
    anyway, enough of my rambling bu I am glad I got the machine as it will allow me to learn on it until I get the hang of making good espressos.

  2. #2
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    No crema? Your problem is using stale preground. The machine you have should be capable of some really good espresso...you should just expect wet pucks and portafilter sneeze...I dont think that Gaggia model has a 3 way solenoid valve to release the excess pressure after the shot has been pulled.

    Clearly the best way to rectify this problem is to buy a burr grinder...not just any grinder...whilst you may be able to get away with a $200 sunbeam conical burr grinder, I have found its adjustment steps are too large to dial in an espresso shot. The minimum most people seem to recommend here in terms of grinders is the Iberital Challenge. I have had no experience with this grinder, but have used Iberital commercial sized grinders.

    With regards to tampers, theyre a very personal thing. If youre only pulling one or two shots a day, they way it feels in your doesnt really matter...so Id go a Pullman. If youre on a budget, other tampers stainless steel tampers can be had for around $30

  3. #3
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Wushoes, thanks for your comments. The lack of crema doensnt bother me at the moment using pre-ground as I am only learning the ropes but once Ive wasted a few kilos of stel stuff, I will need to buy some real beans. Dont think I am up to roasting my own yet...although I have got myself a Breville Crazy Popper last week (blame it on you CSers for putting the idea in my head). Being a bit of a gadget feak, I will shell out on a Pulman tamper a bit later on....after the Grinder. A friend is lending me a Grinder till I get my own....hope its a conical burr unit.
    What is portafilter sneeze?

  4. #4
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Youll know when you take off the portafilter quickly after youve ended pulling a shot ;) Its when hot water, steam and coffee sprays everywhere because the excess pressure on top of the coffee puck hasnt been let off (through a 3 way valve)..in this case I believe your machine is missing a 3 way valve (which is one of the major spec differences between your machine and the Gaggia Classic), in which case, you just have to give it a bit of time for it release the pressure by itself.

    oh and welcome to coffeesnobs! ;D ;D ;D

  5. #5
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    OK...got it. Usually I am too bsuy trying to froth the milk after pulling the shot so by the time thats done the pressure should have eased off in the portafilter and not sneeze all over me :).
    I also run the pump for a few seconds after finsihing with pulling shots to clear out any debris that has found itself inside the group filter mesh. Would that be an accepted practice for you guys too.

  6. #6
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Gday maxrob200 and welcome to CoffeeSnobs...

    When I had a machine without a 3 way..... like you I would leave the PF in until after I textured the milk and poured the coffees.

    By that time not only had the pressure gone but the extra heat from the boiler (being at steam temperature) helped dry out the puck.... less mess as well.

    Yep, after removing the PF run some water through the group to clean the showerscreen. That will also add cold water to the boiler helping to lower the boiler temperature back to brew temperature for the next shot.

  7. #7
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Yes...leaving the PF in and running the pump after seems very logical and obviously the correct thing to do in the case of my machine without the three way solenoid. But the learning is great and i am enjoying all the advice and warm welcome. I dont expect any great shots for awhile yet though....still the preground is better than instant. I am on my fourth shot for the day and should stay awake at least till 3 am.

  8. #8
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Quote Originally Posted by maxrob200 link=1180856580/0#6 date=1180867407
    I am on my fourth shot for the day and should stay awake at least till 3 am.
    Id be on my fourth before lunch :o ;)

    All it takes to get a good shot is a quality grinder, fresh beans and practice, practice and then more practice ;D ;D ;D

    We all started the same way.... and made it - so will you!

  9. #9
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    I think I had something like 6 shots combined in the space of 1 hour at First Pour on Saturday...I felt sleepy by the next hour

  10. #10
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Borrowed a Gaggia MDF grinder today, bought some Roasted beans from Mocopan and I now get crema in my espresso shots, What a difference in taste to pre-ground. Still getting the hang of it.
    Have also borrowed a Baby Gaggia but it doesnt seem to want to play ball. Using pre-ground, it comes out all weak and clear. Havent tried it with the fresh ground stuff yet so not sure if the machine is bodgy. Are the Coffee Deluxe and Baby identical machines?

  11. #11
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Not quite. The Baby has a solenoid 3-way valve like the Classic while the Coffee Deluxe makes do with the spring valve.

    But they should make identical shots with the same beans/grind/dose/tamp.

    Why waste money on kilos of stale preground before getting decent beans (ground at store if need be)?

    One backhanded advantage of dual purpose boiler machines is that pulling a steam shot into the empty PF literally blasts off coffee from the showerscreen so it stays quite clean for the next session. Even so, its worth cleaning the showerscreen occasionally and on the Gaggias, you should also remove and clean the dispersion plate underneath. When replacing these (and the spring valve if cleaning that on a non-solenoid model), use minimal torque when tightening the bolts and screws else they will bind over several heat cycles.

  12. #12
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Just tried the Baby with fresh ground coffee, its not real good, I get leaks all over the PF and around the group head whereas with the Deluxe there are no problems and espresso shots taste better. Any comments?

  13. #13
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Sounds like the group seal is cactus. I think CoffeeParts sells replacements for $4.75 (+ postage)
    see http://www.coffeeparts.com/gag/gag1.html part #700150 (dont get 700146 unless the group head is badly worn)

    If you take the machines apart, there is very little difference, believe me. If anything, the Baby has a theoretical advantage in shot stability but I havent really experienced noticable difference between my Classics (theyre internally identical to the Baby) and my Carezza (internally identical to the Coffee Deluxe).

  14. #14
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    As a newbie to these machines, how do you replace the group seal? Do I unbolt the 4 alun bolts holding the group ring to the machine. Also how do I determine if I need the 700150 or 700146 part? Are the group seals identical for both Deluxe and Baby? If so I may order a couple just in case they both need replacing. I think I will also need a new basket as the one on the Baby just falls out when you tip the PF.

  15. #15
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    The Gaggia Espresso Deluxe was my first ever espresso machine... and a great machine to learn from. I had it for 3 years before selling it (almost giving it away). It doesnt have a 3-way valve - but all previous advise Ill confirm.

    Enjoy your journey maxrob200 ... it has only just begun ;-)

    Marc

  16. #16
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    The 700146 is 0.5mm thicker to take up slack space if the group and PF have worn to the point that the 700150 would allow the PF (with basket) to be pushed right across to the lock stop and still be loose.

    To change the group seal, you need to remove the showerscreen (phillips head screw) and then remove the dispersion disc (2 x 3mm socket head bolts). Then the group seal can usually be pried out quite easily - in extreme cases, the best tip Ive heard is to screw 2 coarse threaded screws into the seal so it gets pushed out as the screws extend out the top and hit the group.

    The easiest way to determine if you need the 700146 or 700150 is to remove your seal from the Coffee, measure the thickness with calipers and replace the Babys seal with it. If the PF locks OK, then you need that same thickness seal. If the PF is loose, then you need a thicker seal (there is a spacer for REALLY worn machines). I seriously doubt that a domestic machine should need the 700146.

    If you swap the baskets from the Coffees PF to the Baby, does it still fall out? If so, the spring in the PF needs replacing - CoffeeParts have them too.

    All the external parts (PF, seals, baskets) are interchangable between the 2 machines and can also be interchanged with commercial Gaggia machines.

  17. #17
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Thanks for the tips on seal replacement. Will look at getting a couple of seals from coffeeparts in the next few days

  18. #18
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Maxrob - never use vinegar or anything like that to descale your machine. It will kill the boiler.

    Get yourself some cafetto descaling solution and use that.

    Also - remember to bleed off some water from the steaming wand after steaming milk as they can suck milk up into the boiler (yuck).

  19. #19
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Hi Lucinda

    Thanks for the descaling tips. Couldnt get any descaling stuff from the supermarkets and I was in a real hurry to start up the machine so I opted for the bi-carb and vinegar treatment...not knowing is bad! Have to find a store that has them in Melb.
    I make it a new habit of running hot water out of the steam wand after frothing as having milk sucked inside the boiler is not fun at all :)
    The Deluxe at the moment is better in pulling shots (not great but ok) than the borrowed Baby (bad group seal and loose PF)). I will order a new seal and PF spring and addiitonal basket soon and see what happens then in terms of coffee quality.
    Its a HUGE learning curve and I am only on my first dozen or so shots so its still fumble fingers everywhere. The borrowed MDF grinder works really well and I only grind enough to fill the PF. I find that the single basket holds enough coffee for me , the double is too much and knocks me out with the hit!

  20. #20
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Ive used vinegar before with no problems - you just need to flush a LOT afterwards to clear the taste. Boiler pulldowns (for experimental purposes) have shown no problems with my machines.

  21. #21
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    So Kaanage - if Max damages his machine by following your advice are you going to fund a replacement for him????

    Gaggias have an Aluminium / brass boiler and using citric acid or vinegar in them damages them beyond repair. As you do not seem have one of these machines, and I do, I think I would know what I am talking about.


    Please be careful about the advice you are giving.



  22. #22
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Max - try weighing your doses on a digital kitchen scale. Basically measure your beans then grind them. It may take a few goes to get it right, but when you do you will be very happy with the results.

    eg - my classic double basket takes 20g of beans. I dont use the single basket.

    A good way to work out what is right for your basket/machine is to fill your basket to the top, level out and then tamp.

    Place the pf into the machine and it should be a little stiff to lock in.

    Pull your shot and then when you remove the pf, there should be a little round imprint of the showerhead on the coffee and the puck should be dry and not wet and sloppy.

    You may have to play around a little with this to get it right, however, once you do, the coffee will be awesome.

  23. #23
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Quote Originally Posted by lucinda link=1180856580/15#20 date=1181285675
    Gaggias have an Aluminium / brass boiler and using citric acid or vinegar in them damages them beyond repair. As you do not seem have one of these machines, and I do, I think I would know what I am talking about.
    Didnt you see my comments about pulling boilers down for experiments? I currently have 4.5 Gaggias.

    And I never post about what I havent tried/observed without stating as such

    And it was a Gaggia rep that 1st told me about using vinegar as she said the commercial descaler for Al boiers and thermoblocks was a waste of money. But, yes, I have tried BEFORE I dispensed the advice.

    I actually advise everyone with a commercial sized PF to pull out the single basket every now and then to pull practise shots as it is far more exacting than the double basket so any flaws in technique are highlighted. Removing the PF spout gives even more feedback as you can readliy see if the extraction is spot on (all comes out without touching the PF at all), is a bit off (most comes out the centrer but a few drops from one side) or is channeling badly (fully flows from ones side and moves around in random directions)

  24. #24
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Okay - point taken, I apolagise.

    I was told repeatedly by a number of gaggia dealers not to use these ase they destroy the boiler.

    Better safe than sorry.

  25. #25
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    What you really shouldnt use id commercial coffee descalers as they are made for brass/copper boiler machines and really will eat out a Gaggia

  26. #26
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Quote Originally Posted by kaanage link=1180856580/15#24 date=1181290187
    What you really shouldnt use id commercial coffee descalers as they are made for brass/copper boiler machines and really will eat out a Gaggia

    Which is why I recommended Cafetto at home coffe machine cleaner.

    It is recommended for Gaggia machines and made here in Oz (SA).

  27. #27
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Ok advice taken into consideration from both Lucinda and Kaanage regarding descaling. If vinegar is potetially bad and commercial grade descalers can eat out the boiler, it seems that cafetto as recommended could be ok to use. What about bi-carb on its own with water?

    Will try out both single and double baskets and get hold of scales to make sure of correct dose. The Baby PF does need a new spring as the baskets fall out after a sharp knock. Add that to the list of things to buy....after Grinder, knock box and SS tamper. Luckily I have a Gaggia MDF on loan aas well as two coffee machines (my own Deluxe and the loaned Baby-sick). Just have to wait till the pocket recovers than I will be in search of a good Grinder - Iberital, MDF or Rocky. Bit scared of 2nd hand Grinders from ebay although the Deluxe I got of ebay is in as new condition for a very reasonable bid price compared to new. I was actually looking for a Classic or Silvia but the proces are a bit steep for my current budget and until I get the hang of coffee making was not willing to shell out too much dough.

    Aprreciate the welcome from all CSers and advice.

  28. #28
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Quote Originally Posted by maxrob200 link=1180856580/15#26 date=1181364224
    What about bi-carb on its own with water?

    Aprreciate the welcome from all CSers and advice.
    Hi maxrob200...

    NOPE!!! Bi-carb when heated decomposes into Calcium carbonate - also known as scale.... so that would add to your problem.

    Scale (calcium carbonate) is only removed by acid..... but with your boiler you have to be very careful which acid....

    Use the correct product as advised above and it will work well..... vinegar, citric acid and other "home grown" descalers will damage your boiler.... so dont try them.

  29. #29
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    So does anyone know where I can get descaling solution that is safe for gaggia boilers in Melb?

  30. #30
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    I think I am starting to get the hang of it. Getting good pours with nice crema. Using the double basket as recommended and yes, it is not as critical of correct dosage. I now use two scoops of beans (using the plastic scoope thingy) and it gives me pretty much a good amount of grind. Still getting the hang of frothing milk consistently.
    A friend has a bottle of Sunbeam descaler so I guess Myer or Good Guys should have some for sale. The label says safe for all cofee machines. What do you guys think?
    Havent bought any seals for the Baby yet, as the Deluxe is working fine.

  31. #31
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Quote Originally Posted by JavaB link=1180856580/15#27 date=1181366063
    vinegar, citric acid and other "home grown" descalers will damage your boiler.... so dont try them.
    Have you tried them on a Gaggia? White vinegar has had no damaging effects on any of mine (have pulled them down for various purposes so Ive actually seen the boiler innards) + a Gaggia rep recommended it as a cheaper alternative to retail descalers. Its probably not strong enough for a badly scaled boiler for preventative maintenance, it works judt fine.

    Sunbeam descaler should be fine for Gaggias it it says it is suitable for their single thermblock machines - these are aluminium too.

    If you really feel the need to buy a Iberital or more expensive grinder, then thats OK but a Sunbeam EM450 or EM480C will grind just as well for far less money and the only downside is that you will need to learn to adjust using the dose amount if caught between grind steps.

  32. #32
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    HAve read on the forum about some problems that people are having with the Sunbeam 0480, so I will wait to see if things improve with them (0481?) otherwise Ill save up for an Iberital or Rocky

  33. #33
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Yeah, Ive seen that. If its true (I havent seen one with those problems), then its another case of pathetic underengineering by Sunbeam.

  34. #34
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Just ordered a bag of seals (spare one for Deluxe, replacement for Baby), Double basket and springs for my Baby Gaggia. The deluxe is working really well.
    Pulling some good shots...but still learning

  35. #35
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    I would like o thank Coffeeparts for their extremely fast service! Only took one day for my bag of bits to arrive, all individually packed and numbered. Have to just figure out how to replace the group seal now on the Baby

  36. #36
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Replacing the group seal was relatively stright forward. The only difficulty was getting the old one out which had got hard and brittle...nothing a couple of screwdrivers and pliers couldnt fix..had to destroy the old seal to get it out. Popping the enw one in was simple as the seal was new and pliable, noticed the Gaggia embossed logo on one side so figured that it should go on the back rather that on the side where the portafilter locks in to ensure smooth even sealing. Again this was achieved through this invaluable CS Forum which had been a fantastic resource for us newbies

  37. #37
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    So how is the Baby now compared to the Coffee Deluxe?

  38. #38
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    The Baby takes ages to warm up compared to the Deluxe. It is more fussy about the correct dosage and tamping IMO as I get wet pucks occasionally whereas the Deluxe seem to be more forgiving of dosage (double basket). I like the three way solenoid in the Baby as I have had PF sneezes on the Deluxe when I have forgotten to let the pressure bleed off first.
    With my limited coffee skills, I think the Baby pulls a better, more rounder tasting shot. Extraction time for both before blonding occurs is about the same - 15-20 seconds. This is using what I think are quite fresh beans from Mocopan. They have Pasquale and Mokalux "beans" which I blend 50-50 and grind fresh each time.
    Still looking at grinders (lack of $$$)

  39. #39
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Dont worry about wet pucks if the drink tastes good. You can get a wet puck simply by underdosing a touch with a finer grind and it wont hurt the drink too much.

    Are you using the double or single basket and if the double, are you pulling double shots?

    You should be able to get 2x30ml or 1x60ml shot without blonding using the double basket with the shot time determined by your dose/tamp. A single 30ml shot made with the double basket can rival shots from the best HX machines.

    The single basket is much trickier to get right and will blond early if the tamp and distribution is not close to perfect.

    Odd that the Baby takes longer to warm up. Does it take longer to transition from brew to steam as well?

  40. #40
    maxrob200
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Kaanage,

    I am using the double basket and pulling 1 x 60 ml(approx) shots ans I like lots of coffee!
    The Baby takes a bit longer to go from brew to steam as well. Maybe the boiler is a bit bigger than the Deluxe? I have been alternating between machines each time I make coffee. Pucks are dry now as I am filling to the top and tamping to the line in the basket. My original Deluxe basket does not have a line but the new double one from Coffeeparts has a line around the inside.
    Even frothing milk is a bit different between the two machines.

  41. #41
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    Re: New to CS and enjoying the reading

    Maxrob - you should be able to order the cafetto from coffeeparts or go to any of the site sponsors in Melbourne or most coffee suppliers and you can get it there.

    You will not find good cofee cleaners in the supermarkets as it is not really a product they would sell a lot of.



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