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Thread: Question about espresso machine operation

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    Question about espresso machine operation

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

    Today, 25/05/2019 I purchased the Aldi espresso machine which is selling across their stores.

    I know, I know... look, beggars can't be choosers, right?

    In any case, I have two questions regarding the machine operation. I assume it either has a fault or it's something common across similar machine:
    1. After pulling an espresso shot, water is being poured into the water tray. Is this expected? Since it's clean water I thought initially it's coming from the water tank. But I suspect it's residual water from the pump/pipes.
      It's not a lot of water. It's something about 2 spoons full of water.
    2. I use the double basket with the double spout (not sure if I named it correctly). The cups are not even in liquid. I need to check that the machine is actually aligned with a spirit level, but assuming it is aligned, and I'm pretty sure the tampering is even, what else could cause this?


    Thanks!
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    I just had a look at the Aldi site and found the machine you're referring to (see attached image).

    1. Yes, its perfectly normal for some (clear) water to go into the drip tray and indicates the machine has a 3 way solenoid valve, which is a good thing. You might want to look into backflushing the machine once a month (google it - will require a blind disk or blind filter and back flushing cleaner).

    2. With a cheaper machine like this one, I suspect there's not much you can do about uneven flow from the double spout (apart from checking machine is level). Looking at the photo, it appears to use the smaller 51mm diameter baskets (not 58mm commercial size) which don't hold a huge amount of coffee (weigh the grinds and if less than 15g...). I'd suggest keeping the use to one coffee per shot unless you like really weak coffee, as you won't get a cafe strength double shot from that machine anyway. I'd keep the double spout on the portafilter as its easier to tamp on the bench.

    Are the filter baskets pressurised or are they standard? You can tell by holding it up to a light and if all the holes show light through from the inside "side" then its standard but if you only see one or a few holes from the outside, then it pressurised. Most likely the latter for that price machine but Aldi sometimes surprises with their gear. The fact the machine (claims to have) a PID is a good sign too.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Hi. Thanks for the detailed reply.

    RE size of filter, since I'm using Brevile smart grinder pro, it comes with two cradles.

    Here's a quote:

    The Breville Smart GrinderPro comes with two grinding cradles for dosing directly into 50-54mm or 58mm commercial espresso filters.

    For the ALDI filter I had to use the larger one so I assume it's the 58mm one.

    When I used the double basket I could fit 18g of coffee with plenty of space to spare. I think it can take few more grams easily, but probably I wouldn't use it for more than 20g Max.

    I will have to check if it's pressurised.
    All I know is when I looked at the bottom (reversed side) of the basket, there was one tiny hole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    For the ALDI filter I had to use the larger one so I assume it's the 58mm one.

    When I used the double basket I could fit 18g of coffee with plenty of space to spare. I think it can take few more grams easily, but probably I wouldn't use it for more than 20g Max.

    I will have to check if it's pressurised.
    All I know is when I looked at the bottom (reversed side) of the basket, there was one tiny hole.
    One tiny hole means its pressurised - which is easier to start out with but you won't get great espresso from it. If the baskets are 58mm then you can easily buy third party non-pressurised baskets for it - a standard double is fine to start with (~$20). Its more work to get good coffee with non-pressurised baskets as you have to get the grind "just right" but once you've dialled it in, the coffee will be much better. The Breville grinder is quite capable of grinding fine enough for that machine.

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    Looks a lot like a BES840 to me. Hot water outlet is different, no magnetic attaching tamper, perhaps that is enough to be different.

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    OK so measuring the tamper at about 56mm then it means the filter is 58mm.

    The spirit level shows it leans more to the right so I'll have to align that.

    A quikk search in ebay didn't yield 58mm non pressurised double basket.

    Where would you recommend to buy one?

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    Some baskets are slightly conical in shape so don't measure at the bottom - measure the internal diameter at the top, which should be between 58mm and 59mm. If the tamper is nice snug fit, then you could measure that too.

    Commercial link removed as per Site Posting Policy - you might have 57mm baskets by the looks of your photo.

    Take a look at the sponsors section of the forum and find a sponsor local to you and take in your portafilter, so you can test it before buying.
    Last edited by Javaphile; 3 Weeks Ago at 06:02 PM. Reason: Commercial link removed
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    Being that this is a clone of a Breville, there's a fair chance it uses 54mm baskets like their current machines do. I very much doubt they would use 58mm on a small domestic machine like this. You need to measure the internal diameter of the basket for an accurate measurement, not the external base.

    Pressurised baskets jet the coffee every which way from that small hole, it's not uncommon for it to fill the cups to different amounts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    Being that this is a clone of a Breville, there's a fair chance it uses 54mm baskets like their current machines do. I very much doubt they would use 58mm on a small domestic machine like this. You need to measure the internal diameter of the basket for an accurate measurement, not the external base.

    Pressurised baskets jet the coffee every which way from that small hole, it's not uncommon for it to fill the cups to different amounts.
    I measured the tamper and also I have to use the 58mm cradle for the Breville grinder to fit the portafilter snugly.

    I tried the 54mm cradle and it doesn't fit.

    After aligning the machine, the pour is now even.

    Still, I will purchase non pressurised basket.

    Thanks for the comments. I learned something today

    Now I'm trying to calibrate the shots.

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    Dialing in the shot - can't seem to make it

    Hi.

    So I posted yesterday that I purchased the Aldi Espresso machine (sold on 25/05/2019).

    It has PID, 58mm basket and pressure gauge among other things.
    The basket is pressurised. I will buy non-pressurised later this week.


    I'm trying to achieve this result:


    What I've done:
    • Calibrated the 'single shot' button on the machine to produce 60ml of water. I used an empty basket and a digital coffee scale underneath to measure the ml of water.
    • I assume that 60ml of water will yield 30ml of coffee because the coffee retains about half of the water.
    • Measured 18.5g of beans and measured 18g grind after the grind


    The setup:

    • The grinder, Breville Smart Grinder Pro, is set to 8.
    • 18g measured ground coffee
    • Double basket (pressurised, with dual spout attached
    • Since I currently have pressurised basket, I use light force when tamping the grind making sure there are no air pockets and even surface
    • Timing - I time from the 1st drip, not when the pump start working. So in reality, I'm looking at getting to about ~25 seconds @ 30ml liquid for double basket @ 18g dose from the 1st drip.


    The Results:
    • The expected 30ml is achieved under 20 seconds, suggesting I need a finer grind setting
    • The pressure gauge is overshooting the desired 'espresso' pressure, suggesting too fine grind / tight tamping, or both
    • The coffee taste is bitter with sour notes at the end
    • The crema is actually good


    So I'm getting contradicting results, or I misinterpret them. After all, I'm a total newbie with espresso machine and I come here to learn

    I know over the forum it's going to be very difficult to assist, but maybe some pointers from experienced people here might help with dialing it in.

    If someone is from Sydney and near Gladesville area and you have the time, I'd be happy to host you and get your help.



    Thank you!
    Last edited by Gil80; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:36 AM.

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    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    No need to start a new thread. This should be merged with your original post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erimus View Post
    No need to start a new thread. This should be merged with your original post.
    OK. But they relate to different topics. One is about machine behaviour and this thread is about getting the shot right.

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    The pressurised basket is the problem - you effectively can't dial a shot using a pressurised basket, as the grind size effect is effectively swamped by the basket restriction hole.

    You should calibrate the shot volume by putting a cup on a scale and weighing the coffee out (not water as you indicated). So 30g coffee out will be 30 ml.

    Are your beans fresh? You must use beans where you KNOW the roast date and it is no more than 2 weeks post roast. If not, then you're wasting your time trying to dial in anything as stale beans not only affect taste but also change the grind size to shot time calculations. Every time you get new beans you need to fine-tune the grind size again, generally.

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    As a 'total newbie' to espresso, it sounds like you are off to a good start and have researched well. It will take some practice to get the right dose, distribution and tamp that works for your machine and the beans being used (they are fresh, right?).


    • It's only day 1. You will need to be patient. It took me a good while to get the hang of dose, distribution, tamp (DDT)
    • Don't get too absorbed with numbers initially. They help with repeatability of results but you need to establish a benchmark first with your equipment
    • Grab yourself some relatively cheap. good quality beans and practice, practice, practice (but don't OD on caffeine).
    • It's best to stick to one bean type initially as that's one less variable to have to deal with.
    • Try out different grinds and doses
    • A pressurized basket is designed to improve crema but it may be worth obtaining a non-pressurized one to improve shot quality.
    • Don't rely on your pressure gauge as an indicator of shot quality.


    Not sure why you are trying to get 60ml from the single shot button. You have a double shot button for delivering that quantity of water

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    The beans roast date is 21/05/2019.
    I always try to get the freshest possible.

    As for the 60ml single shot calibration. I first try to get it by the book as factory settings are 60ml for single shot and 120ml for double.

    Factory isn't calibrated so I set a baseline to be by the book first just to learn a bit about how the machine behaves. I like learning this way.

    Does 30g coffee is considered a double shoot?

    OK so I understand that to really get this going I need non pressurized double basket and experiment. I need some cheap high volume bag of beans for this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    The beans roast date is 21/05/2019.
    As for the 60ml single shot calibration. I first try to get it by the book as factory settings are 60ml for single shot and 120ml for double.
    30ml coffee out is single
    60ml coffee out is double

    It appears you are trying to compensate for the water retained in the puck. Don't bother, just concentrate on the volume of coffee out (not water out of the brew head). The actual volume of water out of the machine will be more as you've seen but don't worry about that - yes it will vary a tiny amount with different coffee types but you can recalibrate if needed.

    Its common these days to use a double basket (20g) to pull a single shot and a triple basket to pull double shots, so its a bit confusing. Also confusing is weighing the shot in the cup, so even though you are measuring grams, most people talk ml and assume 1ml = 1g (which is true for water and as coffee is 99.x% water, we'll assume the same conversion).

    If making "one drink", then a common recipe is 18-20g coffee with 30 ml output (30g liquid weight in the cup) with a 25-30 second extraction time (time from water touching puck to end - or 20-25 sec for first drop in cup to end). This is not hard and fast but just a starting point. You then need to adjust for taste, as different beans require quite different recipes.
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    OK yeah that's confusing.

    So 30ml on double basket is single shot?

    When would one be using the single basket? And would it be with 9g coffee?


    Based on the youtube video I posted in my OP, I believe he's referring to 30ml combined but he pours on two separate glasses, so it's 15g liquid per glass.

    Wow I'm confused now


    By the way, what should be the acceptable range of temperature of the espresso?
    Given that the cup is pre-warmed.
    Last edited by Gil80; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:40 PM.

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    I wouldn't stress about the difference between a single and a double, or which button is which. If you can program the buttons they may as well be labelled A and B because their function is as you set it. When talking about the yield (the liquid coffee you get in the cup) measure it and talk about it in grams. Yes the liquid part of the shot is pretty much 1ml=1g but the crema is much lighter, so for a shot with moderate to high crema 30ml may equal ~20g.

    Also I wouldn't bother experimenting too much until you get a non-pressurised basket. The pressurised one is going to skew your results heavily and what you learn is only going to change once you change the basket. I would suggest a Breville one for the BES920 or an Espresso HQ basket. Your tamper may or may not fit these baskets well. If you get a Breville basket you could always buy a plastic Breville tamper that comes with the BES920 as they fit well enough.

    As for temperature you want the water coming out of the machine onto the coffee to be around 93C for medium roast, which it sounds like you have (1-2 higher for dark roast, 1-2 lower for light roast). Since the ground coffee is only room temperature it will cool the water down a bit near the start of the shot, so what you have in the cup at the end of the shot may average out to ~85C.
    Last edited by level3ninja; 3 Weeks Ago at 06:36 PM. Reason: Autocucumber
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    While waiting for the pressurised basket, maybe try varying the time of extraction.
    I find that when dailing in for new beans, it's generally a drinkable and balanced drink at the 30 sec mark. If you are getting 120ml out, then enjoy your lungo!

    Surely, the single hole is the governing restriction at a coarser grind. If you go fine enough, surely the single hole will become irrelevant as the grind size is a greater restriction than the hole...

    Also, I think you need to do the 5c test, 18g sounds a lot for a generic double wall basket.

    As mentioned, it's no good you setting any volumetrics on group water flows, you need to set it with a restriction of the coffee grinds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackster View Post
    While waiting for the pressurised basket, maybe try varying the time of extraction.
    I find that when dailing in for new beans, it's generally a drinkable and balanced drink at the 30 sec mark. If you are getting 120ml out, then enjoy your lungo!

    Surely, the single hole is the governing restriction at a coarser grind. If you go fine enough, surely the single hole will become irrelevant as the grind size is a greater restriction than the hole...

    Also, I think you need to do the 5c test, 18g sounds a lot for a generic double wall basket.

    As mentioned, it's no good you setting any volumetrics on group water flows, you need to set it with a restriction of the coffee grinds.
    What's the 5c test?

    And I didn't quite understand the last statement.

    I would like to set my single shot button to 30g coffee yield and the double shot to 60g coffee yield.

    Not sure what 60g is called, short lungo?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    What's the 5c test?

    And I didn't quite understand the last statement.

    I would like to set my single shot button to 30g coffee yield and the double shot to 60g coffee yield.

    Not sure what 60g is called, short lungo?
    5c test is: After dosing and tamping your ground coffee, place a 5c coin onto the surface of the coffee and lock the handle into the machine. Remove the handle and remove the 5c piece. If there is a heavy indentation of the coin into the coffee, the does is too high. If there is no indentation at all, you can dose a bit more. If there is a faint indentation you are about right.
    It's a good way to get the capacity figured out for your particular basket.

    You can't accurately set a flowmeter controlled machine (how your machine measures water flow) to dispense the same amount of coffee each time as they often aren't accurate enough to adapt to different flow rates when extracting through coffee vs water flow with no restriction.

    You need to extract by weight only. It's always reliable as water volume and time can change from shot to shot.

    Extracting espresso higher than 2:1 (eg. 36g yield from 18g coffee) is rarely beneficial, however you can experiment with higher/lower yields as time goes on. In the early stages of learning, you need to control as many variables as you can and only change one at a time and see how it affects the output.

    There's heaps of information on this forum, youtube and the internet in general regarding all this but hands on experience and watching someone else work can be the most helpful. It may be worth checking your local area and seeing if there are any shops who offer training. It can sometimes be a bit expensive but it's well worth it to get that practical experience.

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    Guru^

    11char

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    I think I got it.

    So only measure in grams and not volume.

    A true 1:3 ratio in 18g dose is 54g coffee.
    While I was aiming for 60g as per the youtube video I've seen.

    For starters I don't mind those variations in grams as long as the timing is within range and the taste is good.

    I think it's going to be challenging to find non pressurised double basket to start with.
    Until then, it's all futile.

    I contacted the owner of Di Bartoli and they don't have something which is suitable for my portafilter, assuming it's a Breville copy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    I think it's going to be challenging to find non pressurised double basket to start with.
    Until then, it's all futile.
    I might head to Aldi this week and see if i can find an open box and check the group handle. I've considered the handle sizes again and it is possible that it's a 58mm. It could be a hybrid Breville/Sunbeam machine with the outer styling being Breville but the internals being Sunbeam. The new range of Sunbeam machines use 58mm group heads. If that's the case, any 58mm basket should work in yours. Were you able to measure the internal diameter of the standard basket?

    It is a really bizarre machine. The buttons, faceplate, steam knob and steam/hot water wands are a Breville BES820 design, the actual shape of the body looks like a Sunbeam EM4820.
    The cup warming plate looks like a Breville BES250/BES840 with the ribs.

    Can't justify $300 just to tear it apart though, unless someone wants to sponsor it as a scientific study haha.
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    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dischucker View Post

    Its common these days to use a double basket (20g) to pull a single shot and a triple basket to pull double shots, so its a bit confusing. Also confusing is weighing the shot in the cup, so even though you are measuring grams, most people talk ml and assume 1ml = 1g (which is true for water and as coffee is 99.x% water, we'll assume the same conversion).
    And that assumption would be very dangerous. Brewed espresso coffee, including crema, is typically quite a way off the 1ml=1g relationship that is true for pure water. 30g of brewed coffee can easily have volume > 45mls. As Noiddle says above.....use weight (mass) if trying to measure brewing output.
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    Just a quick update: I used a digital thermometer to test the water coming out from the grouphead.

    The machine was on for about 15 minutes before operation. It has a 30 minutes timeout.
    I used an empty portafilter and I did a first run to warm the grouphead + portafilter + cup.
    I emptied the cup and then run a 2nd time.
    I emptied the cup again and run a 3rd time.

    At the 3rd time, I measured the water temp and it was 70c. That seems quite low.
    I ran an additional test on the water spout, the one the is used to make long black, and the temp was 75c.

    Is this normal?
    Should I return the machine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    I might head to Aldi this week and see if i can find an open box and check the group handle. Were you able to measure the internal diameter of the standard basket?.
    Please do and let me know what you think

    I measured the single basket and it's also 58mm internal diameter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    And that assumption would be very dangerous. Brewed espresso coffee, including crema, is typically quite a way off the 1ml=1g relationship that is true for pure water. 30g of brewed coffee can easily have volume > 45mls. As Noiddle says above.....use weight (mass) if trying to measure brewing output.
    Yes, from now on I will measure output with grams only.
    I do think that this machine is due for refund: https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...operation.html
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    The only way to reliably measure the Brew Water Temperature, is to do so either using a Scace Device or a t/couple placed on top of the coffee puck which is connected to a suitable meter. 70C temp. water in the cup doesn't sound too bad to be honest...

    Mal.
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    Ok, so I was able to find a 58mm non-pressurised double basket by VST from Di Bartoli.
    Let the fun begin.

    I'll aim to get 1:2 ratio. 18g dose for 36g liquid at about 25~30sec.

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    VST baskets have a smaller target to hit, but when you hit it they can produce better coffee. They really show up flaws in technique, and it will take a while to get that down. Don't be disheartened if the learning curve is steep. Also if it's too hard and you want to put the VST in the cupboard for a while we won't judge. When I first got one (with a matched tamper to boot) I had a Breville BCG820 and it took me about 6 months to get my technique down. The Breville 920 basket or the Espresso HQ that I mentioned above will be more forgiving.
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    VST baskets have a smaller target to hit, but when you hit it they can produce better coffee. They really show up flaws in technique, and it will take a while to get that down. Don't be disheartened if the learning curve is steep. Also if it's too hard and you want to put the VST in the cupboard for a while we won't judge. When I first got one (with a matched tamper to boot) I had a Breville BCG820 and it took me about 6 months to get my technique down. The Breville 920 basket or the Espresso HQ that I mentioned above will be more forgiving.
    Hmmm... I'm scared now.

    There was a generic $20 basket and the $40 VST. I did feel it's too much but I didn't mind paying the extra if it meant better coffee. The build quality was obvious. VST looks and feels better.

    I don't know how sensitive I'll be to know what you mean by better coffee due to differences in basket brands. To start with, I have an entry level machine and entry level grinder so I'm off to a mediocre start anyway.

    But buying the what feels a better basket, at least gave me a sense of a better start.
    Am I a fool for paying that much for a basket?

  33. #33
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    You sound very keen. Maybe get that portafilter converted to naked while you are there.

    You are not a fool, lots of us have vst baskets. And when you decide to upgrade your machine, you will have the basket ready to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    But buying the what feels a better basket, at least gave me a sense of a better start.
    Am I a fool for paying that much for a basket?
    Not really. You can take that basket with you to any 58mm machine you upgrade to in the future.

    What i found important with my VST was to not overdose it at all. My results would be erratic with higher than the specified weight.
    If your basket says it's an 18g, dose 18g into it. If it's a 17g, dose 17g into it.

    Ensure the coffee is distributed and tamped evenly and you should be fine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    Not really. You can take that basket with you to any 58mm machine you upgrade to in the future.

    What i found important with my VST was to not overdose it at all. My results would be erratic with higher than the specified weight.
    If your basket says it's an 18g, dose 18g into it. If it's a 17g, dose 17g into it.

    Ensure the coffee is distributed and tamped evenly and you should be fine.
    It says 18g.
    I will post the tamping photo to get your approval

    I did find the pressure gauge being in range now.
    It took me 20 seconds for 18g dose and 36g liquid.

    The coffee was very bitter and somewhat cold.
    I don't think this machine is capable of 96deg or even 92deg.

    My beans were roasted on the 21st.

    My Breville SGP was set to 5.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackster View Post
    You sound very keen. Maybe get that portafilter converted to naked while you are there.

    You are not a fool, lots of us have vst baskets. And when you decide to upgrade your machine, you will have the basket ready to go.
    I can't spend any more than I already have for converting. I used my savings from my photography business and my wife already gave me the look

    I compensated by buying her decaf beans because that's what she's having

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    I did find the pressure gauge being in range now.
    It took me 20 seconds for 18g dose and 36g liquid.
    Don't rely on the gauge for your shots, use it as a guide. Rely on the parameters discussed previously and the appearance of the extraction. In this situation, you want to fine up your grind a bit more. Remember as well, purge your grinder for 2-3 seconds after making an adjustment. This way, the next shot you prepare will be comprised fully of the new grind setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    The coffee was very bitter and somewhat cold.
    I don't think this machine is capable of 96deg or even 92deg.
    It should be fine. Modern PID controllers and thermoblocks are extremely basic and reliable. It's always possible that there could be a problem particularly as it is a cheaper machine, but I've seen a huge range of PID controlled thermoblock machines and have never had one fail in a low temperature way due to a faulty PID or temperature sensor.

    Make sure the portafilter is hot to the touch and your cup has been warmed up before you make the shot.
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  38. #38
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    Dialing the shot

    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    Don't rely on the gauge for your shots, use it as a guide. Rely on the parameters discussed previously and the appearance of the extraction. In this situation, you want to fine up your grind a bit more. Remember as well, purge your grinder for 2-3 seconds after making an adjustment. This way, the next shot you prepare will be comprised fully of the new grind setting.



    It should be fine. Modern PID controllers and thermoblocks are extremely basic and reliable. It's always possible that there could be a problem particularly as it is a cheaper machine, but I've seen a huge range of PID controlled thermoblock machines and have never had one fail in a low temperature way due to a faulty PID or temperature sensor.

    Make sure the portafilter is hot to the touch and your cup has been warmed up before you make the shot.

    Ok so after a couple days of testing with beans roasted on the 21st:
    1. I did the 5c test on the VST 18g basket and there was no indentation of the coin on the coffee bed. I actually measure the portafilter and tare the scale and then measure 18g dosage with the portafilter.
    2. When I pull a blank shot, the portafilter and cup are hot, but not as hot as I think they should be. I think the portafilter should be really hot to the touch, but it's not.
    3. I still can't get the timing of the shot correctly. I'm now not too sure when to start the timer. When I press the button, the machine pulls water for a second. I think it's pre-infusion. Then it kicks in. I start the timer as soon as I see the pressure gauge moving.
    4. I stop the machine when the liquid shows 25g because it's still pouring out liquid. I need to anticipate when to stop the machine because of the digital scale delay.
    5. At about 36g liquid, I get to 20 seconds for 18g dose. The grinder is set to 6. I do my best to tamp evenly and not too tight.


    What's confusing is that sometimes the machine barely puts out liquid and sometimes it's too fast.
    The variable is probably because I'm trying to adjust the tamping and the grind setting. With the Breville SGP, I use between 4, 5 and 6 setting. Yet there is great lack of consistency with the speed of pouring liquid.

    So I assume it's how compacted I make the coffee.

    Results
    Coffee comes out too bitter more often than not. I see consistency with bitterness and the pressure gauge overshooting the 'espresso range' on the scale.

    Questions:
    1. When should I really start the timer to measure pouring time? At the first drop? As the gauge starts moving? At the start of the pump after the initial pre-infusion?
    2. I'm no expert, but should the coffee feel somewhere in between bitter an sour? I think that this machine doesn't put out enough hot water to get the flavours out.
    3. Any other pointers?

  39. #39
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Sounds like you need to let the machine warm up properly with the portafilter in the group head (a nip just enough to hold it not fully locked in). If everything isn't up to temp you'll get less extraction taking place.

    Start the timer when you press the button. The reason the gauge doesn't start moving straight away is the space above the coffee needs to fill with water before any pressure will build. Most people count from when the water hits the coffee (almost as soon as you press the button).

    Either regards to tamp pressure, how hard you press is far less important than doing it consistently every time. Tamp pressure E only really slows down the start of the shot, once you've got the first drops it's much the same after that.

    Getting your 36g yield in 20s (though if you're waiting for the pressure gauge to move in guessing around 24-25s?) is too fast. Make the grind finer to slow the shot down.

    From the sounds of it you're changing multiple things at once? You need to only change one thing at a time, and only change it a little bit. Even then you'll need to make a few shots in a row to see the change come all the way through consistently.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Sounds like you need to let the machine warm up properly with the portafilter in the group head (a nip just enough to hold it not fully locked in). If everything isn't up to temp you'll get less extraction taking place.

    Start the timer when you press the button. The reason the gauge doesn't start moving straight away is the space above the coffee needs to fill with water before any pressure will build. Most people count from when the water hits the coffee (almost as soon as you press the button).

    Either regards to tamp pressure, how hard you press is far less important than doing it consistently every time. Tamp pressure E only really slows down the start of the shot, once you've got the first drops it's much the same after that.

    Getting your 36g yield in 20s (though if you're waiting for the pressure gauge to move in guessing around 24-25s?) is too fast. Make the grind finer to slow the shot down.

    From the sounds of it you're changing multiple things at once? You need to only change one thing at a time, and only change it a little bit. Even then you'll need to make a few shots in a row to see the change come all the way through consistently.
    I let the machine warm up for about 20 minutes. The portafilter is attached to the machine but it doesn't really get warm. The machine powers off automatically after 30 minutes.

    The manual writes that once all LED are steadily lit, the water temp is achieved. I find this to be BS. Far more expensive machines take about 30 minutes to warm up. This $300 machine has the LED steady after 1 minute.

    I have to pull a blank shot to warm up the portafilter and cup. I leave the water in the cup up to the point where I actually pull a real shot so the cup will get as close as possible to the water temp.

    As for starting the timer, yes. I start it when the pressure gauge is moving. I've seen in youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3oSlZSXHog) that this person is also timing from the 1st drop.
    This is the biggest variable for me. When to start the timer. From pressing the shot button? From the 1st drop? From the movement of pressure gauge?

    The 2nd variable is the grind size. These are the only two things I'm trying to lock in. So far I've been consistent with timing from the 1st drop and once I saw it's not working well for me I switched to measure from gauge movement.
    So I'm actually only dealing with grind size, but pointing out that I have concerns about this machine's ability to produce hot enough water.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gil80 View Post
    I let the machine warm up for about 20 minutes. The portafilter is attached to the machine but it doesn't really get warm. The machine powers off automatically after 30 minutes.

    The manual writes that once all LED are steadily lit, the water temp is achieved. I find this to be BS. Far more expensive machines take about 30 minutes to warm up. This $300 machine has the LED steady after 1 minute.
    The thermocoil reaches the set temperature very quickly so in this regard, the LED is indicating correctly.

    If the machine has a Sunbeam group head, which I suspect it does, there is no physical connection between the thermocoil and the group head other than a water delivery tube. This makes warming up the portafilter by heat transfer through the group head alone not very effective as there is no direct contact between them.
    Running water through the portafilter and ensuring it is hot is the only way to do it.

    Is the portafilter heavy or light? Also get a magnet and see if it sticks to it. If it's light and non magnetic it's an alloy, they're notoriously bad at retaining heat. If it's heavy and magnetic, it's stainless steel which would be good. They retain heat better.

    Another thing I forgot to mention which I should have, this machine is advertised as having a 19 bar pump. If there is no over pressure valve on the pump then it will be trying to deliver as much unregulated pressure as it can up to 19 bar (way too much, most machines are regulated to 9-10 bar). This can wreak havoc with predicting how the shot will perform.

    I was in Aldi today but there was no unboxed machines. The store still had 10-12 of them on the shelf so hopefully they don't sell and come down in price over the next week or so, I might pick one up if they come down to 200 or thereabouts.
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  42. #42
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    @noidle22 if you're in Sydney, you're most welcome to my place to check the machine

  43. #43
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    I stopped into Aldi on my way home. The box says "Thermoblock heating system" then immediately below "Die-cast aluminium alloy boiler with constant temperature" so I'm not confident they know what's in their machine either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    I stopped into Aldi on my way home. The box says "Thermoblock heating system" then immediately below "Die-cast aluminium alloy boiler with constant temperature" so I'm not confident they know what's in their machine either.
    Not reassuring at all :/

    Still not sure when to start timing.

  45. #45
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    As a wise man once said
    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Start the timer when you press the button.
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  46. #46
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    ^yep. if anything, a button press is the most consistent event from which to begin measurement.
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    OK but then why this guy from YouTube is timing from first drop?

    I will start timing as you suggested, but still wondering what's the benefit of counting from first drop in this case?

    Tomorrow I'll try testing on a new fresh batch of beans. Thanks for all your help.

  48. #48
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Well mate, you have to make your mind on just who you are going to listen to.
    Some CSers with more than a 100 years of accumulated knowledge and experience, or some bloke on the Net?
    Your choice...

    Mal.

  49. #49
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    Explaining people on YouTube isn't something I want to get into, though it does seem to be a field with steady work. But what he says in the video is "I like to starting my timer when the coffee actually comes out" it's a personal preference. As long as you know your frame of reference (i.e. if the back of a bag of coffee says 18g in, 36g out in 25s, is that started from the button or the first drip?) it doesn't matter which it is. He also says to polish after tamping which makes no difference, and is using a click tamper which does not ensure consistent tamp pressure like some claim, but actually just ensures a minimum tamp pressure. They talk about previous fads of tamp pressure and knocking the portafilter after tamping, both of which are now defunct. Click tampers were still a fad when that video came out in ~2015.

    Why would some people prefer to start timing then? I think it's part of the swing away from tamp pressure having to be exactly 15kg (or 30lb, or whatever number). The tamp pressure largely affects only the time until the first drop. The rest of the shot will run almost identically, unless you go crazy and the shot never gets going before the top coffee has become burnt. So since tamp pressure was no longer consistent between different people you had to allow for that in your recipe by starting the time after the tamp had an effect (at least that's my interpretation). But that doesn't make all shots equal. Different machines have different lengths of the path coffee has to take between the bottom of the basket and the end of the spouts, and how long it takes for the first drop to appear still changes the extraction of the first part of the shot. I've seen some recipes that have time to first drop as an extra parameter which takes more of the guesswork out of it.
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  50. #50
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    It's personal preference. Pick one and use it. Then remember that the end result of all those numbers and procedures is not the end-all and be-all but rather the starting point of the fine tuning to produce the cup that you most enjoy.


    Java "Brew'n it up" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!



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