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Thread: need info for cheap machine

  1. #1
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    need info for cheap machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    gday all

    just got myself my first espresso machine.

    im not rich being a pensioner, all i could afford was the, Sunbeam Cafe Espresso EM3600R

    now seeing its my first time ive made about 4 coffees with it & worked out the frothing with ease , now the only problem im having is getting this dark color coffee coming out of machine it allways seems a light tan color i do have a cheap $20 grinder i use for smoking herbs but after reading around i discovered its useless as it dont grind fine enough so decided to by the coffee allready grinded atm im using a strong blend with a very fine grind it seems to have improved a bit but im begining to think its the cheap plastic tamper that comes with unit the tamper seems to be 48mm & the cup is 51mm just wanting to know if that could be my problem & could someone tell me somewhere in melb or close to western suburbs i could get a better tamper ive seem a lot of online shops but would rather go to a shop so i can test it with the cups to see for myself.... thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    Your machine would have a pressurised portafilter for supermarket coffee so that it produces a crema from stale grinds.
    Try some fresh beans and grind just before use and this should give you a better shot.
    Im sure some other Sunbeam owners will give you some pointers as well.
    Good luck with your shot making...............Welcome to CS

  3. #3
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    i have fresh beans that i have been grinding just before use & the the grinded coffee im buying is freshly grinded at the store.

  4. #4
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    Welcome to CS Kringle,

    OK there are a few problems here:

    1) The machine is certainly a cheapie so it wont be doing you any favours, however its not impossible to get acceptable results and we all have budgets we have to work within. The biggest frustration of a cheapie will be the inconsistency which is one area the more expensive machines make life a lot easier.

    2) Youll get the best results from any machine by having it ground to the correct consistency immediately before use (by immediately I mean that - within a few minutes). Your blade grinder may be able to get fine enough if you run it long enough but for the same amount of grind time youll get different results every time, which is why a burr grinder is essential if youre going to grind your own. The alternative youve already looked at is pre-ground coffee from a place that can adjust the grind to the right setting, however the problem with that is that unless the shop is literally next door and you run into your kitchen with the ground coffee itll have lost a lot of its volatiles by the time you use it, i.e. itll be stale (not as stale as supermarket pre-ground, but its not going to give you the results youre after). The other trouble is that the right grind for any particular bean changes with at least temperature and time, so unless you have a grinder of your own you cant compensate for these factors. To give a real-life example, Im presently visiting relatives who have an espresso machine, so before I left I took some coffee that had been roasted the day before, ground it finer than I would normally use and packed it into a sealed bag. Basically the best pre-ground setup you could hope for. Using an unpressurised basket (larger in capacity than yours) and overdosing the basket, I only achieved a very slight amount of crema less than 24 hours after it was ground. All this indicates you really need a burr grinder, the cheapest which is worth getting is the Sunbeam EM0450 which you can often pick up around the $120-$130 mark from places like Good Guys. There is a 0430 but this thread suggests its not really up to the task and Im not familiar enough with it to comment.

    3) The pressurised baskets you have are designed to create an artificial crema with stale pre-ground coffee - basically they artificially elevate the pressure in the basket to the sort of level that freshly roasted, freshly ground and properly tamped coffee would do, and the coffee gets squirted through a pin-hole normally which froths it up and creates the appearance of crema - but of course the coffee is still stale so its all looks and no results. Apparently Krups make an unpressurised filter basket (been mentioned on here a few times recently, do a search) which cane be used in place of some of the smaller ones, possibly including yours. That with freshly and properly coffee will get you on your way to getting the most out of the machine that you can. Some who have already done this mod with cheaper machines such as the one you have have reported a definite improvement in results. Cost I think is around $15-$20 but check it out.

    4) Pullman Tampers can make a tamper for any machine. You mentioned the sizing problem of your existing one - whenever possible, we will make a tamper up to fit the particular filter basket on your machine so the size is exactly right. Weve made tampers for machines such as yours in the past and it certainly helps getting an even tamp. However due to the fine tolerances used, if youre thinking about changing your baskets Id definitely do that first. Cost is around $90. Alternatively there are some places that sell cheap generic 51mm tampers thatll be a better fit than what you use at the moment even if not as good a fit as one made for the job but if you cant justify the cost of a fitted tamper then this may be an alternative. Cant help with recommendations on suppliers though, have to wait for a Melburnian to come along!

    So all up you might be looking around $200-$230 for all the above mods depending exactly how much the parts work out to be - a reasonable expense but itll make a definite difference to your results, and youd need a decent tamper and grinder with a more expensive machine anyway so its not like youre paying for things you would have gotten away with on a more expensive unit. The only caveat would be if youre considering changing machine down the track then I wouldnt spend money on a tamper that may not fit your new one but it doesnt sound like youre planning on that.

    Hope this helps!
    Greg

  5. #5
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    thanks for the info Greg.

    the tamper problem has been fixed, i got a mate to make me one out of stainless a one piece crafted tamper thats made a huge difference allready. as for baskets the same mate has a krupps unit & his baskets fit mine spot on, ive checked around & krupps spare baskets are price from $15 to $20 bucks so ill look into changing them down the track..
    as for a grinder i dont think ill really be bothered for now , like even if the beans or grounded is stale it beats the taste of instant coffee hands down & ive been drinking that stuff for years..

    I can understand there a lot of folk on here that are very dedicated to their freshness in coffee, As for me this will do just fine i only drink 1 to 2 coffees per day & the taste is great now with this little machine.....

  6. #6
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    Nice work! Youll naturally get better results from freshly ground coffee but if youre happy with the results youre getting with pre-ground then thats all that matters. At least you have something to look at down the track if / when you want to take things to the next level.

  7. #7
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    Are the beans your buying fresh, my local deli has a selection of beans in open hessian bags all neatly labeled with origin and tasting notes unfortunately thats as good as it gets because they are all well past stale >:(.
    You need to buy fresh beans from a good roaster, hope this helps.

  8. #8
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    Just a little note on your baskets. If your mate can make you a stainless tamper (presumably by turning it), then instead of buying a new basket, get your mate to depressurise your basket. This simply means cutting the bottom layer out of your basket. This is the layer that has just the one small pin hole in it. I have seen examples of this being done on a lathe. I have done this mod to my baskets, but used a little grinding tool to do it. Being careful, I did it in about 10 minutes. If you do this, just make sure that the layer isnt cut all the way to the edge, you need to leave about a 5mm border, as the layer with all the holes in it, is simply pressed in and if you cut all the way to the edge, then it could end up falling out. It has worked really well for me. If you intend on getting a new basket anyway, then what have you got to loose?


    All the best.

  9. #9
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    Re: need info for cheap machine

    my local coffee supplier roast their own as i asked today :)

    yer great idea jacs i did some reading before joining on here on your threads & am deff going to give it a shot but will get another basket first just incase i bugger the one i mod as for mate turning one ill ask just cant see if its possible though cos they very thin & the ones the come with units would no doubt be pressed...



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