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Thread: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Machine

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    SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hey All,

    As i noted in another post i picked up a SB Ristretto the other day for $69.95 from the Good Guys. Today i purchased a Krup Un-Pressurised double basket and some (espresso grinded) private blend from Merlo. I will be buying a grinder in a couple of weeks, but until then freshly grinded (though stale) coffee will have to suffice. Here is what i noted in my first time ever using an espresso machine:
    1. Tamping with the rubbish tamper provided is difficult. I have no idea how much pressure i need to apply, will buy a proper tamper soon and try with some scales.
    2. Grind was too fine (at least i think so?) - While in my (subjective) opinion the coffee was not in anyway overly bitter (I did get crema from the un-pressurised basket), but i found small bits of grind in my coffee so correct me if i am wrong, i suspect the grind is too fine.

    3. This is a question - under the basket in the PF of the Ristretto is some black plasticy thing that from the instruction manual seems to suggest increases pressure (i wasnt sure if this was the crema enhancer or not. Is it alright to remove this? It is bolted in, but can be easily remove by a screwdriver? Does anyone know if removing this might improve the shot?

    4. Froth appears to work rather well. I think i will have to learn how to temp surf this machine because the two cappachinos i made, the first one i had the steam shut off (i let it warm up for 15 mins beforehand) and it got rather watery. Second one however it steamed really well and i got some good foam (not sure if it was microfoam - *i tried to surf the hole, but only got a whirlpool happening at the end).

    All in all i am very sure that this coffee was 85-90% as good as the one i had at Merlo this morning (complementary) while waiting for the beans to be ground. Rather encouraging i must say for only ~$90 outlay and absolutely no experience on my behalf. Certainly it was still a tiny bit bitter, but im sure that will improve with time. Cant wait for the grinder and to get a corretto happening *;D.

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    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Welcome to CS Mitchell, of course you realise that you have started along a road where you can very quickly run out of control, the need for more equipment, upgraditis sets in, gotta roast some beans.....but its great mate, enjoy the journey...............................and your espresso!!!

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Oh also, i did get a tiny bit a leakage from the PF with the Krups baskets in, from what i have read you can get a new Krups Group Head Seal from the same place i got the baskets. I am intrigued to know whether anyone knows the official part number for this item?

    Also, i think i read before somewhere that mentioned to remove the plasticy bit in the PF (i think it might have been Mal who recommended it???). If so, i will track down a nut which fits the bolt and give that a try.

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Took out the plasticy bit in the PF, looks like a piece of rubbish (from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about coffee machines - might have science behind it, no idea). Even after only two coffees it had a heap of moisture build up behind it, looks like in time it would go pretty rancid. Couldnt find a nut in the shed small enough for it, ill check out bunnings tonight. Sooooo distracted....should be working on a uni assignment due Wednesday. Oh well, i guess thats half the fun. I also called my local Krups part dealer, they really said without a parts number they cant held me too much. So anyone out there who has purchased a Krups group head seal for their Ristretto (or similar sunbeam), if they knew the part number, it would be greatly appreciated!!! *goes back to assignment*

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Mitchell, I had the same machine as you, and used the krups basket. *I always had coffee grinds in my cup - I found the diameter of the holes in the Krups baskets are just too big. *Once you get your grinder, youll just have to grind more coarsely, and over-dose the basket. *It annoyed me too much, so I bought a Silvia last week *;)

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Hi mate. Its a nice little machine. You will have fun and learn a lot with it...and have nice coffee. A mate had a complimentary flat white from Merlos the other day and couldnt drink it...and was up me for the rent to roast her some more beans...

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Okay, been using the machine for the past few days (maybe made about 10 or so coffees) and while okay they have been certainly a bit bitter and only one shot had anything that i could call crema. Im finding that whether or not i use the non-pressurised baskets (ive found the coffee from the pressurised baskets are actually less bitter) im getting 10 second gushers.

    I guess the 10 second gushers could be for the following reasons:
    1. I know im hardly using a proper tamper (will be buying one soon) but i am nonetheless still doing my best with the SB one (cramming everything in and overdosing baskets).
    2. Coffee might be grinder too coarse (I dont know what grinder merlo uses, but they grinded it at 4.7 - whatever that setting might be)
    3. Grinded coffee is now 3 days old - i guess that its now stale will affect its ability to produce crema?
    4. Im letting it warm up for a good 15 minutes before doing a shot and prior to the shot im heating up the PF so i doubt that is a problem

    Does anyone have any additional suggestions apart from (getting grinder, fresh beans and tamper) as to how i might be able to start getting 20-25 second shots rather than the 10 second ones i have now?

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    no...youve nailed it. grind and tamp are essential. you could always adjust your dose as well so that its packed tightly against the screen.

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    You will tend to get gushers more with bought coffee than home roasted coffee I have found - the crema level on the home roasted stuff is normally better (...Im at serious risk of igniting a debate along the same lines as a parallel thread!!!)..
    Cheers

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    <debate>
    Thats a broad statement about getting gushers with bought coffee.
    Do you only mean supermarket stuff?
    If soll agree, if not Ill disagree.
    Example: Before home roasting I bought my beans from Hazel; No gushers.
    </debate>

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    I think Oz was referring more to pre-ground packaged coffee.... Even when bought from a reputable roaster, unless the grind has been tailored to suit the machine in question, and the coffee is going to be used pretty well immediately after roasting, it is a case of pot-luck that one is going to achieve quality pours.....

    You really need to get a decent quality grinder "mitchell_bb". Until you can spring for one youre never likely to get quality coffee from your machine.

    All the best :),
    Mal.

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Yep - I meant the dual but not necessarily connected problems of stale coffee and pre-ground coffee; cant possible dial in as you would with a grinder at home; can only dose and tamp so much to compensate.

    Cheers

  13. #13
    O_P
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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    I have the same setup, with the krups double basket. I use the sunbeam conical burr grinder with it.
    Ive had this setup for about a year.

    I dont get gushers, but then I do grind pretty fine. My grinder is set on about 6 at the moment and I end up with some grounds in the shot, but its extracting in about 20 seconds and there is quite a bit of crema.

    The problems I have with it is that sometimes I tamp too hard and then all this back pressure builds up, so that when I take the handle out the coffee explodes everywhere.
    I dont ever get an impression of the shower screen on the puck, I cant seem to ever be able to fill the basket high enough and then tamp it to be flush, there is always a bit of room in the basket after tamping. If I fill it up and tamp again then it creates too much back pressure, so not really sure what to do there.
    Its happened the last two times now. I think I need to adjust the grind, as the beans Im using are about 3 weeks old now. (They have a sheen on them now which I havent seen before. I left them in the hopper)

    I also get the issue with it overflowing sometimes, but again I think its due to the tamp pressure. If you tamp too hard you seem to get a lot of issues. Im using the sunbeam tamp that came with the extras kit. Its stainless steel with a bit of heft to it. Its not exactly the right size, but way better than that plastic spoon thing.

    I let mine heat up for about an hour every morning before using it. I have it on an electric timer, so it turns on at 8am, off at 10, on at 1pm and off at 3. You might want to give that a try and see, it seems to behave a lot better on the steam after the entire machine has been hot for a while.
    Talking about steam, youll want to remove the rubbish bit of plastic over the steam wand. Youll always get a bit of water come out when you first open it up, so just put a cup under there and let the water come out before swapping over to the milk jug. I can get some pretty good foam, but not good enough to do freepouring with. Its still a bit too thick for that and just tends to dollop out at the end.

    Id be interested in the krups part number too if anyone knows of it.
    Also, I havent yet removed the plastic thing in the bottom of the PF. Do you know what size nut to put back in there? Or does anyone know if you can get higher quality portafilters that will fit in there? The breville ones look about the same size...

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    O_P,

    I went looking for a nut for the screw the other day at bunnings, but no nuts had the correct thread, so instead i just purchased a new screw with nut (3mm) and some metal washers. This blocks the hole pretty good and i havent had any water dripping through it.

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    Re: SB Ristretto - (Subjectively)A Good Little Mac

    Hi ristretto owners

    I had a ristretto up until a couple of months ago when I was able to scrimp/save/sell my soul for an upgrade.

    If you do a google search under sunbeam ristretto site:coffeesnobs.com.au you will get a mountain of hits. Maybe some will be advantageous to your quest.

    Some things that I found whilst owning:
    For the price range it is killer
    Now that you have the non pressurised baskets the leaking will prove to be quite annoying - experience has shown me this ;) I did not get the group head seal, but from what it sounds like this is just a replacement seal and probably would not help you (unless the seal is thicker material than the old one - thus bringing the portafilter in tighter - it would not create a better seal) What was recommended to me and what I did do was grab some plumbers (threading) tape and line the basket with it so that it acts sort of like a washer between your portafilter and your basket. This will in turn bring the overall PF closer to the grouphead and thus seal better. I hope this makes sense - I just checked to see if I had any photos but I dont.
    As for tamping etc, I found that the shower screen in the ristretto is very high which means you need to dose and tamp to just under the lip of the basket so that it is touching the shower screen - this I have found is quite important to a good shot.
    The downside to this as expressed earlier is the explosion of grinds that can happen due to no OPV. What I have found is that if you leave the PF in place for a little while after the shot and remove it slowly it helps some - some ;)

    This baby can produce a good shot and it can be really consistant as well. As it is only 53mm and not 58mm you are always going to struggle to get a true double - in fact the double basket really is only a single in commercial or prosumer terms, but that is OK - just use smaller cups if you like it stronger.
    I think a grinder is probably a big thing to get a decent shot out of the non pressurised baskets. Being able to dial in the grind as it ages (and to the machine to start with) is very important - if the roastery grinds for you and gets it wrong by just more than a little bit it will easily choke the machine, or gush it a bit.
    I was lucky enough to have bought my rocky at the same time as buying the replacement baskets so I could adjust things.

    Hope this helps some. Persevere - it may not be the bees knees, but I tell you I was surprised by its performance even compared to the Botticelli which I have now.
    Grab yourself a half decent grinder if you can and youll be going great guns.

    Shannon.



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