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Thread: Dripping from the shower/group

  1. #1
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    Dripping from the shower/group

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hello again to all,

    Firstly, a short story - my family of 6 were on holidays last week for the week at lovely Tin Can Bay in Queensland in our caravan. Before we left, I agonised over whether I should take my espresso machine with me, or would we indulge in languishing on a veranda enjoying someone else making our cappuccino/espressos whilst drinking in the view (I know, rubbing it in). Well the gods were against us...

    We actually went to a couple of shops that sold "espresso" coffees, but to be honest, I had found that they were decidedly well WELL below what I would even call a poor shot on a bad day that I have been known to have. The view was fantastic, but the coffee aint...

    So where does this story lead? Through sheer frustration and a burning desire for at least a halfway decent coffee, we drove the 80 odd kilometers each way to Maryborough (the nearest Big W) to buy a Sunbeam Cafe Ristretto machine (and a set of cappuccino cups, and coffee, and chocolate etc etc). Now before you stop reading here, I would have to say that for a $98 machine, it is a boiler type (NOT thermoblock), with 1.5 litre water capacity AND a stainless steel jug for frothing (mind you it is only about 350-400mls). Granted, it has an alloy portafilter (with crema enhancing dual wall filter baskets), and I have no idea what the boiler is made of or its capacity, but needless to say it gave us a far better coffee than what we had been able to buy at either store in TCB, as well as better than McDonalds McCafe (I know - but I was desperate).

    So here is the question - John was asking in another thread about his Carrezza dripping from the shower head. With the Ristretto, when you are in steam PreHeat mode (the Ristretto does not have a steam switch - just a pump switch. To set the steam, you rotate the steam knob to the PreHeat mark, which is just before the steam knob valve is beginning to open). When the boiler is nearing temperature, steam and hot water starts dripping from the shower screen in a not insignificant volume. Even if you install the portafilter, it still creates small bubbles at the outlets which pop spreading (quite) hot water everywhere. As you can now appreciate, in a small caravan, there isnt a lot of room in which to manouvre, and if you left the steam on PreHeat for too long, the spray just got worse. Is this normal, and do all boilers do this to some degree??? Since my home machine is a Thermoblock I havent found this problem (and I am now going away to hide in shame)

    Thanks again for your wealth of advice...

    Hooroo,

    Ken.

    ;D

  2. #2
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Ken,

    it will basically be the same deal as that discussed in the "carezza" thread and that is, that when the machine is switched over to produce steam for the steam pipe, there will be a build up of extra pressure and this ***usually*** results in some dripping/steaming in most machines of this type.

    The discussion then can be narrowed down to...how much of this dripping is "normal", and for any individual machine, when does the dripping become too much. So unless someone here has exactly the same model machine and can advise you, or you telephone the nearest agent for the brand, you might never find out what is "normal" for the model.

    It then will come down to managing the situation, which would be to start using the steamer as soon as practicable. This should stop the problem from occuring because the path of least resistance should then be for the steam to exit from the end of the steam pipe and into your milk, instead!

    Sorry cant be more help.

    Regardez,
    FC.

  3. #3
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Hey There FC,

    I had kind of come to the same conclusion - how much is too much. I only really got caught out badly the first time around, when I spent too much time looking for the leak instead of seeing what happens when I do in fact open the steam valve. I found that out around the third or fourth time of using it...

    Thanks for your input and advice - especially so quickly!

    Hooroo,

    Ken.

  4. #4
    admin
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Ken I was thinking of getting one of these machines for work.

    What are the coffees like out of them?

    The thermo block Sunbeams do a respectabe job for what they are and the class of machine. (i actually owned one for 12 months ) ;)

    cheers
    Rich

  5. #5
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Ken,

    appreciate the thanks.

    FC.

  6. #6
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Hello Rich,

    The Sunbeam Cafe Ristretto is in my inexperienced and cost-orientated opinion quite a good machine - especially for $100 (just about everywhere). From what I have noted:

    It is a boiler (not thermoblock), and has suffient steam capacity to froth about 150-200mls of milk in one go.

    The coffee comes out hot (unlike a thermoblock), but you do have to ensure that you run the espresso pump for about a shots worth after frothing milk and before drawing your shot of coffee in order to bring the boiler temp down off steaming (again thanks to all here for that gem of advice - I used to always have "burnt" tasting coffee until I had read about it here first).

    The portafilter in the Sunbeam is alloy, with a plastic diffuser in the bottom of the portafilter. The 1 and 2 cup filter baskets are dual wall crema enhancers the same as Breville. The portafilter has a spring retainer internally that helps to hold the filter basket in place when knocking out. You can fit two 220ml cappuccino cups under the portafilter side by side (unlike the Mistral boiler espresso machine from BigW for $50 - the side frames get in the way - one cup only).

    It has about a 1.5L water tank, which can be very easily removed to refill and clean. And the drip tray is removable for cleaning.

    The frothing wand (panarello?) is on a swivel, so you can swing it out of the way when you have finished with the machine. There is also a very good amount of room under the wand to remove your jug without having to tilt it first. The wand has a rubber frothing enhancer, but I have found that I have had much more success with frothing without it.

    I dont know about the group, but I would hazard a very strong guess that it is only alloy (due to the price). The shower screen is removeable for cleaning though.

    It takes about 2-3 minutes to heat up for coffee, and about another minute and a bit beyond that if you want steam. As per my original thread, it likes to drip (lots of) hot water and steam if you leave it on steam preheat for too long after the heater light.

    It is small in width when stowed - about 40cm tall, 25cm deep and 15cm wide. And it comes with a stainless jug (small one) as a bonus. Short power lead on it though (one of my problems in the caravan).

    My opinion on taste? I pretty well know now how to get near the best out of this type of filter (I have the Breville Cafe Roma as well) - it never will be as good as the proper filters, but it still makes a very nice tasting coffee. Oh, and it is definitely hotter than the thermoblock Breville (but not "burnt" hot), and much faster overall in steaming the milk (I like the milk based drinks mostly).

    As for work use, if you have a small business, or if you want it just for yourself (lucky), then I would consider it - it certainly doesnt cost a lot. But with such a price level, I am unsure about the life of it (e.g. if it has an aluminium boiler, which is my guess, then that may well corrode and fail unlike brass or SS). But at $100, it will over time provide you with a very large saving on having to by coffee from a local shop that probably doesnt taste as good as you like to make it, and if it does fail in the first year, then thats what the warranty helps with.

    Sorry for the review, but I wanted to pass on all that I knew about it.

    Hooroo,

    Ken.

  7. #7
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    In addition & for your information:

    panarello....Italian, loosely translated would mean "frothmaker", otherwise, steam wand or steam pipe is ok, except that usually with the word panarello, it means the steam pipe/wand is also fitted with an air entraining outer tube to aid "frothability"....and this is also sometimes called a venturi or turbo frothing device, or frothing enhancer!

    Portafilter...an odd blend of Italian & English, but almost certainly an "americanism" imported to our fair shores. The full italian phrase is "porta FILTRO" which when literally translated into english means "holder of filter" or filter holder. Does that mean its either a portafiltro, or a filter holder, or a porterfilter????? ;D *In industryspeak its called a "group handle"!

    Filter basket....where on earth did that come from, seems like an inefficient use of english because it simply refers to the coffee filter in a coffee machine and is therefore simply a ...filter! *:) Probably another americanism borrowed by us.

    Spring retainer (securing the filter into the group handle)....in industryspeak also known as a "filter circlip"!

    Short power lead... a good indication of the inexpensiveness of an appliance!

    Please dont misunderstand as I am NOT trying to take the mikie out of you, its lunch time, there is a little time to kill, and just thought you might like to know some of the "finer" points for the information of the masses.

    Therefore
    Re : ".....Sorry for the review, but I wanted to pass on all that I knew about it...."

    On the contrary, very well done and very fair.

    Ok Im going back to work now.
    Regardez,
    FC.

  8. #8
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Hello again FC,

    Thanks for filling in some of the missing details. As I had said, I myself am a newbie, and certainly warmly appreciate any and all additional details and corrections that anyone would like to send. It all goes to learning more, and having a greater and more fulfilling understanding of the nectar of the gods (even though it does sometimes involve milk)!

    Youre right about the americanisms - I must admit I didnt think much of them at the time, but now I know what the correct terminology is! So wand, filter, filter retainer and group handle it is!

    Hooroo mate, and thanks for taking the time out to reply.

    Ken

  9. #9
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Duh...

    Filter circlip, filter circlip, filter circlip...

    Didnt take long, did it!

    Ken.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Re: Dripping from the shower/group

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    There was a notice on the sunbeam steam wand...

    It included this little disclaimer...
    "It is natural for a small amount of water to drip from the shower head when steaming."

    HHHhhhhhmmmmm "Natural" hey. ??? Well, that says it all.



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