Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Help with the low end

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    338

    Help with the low end

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I cant wait! I just cant wait till I have the $1000 odd for a Silvia and Rocky combo. So Im gonna get a "throwaway" number.

    I need advice - and dont scoff - really, its a start, and a new toy... even if its not as good as some of your toys!

    Its either a "boiler" type Sunbeam Cafe Ristretto EM2300 at $100, or the Breville Cafe Roma ESP6 at $130.

    Is boiler better than thermoblock?

    What are everyones recommendations?

    Anyhow - thats me to start... then Im gonna save like a madman!

    And for those of you who laughed at me... just think how happy Ill be when I upgrade from a $100 machine to a $1000 setup!

    Cheers,
    Andy

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    24

    Re: Help with the low end

    GDay Andy,

    Ironically, I have both of the machines...

    I was like you, I kinda knew what I wanted, but at that stage I didnt know the operational differences between the thermoblock and the boiler - so I bought the Breville Cafe Roma ESP6 only because KMart had it on special (and it came with a dinky set of cups and saucers.

    Then recently on a trip away in the caravan (and buying two horrendous coffees from two different stores), I drove the 160km round trip to Maryborough just to buy the Sunbeam Ristretto so I could make my own halfway decent coffees whilst I was away (gee, a snob with L plates...).

    So, as to your question - I would say the Sunbeam wins out over the Breville for two reasons; both of which relate to it having a boiler over the Brevilles thermoblock.

    Firstly, when steaming, the Breville initially starts out delivering hot water, then very wet steam, and after about a minute or so, less wet steam. Steaming 200mls of milk takes about 3 minutes with the Breville. The Sunbeam on the other hand has a good strong steam supply right from the get go, and is easily capable of steaming the same amount of milk in around a minute and a half, and is much finer on the froth than the sea foam delivered by the Breville. With both of them I threw away the rubber frothing enhancers - much better results without it on both machines.

    Secondly, because of the boiler capacity over the thermoblock, a double shot of espresso is exposed to a by far more even temperature with the Sunbeam than the Breville. This is because the Brevilles thermoblock capacity is only about 10mls, so to heat enough water for 60-70ml shot (plus that absorbed by the coffee itself) requires the heater to come on after the first 20-30mls that has passed through has cooled the thermoblock below the thermostat point. The Sunbeams boiler, on the other hand, has already got over 100mls of water at around the 92 degrees required ready to be pumped for the double shot. Even allowing for the replacement of the used water during the pumping cycle, the boiler wins out on temperature stability.

    Cycle time between steaming and brewing is pretty much even (if you use the cheat of pulling a blank shot to cool the thermoblock/boiler to brew temperature)

    Both of them use same group handle (as they are interchangeable), but the Sunbeam wins again by using a filter circlip to hold the filter in place, where if you turn the Brevilles group handle upside down to knock out the grounds without first placing the filter retainer clip lever thingy (dont know what you would call it), you lose the filter into the knock box (done that heaps, let me tell you!).

    Both of them use the same Dual Wall Crema Enhancing Filters. I have been trying to find a single wall filter to play with, but admit that I havent been trying too hard. The Mistral machine from BigW has a single wall filter, but I dont know about the filter hole size (as in if I ground to the fineness of espresso, whether half would pass right through the holes in the bottom of the filter). BTW, I have found that with the Crema Enhancing filters, I cannot grind as fine as I would with a single walled filter - if I did, it seems to over extract it too much and makes it taste very bitter. I did a test with a mates Gaggia Cubika, and using the same tamping method and grind that I would use with my machines, found that it under extracted (too watery), but a finer grind was much better on his...

    But the Sunbeam has a short power lead and no dinky set of cups. Although it does come with a stainless jug, measuring/tamping spoon and cleaning wires for the filters and steam wand.

    IMHO, I would go with the Sunbeam for the price.

    Oh, and as for me, I went to Cerebos here in Brisbane on Wednesday to have a look see at the Silvia and Rocky - Silvia is gorgeous (except the Silvia sticker had air bubbles underneath - so obvious but lets the look down), but I must say that the Rocky doserless looked a bit plasticy - especially with the cute blue coloured discharge chute (is that normally what they supply?). I thought that the doser versionlooked much better, but I have no need for the doser (only make up to four coffees at a time, and dont need it for the two chocco ones). Mind you though, the Lucy was lovely as well, but the sticker price was a bit bigger over the Silvia/Rocky combo. I am saving up for at least the Silvia though...

    Hope this helps mate,

    Hooroo,

    Ken.

  3. #3
    admin
    Guest

    Re: Help with the low end

    I had a laugh you will probably own a Silvia and Rocky before the end of the year. ;D

    Rich

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    338

    Re: Help with the low end

    Firstly - Ken, thanks VERY much for your advice. I have taken it and got the sunbean. I am currnetly waiting from some filtered water to get started, so Ill let you know how I go!

    Couple of things. When you heat up the sunbeam, and its first ready to go, do you pull a blank then? or is it ready to just fire?? Is it only after steaming that you need to pull one, or between espressos (if youre making 4)

    Any other hints and tips about the workings of the sunbeam would be great - Ill let you know how I go for sure.

    And Rich! Yeah - I hear you, I hear you. I wish it was by the end of the year! - Ill let YOU know about that too!!

    For now, its tinkering with steam... which might seem crazy to some... but its one small step for Andy.

  5. #5
    admin
    Guest

    Re: Help with the low end

    get thr $80 sunbeam grinder which will be good enough for the machine you have.

    but do let us know how you get on iwth your new toy.

    Rich

  6. #6
    .
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    2,312

    Re: Help with the low end

    Rich, Andy CJ,

    a great idea to get a grinder but I have a reservation about that brand / model grinder....may I respectfully suggest that Andy go for the Emide instead. It is around the same price or perhaps slightly more, depending on where it is purchased, but is a much better grinder.

    There are a small number of grinders using identical grinding plates and similar internals to eachother. They are most probably one grinder with diff brand names on. Since Christmas we have had a few of these cheaper grinders (bought as presents from various department stores etc) brought in to us to check...usually because the owners cant get a decent coffee out of their new equipment. We have found that most of this type of grinder ARE NOT ABLE TO COPE with grinding coffee properly for pump driven espresso machines....not even close Im afraid. There are two problems - the adjusting mechanisms will not go finer than a "perc" grind, & the motors do not have enough torque for the job and quickly give up the ghost.

    I am uncomfortable pointing at specific names in public, however it should be sufficient to say that some of these grinders are so similar that they can only be described as being badge engineerd versions of only one model, with different appliance brand names stuck on.

    This is the reason for suggesting the Emide in this end of the market. It is known to operate well enough for the purpose, the scale of grind adjustment can be altered internally where necessary, the motor keeps going...

    Regardez,
    FC.

  7. #7
    tim
    tim is offline
    Administrator
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    246

    Re: Help with the low end

    This sounds like Deja-vu.
    I had a Breville "Burr" grinder that I got cheap about 6 -7 months ago from a local Retravision (display stock). It is variously labelled as a Delongi, Russell Hobbs, etc.
    Brought it home thinking "great!"
    Was very disappointed to find that I couldnt get anything finer than plunger/drip grind from it.
    Took apart and used small brass washers to space the burrs closer.
    The next test-grind was beautiful, however, at the end of the following grind, the motor made a very high-pitched noise closely followed by a lot of very foul-smelling smoke.....then... silence.
    (Except for my loud expletives and a vigorous slam-dunk into the bin).
    This all happened on the same day I bought the grinder. Ahhh well, I learnt something.
    The motor looked like it came from a Scalextric car! :P

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    338

    Re: Help with the low end

    Bollox!

    Thats all Ive got to say about the sunbeam.

    Its going back to Big W, and Im getting my money back to put towards something else....

    Problems: When tested flow I only got about 70ml in 10 seconds with the group off. (when Alan from coffeeco.com.au reviewed his $99 machine he got 100ml). Next, I got WET pucks. When the brew was done, and I took the group off it was pooling water! Judging from pictures Ive seen the puck is supposed to be dry and you should be able to knock it out whole! FUSTRATING!

    Mostly thou I couldnt get the espresso done well. With the single basket it took 10 seconds to get 30ml, and it was watery. I could get a better shot with the double, but that was still 20 seconds at the max and it would start going very watery too.

    People talk about a 25 second shot - Im assuming that the machine I got wasnt going to produce that?

    I tried the grind from my Spong hand burr grinder, its pretty fine, so I thought that would do. I tried different tamps (hard and soft) and I also tried a really old bag of Harris - not to drink, but just to see if the grind made a difference to the times it took. No noticable difference to the brew with single or double.

    Screw this.... as Tim said thou, at least I learnt something. And I know I can get my money back from Big W, so thats cool.

    Ill post again when Ive saved up a bit more cash, and see what the mid range of the market holds....

    oh well... moving on.

  9. #9
    .
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    2,312

    Re: Help with the low end

    Not sure what the significance of timing and measuring the flow of water from the group, without a packed group handle fitted to the machine, has to do with anything. What it flows, is what it flows, is what it flows, nothing more and nothing less!!!!

    Suggest you are probably not filling the coffee filters to the correct level. This causes underextracted dish water coffee, and pooling and a sloppy / spongy puck. Because the flow from an underfilled filter rushes out quickly, operators usually think the grind is too coarse and they make it finer. This causes even more pooling and sloppiness in an underfilled filter...an incorrect grind, and still a lousy brew.

    Rule number one is to fill the filter with grinds to a point (after tamping), where the flow of brewing water from the group cannot push the grinds out of the way inside the filter and channel straight through & out the bottom as an underextracted mess. This generally means the level of grounds in the filter, when the handle is applied to the group, should be almost touching the "shower". *Because you have no way at first of judging this, you have to fill the filter to a point where when it is applied to the group (after tamping), and then removed WITHOUT brewing coffee, you see a slight imprint of the shower on top if the unbrewed puck of grinds.

    Once you become familiar with this you will know where to fill the level of grinds to in the filter. Do it the same way every time. Only when you have mastered this, will you be able to make the appropriate adjsutments to the grind to get the brew just right.

    Also suggest you may not be able to grind the coffee fine enough for a pump driven machine with a hand grinder, although this may be subject to the type of grinder you have.

    Also suggest that if you have been doing all the right things all along, that the problem is most likely the really stale packet of coffee you mentioned. The best thing to do with a really old packet of coffee is to bin it. Really stale coffee lacks oils. This means it lacks density, so aside from creating a foul brew, it will result in your grind being way off becasue you will be trying to compensate for lack of density (and therefore lack of resistance of the grinds to the flow of water), by grinding much finer than you would for fresh coffee which is full of lovely volatile oils. This will also result in sloppy spongy pucks. You need to do your experiments with the same coffee you intend to actually drink and enjoy.

    If all that fails, you will have done your best and only then will it be time to return said sunbeam for a refund.

    Keep us informed and regardez,
    FC.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    93

    Re: Help with the low end

    Ive got nothing to add other than thanks for the detailed explanation F.C. Ive been following the discussion with interest and your depth of knowledge is staggering here as it is in all the other you have advised on.

    Cheers,

    Louis

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    338

    Re: Help with the low end

    Ive got to agree! FC, you do really cover the bases.

    I think what you said about water pooling is critical to where I was going wrong, and perhaps critical to the sunbeam machine?? but I cant confirm that because I took it back to Big W, and am now waiting on the Breville esp6? to arrive at Target. (on special for $130)

    I had a look at the breville machine compared to the sunbeam, and it looks like the shower for the breville is set slightly lower than the sunbeam, so - this should mean I can pack the coffee as you said till I see the indent of the shower, then crank it out.

    I have a much better understanding of how you dont want the coffee "blasted" out of the way to create a sludgy mess. Im hoping Ken also gains much valued tips to help him with his "nemisis" the puck!

    But I did find out about the "flow of water without the group in place" - this is called a "Water debit" and it seems like it is important to a certian degree. I was getting about 60ml within 10 seconds, which, as it turns out, is the mimimum you need to be able to work properly. On searching for this I have found a mega-article on coffeegeek which covers "evaluating domestic machines" man... its REALLY detailed and I thought may help other people on this path too.
    The Water debit is No.4.

    http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/alanfrew/08-22-2003

    Ill let everyone know about the breville, and if I have better luck.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  12. #12
    .
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    2,312

    Re: Help with the low end

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Thanks for your kind words Papalui and Andy.

    Regardez,
    FC.



Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •