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Thread: I now have a coffee machine... umm... now what do I do with it?

  1. #1
    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    I now have a coffee machine... umm... now what do I do with it?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Sooo, I had a little accident. Nothing too serious. I'm sure I'll be able to sell a kidney or some of my other non-essential items in time to pay rent this month. I'm positive of it. Really I am.

    Aaaannny way, I now have a Gaggia Classic!

    Yay!

    It being second-hand the previous owner said that it had been in storage for some time. It had been beloved and cleaned before storage but I just finished cleaning it up anyway. It's shiny. I like shiny. But is it clean?

    As a sort of "owner's revirginization ritual", I'd like to make sure it's all nice and clean on the insides as well. I figure that there is probably a wealth of knowledge here on what one should do to ensure a long and healthy life of a Gaggia Classic and so I'd like to draw on the intelligentsia here to learn how and what I should do before pulling my first shot.

    Is there a homestyle recipe I could or should use? Are there commercial cleaners I should use instead? Should I run several plain-water shots through it or is that a bad idea? Any advice will be much appreciated as I really want to do this properly and make sure I don't bugger anything up

  2. #2
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    I would clean out the tank, run some water through the group and steam wand.

    then use some caffetto or similar cleaner and soak the PF, basket, shower screen etc to give them a clean. Also, I would blank a basket, fill it with the cafetto solution, lock it in and let it soak the group. then flush out, back flush with caffetto a few times and then repeat with water and rinse.

    Once you remove the shower screen it will give you an idea of previous upkeep and you can judge how far to take the cleaning.

    Then get some freshly roasted beans and start drinking!!

    Cheers

  3. #3
    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    I would clean out the tank, run some water through the group and steam wand.
    The group is?

    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    then use some caffetto or similar cleaner and soak the PF, basket, shower screen etc to give them a clean.
    Hmm, this caffetto stuff is troubling. There seems to be a lot of types of it. There's powders, sprays, tablets and even kits!

    Sooo... anything specific?

    I have some descaler already but I didn't want to use it without knowing first that it was safe and whether or not specific machines require specific types of cleaners or descalers.

    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Also, I would blank a basket, fill it with the cafetto solution, lock it in and let it soak the group. then flush out, back flush with caffetto a few times and then repeat with water and rinse.
    I'm guessing that "blank"ing is just running a shot through it without any coffee in it. That one seems obvious. Locking it in seems obvious too but I have no idea what back flushing is or how to do it, sorry.

    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Once you remove the shower screen it will give you an idea of previous upkeep and you can judge how far to take the cleaning.
    The shower screen is the one on the machine just above where you place the portafilter?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Congratulations Thankdog, hope it all goes well for you.
    Just a point, Cafetto is a brand name, the back flush chemical you need is Cafetto EVO, other people sell similar products, Chris at Talk Coffee sells a product called Clean Machine, have heard good reports about it http://www.talkcoffee.com.au/product...d-maintenance/

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    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    Blank a basket means to stop water going through it - often you will hear of a 'blind filter' which is a filter with no holes. The idea is you run a shot or so through it, and it forces the water back up through the showerscreen to clean it. With the Sunbeam there's a rubber disk you put in a normal filter to achieve the same effect.

    On the commercial machines I used I would use a blind filter and run the shot on manual until I heard the pressure change - it's a clear difference in sound - and you can also hear the release. Surprising how much crap comes out. The Sunbeam also has a cleaning program setting where it runs multiple blind shots as part of a cleaning process that lasts maybe 10 minutes.

    You'd need someone with a Gaggia or a manual to tell you the process for your machine; I presume (given the popularity of them) the Gaggia has the 3-way valve. I'm not sure I would risk the blind shot until you know - breaching the seal at full pressure could be downright hazardous AND messy.

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    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    You'd need someone with a Gaggia or a manual to tell you the process for your machine; I presume (given the popularity of them) the Gaggia has the 3-way valve. I'm not sure I would risk the blind shot until you know - breaching the seal at full pressure could be downright hazardous AND messy.
    That sounds very scary. I can see the headlines now:

    Man dies trying to blank his basket!

    My dying words could be, "I just wanted a decent espresso!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThankDog View Post
    I'm guessing that "blank"ing is just running a shot through it without any coffee in it. That one seems obvious. Locking it in seems obvious too but I have no idea what back flushing is or how to do it, sorry.
    A blank (aka "blind) basket is like the filter basket you put coffee in, only it has no holes.
    You can therefore fill it with cleaning solution and when it is "locked in", the solution will stay in contact with the group and shower screen.

    I would explain what backflushing is, but I am sure there is a detailed thread around here which will do a better job of it. I will note that you will need one of the aforementioned "blind" filter baskets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    A blank (aka "blind) basket is like the filter basket you put coffee in, only it has no holes.
    You can therefore fill it with cleaning solution and when it is "locked in", the solution will stay in contact with the group and shower screen.

    I would explain what backflushing is, but I am sure there is a detailed thread around here which will do a better job of it. I will note that you will need one of the aforementioned "blind" filter baskets.
    Yeah, been digging around for that info and it seems that to do it I'll need to wait until after New Year's some time. Man I hate this time of year. Everyone is busy doing trivial and unimportant things like visiting family and partying with friends while I have to wait around for them all to get over it and get back to work so as to service my needs.

    So selfish of them.

    I've taken it apart and checked around inside and it seems pretty clean and in good shape. A bit of old coffee grime though so I would like to run a cleaner through it and do that backflushing thing before using it for coffee though. Still not sure about the descalers. So much conflicting information. Some say regular descalers are fine for the aluminum boiler, others say they're too harsh, some say citric acid, others say tartaric acid. I think I might try sulfuric acid just to see what happens

    Anyone have a spare car battery?

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    A barista course may be worthwhile (if you haven't had one yet) the one i attended years ago also include coffee machine cleaning ritual , enjoy your caffeinated journey!
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    A barista course is also a lot of fun!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I get the impression that Thankdog is on a very limited budget, while i agree a barista course would be of value, what he's looking for from us is advice about his newly acquired machine.

    Sadly TD more bad news, to get the best from your Gaggia Classic your going to need a grinder and a source of freshly roasted beans, keep an eye on Coffee Snobs for sale section, when finances permit you may be able to pick up a reasonable grinder there, some of the Sunbeam grinders seem very popular.

  13. #13
    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    I've looked into barista courses previously in order to get employment. I never did it because being older, fatter, dumber and male seems to be the polar opposite requirements for baristas in most cafes. At least ones that I've asked about applying for jobs at. Oh to be young, pretty and female. Sigh.

    The other problem with them is that they seem highly, HIGHLY variable in terms of quality and expense and the two don't seem to be as related as they should be. A popular one is the Lavazza course but I absolutely hate Lavazza coffee so I figured it wouldn't be a good place to go to learn. If there are any places that you recommend, I might check them out and see if I can get the training through my DSP. Still don't think it'll help get a job but hey, you never know. At the very least it'll give me a leg-up should I ever find a place that will employ older, fatter, dumber males

    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I get the impression that Thankdog is on a very limited budget, while i agree a barista course would be of value, what he's looking for from us is advice about his newly acquired machine.

    Sadly TD more bad news, to get the best from your Gaggia Classic your going to need a grinder and a source of freshly roasted beans, keep an eye on Coffee Snobs for sale section, when finances permit you may be able to pick up a reasonable grinder there, some of the Sunbeam grinders seem very popular.
    I do OK. I live cheaply and choose my luxuries wisely. No smoking, very limited drinking, etc. Plus whenever I get work I save money very quickly from being used to living on the cheap. So I tend to buy into things and accumulate stuff that I sell when the work stops. Currently I still have a few things I can sell to support this newfound hobby so it's not all bad.

    As for freshly roasted, there are four places that have been recommended on this site in the Vic category that are within... well... I can get to them without requiring an entire day so technically they're accessible. And although I don't know the prices at three of them, the one I do know has freshly roasted (they have their own roaster) for $9-12 for 250g which is only a little bit more expensive than stale supermarket packets

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    If you're not supremely picky about your coffee (ie having the same bean every time) occasionally there are good fresh roasted coffee bargains on ozbargain from a variety of startup roasters trying to make a name for themselves. That's what I did for a year before I started roasting myself.

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    TC
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    We have some browns remaining on our website.

    They're all about to peak having been roasted just before Christmas. $10/480g until sold. Way better than binning it

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThankDog View Post
    I do OK. I live cheaply and choose my luxuries wisely. No smoking, very limited drinking, etc. Plus whenever I get work I save money very quickly from being used to living on the cheap. So I tend to buy into things and accumulate stuff that I sell when the work stops. Currently I still have a few things I can sell to support this newfound hobby so it's not all bad.
    Fair enough, if you want good espresso now is the time to try to "accumulate" a reasonable coffee grinder.

  17. #17
    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    I now have a blind and some Caffetto, thanks to CoffeeMax in Camberwell being the only place open that I could find that was remotely accessible to me! Of course it's the Cleaner and not EVO and I don't know what the difference is but hey, what's the worst that could happen? It's not like this stuff is poison, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    They're all about to peak having been roasted just before Christmas. $10/480g until sold. Way better than binning it
    Do you accept kidneys as payment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThankDog View Post
    Of course it's the Cleaner and not EVO and I don't know what the difference is but hey, what's the worst that could happen? It's not like this stuff is poison, right?
    Sarcasm? I wouldn't be drinking it!

    If its a detergent based cleaner, rather than a descaler, it is probably fine for backflushing, but probably not suitable (or useful) to put in your boiler.

    If in doubt, ask first. Much cheaper that way!

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    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    Sarcasm?
    That covers 99.9% of any remotely understandable communicative noises that emanate from my orifices

    The other 0.1% of the time I am absolutely and utterly serious about everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    If its a detergent based cleaner, rather than a descaler, it is probably fine for backflushing, but probably not suitable (or useful) to put in your boiler.
    I'd link to it but apparently that's not allowed. It's the caffetto stuff, the "espresso cleaner", orange/brown label.

    As for descaler, I have descaler for a different coffee machine (ALDI Expressi) but I'm just not sure if I can/should use it or not.

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    Oh dear, milky water

    I'm only using tap-water at the moment because I realised too late that I'd probably need filtered. I'm hoping that's the real issue. I got some citric acid (McKenzies) anyway from the supermarket, found some instructions, and am attempting to descale now before I do the detergent flush. The instructions I have recommend letting it sit a few times in-between flushes for descaling so it's taking awhile to get it done. Too late for me to have a coffee from it today (I try not to have any caffeine past 6pm so as not to disturb my precious, precious sleep) but hey, there's always tomorrow. Or the next day... sigh.

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    Dear Dog that Cafetta stuff is noxious!

    Still, glad I used it. The innards were pretty grimy and there was a fair bit of grit that came out. Gave it a second blind rinsing just to be sure and soaked the... watchamacallit that the shower screen is attached to as well. Still gotta get some filtered water and some proper coffee before I try a shot.

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    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    In regards to the grinder dilemma and not wanting to spend too much money, I reckon a good idea is to pick up a Breville BCG450 and modify it to grind finer. It's what I currently use and whilst it's not brilliant or fast, after modification it does produce a nice fine grind with decent enough accuracy.
    You could probably pick one up second hand for $20-40. There's a thread on here that covers the modification required. It's not a hard job. Here's the link: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/grinders/2...grinder-2.html
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    G'day TD...

    Don't run any acid or basic substances through your Classic mate, the innards of the Classic's Boiler and other bits attached to it are made from Aluminium. Probably best to just run the Cafetto through the Classic a few times, flush out then leave it at that. Alternatively, you could strip the classic down and clean out any scale manually - Not that hard to do with the Classic's design.

    One of our CSer chemists might be able to suggest something more labour friendly and easy to obtain.

    Mal.

  24. #24
    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    So I just tried pulling a few shots. Hmm. This stuff is gonna take some practice. First I put too much, then I put too little. The plastic tamper that came with the machine is seriously awful so at least now I understand why a good tamper is needed. First puck was actually pretty solid but the next three, which were technically the right dosage, were soggy and stuck to the shower screen :/

    Also, how long do I run it for? The instructions say until the espresso cup is 3/4 full but I have three different types of "espresso" cups and they're all different sizes (and shapes). An espresso shot is supposedly 30ml but that only fills 1/4 of the cups I have.

    Quote Originally Posted by noidle22 View Post
    In regards to the grinder dilemma and not wanting to spend too much money, I reckon a good idea is to pick up a Breville BCG450 and modify it to grind finer. It's what I currently use and whilst it's not brilliant or fast, after modification it does produce a nice fine grind with decent enough accuracy.
    You could probably pick one up second hand for $20-40. There's a thread on here that covers the modification required. It's not a hard job. Here's the link: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/grinders/2...grinder-2.html
    Cool, thanks, I'll keep it in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Don't run any acid or basic substances through your Classic mate, the innards of the Classic's Boiler and other bits attached to it are made from Aluminium.

    Too late.

    I read at least a dozen different guides and forum posts on the matter and most of them said citric was fine so I didn't think it'd be too big a deal to run it through once. I've thoroughly (and I do mean thoroughly) rinsed it out since then so it hopefully won't be an issue

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    I went through a lot of bad shots with my Silvia.

    The best recent investment I've made it getting a set of scales. Get yourself a cheap 0.01g set from ebay for under $20 and you'll be laughing. I only got myself a 0.1g set, but I'm going to make the just to 0.01g and see how they go.

    Once you have the correct dose SIZE, adjust your grind and tamp to match.

    I find that one you can eliminate, or at least control some of the variables, you'll have a much more enjoyable experience making your coffee.

    Also, you'd be surprised how much difference 0.5g makes! I aim for 15.5g in my Silvia double, and even with 15.2g or 15.8g I will easily make a bad shot if I dont adjust the tamp to suit it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicovington View Post
    I went through a lot of bad shots with my Silvia.

    The best recent investment I've made it getting a set of scales. Get yourself a cheap 0.01g set from ebay for under $20 and you'll be laughing. I only got myself a 0.1g set, but I'm going to make the just to 0.01g and see how they go.

    Once you have the correct dose SIZE, adjust your grind and tamp to match.

    I find that one you can eliminate, or at least control some of the variables, you'll have a much more enjoyable experience making your coffee.

    Also, you'd be surprised how much difference 0.5g makes! I aim for 15.5g in my Silvia double, and even with 15.2g or 15.8g I will easily make a bad shot if I dont adjust the tamp to suit it.
    Any brand recommendations or is a cheapie good enough for that kind of thing?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThankDog View Post
    Any brand recommendations or is a cheapie good enough for that kind of thing?
    Hi ThankDog

    Congrats on your machine.

    Glad to see you cleaned it out well. "Fill the water reservoir with approximately 1.5 litres of warm water, add 3 tablespoons of vinegar and replace the reservoir." is from my 6910 manual as a safe optional cleaner (instead of their own expensive descaling stuff). FWIW, I used to use white vinegar many years ago, no idea if it makes a difference if you use brown.

    Yes, as a number of posts suggest, you now really need a grinder... Supermarket preground coffee (shudder) is usually halfway between drip and plunger grind, and barely works in an espresso machine without also using a dual floor basket (shudder). It is often so stale that when you open the bag it is completely undrinkable in a day or two. Result: barely better than instant. Add a new / secondhand SB EM480 to your "grinder" list, as they will tide you over for quite a while. JM in http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...w-machine.html has heaps of info as to how to sort & calibrate a cantankerous one. Just make sure you hear two or three so you do not get the high revving one (it will burn your coffee).

    Scales: Bonavita are the ony company I know that makes specialised coffee scales (complete with a drip tray and optional siphon stand!) but they are $90 for their 0.1g ones (accurate enough to breathe on and change the reading). If you are handy enough, I keep seeing mini / pocket scales for $35ish that are 0.1g or 0.01g, however you would have to make a platform holder for your p/f. Not difficult, but perhaps fiddly.

    All the best for your NY.

    TampIt

  28. #28
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThankDog View Post
    I'd link to it but apparently that's not allowed. It's the caffetto stuff, the "espresso cleaner", orange/brown label.
    This is the product your talking about

    Barista Accessories Cafetto Coffee Machine and Grinder Cleaning Products | Coffee Parts

    Linking to any of Coffee Snobs sponsors is fine, you will find a list of them at the bottom of the home page.

    Coffee snobs is a commercial site, it offers no cost membership to members, who in turn benefit from the vast experience and expert advice from other members and of course sponsors, the only ask is that if possible you support the sponsors by considering them when you need to make a coffee related purchase.

    About the only request by CS of the members is that we don't post links to commercial sites who are not sponsors, a small ask.

  29. #29
    Senior Member ArtW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    G'day TD...

    Don't run any acid or basic substances through your Classic mate, the innards of the Classic's Boiler and other bits attached to it are made from Aluminium.
    I once tried using Cafetto to clean a Moka Pot. Not a good idea. The aluminium immediately turned a kind of dark grey / black (oxidisation?). I tried to clean it up with soap and scourers but no good. I wasn't sure if it would have any health or taste effects so I chucked it out.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtW View Post
    I once tried using Cafetto to clean a Moka Pot. Not a good idea. The aluminium immediately turned a kind of dark grey / black (oxidisation?). I tried to clean it up with soap and scourers but no good. I wasn't sure if it would have any health or taste effects so I chucked it out.
    I got that when I soaked the thingy... attached to the whosit... above the whatsit.

    Anyway, mine scrubbed out and it was far cleaner and shinier afterwards.

  31. #31
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    This stuff from CoffeeParts looks to be the goods for an all purpose Cleaner/Descaler for a machine with Aluminium innards - "Espresso Machine Cleaning Solution - Item code: JB-985-red" found on this page... Barista Accessories Cino Cleano Domestic Coffee Machine Cleaning Products | Coffee Parts

    Mal.

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    Cafetto tablets can be found very cheaply at Officeworks. You can use this for back flushing and soaking.

  33. #33
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    So I've been practicing with vacuum pack espresso. Then I read somewhere that this a terrible idea. So I got some freshly ground (no grinder yet) beans from a store today and pulled my first proper shot, crema and all! Previously I couldn't even get 30 seconds out of a tightly tamped 14g (I think the baskets I have are 7g and 14g with a 7g spoon... no scales yet so... *shrug*). This one I got almost a full 30 seconds before it went "blonde". The puck was even pretty solid (but not very) afterwards and I didn't tamp (with the horrible plastic thing) very hard.

    Tasted decent too. Certainly a helluva lot better than anything else I've tried so far. Although, to be fair, everything else I've tried so far through the machine has been undrinkable.

    I probably shouldn't have had a double-shot after 6pm but what the hey, it's not like I sleep well anyway.

  34. #34
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    When i first got my machine it was a Sunday - picked it up, came home and all I had were some old pre-ground (about 4 years old) Coles-bought stuff. Practiced for a couple of hours before I could get even a hint of crema from the machine. When I mentioned it I had some smart-a's offering to send me their used pucks.

    But I also bought some beans from Coles and started using my grinder. Eventually found the grinder needed shims, but down on about 1 I got a reasonable looking coffee - crema lasted for about 2 minutes. Tasted reasonable... compared to Moccona.

    With practice and fixing the grinder and learning all I could on here about dosing and tamping, I could produce quite drinkable coffee from the Vittoria beans. (again I got some sarky comments from the peanut gallery about where my taste buds might have got their training, but I swear the coffee was better than a lot of cafés charging me good money for a coffee.

    But freshly roasted quality beans from a roaster who knows their job are an essential part of even attempting to reach god-shot level. Vittoria is a nice planet-bound step up from the depths of isntant, but that taste and crema from freshly ground is pure bliss. (even if I haven't got past the Pearly Gates with my shots yet - I can at least see the angels more regularly.

  35. #35
    Member ThankDog's Avatar
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    And now I have an EM0480.

    Which is why my sister is coming over this afternoon to take pictures of all the stuff I need to sell in order to be able to afford this and pay rent next month. God I'm dumb. But hey, life needs to be fun to be worth living, right?

    Now, about this "dialling in the dose" stuff...

  36. #36
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    Start the grind at 10, and maybe use the chicago chop to level. You're bigger than me so I'll leave it to someone else to explain how hard to tamp - I started off just tamping as hard as I can and it's probably only 20 kg; but if you have kitchen scales you can calibrate your arm. Pour 60gm of water into a clear glass (or 1/4 cup if you have a measuring cup set) and use a texta to mark the side (then pour the water out of course). Set your timer for 25 seconds or so, and pour a shot in that time. See what it looks like, and if it's watery and more than the mark, then turn the grinder down to 9 and repeat. If no water comes out at all, turn it up.

    My experience with the EM0450 (same burr set) was that 6 was reasonable. If you can't get it right at 1, get someone to look at your technique, otherwise pop in the shim.
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  37. #37
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I wish I could like the above post twice. Thanks.



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