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Thread: Baby Gaggia

  1. #1
    JD
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    Baby Gaggia

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I need some advice from all the tech-sperts out there... I have a Baby Gaggia and I find that on anything lower than the third grind setting on my grinder (De Longhi KG100), combined with a heavy tamp, the coffee just trickles out or in some cases doesnt pour at all!!! I also often notice a trickle of water into the water container out of a hole in the upper underside of the machine. Is there something wrong with my machine? Is there simply not enough pressure to push the water through the coffee? Any advice much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    JD

    Im no tech-spert but I do have a Baby Gaggia.
    Im not sure what grind fineness youre getting, but I find if the coffee is clumping slightly and feels very fine not gritty between your fingers then you should be OK.
    The water trickling back into the water tank is just your three way solenoid valve. When the pressure gets too high the solenoid valve diverts water back into the tank, preventing the pressure created by the pump getting too high. Every time I make coffee the over pressure water is directed back to the tank. If it wasnt happening Id think you would be getting a fairly fast underextracted pour. Resistance is good :)
    There is usually a delay of about 8 seconds, and as much as 12 before I fear the grind is too fine and Ive gone beyond a ristretto style pour. So dont give up if the pour is delayed and then slow. As long as you are getting approximately 20-30mls in anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds,for a single shot and double the volume (40-60mls) for a double,in the same sort of time, then you are OK.
    Dosing tends to make a difference too. If you have your basket as full as possible then extraction will be slower than an under dosed basket.
    Keep your tamping at the same pressure and try adjusting your grind a bit and see how you go. There could be something physically wrong with your machine, but try a few things before pulling it apart :)

  3. #3
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Hi Guys,

    While Im not familiar with the innards of a Gaggia Baby, the basics as they apply to most Solenoid Valve machines is as follows:

    The Solenoid or 3-Way Valve is there to remove pressure from the group after the brew switch is turned off. This ensures that when you unlock the PortaFilter from the Group, you are not sprayed with near boiling water and coffee grounds slurry. The same thing can be achieved by waiting for a couple of minutes after switching off the Brew switch on a Non-Solenoid Valve machine so it is also a time saver in this respect.

    If the Baby has a mechanical pressure limiting device fitted to the water circuit, this will usually take the form of a Pressure Limiting/Relief Valve, either fixed or adjustable, which vents water off to the water reservoir tank when ever the pressure in the high pressure circuit exceeds the rating/setting of the valve. This valve is purely mechanical and not electrical and is only intended as a safety device, not as a pressure controlling device.

    If you notice water being vented back to the water reservoir fairly consistently during normal use, then chances are that your grind is way too fine preventing sufficient flow through the coffee cake. Try increasing the coarseness of your grind by one setting point at a time until you eventually achieve a pour that produces approx. 60ml (for a double) in 25-30 seconds. Once youve managed that youre well on your way to enjoying great espressos.

    One thing though, it is important that you try to be consistent with your tamping pressure and preferably use a good quality, correctly sized tamper. A tamping pressure range of between 10-15 Kg should be your aim but consistency in tamping is the key. As they say, practice makes perfect. Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  4. #4
    JD
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Thanks for the advice fellas. Much appreciated. JD.

  5. #5
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    JD.

    a) Simple answer:

    Your grind is too fine and/OR
    You are trying to pack too much coffee into the coffee filter and/OR
    You are tamping too hard.

    To make sure you are not tamping too hard, get a set of bathroom scales and tamp your group handle on them. Dont exceed say 15 kilos tamping "weight". Then use exact same method of making coffee as usual and try again. If the same symptoms keep appearing, make the grind more coarse and go again.

    Generally speaking, if you see the ground coffee "balling up" upon exit from the grinder, the grind is too fine.

    Check you are not overpacking the coffee filter.

    Under "normal" circumstances, it would be usual to count to say around 5 to 6 secs and then you should see coffee start to drip from the outlets on the group handle, the rate of flow accelerating after that.

    This "should" correct the problem.

    B) Requisite Techo answer:

    If all the above does not work and you continue to see very little or no coffee exiting from the group handle, but you get a continuous flow of clear water into the drip tray from the pressure relief port of the solenoid valve ***WHILE YOU ARE TRYING TO EXTRACT COFFEE***.......... then it is most probable that the brewing water is "bypassing" the group head and going straight out the pressure relief port.
    This happens for 2 basic reasons. Either, the solenoid valve has failed in the "open" position (this can happen due to a build up of crud in the valve over time that eventually stops the slug moving up and down as required) OR it may also happen when the O RINGS on the base of the solenoid valve have failed, allowing water to pass directly from the group water inlet, to the outlet without first going through the group to brew coffee (the two holes are right next to eachother).

    You wouldnt normally expect this to happen with a fairly new machine, it would be more likely to happen with an older machine where the o rings have succumbed to the effects of heat.

    If this is the case, afraid the machine requires hospitalisation!

    Regardz,
    FC.
    Ps Under "normal" circumstances, you shouldnt be seeing a constant flow of clear water into the drip tray WHILST the machine is brewing coffee. If the "pump bypass" is activated due to "blocked" group handle (as in when the coffee is ground too finely for the application), it should be bypassing back to the water tank, not the drip tray. This ofcourse is an entirely separate issue to a failed solenoid valve.

  6. #6
    JD
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    It appears that I may well have been packing too much coffee into the portafilter. I have reduced it to the recommended amount (using the Gaggia supplied spoon I now put in two level spoons rather than closer to three!). That has made quite a difference. In fact, despite reducing the grind setting, the last couple of pours came too quickly. I might now have to tamp harder. Your help is much appreciated. Its what I love about CS! Regards, JD.

    PS. Are there any other variables that could explain my difficulty (for example atmospheric temperature / humidity?).

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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    JD i think the key is to get the pour to about 20-25 seconds for 30ml(single shot) or 60ml for a double as Mal as mentioned. That may be increasing the amt of grounds or a firmer tamp. A weekend of experimentation will help you to get the combination right.

    I remember using up to 1kg of beans just to get the amount, grind, and tamp factor right. Fortunately the 1kg came with the grinder!

    Once u get the combination right, you will just be tweaking for different beans/roasts that you use.

  8. #8
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    JD,

    you may have reduced your dose too much.

    The way to tell how much coffee to put in the filter is to fill it completely to the top of the rim (of the filter) with "loose" grounds, then tamp down with around 15 kg force. Ideally this will bring the level of grounds down to say around 6 mm from the top of the rim. You are then in the "ball park".

    If you can see the "circlip groove" that resides about 7 to 8 mm below the top of the rim of the filter, you invariably do not have enough coffee in the filter. Basically, there should be just enough (tamped) coffee in there to cover the groove so that it cannot be seen anywhere around the side of the filter (ie tamp evenly).

    Beware, most commercial sized filters DO have a circlip groove as mentioned above but some dont, so if yours dont, then.....you will not be able to use the groove as a handy measure of the correct quantity of coffee in the filter!

    If you then apply the packed filter / group handle to the group and immediately take it off without brewing, and you see a *heavy* imprint of the group shower on the top of the tamped grounds, then there was too much coffee in the filter...reduce accordingly. This is best attempted BEFORE you have run any water through the group otherwise the grinds will stick to the wetness and you wont be able to see the imprint properly or be able to draw any proper conclusions.

    Generally speaking dosing spoons are next to useless as you do not know what the correct level of grinds is...level at the top of the spoon, slightly rounded, or heaped right up? In addition there are different sized doser spoons, and different sized filters, so it is hard to advise without being there to see what combination of filters / doser spoon you have.

    Suggest however as a rule of thumb, that levelled off doser spoonfuls are NEVER enough, and the correct dose as measured by a doser spoon usually lies somewhere between rounded and heaped for each espresso to be brewed.

    Please note, the most important rule of proper espresso making is to fill the coffee filter to the correct level (which is basically to have it so that there is no appreciable gap between the top of the coffee and the group shower). Unless you do this, you will never get a proper extraction, and therefore you will never be able to determine what the correct fineness of grind should be for that blend of coffee for the particular machine. Most people who underfill the filter then go off on a tangent by making the grind finer than it should / needs to be in order to slow down the extraction, thereby brewing a less than satisfactory espresso that seemed to pour at the correct / required speed, and the very next tangent to travel down is to blame the coffee for a poor quality brew when it was actually due to operator misunderstanding.

    As Thomas said but not in these exact words, practice makes perfect...Enjoy!

    Regardz,
    FC.

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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    So to make sure the dosing is correct, do you look for the showerscreen to leave an imprint on the puck, FC?

    Greg

  10. #10
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Hi again,

    Ive always found that filling up the PF with ground coffee and then "swiping off" so that the coffee is reasonably level with the Filter Basket always results in insufficient coffee in the PF, ie >6mm gap between top of Basket and tamped coffee (at 10-15Kg).

    To overcome this, I fill the Basket with grounds until it is roughly level with the top of the Basket and then tap the PF lightly on the bench a couple of times to "settle" the loose coffee, then top up again until slightly overfull, swipe level with the top of the Basket then tamp between 10-15Kg.

    Forsaking all other variables, this always results in a puck that is very close to 6mm below the top of the Basket and with a light impression of the Water Dispersion Nut/Screw in the puck after inserting and removing from the Group. The corressponding brew time is always between 20-30 seconds. Taking into account other variables, this time can be tightened up to be within +/- 2 seconds of 27 seconds... good enough for me and the brew is always sweet and rich.

    This has taken me a while to develop the necessary consistencies required, but you should be well on your way after a month or so of practice. It really does come down to practice and observation... you will get there.

    Cheerio,
    Mal.

  11. #11
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1111905713/0#7 date=1112129642
    JD,

    --snip--

    If you can see the "circlip groove" that resides about 7 to 8 mm below the top of the rim of the filter, you invariably do not have enough coffee in the filter. Basically, there should be just enough (tamped) coffee in there to cover the groove so that it cannot be seen anywhere around the side of the filter (ie tamp evenly).
    --snip--
    ...another quality tip from FC :)

    On the Boema I tend to dose and tamp as per your suggestions but was aiming for the bottom of the circlip groove.

    Ill try the top of the groove tonight, ta.

  12. #12
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    I always get the shower screen imprint on my puck. However, I dont like the idea of sweeping grounds away (its a waste). So I get my measurement right (through trial and error), and I am spot on 80% of the time.

    But I personally think the imprint on the puck is a good indication of correct dosage, as there is direct contact with the shower screen, so water dispersion is even.

  13. #13
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Dont forget that when water is added to the grounds the grounds also swell up a bit, so the instance of correct dosing is even more important, if theres too little the pressurised water can get around the sides of your puck and youll get a watery brew.....

    FB

  14. #14
    thephantom
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    if theres too little the pressurised water can get around the sides of your puck and youll get a watery brew.....
    It that where the term "That was a pucked coffee" comes from? ;D

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Quote Originally Posted by thephantom link=1111905713/0#13 date=1112229486

    It that where the term "That was a pucked coffee" comes from? ;D

    Hey now! Theres no need to get coarse about it! ;D

    Java "Aaahhh....Now there was a fine brew!" phile

  16. #16
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Fine, Coarse, Pucked.... where is this thread heading?

    :D

  17. #17
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Gaggia

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeman link=1111905713/15#15 date=1112243821
    Fine, Coarse, Pucked.... where is this thread heading?

    :D

    Seems like people are all steamed up over it and trying to run it too ground. I think were lucky that nobody has pulled the lever and flushed us all. Of course, none of these ideas come from a single origin but rather are organic in nature and a blend of many freely traded ideas that we hope are tamperproof and which we realize will likely result in our being shot at dawn and being burried in a flat white sheet. ;D

    Java "Baby got back....flushed" phile



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