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Thread: Help.. Complete novice question

  1. #1
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    Help.. Complete novice question

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    HI,
    I have just purchase my first coffee machine and Isomac Tea Due with a MaCap M2M grinder- Purchased from Paul at dodgy x - who just a quick aside was sensational - spent ages with me. Gave me some beans - which i will certainly be back for more ( as the first bag has almost all gone down the drain.

    Im trying to work out getting my grind right - but cant seem to find a balance between NO COFFEE coming out Vs coming out too quick.
    Im also getting a fairly watery puck at the the end of the pull.
    If I grind too fine the coffee comes out clumpy, and if i change the grind to a little more courser - each pull only takes about 10-15 seconds.
    Ive been told the numbers in the grinder mean nothing.. but currently its sitting at around the 6 point.
    My pressure gauge again Ive been told not too worry too much about this - rarely gets above 7-8psi...

    Any advice?

    thanks in advance!

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    Is the weight of coffee you're grinding into the portafilter consistent? Same with tamping?
    Assuming they dont change then it should just be a matter of adjusting the grinder to get to that 25-30second pour mark. Not too clued up on Macap grinders, but I'm assuming you're changing the grind to suit by small increments (i.e. between points).

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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Just a crazy notion - I have a M2M - try setting the grind on 3 or 4 marks after the 3. Tamp lightly. Too runny? Tamp harder. Still too funny? Go finer one mark repeat process. Conversely for too slow and watery.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    ... er, runny. It's more frustrating than funny. I have laughed at myself doing this before.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Here's my M2M's zero (cutters touching):


  6. #6
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Lower image (2.1) cutters touching.

  7. #7
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Yes as above, keep dose and tamp constant. Adjust grind (in small increments) to get the right pour.

    Don't worry about the grinds clumping. Often the correct grind setting will generate some clumping.

    Cheers
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    thanks for the advice - it seems the finer i ground the more clumpy the coffee gets - Im not measuring the amount of coffee specifically - i usually fill the portafilla to a small mound then smooth it over with my finger., then tap on the bench then tamp. Trying to keep this process as consistent as possible.

    Sprezzatura:

    Will each grinder have a different 0 point?

    as per your picture.. your zero point is 2.1 and your grind about 3.8???
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  9. #9
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    ok will get clumpy coffee out of my head

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    I would suggest weighing to start with, so you know you're being consistent. After a while you can eyeball it. I had similar problems when starting, a scale helped a lot
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  11. #11
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Or clear grinder and fill basket with beans to a consistent level dump in grinder and grind it all. This will be ok if you don't have scales. Your tamped level will confirm your consistency.

    Cheers
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Morning Chlomill, welcome to Coffee Snobs.

    What size basket are you using and are you pulling shots or making milk based drinks?

    "My pressure gauge again Ive been told not too worry too much about this - rarely gets above 7-8psi... " Suspect the figure is 7 to 8 bar which is between 100 and 115 psi.

    I posted this last year, well worth a read through, it may help.

    How to make the perfect espresso at home.

    With so many new Coffee Snob members this article written by Jane Holroyd in March 2013 is well worth revisiting.

    Some good advice here.




    Date

    March 4, 2013

    Champion barista Caleb Podhaczky, a roaster for Five Senses, shares his wisdom on making cafe-quality espresso at home with Jane Holroyd.

    How to make the perfect espresso
    Victoria's reigning barista champion Caleb Podhaczky demonstrates how to make the perfect espresso at home.
    Caleb Podhaczky makes about 20 or 30 espresso coffees a day in his role as a roaster (and taster) for Five Senses, a coffee importer and wholesaler that supplies cafes and restaurants throughout Australia.
    Podhaczky no longer works as a barista but still likes to flex his muscle in competition; he was named Victorian Barista of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and will compete at the Australian barista titles in Melbourne this month.
    He says making a perfect, cafe-quality espresso at home is achievable with a bit of trial and error. Here are his tips for those with an espresso machine.

    Fresh beans can help deliver an espresso with a good crema. Photo: Marco Del Grande
    1. Beans: Buy your coffee beans from a specialist supplier who knows how old the beans are and when and where they were processed and roasted. Fresher beans produce a better espresso, which should be viscous and full of flavour with a good crema. A bad coffee will be thin and flat-tasting.

    Always buy whole beans. Fresh beans should be stored away from light and heat at a constant temperature. There's no need to store beans in the freezer; a cupboard away from a heat source will suffice, but use them within three weeks. Make sure the beans are kept in an airtight container.
    2. The roast: Your bag of coffee beans should have a roast date on the back. Podhaczky believes beans should be used between four days and three weeks after roasting for optimal flavour.

    3. The grind: It's vital you get the grind right as this controls the rate of extraction, which in turn affects flavour. If the beans are ground too fine, a burnt or "ashy" flavour may result. If ground too course, the espresso will taste watery and thin, as the water will pass through too quickly without extracting all the flavours and oils in the coffee.
    Podhaczky describes the perfect texture for an espresso grind as being "like flour with a little bit of gritty salt or sand through it". The ground coffee should clump a little when you squeeze it (but not be too sticky). For filter coffee, the grind particles should feel more like breadcrumbs.
    4. Clean and dry: Make sure there is no moisture (or old coffee grinds) in your porter filter and basket. If the coffee comes into contact with moisture, it could begin extracting too early. Use a tea towel to wipe the parts clean.
    5. Tamping: Serious home baristas should invest in a tamper to compact their coffee evenly into the basket. Fill the basket about three-quarters full with ground coffee. Tap the basket on your bench to "collapse" the coffee and ensure the basket is filling evenly. Add more coffee and collapse again until full, but not overly.
    Tamp the coffee: Podhaczky grabs the tamper like a door knob and leans into it from above with a straight arm – "about 15kg body weight is ideal". If you turn the basket upside down after tamping, the coffee should stay put.
    After tamping, the basket should be about four-fifths full. If coffee sits too hard-up against the machine's shower screen, you may get an uneven extraction; too far away and the espresso may taste muddy. Podhaczky uses the analogy of a watering can: water poured from too great a height will hit the soil (coffee) too forcefully and churn it up, resulting in mud.
    6. Purge your machine by running some water through it before making your espresso.
    7. Make the espresso. Different baristas use different rules to ensure consistent and well-balanced espressos. Some, such as Aaron Wood from Auction Rooms and Small Batch in North Melbourne, advocate weighing both the dry coffee and final wet espresso. Wood says a good "brew ratio" is roughly two parts dry coffee weight to three parts wet espresso. So 20gms of dry coffee grounds should yield a final espresso shot weighing 30 to 40gms, depending on your taste.
    Podhaczky's rule of thumb is to go by volume: "30mls in 30 seconds". Espresso cups generally range in size from 60 to 90mls, but Podhaczky's ideal shot is 30ml. If your machine takes longer than 30 seconds to produce a 30ml shot, your grind is likely too fine and could taste burnt.
    (Note: While Podhaczky recommends playing with your grind before anything else, you could also try altering the rate of extraction by varying the amount of dry coffee you use. Less coffee will result in faster extraction and vice versa.)
    Signs of good coffee: In the first instance the machine will deliver drips before a steady stream of espresso. Fresh coffee will be slightly viscous and will almost look like it's springing back up because of the oils in the beans.
    Your 30ml espresso shot should have a nice crema on top. This is the lighter, fluffier substance that sits on the surface. Crema looks like tiny bubbles and is reddish-brown or hazelnut in colour and dissipates after a minute or two. Lack of crema is a sign your coffee beans are past their best.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChloMill View Post
    thanks for the advice - it seems the finer i ground the more clumpy the coffee gets - Im not measuring the amount of coffee specifically - i usually fill the portafilla to a small mound then smooth it over with my finger., then tap on the bench then tamp. Trying to keep this process as consistent as possible.

    Sprezzatura:

    Will each grinder have a different 0 point?

    as per your picture.. your zero point is 2.1 and your grind about 3.8???
    Yes, my zero point is 2.1 and ... well, today, espresso is happy at 3.8
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  14. #14
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Find zero, add 1.7 marks and, out of curiosity, try that.
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    Not sure on the basket size? Big! haha - sorry - like i said really a novice!
    I usually drink with Milk.. but when i was being shown the finer points of coffee with Paul from dodgy x ( He spent ages with me, really helpful) - he was pulling shots and were drinking espresso's which tasted awesome. So Im chasing this taste and flavour that he demonstrated and then I'll add milk after.

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    water poured from too great a height will hit the soil (coffee) too forcefully and churn it up, resulting in mud. - could this be the reason for my Pucks having a soupy or watery appearance? Again cones down to consistency.. ie too little coffee , water churning it up and creating mud?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChloMill View Post
    Not sure on the basket size? Big! haha - sorry - like i said really a novice!
    I usually drink with Milk.. but when i was being shown the finer points of coffee with Paul from dodgy x ( He spent ages with me, really helpful) - he was pulling shots and were drinking espresso's which tasted awesome. So Im chasing this taste and flavour that he demonstrated and then I'll add milk after.
    The machine should have been supplied with two filter baskets, a single 7 grams and a double 14 grams, obviously the 14 is the larger of the two, the 7 would look more like the image on the right.

    Most of us never use the 7 gram and go for the 14, in fact buying an 18 gram is an even better option, gives much better results, without knowing the basket size your using its difficult to give any meaningful advice., check your user manual, it may provide the answer.
    2_synesso_baskets_1.jpg7 gram.jpg

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    Hi Yelta,
    My basket is possibly a bigger one.. ie 18 -20g... a Peabody????
    Im using the larger one as i prefer stronger coffee... still aiming for that 30mls in about 20 ish seconds???

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    When I started off I found that there were a few variables and it was hard to know what was changing what. The key is consistency. You want to remove as many variables as possible at first so you know what is changing what. My tips when starting off are:

    - Weigh your dose. Find the weight that gives you the right amount in the basket and stick to it.
    - Tamp as hard as you can to start off with. Coffee beans are hard and can only be compacted so much, when you're starting off there's no problem with tamping "too hard". Later on when you've got the other variables sorted out you can experiment with different tamping pressure, but by tamping hard this removes a variable.

    This leaves you with only the one variable, grind size, which is good. Having only one variable to start with makes it much easier to adjust to get a good pour. Having 3 different variables will leave you pulling your hair out trying to work out what you're changing. Once you've got grind size sorted, the other 2 variables are no longer variables and you'll be able to pour consistent shots. After that you can experiment with changing other things but to start off with, you need consistency!

  20. #20
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    My Compak K3 clumps pretty bad all the time but gets worse once the beans start to age. I have found it to be beneficial to use a toothpick to stir the ground coffee to remove most of the clumps.

    Unless it's my imagination, this has improved the shot quality and final taste. Might be worth giving it a go and see if anything changes.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChloMill View Post
    Hi Yelta,
    My basket is possibly a bigger one.. ie 18 -20g... a Peabody????
    Im using the larger one as i prefer stronger coffee... still aiming for that 30mls in about 20 ish seconds???
    Check this thread to help establish dose level
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-co...-unknowns.html


    What your aiming for is more like 60ml in 30 seconds with an 18 gram basket "Peabody"???

    Brute force is certainly unnecessary when tamping, simply aim to compress the puck evenly and level, once you have the dose sorted by the five cent test you can start adjusting the grind coarser/finer to change the flow rate.

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    I find the coffee is bitter if it any more than 30mls.. approx. Have played with the grinder, and seem to be a tiny difference between NO coffee and coming out way to quick?
    Will have a read of the 5 cent piece test.
    thanks for everyones help... i thikn im getting closer but still a way off.

    Any suggestions for tampering with a single spout? I find it hard to get an even surface to tamper on and not get an uneven puck?
    thanks

  23. #23
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Time to start putting into practice the information contained in this thread Chlomill, you have quality equipment and have received sound advice, no magic or tricks involved.

    Read through the thread again, its all there.

    "Any suggestions for tampering with a single spout? I find it hard to get an even surface to tamper on and not get an uneven puck?"
    Rest the portafilter on a scrunched up towel of similar.

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    Thanks Yelta... I will review the thread. Really appreciate the time people have taken to provide information!

    Thanks again

  25. #25
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    One last important point, only change one variable at a time, i.e make x number of mls in 30 seconds with 18 grams of coffee your goal, try to achieve this by only changing the grind setting, don't vary the dose size, tamp pressure, time, change the filter basket or use different beans, consistency is the name of the game.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    One last important point, only change one variable at a time, i.e make x number of mls in 30 seconds with 18 grams of coffee your goal, try to achieve this by only changing the grind setting, don't vary the dose size, tamp pressure, time, change the filter basket or use different beans, consistency is the name of the game.


    Thanks - have spent the weekend playing ( think I may have a slight case of caffeine poisoning) but getting my consistency and taste nearly there! Quick question.. I am liking the taste coming out, the puck is a good consistency, not too dry, not too wet. And the pour is looking. BUT the pressure is sitting around the 12psi pressure mark... will this effect the long term life of my machine?

    Should i be trying to create the taste i have now, with a lower pressure???

    Thank again

  27. #27
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChloMill View Post
    Thanks - have spent the weekend playing ( think I may have a slight case of caffeine poisoning) but getting my consistency and taste nearly there! Quick question.. I am liking the taste coming out, the puck is a good consistency, not too dry, not too wet. And the pour is looking. BUT the pressure is sitting around the 12psi pressure mark... will this effect the long term life of my machine?

    Should i be trying to create the taste i have now, with a lower pressure???

    Thank again
    Pretty sure you have two gauges on your machine, one indicates boiler pressure, it should be around 1.2 bar-17 PSI, the other shows pump pressure approx 9 Bar 130 PSI.

    Forget about playing with pressure settings, stick to the basics, I'll say it again GRIND DOSE TIME VOLUME
    Last edited by Yelta; 7th March 2016 at 06:16 PM.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Pretty sure you have two gauges on your machine, one indicates boiler pressure, it should be around 1.2 bar-17 PSI, the other shows pump pressure approx 9 Bar approx 130 PSI.

    Forget about playing with pressure settings, stick to the basics, I'll say it again GRIND DOSE TIME VOLUME


    Will do! Thanks again!



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