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Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

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  • Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

    Hi There Coffeesnobs,


    Just as a disclaimer, Im a noob here & though I LOVE coffee & on occasion have worked as an entry level barista, my level of expertise on the technicalities of brewing is not yet up to scratch.
    So Id really appreciate some advice!

    OUR PROBLEM:

    Firstly, we have a Gaggia Espresso machine, looks like this:
    http://liquiddiets.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/gaggia-espresso-parts.jpg

    We had been getting excellent shots with sufficient crema for the last six months (since we bought it), far beyond our expectations for a cheap & entry level machine.
    In the last 6 weeks, weve been noticeably losing crema to a point now where sometimes we are not getting any. Its heartbreaking

    We have been using the same coffees the whole time & the same grinds: we buy from Seven Seeds when we have time, or resort to Lavazza in supermarket emergencies. Both were resulting in great shots every time. So, although this seems to be the first thing people jump at in relation to lack of crema, this is very unlikely the problem.

    So Im looking for some basic suggestions from those in the know, as to what could be the problem & what would be the first things you would look at / attend to as a solution. Once again, just want to stress that Im looking for suggestions beyond the coffee & the grind as due to the circumstances this is very unlikely to be the problem. Also I know this has been spoken of before, but I did a search & all of the threads (not just here, coffeegeek too) were just advising to improve coffee & grind, we need some expertise on what would be the next things people would consider to solve this problem


    Thanks so much for reading & please please please help!!

  • #2
    Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

    These are things that will affect the amount of crema you will end up with...
    * Freshness of beans (1-3 weeks optimal)
    *Time between grinding and brewing (same day MAX 10secs - 3 mins optimal)
    *Dose and tamp (dont forget ambient temps will affect this also)
    *Water pressure (too low and the creme will be thin)
    *Coffee fairies (good to blame if you cant find anything else lol)

    These are the main things i would look at to start with followed closely by machine cleanlyness. When was the last time you back flushed your machine with a proper chemical? Im doubting its the water temps as you would have noted it wasnt as hot as it has been?

    Good luck and if all else fails? Pack it down and buy a new setup! That fixes EVERYTHING ;D Momentarily :P

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

      1) Have you ever cleaned the machine ??

      Regular cleaning is essential as blockages or restrictions will occur

      2) Have you been lax in leaving the machine to warm up properly normally 40 min

      3) Age of beans or grind does have an effect even if you say it doesnt

      KK

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      • #4
        Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

        Welcome to CS!

        Scale?, what is your cleaning regime? its the only thing i can think of, since nothing else has changed........

        - Last time you descaled?

        - Last time chemical backflush?

        - Last time backflushed with water?

        Dirty machine will affect crema for sure.......

        cheers
        warren

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

          Welcome

          Firstly, does the coffee still taste good? I think thats the best indication. Crema can add to the visual appeal but Ive had plenty of great crema-less coffees.

          I wouldnt look too far past the grinder advice you have previously researched. Too fine a grind will also provide no crema. If you are buying pre-ground, are you sure the current grind is the same as that for coffee purchased 6 weeks ago? The beans may not be.

          Bean freshness and grind are probably the two most important parameters that need to be investigated in any shot diagnosis.

          If I were you I would consider buying your own good quality grinder and purchasing whole beans. Then you can grind to suit your machine, the beans and the atmospheric conditions.

          I certainly wouldnt aim lower than a Sunbeam EM0450 or EM 0480.

          PS: ...and yes, definitely agree with machine maintenance as a source of the problem.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

            I am pretty sure this machine does not have a 3 way valve so cleaning is different to most machines

            This link is the Gaggia Classic user Guide (pdf)
            see pages 13-14
            http://www.espressotec.com/store/pc/catalog/gaggia/ga1120_gaggia_classic_manual.pdf

            KK

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

              touche

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

                at the very least try inserting a blind filter and thoroughly flushing out the machine - and then continue to flush with an empty group handle after each extraction by inserting it into that machine, running some water through it, and jiggling the handle back and forth

                you may want to pop the shower screen off to and give that a good scrub - a naked flame can help to remove baked on grime if necessary!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

                  Originally posted by 1A3E373734340E1A3E223C3E510 link=1258500874/5#5 date=1258502795
                  I am pretty sure this machine does not have a 3 way valve so cleaning is different to most machines

                  This link is the Gaggia Classic user Guide (pdf)
                  see pages 13-14
                  http://www.espressotec.com/store/pc/catalog/gaggia/ga1120_gaggia_classic_manual.pdf

                  KK

                  Agree fully.. No mention of a Blind... Only to remove the shower screen...

                  Many have used a TRUE blind filter and stuffed their equipment..

                  A great guide... But take note of the first two paragraphs... Disclaimers and warnings and rightly so.

                  http://home.surewest.net/frcn/Coffee/HowToBackflush.html

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Help: Had Crema, Now its Gone!

                    Wow, Thanks so much for all of the advice - I had my email notifications turned off it seems so didnt realise I had any feedback at all!


                    Ok, sounds like cleaning it out is probably the best idea as a start. Embarrassingly, we have never cleaned it beyond the grip & filter. Hoping this could bring back our beloved crema (& taste - @flynn_aus - yes the disappearance of crema has coincided with a decline in good taste).

                    So Im going to:

                    1. Read the manual (It didnt come with one - so thanks Koffee Kosmo for the link!).
                    2. Chemical back flush.
                    3. Descale.
                    4. Try to leave it on for longer (I dont think I can wait 40min) before using it.
                    5. Read the manual again!

                    Thanks SO MUCH everyone for all the help & advice, we really are novices & without a manual we werent even too sure on where to start with cleaning.


                    Ill write back with results!

                    Comment

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