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not sure about a few things

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  • not sure about a few things

    Hiya All,

    I am not sure about a few things:

    1) When making a coffee in general, be it flat white, espresso, or whatever, what is meant to be the industry accepted ratio of milk to coffee? For example, if you go into the shops and ask for a flat white, are you simply getting 3/4 of a cup of milk and the rest coffee?

    2) Is it generally accepted practice that coffee grounds are tamped just the once into PF? When I go to the local cafeteria at work, they seem to whack in a pre-measured dose from the grinder and tamp it once with some sort of mechnical tamper attached to the grinder, with probably 10kg of force, and off it goes.

    At home, using an EM0480 grinder and EM6900 machine, I might choose to fill a mug with 2/3 milk and use the manual setting on the machine EM6900 to fill the rest of the cup. If I tamp only once then I need to grind on setting 8 or lower to get the right strength (assuming everything goes Ok with the extraction). If I tamp twice or more, with a good deal of force, then I can get away with maybe grind setting 10.

    But this is where the questions are coming from - I like to have a good mug of coffee, not a shot or some feeble two mouthful quantity. To get that, I need to fill the mug a fair way with milk and to have the right strength means the EM6900 must pull a pretty strong amount of coffee and hence the fine grind settings. But is this normal? Am I expecting too much from the EM6900?

    Incidentally, with a grind setting of less than 8 I can get the gauge to run in the red but I prefer just in the black....

    Anybody care to cast a thought on the whole sherbang?


  • #2
    Re: not sure about a few things


    All drinks are based on a shot of coffee - that being 30ml of espresso (at which point blonding will occur if your tamp is correct) to which you add the frothed milk.....

    A cappuccino (in a "normal" cup) requires a double shot of espresso so that it is 1/3 espresso. 1/3 milk and 1/3 milk foam.

    A "weak" cappuccino only uses a single shot.

    A flat white is also a shot of espresso with the rest milk but only 1 to 1.5cm of milk foam....

    NEVER...NEVER extract more than 60ml from a double basket...

    A flat black for example is a double poured into a cup of water at about 93 deg c.... not a cup extracted through the puck. That would taste like cr@p!!!

    The recommended tamping method - as demonstrated at a commercial barista course is :

    grind through the doser (dont leave grinds in the doser - they are stale in 3 minutes!!) into the basket.

    Turn off the grinder when the basket is almost full.

    Tap the PF to settle the grinds

    Empty the rest of the grinds from the doser into the basket

    Tap to settle

    Level off to the top of the basket

    Compress very slightly with the tamper and then tap the edge of the basket to remove any grounds around the edge (if the tamper is not a tight fit!)- these stray grinds will fall back into the basket.

    Tamp once (and once only) to 30 lbs (about 15 Kg)... (practice using bathroom scales)

    Load, lock, extract..

    Hope that helps.


    • #3
      Re: not sure about a few things

      Hello JavaB,

      I find that if I follow the tamping method you described, after I tamp (considering the grind setting), the top of the grinds is much lower than the rim of the basket and after extraction has not raised sufficiently to leave a slight impression of the shower screen. In other words, if I fill the basket with loose grinds and level off to the top with my finger, a good tamp pushes the coffee lower down than I thought it would and the extraction gauge does not move around far enough - as if I have under-dosed. This is why I mentioned that I have to double tamp or so, i.e. fill with grinds, tap on bench, tamp, fill so more, tap on bench, tamp, etc etc. (This however is using the sunbeam double basket and not the quad).

      I could of course use a finer grind setting but it very quickly becomes more bitter and less tasteful. But, then again, I have been pouring more than 60ml into my cups so maybe its all that extra stuff coming out thats diluting the whole drink and forcing me to think of finer and finer settings ?! As they say, less is more.

      Thanks for the comments - I will try when I get home.



      • #4
        Re: not sure about a few things

        Originally posted by DrT link=1160367400/0#2 date=1160369948

        I could of course use a finer grind setting but it very quickly becomes more bitter and less tasteful. But, then again, I have been pouring more than 60ml into my cups so maybe its all that extra stuff coming out thats diluting the whole drink and forcing me to think of finer and finer settings ?! As they say, less is more.
        The 60 ml should come out dark in colour are run like dark honey - not like water! It may even break up a lttle into drops if your grind and tamp are correct. As soon as it starts to run like water and the colour gets lighter STOP.... even if you havent extracted the 60 ml (or 30 ml per side).

        Try this test:

        Extract your 60 ml shot into 3 espresso glasses - first 20 ml into one then the next 20ml into the second and then the last 20ml into the third...

        Taste each in turn - starting with the third and working your way back to the first....

        The third will taste bitter and somewhat unpleasant, the middle short will be good and the first third will be brilliant!

        Then do the same with a lighter tamp so you get light coloured espresso in the third....

        This time the last third will be bitter an undrinkable!!! Over extraction gives you the bitter elements in the coffee (and also extra caffeine)


        • #5
          Re: not sure about a few things

          DrT, about your second post, it seems like youve under-dosed from what youve detailed there.

          Tapping to settle is something Id term "variable" as it doesnt give the same results for everyones conditions - your grinder may make grinds "fluffier" and therefore settle less when tapping for instance. Ultimately, what you said about the level of the puck touching the shower screen nut after extraction is the key - if you dont get that then youre likely getting the "mud top" puck.

          My personal practice is to dose into a plastic container, then tip/tap that into the basket to form a mountain of coffee, then tap the group twice (I used to use hard-ish plastic topped mouse mat - since Ive been using a bottomless portafilter I now tap it on the edge of the chopping board). Then once settled initially, I top the mountain back up, tap twice again, and then level. Then I tamp.

          Most people will tell you that tamping twice isnt a good thing (and Id probably agree) to get the best extraction through the entire puck. Lucas great series of info on tamping either directly or indirectly says that the key is having and then maintaining an even distribution of ground coffee within the portafilter, and double tamping in my view would allow the potential for two sets of inconsistencies/faults to make its way into the puck. If those faults arent coming through, then no problem - keep doing what you do.

          Perhaps if you want to try a single tamp you can up-dose by not levelling off completely flat (slightly domed top, or by tapping harder/more frequently before tamping, or both.

          YMMV - do what you think is right for you. Trial and error is a great way to find out what works in your machine for your grinder with your beans, and gives the right result on your tastebuds and in your mind.


          • #6
            Re: not sure about a few things

            Hey Dr T,

            Nice to see that you have discovered the general rule that coarser grind + larger dose usually allows you to extract more before the coffee goes blonde! Seems to take most people a while ...

            If you want heaps of coffee, why not use the monster sunbeam basket?

            JavaBs exercise is a great one to try out. You could also add milk to each of the 1/3rd of the shots so that you can work out which part is most important to flavour your milk drinks. Im not going to say what I think - I want you to do the exercise ;P

            As Poundy noted, I, personally, find that tamping once gives the best results, but others differ. Take a look at the current front page article on coffeegeek.