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Newbie with questions!!!

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  • Newbie with questions!!!

    Hey Guys,

    Here is my first ever post and whats the best some questions will be extremely dumb.

    Anyway, a little background on me: Had a Delongi espresso maker a few years back, and never really thought much about the 'perfect' coffee. Just bought nice stale store beans and whipped them in until the light went off. The family then got a Nespresso machine for ease of use, which is quick and easy but I don't like the coffee as much as freshly ground. So for Christmas this year my family got me a cheap espresso machine ( Sunbeam EM2800) and was inspired by friend who does a lot of research into coffee, to start my reading.

    Now I realise my machine is verrrrrrrry basic and an upgrade will be in order if I decide I like this little hobby ( which, seeing I love my coffee, I bet I will end up spending a small fortune).

    Anyway In my reading (on this site) I found a few expressions I couldn't easily find an answer to.

    1. Firstly: What is 'choking' coffee?. I found this on the EM2800 thread : "Once you start sourcing freshly roasted coffee beans, modify your double-walled basket, or source a single-walled basket, for your machine because fresh beans will more than likely choke in a double-walled basket.* This can be fairly easily achieved if you do a site search on modifying a double-walled basket to a single-walled basket and usually involves a Dremel and a deft hand".

    Now I must admit I dont know much about double and single walled baskets yet either. But The first thing I did is aim to buy fresh coffee and grind it myself, so at risk of 'choking' the coffee, whats this mean?

    2. I also read on the same thread that roasted coffee goes stale in 3 weeks, and ground starts to oxidase nearly instantly. I went to a local coffee shop today who roast their own coffee in search of fresh roast under 3 weeks and was told " our coffee is 1 week to 3 months old... our coffee is sealed in a nitrogen bag and actually takes 1 to 3 months to 'mature'... This raises my next question.... every thread I read said coffee goes off in 3 weeks and to buy fresh roast.... whats your opinion of 'nitrogen sealed' and 'maturation for 3 months'? Load of bullocks, or valid?

    3. Told to store coffee in cool dark place but not fridge.... why is this? Also, very hot here in summer... if no where better, is fridge okay?

    Now Im about to go read the grinders thread as mine is only a grinder where you press the button like a food processor and you decide how long you ant to grind it for (which I believe would allow no control for how course the grind is)- So hopefully this doesn't become redundant once I read the grinders thread... But whats a decent beginners grinder that is pretty darn good without being top of the range, breaking me before I even become good at making espresso??

    Thanks guys. Hope these questions aren't to stupid....

  • #2
    In answer to Question 1, choking would be grinding too fine, to a point where there is no or very little flow from the portafilter.
    The double wall filter that comes with most Sunbeam machines has a single hole in the bottom which is meant to produce fake Crema from stale beans.
    The single wall filters have many holes in the bottom and rely on you to grind to the right fineness, fill the filter basket with the correct amount of grinds and then tamp with correct pressure. All this comes with trial and error as you learn. I think your filter baskets are probably 51mm internal diameter like the EM3600 and EM3800. Breville BSWF100 single wall filter set fits most of the budget Sunbeam machines with 51mm filters. Single Wall Filter Set | Breville

    In answer to Question 2, most here would probably agree that freshly roasted beans from a local roaster or BeanBay (see tabs at top of page), best used within 3 weeks of roasting, is the way to go. Not sure about nitrogen sealed bags. The 3 common rules are brew rate of 60ml in 30 seconds(2 cup filter basket), grind and brew within 3 minutes preferably, use fresh beans within 3 weeks of roasting for best results.

    In answer to Question 3, Moisture, Air, Heat and Light all affect the freshness and taste of your beans. Moist beans can also introduce moisture into your grinder and possibly rust your burrs or create blockages. I personally wouldn't recommend keeping in the fridge for this reason alone.

    A decent hand grinder may be the way to go initially and can later be used when travelling. The cheaper electric grinders that people seem to start with are the Sunbeam EM0480 or Breville BCG800 Smart Grinder. Check the Grinder section for lots of comments.

    Hand grinder thread -

    Forgot to say, Welcome to CoffeeSnobs! Lots of good info on this site.
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 14 January 2013, 06:27 PM.


    • #3
      I was told if I store beans in the fridge they can pick up food smells. So I don't.

      Breville Smart Grinder is a good place to start looking at grinders.


      • #4
        Thanks for the reply guys. I am have been doing a little research and the breville smart and Virtuoso preciso also keeps coming up. However for the sake of good forum etiquette I shall ask for comparison in the grinder section. Any input would be appreciated.


        • #5
          Hi HF,
          I usually put in a word for storing beans in the fridge. Your profile doesn't mention where you reside but you do say it gets very hot there in Summer.
          I live in Capricornia QLD and my beans wouldn't last long stored anywhere other than the fridge. We have just had a week of 40 degree temperatures and my beans would be greasy and stale if they had been in the pantry.
          I put the Beanbay foil self-sealing packet in a heavy cotton bag and store it in the bottom of the fridge. Beans do not get tainted by fridge smells and stay fresh for at least 4 weeks.


          • #6
            -1 for beans in fridge. It emulsifies the oils in the beans. Crystallization of the structures within the bean etc. Oxidation is also one of the biggest enemies of roasted beans.


            • #7
              Hi hellofellow and welcome.

              Re beans storage, you'll find a wide range of opinions on this topic. I think the only definitive info I ever found was if you keep them in the fridge to avoid high temps (like Rocky does), only take them out just before you use them (ie keep the temp as constant as possible).

              LiquidHeaven, could you please let us know the source of your information?



              • #8
                Hi all,

                Newbie here also. I only recently bought some beans to get me started and was told to store them in a "dry cool place" so we store ours in a small butlers pantry we have is usually cooler than room temperature. We were told not to refrigerate them because the moisture (if the cooling settings are not correct) and oxygen levels does something to the beans...?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BlueCoffee View Post
                  Newbie here also. I only recently bought some beans to get me started and was told to store them in a "dry cool place" so we store ours in a small butlers pantry we have is usually cooler than room temperature. We were told not to refrigerate them because the moisture (if the cooling settings are not correct) and oxygen levels does something to the beans...?
                  Sounds like an ideal storage location, I store my greens in the cupboard under the stairs which maintains a fairly constant temperature, browns get stored in the one-way valved bags from beanbay in the cupboard next to my machine (for easy access).

                  Humidity is bad news for roasted beans (and to a lesser degree greens, browns will have stuff leeched out of them whereas greens may "just" go mouldy), though in some locales, i.e. QLD where Rocky lives it may be best to refrigerate, because cold and humid is probably better for the beans than hot and humid (I suppose if you were really die-hard you could get one of those temperature and humidity regulated fridges they make for wine storage )...

                  Oxygen accelerates oxidisation (fancy that ) that bit's got nothing to do with refrigeration though, freshly roasted beans outgas CO2 for quite a while so if you store in one-way valved bags they'll purge the air out of the bag (and hence reduce the oxygen levels) of their own accord, and if you close the bags up quickly after getting your beans out most of the CO2 will probably stay in there.


                  • #10
                    Just to add a little bit more info to the "refridgerate" issue ('cause it is really important for folks in hot climates)
                    My foil pack of beans comes out of the fridge for less than 30 seconds, has some beans removed, air squeezed out, and then into its cotton bag and back into the crisper.
                    I allow the beans to be ground to return to room temperature (about 3 minutes) and then into the grinder.(they are not frozen, remember)
                    My 'evidence' that this process is effective is:
                    My beans always have that nice dry look to them and a clean fresh smell, suggesting there is no moisture entering the packet whilst in the fridge - nor would I expect moisture to be entering the foil bag through the one-way valve.
                    No clogging of grounds in the grinder which would suggest that there was some moisture/condensation somewhere.
                    There is no obvious deterioration in the flavour quality of the coffee produced over the first 3 weeks or so. Post 3 weeks I can usually notice a fairly definite 'falling off' in taste.
                    Being a fairly 'particular' person by nature, I am always alert to any evidence that any part of my coffee-making process is sub-optimal. I can say unequivocally that I simply don't believe that storage of beans in the fridge in the manner I have described has any negative effect whatsoever.


                    • #11
                      another newbie here and a slight "bump" to this thread. When we get our beans we transfer them out of the foil pack they come in and into a large plastic container and they are kept in a cupboard out of the light. Question - are we better off leaving them in the foil packet?



                      • #12
                        My thoughts are.

                        roasted beans are best in a well sealed container so dont open the bag until you need the beans..

                        try and only purchase/roast enough beans for about 2 weeks.

                        15 to 25 degrees C is a good temp to store roasted beans


                        • #13
                          I've always tried to avoid the fridge for the reasons stated above.

                          When it is quite humid I've taken to storing beans in their foil packs with all the air pushed out of the bag. Then I place the foil pack into a styrofoam box or empty esky. I find this manages to keep much of the humidity at bay.