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  • Don't know what I'm doing wrong

    Hi all,

    I'm trying to get the best out of my home set up and for the life of me can't seem to produce a great tasting shot.

    Beans are Merlo - espresso blend and Ive also tried Columbian single origin - using them between 3-7 days after roast date.

    My equipment is the Breville Smart Grinder and Breville BES900 dual boiler. Grind consistency seems ok, grinds come out quite warm and clumpy, so I use the WDT once Ive dosed into porta filter.

    Im dosing 19g into the Breville double basket, followed by WDT, then careful levelling and a single 15kg tamp with a slight polish/twist at the end. Portafilter is hot and dry before dosing grounds. Grouphead is flushed immediately prior to portafilter insertion.

    Pre-infusion is default 7 sec and temp is 93C. First coffee comes out at around 11-12 seconds, and total time to fill 2 x 30ml shots is around 35 secs (including the preinfusion of 7 secs). I try and cut the shot when blonding becomes apparent. The pour looks good to my novice eye - not dripping but not rushing out. Kind of about the thickness of a mouse tail. The shot ends up being about 1/4 crema, with nice brown flecking. Pucks come out cleanly and are firm with no cracks or holes visible to the naked eye. There is an impression of the showerscreen and screw on top of the puck and some residual moisture.

    My issue is that I can't get it to taste like the short blacks I've tried from the Merlo cafe - in which I could taste some fruitiness. Mine taste overly bitter and I've never got anything close to "sweetness / caramel / chocolate / nutty" flavours that people seems to refer to.

    They taste okay as caps or lattes but as espresso they make me grimace. Any ideas of what I need to adjust to get a better taste?

  • #2
    Originally posted by kaiser View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm trying to get the best out of my home set up and for the life of me can't seem to produce a great tasting shot.

    Beans are Merlo - espresso blend and Ive also tried Columbian single origin - using them between 3-7 days after roast date.

    My equipment is the Breville Smart Grinder and Breville BES900 dual boiler. Grind consistency seems ok, grinds come out quite warm and clumpy, so I use the WDT once Ive dosed into porta filter.

    Im dosing 19g into the Breville double basket, followed by WDT, then careful levelling and a single 15kg tamp with a slight polish/twist at the end. Portafilter is hot and dry before dosing grounds. Grouphead is flushed immediately prior to portafilter insertion.

    Pre-infusion is default 7 sec and temp is 93C. First coffee comes out at around 11-12 seconds, and total time to fill 2 x 30ml shots is around 35 secs (including the preinfusion of 7 secs). I try and cut the shot when blonding becomes apparent. The pour looks good to my novice eye - not dripping but not rushing out. Kind of about the thickness of a mouse tail. The shot ends up being about 1/4 crema, with nice brown flecking. Pucks come out cleanly and are firm with no cracks or holes visible to the naked eye. There is an impression of the showerscreen and screw on top of the puck and some residual moisture.

    My issue is that I can't get it to taste like the short blacks I've tried from the Merlo cafe - in which I could taste some fruitiness. Mine taste overly bitter and I've never got anything close to "sweetness / caramel / chocolate / nutty" flavours that people seems to refer to.

    They taste okay as caps or lattes but as espresso they make me grimace. Any ideas of what I need to adjust to get a better taste?
    Sounds like you are doing everything right. Unfortunately your expectation to reproduce the same results are more than likely being held back by the potential of your grinder. As comparisons with cars here are popular - you're trying to win a Grand Prix with a mini minor.

    Comment


    • #3
      In what area does the Smart Grinder fall short? Is it just the consistency of the grind as I still have a fair way to go on the adjustment scale before I reach the finest setting- I did try to go finer and found that the pour went towards a drip and even further just choked the machine. So i'm assuming from that test that the grinder is able to grind fine enough for espresso. So I'm guessing that you might be referring to the consistency of the grind being inferior to a higher quality burr grinder.

      The grinds look pretty similar to a sample I got from the Merlo shop - although I havent exactly looked under a microscope - just rubbing them between fingers to get a feel for consistency.

      Comment


      • #4
        Try doing everything you are doing, without any polish/twist of the coffee bed after tamping.... Also, which water are you using in your machine?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JamesM View Post
          Try doing everything you are doing, without any polish/twist of the coffee bed after tamping.... Also, which water are you using in your machine?
          Thanks I will give that technique a go. I'm using tap water filtered through one of those Brita water jugs.

          Comment


          • #6
            Try grinding a bit coarser. I get bitter if I grind too fine. Its all part of dialing in the grinder.
            Or drop the dose back a bit at the same grind. Double is usually 14gms.
            My smart grinder works OK. Only got clumping when I ground very fine with stale beans.

            Comment


            • #7
              Kaiser, I see two potential problems. Grinds coming out warm from the grinder....and 11-12 seconds before the first coffee emerges.

              I don't know whether you can do anything to minimise heat gain in the grinder, but it is definitely undesirable.

              I'd aim for about 5 seconds less than your current time before coffee exits the portafiler, with an all up time from beginning the extraction to completing it around 25 seconds, 30 Max. Sounds like you are over-extracting, so a tad coarser grind.

              Volume and tamp pressure seem ok.

              Comment


              • #8
                You might want to drop your brew temp down a degree or two as well.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Kaiser you could try using the beans from day 7 post roast, you might find the flavours develope more to your liking with a bit more age , I find alot of my blends best around day 10-14 post roast


                  [QUOTE=kaiser;489070] - using them between 3-7 days after roast date.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes, i was speaking about particle sizes and the range of sizes various grinders produce. Unfortunately correct analysis cant be achieved by eyesight or feel. I spent a lot of time researching this with lab equipment. By all means try all of the above suggestions. You can even spin the tamper anti clockwise if you like.

                    In the end, your grinder will not match the flavours that a big conical or likes of mazzer major.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by robusto View Post
                      Kaiser, I see two potential problems. Grinds coming out warm from the grinder....and 11-12 seconds before the first coffee emerges.

                      I don't know whether you can do anything to minimise heat gain in the grinder, but it is definitely undesirable.

                      I'd aim for about 5 seconds less than your current time before coffee exits the portafiler, with an all up time from beginning the extraction to completing it around 25 seconds, 30 Max. Sounds like you are over-extracting, so a tad coarser grind.

                      Volume and tamp pressure seem ok.
                      Thanks everyone for the tips so far. In terms of my extraction time- I have been including the 7 secs of preinfusion in the overall time. So it sits around 2-3 bar for that first 7 secs and then the pump ramps up to 9 bar for the actual extraction. So that is why I've been stopping the shot at around 35 secs- (around 28 secs of actual 9 bar pump time. I know I should get too caught up with times and should be concentrating on watching the pour and tasting afterwards.

                      I dropped the temp to 92C and I moved the grinder one click courser- which resulted in too fast a pour and a watery tasting shot. I will keep experimenting nonetheless

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Kaiser,

                        Back to what Dennis first said about the grinder.. I have stepped up from buying ground coffee then to a cheaper Sunbeam grinder and then to a Breville smart grinder. After have the smart grinder for some time I thought i was happy with what I had been able to produce with the grinder and thought things couldnt be any better. A few months back now I came across a deal I couldnt refuse which was a Compak K3. I must admit I had heard alot about these grinders but though nah the coffee im producing now coudlnt be any better. I couldnt be more wrong and even though this grinder is in the lower end of some of the other grinder available on the market it has improved my coffee 10 time over and I still feel I havent reached the potential of the grinder due purely to my lack of experience.

                        Cheer,

                        Chris

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Looks like I need to save for a better grinder then.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kaiser View Post
                            Looks like I need to save for a better grinder then.
                            When I upgraded from a Sunbeam EM0480 to a Compak K3T (rebadged as Wega), the main thing I noticed was an improvement in consistency of both grind and in the cup.

                            The big issue I had with the Sunbeam was grind retention due to blockages occurring high up in the chute. As long as I kept an eye on it the results weren't too bad. Maybe have a good look at your Breville to make sure grinds aren't backed up anywhere in the chute and that there is free flow out of the grinding chamber. Backing-up may be causing the heating up of the grinds you mentioned? Can also cause inconsistency in grind size due to "re-processing" when grinds don't drop freely out of the grind chamber.

                            The main causes of bitter coffee that I have found are temperature or grinding too fine. Sounds like the volume in you basket is OK if your getting dry solid pucks. Before spending money on a new grinder have a good look at temperature and pre-infusion. Not familiar with the BES900 controls but if possible try switching off pre-infusion and just play with temperature and grind to see if you can get a good result. If this works introduce pre-infusion and see if a satisfactory balance can be struck. Worth a try I guess.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              hey kaiser perhaps try for a 30ml shot in around 25-30seconds from 19grams, on my old silvia with a double basket i could only get about 18-19grams in and blonding would usually start around 30ml sometimes earlier, so i would think you must be getting some blonde pouring 60ml from only 19grams, and thats enough to give your shot a bitter edge.

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