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  • Advice on improving home coffee making skills

    Long time lurker etc...That time of year again when SWMBO asks...what would you like for your birthday?

    Have been thinking about upgrading the home coffee setup so this might be timely.

    To let you know where I'm at
    - I am a home coffee maker only and have been using a Delonghi Magnifica for the last 4 years which is starting to get a little tired. I had a Gaggia machine before that which just wore out and wasnt ecomomical to service.
    - I enjoy Andy's beans but takes me a while to go through them as I'm the only coffee drinker at home unless we have guests.
    - I drink a mix of expresso and milk drinks. Perhaps a bias towards espresso when getting good results from the machine.
    - I am getting inconsistent results from my machine which I put down to user knowledge, grind quality and the ageing and drying of the freshly roasted beans over time (using them up to a month after being roasted).


    The things I would like to achieve are :-
    - some training aimed at home makers as opposed to requirements of cafe barista's using commercial machines
    - upgrading my domestic machine to get better quality, more control and improved consistency
    - exploring roasting as a means of having fresher coffee on hand more often.

    I'm not after specific recommendations on machines at this time but what I'd appreciate is advice on what I should do first. Do I purchase the best machine (whatever that is..) within my budget and then learn specifically how to use it? Should I get some training first and armed with some fundamentals use that knowledge to find the right machine for my needs? When is a good time to get into roasting? I sort of think roasting will be a bit wasted if my making skills and equipment don't measure up.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Ashes View Post
    Long time lurker etc...That time of year again when SWMBO asks...what would you like for your birthday?

    Have been thinking about upgrading the home coffee setup so this might be timely.

    To let you know where I'm at
    - I am a home coffee maker only and have been using a Delonghi Magnifica for the last 4 years which is starting to get a little tired. I had a Gaggia machine before that which just wore out and wasnt ecomomical to service.
    - I enjoy Andy's beans but takes me a while to go through them as I'm the only coffee drinker at home unless we have guests.
    - I drink a mix of expresso and milk drinks. Perhaps a bias towards espresso when getting good results from the machine.
    - I am getting inconsistent results from my machine which I put down to user knowledge, grind quality and the ageing and drying of the freshly roasted beans over time (using them up to a month after being roasted).


    The things I would like to achieve are :-
    - some training aimed at home makers as opposed to requirements of cafe barista's using commercial machines
    - upgrading my domestic machine to get better quality, more control and improved consistency
    - exploring roasting as a means of having fresher coffee on hand more often.

    I'm not after specific recommendations on machines at this time but what I'd appreciate is advice on what I should do first. Do I purchase the best machine (whatever that is..) within my budget and then learn specifically how to use it? Should I get some training first and armed with some fundamentals use that knowledge to find the right machine for my needs? When is a good time to get into roasting? I sort of think roasting will be a bit wasted if my making skills and equipment don't measure up.
    Have a read through the first post in this thread http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-co...esso-home.html should provide some good information/tips to help you along.

    Comment


    • #3
      What he said but also, from my perspective, I think barista training can't be bad - you get the basics of good coffee making so you know what you need to get to emulate barista skills at home. For example, with a number of machines to choose from I chose the Sunbeam EM6910 because it has twin thermoblocks (and 2 pumps but it was more the heating I was concerned about) so I could make coffee AND milk without having to pause, or wait for a purge etc. My course emphasised the importance of having the machine constantly at running temp rather than over hot or too cool for each action.

      I'd say, get the training and use that info to help guide your choice of machine for home.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think roasting is a great idea if you struggle with freshness. You can roast as little as 50gm in a popper although results are better from the domestic roasters starting around $3-400 Most of these have good built in by design profiles, you just have to learn how dark to roast, use good beans and you'll get good results.

        Rancillio Silvia or Sunbeam 6910 plus a good grinder (rocky or compac k3) still seems to be the entry level if you want great coffee on equipment that will last many years.

        My Silvia is now 7 years old and still makes coffee daily that tastes great. (better since I adjusted the opv to be a touch under 9 bar for the coffee I use and the way I make it, Im also using synesso 18gm basktets)

        I use La Marzoccos and Robur grinders at work and to be honest I don't have a burning case of "upgraditus" Overwhelmingly the biggest thing you can do to make your coffee taste better is use better tasting coffee. Everything else is just playing at the margins.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ashes View Post
          - I am a home coffee maker only and have been using a Delonghi Magnifica for the last 4 years which is starting to get a little tired. I had a Gaggia machine before that which just wore out and wasnt ecomomical to service.
          I'm not after specific recommendations on machines at this time but what I'd appreciate is advice on what I should do first. Do I purchase the best machine (whatever that is..) within my budget and then learn specifically how to use it? Should I get some training first and armed with some fundamentals use that knowledge to find the right machine for my needs? When is a good time to get into roasting? I sort of think roasting will be a bit wasted if my making skills and equipment don't measure up.
          Is this a superautomatic with inbuilt grinder? What grinder are you using?

          What gaggia did you have before, and how happy were you with your skills in using it?

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the responses. The delonghi has an inbuilt grinder. I guess it is a semi automatic as it has a separate steam wand but otherwise, grinds, tamps and dispenses automatically.

            The gaggia I had was a synchrony logic which had similar functions. It ended up dying with boiler problems but didn't owe me anything with the amount of use it got. The delonghi has always made better coffee's though. I'm looking to take my coffee making to the next level and if I can do that with some knowledge and servicing of my machine that is something I would definitely consider.

            I do note that to get a decent length pour I am grinding at pretty much the finest setting and also dispensing what I think is a increasing larger amount of coffee.

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't have enough experience to say what the limits of an automatic machine are. If you want to get more involved in the process, though, having more manual steps is probably a good thing.

              Comment


              • #8
                If you keep on the maintenance with the autos and feed them some fresh beans they can produce an OK cup. Much nicer than pods when you use fresh beans.
                They are good for people who are very time poor and do not want to invest all that is needed to produce good repeatable results on a manual machine.

                I have been roasting for a Saeco auto for a bit under a year and its interesting adjusting the roast / blend to counter its limitations and not what i perceive to be a waste certain types of coffee on it. However even just going from supermarket beans to a SO run of the mill Brazil bean roasted just right the difference in the end result is chalk and cheese.

                I was in Hardly Normal the other day and thought i would have a browse of the appliance section while my friend did what he needed to do. Its been a while since i have been in such a place and was blown away by some of the plastic auto monstrosities available for 3 to 6K.....!? what i could buy for 3K i cant believe these things, you touch them and everything feels fragile.

                But yeah if you have the time/money and inclination the sky is the limit how far you want to take it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Before you buy a super auto machine, see what a couple of our Barista Champions have to say about autos verses manual coffee machines in the road-test of 4 auto and 5 manual domestic machines in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald and in The Melbourne Age.

                  Good Food - Home coffee machine road test

                  Barry

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have been on leave this week. Took a VBM Domobar Junior/SJ-E with me as I knew the house we were staying in has a Saeco Royale.

                    Curiosity got the better of me yesterday, so I pulled it down, gave it a clean, tweaked the grinder to grind finer and maxed out the dose. Coffee was 1 week old Ethiopia Limu Oronia Co-op roasted just to the first snaps of second- per favour of Andy. Side by side comparison: Manual gear- beautiful shot. SuperAuto- the best I could get was a 4/10 shocker and all were sinked. I tweaked to the point of choking it. Perhaps a dose of Robusta and a darker roast might have helped.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
                      I have been on leave this week. Took a VBM Domobar Junior/SJ-E with me as I knew the house we were staying in has a Saeco Royale.

                      Curiosity got the better of me yesterday, so I pulled it down, gave it a clean, tweaked the grinder to grind finer and maxed out the dose. Coffee was 1 week old Ethiopia Limu Oronia Co-op roasted just to the first snaps of second- per favour of Andy. Side by side comparison: Manual gear- beautiful shot. SuperAuto- the best I could get was a 4/10 shocker and all were sinked. I tweaked to the point of choking it. Perhaps a dose of Robusta and a darker roast might have helped.
                      Come on.. bet it was nearer 5/10...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AtomicGrog View Post
                        Come on.. bet it was nearer 5/10...
                        I was being generous....It was nearer to a 3/10

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just looked up the details on Domobar. Well and truly beyond my means. I'll give you a call to arrange some learning though. One of the things I think I really need to understand firstly is what a really good coffee should look and taste like and just how capable a home machine can be.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Off to see Chris shortly. I'm sure he will help me sort a few things out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              All sorted out now. Had a few cups made by Chris and his gear and my super auto is more like a 4/10 with the absolute freshest beans, finest grind and largest dose on its best day. Chris's machines delivered coffee like I've never seen or tasted before from a machine you would realistically have in your home and better than the cups I usually get from the cafes near my work.

                              Chris set me up with a Lelit pl60t v2 and a Compak K3 push grinder plus a couple of other goodies and plenty of information. Now just need to wait for my birthday to roll around before I can use it..doh..

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