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  • My coffee never has the same awesome flavour as a cafe

    Hey,

    I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this but I need some help.

    So, today I bought Clement coffee from the South Melbourne market. I find that every time I buy coffee; whether it be Clement, Seven Seeds or even Proud Mary -- I can never get it tasting as good as it is when I have it at the respective cafes. It seems to be missing a lot of the flavours. I find out the best time to use the coffee after roast and I usually store it in ziplock bags I have from Coffee Snobs. I'm not sure where in the process I'm going wrong? Could it be my grind, tamp or dose?

    For what it's worth I'm using a VBM Domobar Junior machine with a Mahlkonig Vario grinder.

  • #2
    Do you know with certainty the date the beans were roasted?
    If they are more than 3 weeks old, you will usually be struggling to get awsomeness out of any beans.

    Comment


    • #3
      It will be (aside from possible date issues) the grind/dose/tamp process. The Vario has a lot of settings to get the grind right, so you could be correct on the main scale but 1 or 2 settings off on the fine adjustment one. I find (although I don't have a Vario) I need get my grind to where I get an OK coffee, then drop it by one click (on my EM0480 - maybe PM TampIt to find out how that equates to a Vario) and lighten the tamp pressure a bit. This improves the flavour considerably.

      I don't know about your machine either re dosing, but on my Sunbeam I find it is much better to dose below the recommended level - my level is about 5mm down from the top, whether I am using my VST basket or the Sunbeam one. I find this helps with the finer grind mentioned in previous para and it would be 12 months or more since I have choked a pour.

      Tamping is a bit of an art form. It takes practice to make sure you tamp at the same pressure and level each time. The spouts on the PF can cause wiggle that can alter the tamp process - that's why some people get tamping stations and others prefer the naked PF's. Lighter tampin is also more repeatable so makes it easier to get consistent results.

      For my coffees, I grind finer than normal, dose lower and tamp lighter using a progressive tamp - seems to provide damn good coffee every time.

      Another possibility might be your tastes - many people swear by coffee from cafés that I find so bitter it is almost undrinkable and many profess to love the hipster coffees I find too sour to drink. Maybe you've gotten used to coffee from places where there is a strong bitter taste and you aren't getting that at home?

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      • #4
        If it's Seven, Proud etc, they will likely be extracting at a temperature other than the 93ish degrees of your machine and that will be the biggest factor- all other things being equal. VST/Vario stuff I honestly wouldn't worry about. They are used to make a simple process seem more complex than it need be. Just get grind and dose consistent for a balanced shot.

        Try no flush (a little hotter) v a massive flush (a little cooler) before you shoot. I think you might find that your shots vary and some of them might be more like what you have experienced.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by fatboy_1999 View Post
          Do you know with certainty the date the beans were roasted?
          If they are more than 3 weeks old, you will usually be struggling to get awsomeness out of any beans.
          Yep, so for example I bought Clement beans today which were roasted on April 15. Guy told me now is the best time for these beans. It's the Pony blend by the way.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
            If it's Seven, Proud etc, they will likely be extracting at a temperature other than 93ish degrees and that will be the biggest factor- all other things being equal. VST/Vario stuff I honestly wouldn't worry about. They are used to make a simple process seem more complex than it need be. Just get grind and dose consistent for a balanced shot.

            Try no flush (a little hotter) v a massive flush ( a little cooler) before you shoot. I think you might find that your shots vary and some of them might be more like what you have experienced.
            Hey, thanks for the tip. I've noticed that my coffee is usually hotter than when I get a coffee in those cafes. So maybe that has something to do with it. If I've only had my machine on for 20-30 minutes I don't usually do a 'cooling flush' at all. If its been sitting on for hours and the grouphead is really hot I do a cooling flush for around 6-10 seconds. I still haven't been able to ascertain how much of a difference this makes though. I remember reading this in the manual for my machine though.

            The Macro setting on my Vario right now is 1 and the micro is around H. Perhaps my grind is too fine. I guess I can make it a bit coarser and see what happens. I notice that when I use the single shot portafilter I choke the machine a lot (I think I'm putting too much coffee even though it's tamped right at the line) but this never happens when I'm doing a double shot.

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            • #7
              It is seriously all about practice, practice and more practice and refining your technique, this can mean, grind, temperature, anything really, even down to whether you tap the PF or not.

              Never change everything at once though, just do one thing at a time, then up it as you think things are working.

              Do you know anyone else with a similar machine? It might be worth taking some beans to their place and seeing what happens.

              Comment


              • #8
                +1 to Chris' comments re temp.

                You also mention in post #6 the dreaded single pf............guaranteed you will never come close to what they produce at
                Clement, using such a small amount of coffee.

                I'm not one for weighing doses, except when calibrating a client's machine, but an 18 gm filter would be more in the zone.

                Sensory Lab (St Ali) coffee there, by the way.

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                • #9
                  Instead of storing it, start drinking when you get it home and track the changes.
                  The cafe knows what suits their machine and grinder. Sometimes the "purple patch"
                  doesn't last long.
                  Have a big smell of it before you drink it. Get your taste buds primed. In cafe there's
                  all that coffee aroma in the air!
                  If you haven't done it, I suggest you get one of Andy's roasted sample packs where you get 4 different beans
                  and play with bringing out the different tastes.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Clement= 21 gms @ 93°C KvdW Spirit

                    For in house they do a 27-30 gm extraction in 25-27 seconds.

                    If it was a take away you had, it's 55-60 gms in the same time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                      +1 to Chris' comments re temp.

                      You also mention in post #6 the dreaded single pf............guaranteed you will never come close to what they produce at
                      Clement, using such a small amount of coffee.
                      .
                      I agree that its harder to get the "perfect" coffee with a single basket but its not impossible. I was determined to make good singles (being the only coffee drinker in the house) as I didn't want to waste any coffee and I wanted a challenge. I also use a VBM Jnr. I now have a routine which produces good singles. It basically boils down to consistent dosing and levelling. I use Scott Callaghan's dosing tools which allows me to remove an exact amount after dosing to a small mound. So don't give up on singles

                      If you dose to a mound and then level off with a single basket you will choke the machine. You need to remove more than that. Experiment and practice changing one variable at a time.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                        Clement= 21 gms @ 93°C KvdW Spirit

                        For in house they do a 27-30 gm extraction in 25-27 seconds.

                        If it was a take away you had, it's 55-60 gms in the same time.
                        55-60gms of liquid? Out of the same portafilter as the the one they are extracting <=30gms?

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                        • #13
                          Didn't ask. I'll check next time I chat.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                            Clement= 21 gms @ 93°C KvdW Spirit

                            For in house they do a 27-30 gm extraction in 25-27 seconds.

                            If it was a take away you had, it's 55-60 gms in the same time.
                            I'm probably getting around 30 grams in 18-20 seconds or so. The flow seems a little fast. The grinder was only cleaned today so it's not that. Perhaps make the grind a little finer?

                            Also, is it best to heat the portafilter before dosing and tamping the coffee? I usually heat it using the grouphead for a few minutes. Maybe I'm making it too hot. I have noticed when getting a coffee at Clement (not takeaway), it's not as hot as mine so perhaps that brings our more of the flavours?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by anthonypiccolo View Post
                              Hey, thanks for the tip. I've noticed that my coffee is usually hotter than when I get a coffee in those cafes. So maybe that has something to do with it. If I've only had my machine on for 20-30 minutes I don't usually do a 'cooling flush' at all. If its been sitting on for hours and the grouphead is really hot I do a cooling flush for around 6-10 seconds. I still haven't been able to ascertain how much of a difference this makes though. I remember reading this in the manual for my machine though.
                              not the group temperature, the temperature of the water in the thermosyphon loop.

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