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How can I make a perfect short black at home?

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  • How can I make a perfect short black at home?

    for the last 20 years I have only drunk one type of coffee consistently: short blacks.

    I cant get enough of the instense flavour.

    Ive tried a number of different home brewing solutions, including a cheap breville with a group handle, stove top, and a nespresso machine.

    The thing I notice about the difference of anything I have made at home, and 'really good' short blacks is that they are not as concentrated. And they dont taste anywhere near as good.

    I like coffee that is really dark, almost sticky, slightly thick, deeply black, strong.

    So I have read, here and other places about home coffee making. It seems like for entry-level like me, the commonest recommendations are gaggia classic or rancillio silvia.

    Will either of these deliver what I am looking for? Is there any possibility of even doing this type of coffee without a really expensive commercial machine?

    Is there another type of machine I should be looking at?

    Thanks to anyone who can point me in the right direction in my mission to make decent, concentrated, short black coffee, at home.

    Jim

  • #2
    I drink short blacks: 20ml and 30ml usually but I'll have the occasional piccolo. I have the new Silvia, a bottomless group handle and a VST 18gr basket and it makes fantastic espresso.

    I'm a technician and work on plenty of Silvias and Classics. Both will produce what you're looking for just fine. A good grinder is a necessity as well.

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    • #3
      Welcome Jim...

      First thing though mate, you need to let us know what your budget is for a decent grinder and machine. Without a top notch grinder, you will be wasting your time no matter which machine you end up buying...

      Also, are you using freshly roasted high quality coffee? It sounds kind of obvious, but without this you will never end up with great results in the cup.

      Mal.

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      • #4
        How can I make a perfect short black at home?

        Both of these machines will do the job, but for someone just starting off in this way I'd probably lean slightly towards the Gaggia. They are often compared and played off against each other but in many ways they're actually quite different. For someone like yourself that drinks solely black coffee the better steam of the Sylvia is not needed and the Classic is just that little bit more forgiving especially for a newbie. Don't get me wrong, you'll still need practice but you can get some good results in a fairly short time. Plus you can always swap the Gaggia steam wand for a Rancillio one for the odd occasion you might be making milk coffees for guests etc. This can be done easily and cheaply and many retailers including some CS sponsors sell conversion kits. Of course there are other machine options too, but it sounds like you've already narrowed it down to these two so why complicate things? Good luck, which ever way you go.
        Last edited by LeroyC; 26 March 2015, 06:56 PM. Reason: fix

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        • #5
          In the 4 M's of espresso, you are one of them.

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          • #6
            Hi Jim, I too am a fellow short black drinker and I started out with a basic coffee machine ($150) and moved to the Sunbeam EM 6910 with a EM0480 grinder and I found that as Dimal pointed out above, I needed better beans. This is what lead me to this site and to roasting my own. Even the Sunbeam which is very entry level, most people who came around loved my coffee and I did too. I've recently upgraded to the Breville BES920 with the Smart grinder and that pulls and awesome coffee.

            So as pointed out above good fresh beans is a must. A good grinder is a must and either of the 2 coffee machines will do the rest of the job. Alternately, I have just discovered Cold Drip...if all you ever drink is short black CD has everything you're looking for except for heat. Btw. CD also requires fresh beans and a grinder.

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            • #7
              I've a GC. With a good bean & grinder, it'll give good results no doubt. But I've moved on to a Pavoni. You can get one for under a grand. One thing I love about using the Pavoni is that you watch and adjust the pressure of each pour, so you can get the joy ( hopefully) of controlling/ maximising the lovely nectary goodness of each short black .

              just another idea to consider. Site sponsor casa espresso will give you a great demo.

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              • #8
                Pavoni for $400 in Perth as I speak. In for sale section .

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                • #9
                  You could also consider the Lelit range. I have have lived across two households for quite a few years now and use the Lelit PL41tem as my second machine and for backup and holidays. In my experience the results are on par with my more expensive hx machine. I have no doubt that with fresh beans and a good grinder it will deliver what you seek.

                  Then of course there is the matter of technique. It can take a while to perfect the grind and dose, but I have no doubt the machine is capable if you are open to devoting some time to develope your technique.

                  Best wishes, Russell

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dimal View Post
                    Welcome Jim...

                    First thing though mate, you need to let us know what your budget is for a decent grinder and machine. Without a top notch grinder, you will be wasting your time no matter which machine you end up buying...

                    Also, are you using freshly roasted high quality coffee? It sounds kind of obvious, but without this you will never end up with great results in the cup.

                    Mal.

                    thanks for your reply mal

                    im not in a position to go out and buy new, but have seen the gaggia classic and the silvia on ebay used and can afford something like that. in regard to a grinder i have seen rancllio rocky for $250 which seems affordable. a number of people on here argue that grinder in more important than machine, so have factored that in and rocky seems to have a good rep.

                    I would like to keep the whole project under $500 in order to not be physically assaulted by my wife who had heard of my plans and seems to have put a frying pan aside for the purpose. i feel the risk is worth it for good coffee but if i over spend she may actually kill me which would be bad as i would not be in a position to enjoy the new toys, no matter how good they are.

                    in regard to beans, i am kind of fussy and would only be using fresh roasted, and some specific types that I like.

                    Jim

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by russellm View Post
                      You could also consider the Lelit range.

                      Best wishes, Russell
                      thanks Russel. i had seen them mentioned here a lot but they seem quite hard to egt hold of 2nd hand by comparison. will keep looking. thanks for the suggestion.

                      Originally posted by shortblackman View Post
                      Pavoni for $400 in Perth as I speak. In for sale section .
                      will do some reading on them. was not aware of them before now. thanks.

                      Originally posted by dan77 View Post
                      Alternately, I have just discovered Cold Drip...if all you ever drink is short black CD has everything you're looking for except for heat.
                      Ok. That got my attention. i have never heard of that before and thought i had tried most kinds of coffee. will find out more...

                      Originally posted by JojoS View Post
                      In the 4 M's of espresso, you are one of them.
                      Righto, then. I will bite; Im assuming you're not referring to the sound people make when they experience good coffee?

                      mmmm

                      I mean, I wouldnt mind being one of those m's but im thinking you actually mean something else?

                      Originally posted by LeroyC View Post
                      Both of these machines will do the job, but for someone just starting off in this way I'd probably lean slightly towards the Gaggia.
                      Noted. I am a total novice except for the el cheapo sunbeam i had a few years ago at pulling shots. thanks for the advice.

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                      • #12
                        How can I make a perfect short black at home?

                        A Gaggia Classic paired with a doserless Rocky grinder will give great results with a bit of practice. And as you say you can get a very good 2nd hand one of each for a total of $500.
                        I'm not sure if it's a fair statement but a 2nd hand Rocky could be a little overpriced. I'd be interested to know what others more 'in the know' think but they seem to hold their value more than other grinders, possibly because of their name. Other options you might consider that could be better value 2nd hand are the Isomac Granmaccino, Compak K3 and Quickill Apollo in the $200+ region. Or if you can get a Breville Smart Grinder or Nemox Lux for $150ish they both represent good value too.
                        Last edited by LeroyC; 28 March 2015, 10:56 AM. Reason: fix

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                        • #13
                          I guess the main thing Jim, is if you are heading into the used equipment market, is that you can personally witness the operation of the equipment you are interested in, before purchasing. At least that way, you know that you are at least buying something that you know works as it should.

                          A Rocky for ~$250 is pretty decent, providing it works properly. So long as a grinder has been looked after reasonably well, the most you may have to spend on it is probably ~$50 for a new set of OEM burr-plates, and maybe some elbow grease to give it a really good clean-up inside and out before you start to use it at home. A Gaggia Classic in reasonable nick can be a good buy too, so long as you've been able to drink a coffee made with it and not sight unseen.

                          Depending on how desperate you are to get started, you sometimes see excellent equipment up for grabs in the CS 4-Sale section so that might be an option. CSers are a pretty fussy lot when it comes to looking after their gear but as always, caveat emptor must apply. All the best mate and hope you grab something within your budget...

                          Mal.
                          P.S.
                          Is your lovely lady not a coffee drinker?

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                          • #14
                            Jim the Rocky is built like a tank. You won't kill it. Just feel the weight and you will know. There is a very cheap (a couple of dollars) reversible mod that involves small diameter tube and a single green coffee bean that allows Mr Rocky to be turned into a stepless grinder...allows you to hit the mark easier for the extraction you are chasing.

                            Cheers

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                            • #15
                              If you don't want to fork out the $$$ all at once, at least get the grinder and use a moka pot or similar in the interim.
                              Quality beans and decent grinder will still produce a nice coffee via a moka pot, although it won't be thick and syrupy like an espresso machine, the flavour and strength your'e looking for should be possible.

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