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  • Hi all... Newbie posting

    Hi everyone, as the name implies, Im new to this whole coffee thing. Used to take my coffee with condensed milk, which really doesnt require real coffee at all to taste half decent, but since the doctors report came back somewhat negative in the cholesterol and blood pressure area, condensed milk is on the no-no list.

    Drip machine coffee at the office tastes crap with cold milk and so I started trying to heat up and froth milk with the microwave and whizzer and got a plunger. That phase lasted a few weeks. Finally decided to get an espresso machine and basic grinder and not knowing where this might lead, I decided not to spend too much money this project just yet.

    I got myself a Breville BCG450 grinder and a Gaggia Carezza (seeing as its a decent entry level machine according to reviews).

    Ive read a fair bit about grind settings and tamping and the ideal espresso shot time (20 -25 seconds for 30ml). I find that even with the grinder setting at the finest (Turkish) and putting my whole weight in the tamping, I dont get anywhere near 20 seconds for a shot. Its usually more like 5-10 seconds and thats with the crema disk in.

    Also, without the crema disk (Ive read somewhere that the crema disk should be discarded), theres not much crema.

    Theres possibly a whole host of factors here, and without spending on any new hardware, how do I improve the shot time and crema (without the disk)?


  • #2
    Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

    Hi NewToEspresso and welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

    Firstly are you using fresh coffee? By that I mean coffee beans which you have bought from a roaster within days of roasting. Supermarket coffee is stale before you have even bought it (regardless of how it is packed).

    The life of roasted coffee beans in 3 weeks at most (from roasting - not opening the packet) - after which there will be little, or no crema, the coffee will taste flat and the grind required for a correct pour will be very fine.

    The other thing Im not sure of is how fine turkish on your grinder really is - often grinders at this price point dont have very accurate settings. The grind required for espresso will be grains about the size of grains of salt.... take a bit of the ground coffee and roll it about in the palm of your hand. Does it look and feel like grains of salt?

    Hope that helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

      That may explain one part of the equation. I bought 2 sets of coffee beans, one from the supermarket (NEVER AGAIN!) and the other from a coffee shop which sells Coffex beans and they appear fresh. The fresher ones I got from the shop have a better flavour to them than the supermarket ones, but I guess i got the supermarket ones to learn the ropes and experiment. I didnt want to experiment with expensive beans.

      The Gaggia came with a plastic tamper and it has been suggested that I get a stainless steel tamper instead. How does that make a difference to the tamping? In my (limited) understanding, the tamper is basically a flat (non convex tampers) surface used to press down to pack the coffee in, how would a s/s one differ from the plastic one that way in terms of functionality?

      Ive got heaps of other questions but I suppose Ill have to try and work them out one by one...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

        NewToEspresso

        Well the Coffex beans are probably also stale! (but not as stale as the supermarket ones).....

        With tampers you need to tamp right to the edge of the basket so there is a seal right across the top of the puck (water takes the easiest path.... if it isnt tamped near the edge - thats where it will go - it will flow quickly and give you a bad pour). The top of the puck needs to be flat (so the water will flow uniformly through the puck) and you need to be able to exert the required 15Kg tamping force.

        Plastic tampers (as supplied with most machines) rarely if ever fit the basket tightly and as you tamp with the required force - they distort being relatively soft.

        A well fitting SS tamper (dare I say a Pullman tamper) does an excellent job as they are very sturdy and dont deform and will compress the puck right to the edge.

        Any unevenness in the surface or lack of tamping near the edge will lead to channelling - fast pours and bitter taste from over extraction in some areas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

          Where can I get small amounts of fresh beans (3 weeks from roasting) in Melbourne? Im only a cup a day drinker so getting a kg will mean a lot of it will end up going past the best use date (of 3 weeks as suggested)?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

            Well, our very own Andy (the owner/operator of CoffeeSnobs) sells roasted beans now. Check out the links near the top left of the page for BeanBay or Brown.

            His beans are roasted to order, so they will be a few days post roast by the time you get them.

            Also further down on the left is a list of sponsors. A number of these also sell roasted beans.

            Other options would be to visit a place that roasts if you are able to and buy direct. Whereabouts in Melbourne are you?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

              You could get roasted beans in 200g lots upwards from Brownbay or you could get beans from Veneziano who are a sponsor on the left. I am sure that you will be happy with either of those two options.

              Brett

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                I live in Wantirna and work in Mulgrave. If theres a roaster near Mulgrave where i could visit at lunchtime to feed the addiction, that would be great!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                  Actually you want the beans only a day or so after roasting - then keep them only for up to three weeks - after that time they are stale.

                  Melbourne has several good local roasters including the one below who is also a site sponsor of coffeesnobs:

                  http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163934198

                  Even better news though is that CoffeeSnobs has its own fresh coffee roasting operation and if you click on this link here: http://beanbay.coffeesnobs.com.au/?CategoryId=51 you can see what Andy has on offer this month.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                    LOL

                    hmmm bored at work anyone?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                      Clicked on Beanbay link and geezzz... which one do I choose? I am mainly making lattes and the odd cappucino, probably never have anything without milk in it but you never know. Is there a bean recommendation that would suit a milk drink rather than a non-milk drink?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                        Hmmm..
                        To the surprise of probably not many people here, I would suggest the Peru Grace Villa Rica.
                        I roast this one for home use quite often and we drink mostly milk based drinks.

                        The others I am sure are nice also, but I have no 1st hand experience with any of them.... YET!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                          At "Cafe de JavaB" ;D my wife and daughter only drink milk based coffees.....

                          The one on the menu (or should I say in the grinder) at the moment is the Monsoon Peaberry (home roasted).... and that is their favourite along with Monsoon Malabar (Andy isnt offering that at the moment).

                          Makes a really good milk based drink.... the flavour cuts through the milk very well..... and a damn nice espresso shot as well.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                            Please, someone else suggest the other 3 types and Ill be back where I started.. utterly confused. I wont be roasting them on my own, is there one which is recommended above the other given the default roast...
                            Maybe I should put up a poll... If I knew how to do it that is.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Hi all... Newbie posting

                              Well a poll would make you even more confused as we all have our favourites based on taste preference... which varies quite a bit from person to person - even in the CoffeeSnob world.

                              I know a couple of fellow Snobs... one who has the almost exactly the same taste in coffee as me.... and the other thinks what I like is weird....

                              Id suggest any of Andys roasts would be brilliant.... it would just depend on what flavours you like in the coffee.... and there can be quite a difference between each bean variety.

                              I guess all you can do is read Andys descriptions of those on offer.... and choose the one you find most interesting.

                              Comment

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