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Whats up with that espresso machine?

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  • Whats up with that espresso machine?

    I admit, Im pretty new to espresso making. I got a Delonghi Cafe Chic machine hoping to make some espresso, up from using a regular filter coffee machine. Now I heard only afterwards that some say Delonghi is crap but it really did not look so bad at the start.

    I used some of my regular ground coffee (made with my cheap grinder) with reasonable success. It was quick and with crema and everything tasted great. Then I thought of taking it further and bought some nice beans at my local Starbucks (I bought those beans before and really liked the flavour, Brazil Ipanema) and asked them to grind them for an espresso, which resulted in some very fine grind of course. Here is where the trouble started. This morning after I out in the coffee in the portafilter and turned the thing on it did not pour it dripped with lousy tiny drops of liquid into the cup. It took 20 minutes to drip the shot, which obviously tasted like crap anyway. There was enough time to make filter coffee and finish drinking it (which is what I ultimately had to do). Strange thing is, the coffee crap that came out of my espresso machine was not simply shitty, it also had no crema whatsoever, but a large layer of oil on top, after all the little droplets of oil combined, they covered about 3/4 of the surface of liquid.

    Does anyone know why the hell it turned out this way? It does not look like the portafilter was clogged or anything. Why would it act this way when presented with espresso ground coffee?


    Thank you.

  • #2
    Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

    I suppose this is where most CSs would say How important it is to get yourself a good grinder and only grind on demand.

    Getting someone to grind the bean for you does not allow you to make any adjustments in case it is wrong. The other thing is that coffee from Starbucks will most likely be stale.

    There is probably only 2 things that you could do with this coffee.

    1. Throw it away and write it off as a lessoned learnt.
    2. Try to tamp lightly. This may allow the water to pass through the coffee easier and prevent the dreaded dripping coffee.

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    • #3
      Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

      Just checking, is that even true that coffee ground for espresso should be fine, because coarsely ground beans worked pretty much okay, which surprised me.
      And why would their coffee be stale if it was in a sealed package and only opened hours ago?

      I guess Im not quite that snobby about coffee yet .

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

        Originally posted by the_bee link=1201608456/0#2 date=1201609585
        Just checking, is that even true that coffee ground for espresso should be fine, because coarsely ground beans worked pretty much okay, which surprised me.
        Im guessing that your machine has a pressurised portafiler/filter basket. That would explain why coarse works better for you than fine espresso grind.


        Originally posted by the_bee link=1201608456/0#2 date=1201609585
        And why would their coffee be stale if it was in a sealed package and only opened hours ago?
        Because it was most likely roasted many months ago. Ideally you should be buying beans within a couple of weeks (preferably within a few days) of the roast date. This means buying directly from a local roaster.


        Bill

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        • #5
          Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

          Originally posted by the_bee link=1201608456/0#2 date=1201609585
          And why would their coffee be stale if it was in a sealed package and only opened hours ago?
          Fresh coffee gives off gas as it ages.... during the period of initial out gassing (resting) the amount of gas is quite large but then it slows down until at 2-3 weeks it stops and the coffee is stale....

          Now if you want to seal coffee in a bag would you use:

          1. 1 hour post roast coffee?
          2. 1-2 days post roast coffee?
          3. 3+ week old coffee?

          If you answered 1 or 2 to the above.... you will have bulging - possibly exploding bags of coffee!!!

          So the answer is 3 - old stale coffee..... and that is why you can put a "best before" date 12-18
          months from packaging date... because once stale.... it isnt going to get more stale!!!!

          If you put the beans in a bag with a one way valve (like quality roasters do) then the gas escapes through the valve and no air can get in - no bulging bag but the contents will still be stale in 3 weeks..... so as long as you consume them within 3 weeks of the "Roasted On" date you will have lovely fresh beans.

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          • #6
            Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

            You need to match your coffee grind to your machine.
            I bought a new machine but was using an old grinder i had in the cupboard that was 10+ years old. The coffee tasted nice and there was crema etc but it wasnt until i bought a decent grinder last year that i started getting great shots out of the machine.
            I still need to make adjustments to the grind setting to ensure i am getting a great shot out of the machine.

            Until you actually go through the process you dont realise the difference correct adjustment actually makes to the end result. It certainly shocked me at the time.

            Mal

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            • #7
              Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

              Hi the_bee, Im just learning to use my machine too. Ive had some great results with supermarket ground, popular coffee shop ground (name withheld), ...though I knew when buying these that they are stale and I would not get the best coffee I could from them,.. and great results from freshly roasted ground bought from my local roasters. By the same token,..I have had disasters from all of the above too, and while I havent minded so much tossing out shots made from supermarket bought ground, it almost killed me to toss out a tonne of awful shots I had made using more expensive quality ground,...wasting half a bag easy one day, just trying to get things right.

              In the process of making and tossing so many bad shots, I learned about under-extraction and over-extraction. I learned about course and fine grind, and how my machine reacts when I use them. Everywhere I purchased had a different degree of grind and in hindsight, it was no wonder I lost so many shots, because at the time..I simply did not have enough knowledge to make adjustments to the amount of tamping, the dosing, or using pressurised baskets or not...to compensate for the type of grind I was feeding to my machine. I found out the hard way after wasting a tonne of this coffee Im using now (supermarket grind - ack!..probably a good thing Ive wasted so much actually) that I had to swap baskets and start using the pressurised basket (and put the black plastic thing back into the bottom of the portafilter) to get a drinkable(albeit stale) shot from this grind, as it is very course compared to the previous coffee I was using,..fresh local roaster grind and was under-extracting when I used the regular unpressurised basket.

              Ideally, you would do best to find the perfect grind that suits your machine, and like mentioned above, buying a good grinder and doing it yourself on demand(grinding just enough for the cup each time) using  beans you purchased from your local roaster (or roasted yourself) will give you the best results.

              If buying a grinder (lots of advice here too about grinders)is out of the question right now, then your next bet is to buy beans from your local roaster,. tell him what machine you are using and get the roaster to grind for it. He may not know the exact grind to suit your machine but will probably come close. Ask him what number/notch he used on the grinder and record it with the result of your shots from your machine. Go back to the same roaster (same grinder) and try a notch or two up or down the grinder each time you buy until you are pouring good shots consistantly,..and then you can go in and ask for your beans to be ground at blah blah for your machine.

              Its all about getting to know what your machine likes best. Give it the grind that suits it,.. and/or learn to make adjustments to tamping, dosing, using pressurised or non-pressurised baskets (not sure what yours has,..or whether you can purchase the other for it).

              Hope that helps a little.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

                When I had my Saeco and purchased my first grinder a similar thing happened to me. Having pressurised baskets designed for stale supermarket coffee it clogged up when I did an espresso grind. Once I set the grinder at a coarser grind setting it was ok but soon after I got the upgrade bug and went to a Silvia/Rocky and I am now in espresso heaven!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Whats up with that espresso machine?

                  Hi B,

                  You may like to read through http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1170988027/0#0 where I had a similar result.

                  G

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