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Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Roma

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  • Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Roma

    Hi there all

    in the name of sharing experiences and learnings, I thought I would pass on some of the things I have learnt about using my Cafe Roma (CR) before and after coming to CS.

    History
    I purchased the CR about 4-5 years ago largely on the basis of a very positive recommendation by Choice Magazine who made a point of mentioning it produced the best tasting coffee out of all the machines they tested.
    Almost three years ago the steamer stopped working, and because I only drink coffee, I have never fixed it.

    Before finding CS
    Sin No1.
    I used supermarket coffee.
    Most often I used Lavazza and every now and then I used Illi for a change. To my mind there was a difference. The Illi was more subtle and had a cleaner finish which I liked. (Today I would say it is not as complex).

    Sin No2.
    I had no idea of how to make a good coffee.
    Making good coffee requires know how, even with a CR. I thought heating the machine up meant use it after the heating light went off. I let the shot run over 30ml and remember thinking the bitterness must be due to having old coffee. I used the single shot basked and remember once thinking, gee it tastes good even though I can see light through the coffee.

    Sin No3.
    In hindsight, I never really, really paid attention to the taste of the coffee the CR was producing. Now, no matter how I try and what I do, I cannot produce the intensity of flavour the Cafes can. Before I thought my CR produced coffee that was more than just ok.

    Sin No4.
    I purchased a grinder on the recommendation of Choice Magazine (The magazine edition with the grinder test came out late last year and I only found CS this year in February)
    You guessed it, I purchased the De Longhi, double Doh!
    While it is ok for the CR now, it will not grind beans fine enough for when I decide to upgrade; I am using it at its finest grind setting now. There is a work around I have found to get a finer grind see the SOLIS 166 tweak at http://www.kwilson.fsnet.co.uk/grinder_tweaks.htm

    That’s it for now, next post will be about experimenting to get the best from the CR.
    Would love your comments too.

    Ciao

    F.

  • #2
    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Keep it coming Franco, dont have a CR but interested in what youve learnt nonetheless.


    Cheers...................Sean

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

      I know some of the things I am doing, experiencing and learning would be considered elementary but the thing that has struck me is, how much I actually did not know about the drink I have loved since childhood. What is even more astonishing is that I thought I knew a lot about coffee. Goes to show, you cannot fully know something if you dont know that you dont know it. (Rumsfeld, D. 2002. "I feel that we know what we know and we dont know what we dont know")

      Finding CS has shown me how much I did not know.

      As soon as I got my grinder at Christmas I went out and got some fresh beans. I had no idea which grind setting I should use so I started about half way. In hindsight, I was grinding beans usually used in plungers. Eventually I had it turned to the finest setting. This took over one and a half months.

      While there was a significant improvement in the coffee taste I was getting, my curiosity and passion to get a better cup at home grew. I searched the net.

      I found CS
      Well!!!! No news to anyone here, night and day.

      Finding One
      Pre heat the CR.
      I usually have a coffee before going to work in the morning so to get it really warmed up and as stable as can be, it goes on as soon as I wake, and I pull the shot just as I am leaving. That is about 45min. Still not there. With the finer grind I am now getting more intensity but too bitter for my taste.

      Finding Two.
      The dose.
      I was using the one cup basket and the measuring spoon that came with the machine. I found, if I used any more than one a level measure, the seal between the group head and the basket would not keep and water would overflow and drip down into the cup. I changed to the two cup basket and now use one and a half measures of coffee. I dont know how much this is in grams but I will find this out. As a result there is difference in the colour of the pour. While before it was golden, now it is a deeper redder brown. Much better intensity but I am thinking that it could be better. Now I am thinking its not that it is bitter but it is a bit acidy. A eureka moment.

      Finding Three
      The tamp
      One night I find myself searching for my kids medicine measuring cup to see exactly what 30ml looks like. I find I am just on the money, but still I am not getting the sweetness I have been reading about. I turn to the tamp. In the instruction book it talks about a light tamp, so from the beginning, I have been giving it just a light tamp. The CR has a pressurised basket and even here on CS I have read, this means it does not need a good firm tamp.

      To assess this I started timing the pour. With a light tamp, the machine puts out about 45ml in about 11 seconds, too short. I begin to tamp with considerable force. The pour time for 30ml extends, but nowhere near the 20-25 second pour that many say is ideal. Intensity again improved, colour of the pour is good, the so called rats tails when poring are there but I still have not found that sweetness.

      More next time

      Ciao
      F.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

        Franco

        You and I are going to burn in hell together.

        I too was wondering why my Cafe Roma was spurting out the coffee in record time. In hindsight, it may well have been after I got the De’Longhi that I began to notice it. Thanks for tweaking reference. I got right into the grinder and made the adjustment. However, I’m a bit coffee’d out today to try it. I’ll try it tomorrow. Also I appreciate finding out how to pull the De’Longhi apart. The timer knob was sticking against the housing so I took the opportunity to scrape the housing back a bit to give it more clearance. Works fine now.

        Bob

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

          Hey BobT

          I can smell us now, burnt coffee!!! ;D

          Let us know how the tweeking produces.

          F.



          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

            Instalment No3

            Finding Four
            The ideal pour is less than 30ml.
            I found that reducing the pour to between 20-25ml, including the crema finally gives a sweet taste. I have still not been able to get it to pour a 30ml shot in 20-25 seconds.

            Finding Five
            Heating the CR for 45min does not produce a stable temperature at all.
            I find even after 45 min I have to empty the chamber of water to get the heat light to come on, and only pour after it has gone off (to think Choice was still recommending this machine up until the test before this one!??).

            Finding six
            Heat the portafilter.
            I leave the portafilter on the group head while it is heating up.

            Ciao for now.
            F.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

              Since finding CS you have made amazing advances in your coffee journey Franco.
              Can you get a non pressurised basket for your portafilter, this would give you more control over your shots. A decent grinder is essential for good espresso, the Sunbeam EM450 is about the lowest level of grinder suitable for espresso, I have one as a spare and it does a good job.
              Keep working at it and Im sure CSers will steer you along the path to a great espresso!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                Thanks greenman

                CS is such a fantastic resource and yes, getting a non pressurised basked is on the list but I have not been able to get any info on which one to use.

                Breville does not make one that fits. I know people on CS have spoken about Krups, but I rang them and they did not want to recommend a part for another brand.

                My next step is to thake the portafilter down to the local Krups repair centre and see which one fits.

                Ciao.

                F.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                  Franco

                  Ive modified the De’Longhi grinder 8 notches finer. The dial now baulks at what would be 6½ notches finer which is probably metal to metal. However, I’m finally getting a grind that challenges the Café Roma pump. The intensity has certainly increased. However, like you I can’t get the 20-25sec. Depending on tamping , it either doesn’t come out at all or spurts out in about 5-10sec. Perhaps a non-pressurised basked would help. I’m not sure why it would but it’s worth a try. I look forward to seeing how you get on with your search. It beats me how that pump can push out so much coffee through that one tiny hole so quick.

                  I agree to keeping it to <30ml. It certainly reduces the bitterness and acidity.

                  Regarding the temperature, I froth my milk and find that I need to flush to reduce the temperature below boiling before expressing the coffee otherwise the coffee is quite dead. It’s a bit hit or miss. Reliable temperature control would be great. I guess that’s where the big bucks come into it.

                  Bob

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                    Id guess a non-pressurised basket would allow you more variation in the grind.

                    With only one small hole to relieve the pressure the margin for error on grind size must be very narrow.

                    With more holes the margin should be wider, therefore you should be able to get beyond 10 seconds without choking it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                      Breville make a non- pressurised basket for the ESP2(Bar Italia) that fits the Cafe Roma. Search the IKON threads- also mentions krups numbers. Good idea to get a decent tamper to use with NP baskets-to stop blow by. Im back using my Roma atm as my IKON is going back this week. Im quite satisfied with the results too i might add. Good luck.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                        Hi nbc

                        saw the Krups numbers on Friday, and will be ringing them tomorrow. Thanks for the heads up on the Bar Italia, might ring them too.

                        Ciao
                        F.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                          Originally posted by nBC link=1205812762/0#10 date=1206352979
                          Breville make a non- pressurised basket for the ESP2(Bar Italia) that fits the Cafe Roma. Search the IKON threads- also mentions krups numbers. Good idea to get a decent tamper to use with NP baskets-to stop blow by. Im back using my Roma atm as my IKON is going back this week. Im quite satisfied with the results too i might add. Good luck.
                          Just rang Breville. The person I spoke to maintained that filter baskets (new) are standard across their range. They don’t make a singled wall basket. Im guessing they had them on earlier machines. However – wait for it – they have one in production “due to customer demand”. Perhaps they read CS. An ETA has not been set but she guesses it’s a couple of months away.

                          Bob

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                            Non-pressurised baskets for the Breville ESP4 are definitely available and although originally intended for a Steam Pressure style machine, they are single walled, fit into an Ikon PF perfectly and work just fine. You can get them in two sizes, 1-2 Cup and 3-4 Cup although the latter will not fit into a standard Breville PF (too deep). This machine (and its baskets) are still available from authorised Breville agents....

                            Cheers,
                            Mal.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

                              I rang Breville too and followed the ESP2 line of enquire. Apparently they have the 4 cup model in stock but not the 1 and 2 cup version. The 1 and 2 cup version will however be available late in April.
                              She also gave me the details of a service centre in Ashfield (Sydney).

                              This kind gentleman told me he has several of each but I would need to bring the basket down so we could make a direct comparison.


                              He also told me about the ESP2 and ESP4 being the same.

                              I will be there on my next day off.

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