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  • Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Hi guys,

    Just stumbed across this site and love it, been losing lots of valuable time reading up on the threads.

    Last night I purchased a Sunbeam EM4800C & EM0480 grinder (grinder was brand new, machine was close to new). The lovely girl who sold it to me was an ex-barista and really knew her stuff so she gave me a couple of tips to get me started. Alas, my soul for a good coffee, as mine arent the best at the moment. Im finding that the pull is coming through too quickly and seems somewhat watery. Im using Di Bella beans on grind setting 10 and tamping with reasonable force, however if I set the grind to anything less than 10 the machine sputters around the grouphead seal and doesnt pull the shot through well.

    I know one of the main things that Im wanting to do is to change to unpressurised baskets, will this make a difference to the issue Im having? Any tips to help a coffee loving noob would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

    Ditch the pressurised basket pronto - youll never look back.

    You should be able to go finer on the grinds and the seal shouldnt be an issue on a new machine. My only suggestion is make sure youre not overpacking the basket (ie too high/too full).
    Fill with loose grinds to the top, scrape level with a knife and tamp while to tryingto leave about 5mm from top edge. Give the tamp a twist to polish/smooth the top surface.



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    • #3
      Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

      Originally posted by 51767D4C47667464767F7F130 link=1324691934/1#1 date=1324693066
      Ditch the pressurised basket pronto - youll never look back.

      You should be able to go finer on the grinds and the seal shouldnt be an issue on a new machine.  My only suggestion is make sure youre not overpacking the basket (ie too high/too full).
      Fill with loose grinds to the top, scrape level with a knife and tamp while to tryingto leave about 5mm from top edge.  Give the tamp a twist to polish/smooth the top surface.


      Thanks for the advise... the machine is "near" new, hopefully thats not sales speak for flogged to within an inch of its life. I do believe I may be overpacking the basket slightly, Ill try a little less grinds. How hard should I be tamping? Ive heard 15kg, but I have no idea how to translate that into force feel.

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      • #4
        Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

        Tamp according to what you can do consistently and comfortably. Then use the grind settings as your variable for flow/pressure - this will change with different beans or even as your beans absorb moisture in the grinder. Ive heard some cafes will grind finer so they dont get RSI tamping all day.

        The other thing woud be to look at the gasket and check its clean. Regular machine hygiene is a good habit. Use a wet cloth/sponge to keep the screen and gasket clean (after running a quick hot rinse through).

        I was a chronic overpacker - a habit learnt off the DVD that came with the machine. It took two worn out collars (from have to screw the handle in tight) before I learnt to back off, and grind a bit finer.

        Enjoy.

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        • #5
          Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

          Ok, just tried it on grind setting 8, tamping down hardish (using the single shot basket this time) and following the above filling instructions (level with rim, scrape off, tamp down and twist), still to no avail, checked the seal and its nice and clean with no gunk around it, yet still cant get a seal on the PF

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          • #6
            Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

            Anyone with a Sunbeam EM4800C got any ideas about a cause/solution for PF leaks?

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            • #7
              Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

              I just noticed on the last pull that the PF handle seems to move down slightly as the pressure builds, shortly after this, the sputtering starts, have managed to only make 2 (weak) coffees from this machine and have nearly used an entire 500gms of di bella beans

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              • #8
                Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                500g This is where a pressure guage would come in handy.

                MAybe check a couple of things first:

                1. Pump water through a single floor basket & see if it leaks with no back pressure.

                2. Pump water through a pressure basket & see if it leaks.

                Maybe? youre creating too much back pressure - Ive avoided the single basket cause I always overdo it.

                As a starting point for double (single floor basket), the result should be about 60ml in 20 seconds.

                You could try starting with a coarse (almost sandy) grind and gradually work your way finer?

                BTW supermarket beans are a learners best friend.

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                • #9
                  Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                  Originally posted by 4463685952736171636A6A060 link=1324691934/7#7 date=1324704932
                  500g   This is where a pressure guage would come in handy.

                  MAybe check a couple of things first:

                  1. Pump water through a single floor basket & see if it leaks with no back pressure.

                  2. Pump water through a pressure basket & see if it leaks.

                  Maybe? youre creating too much back pressure - Ive avoided the single basket cause I always overdo it.

                  As a starting point for double (single floor basket), the result should be about 60ml in 20 seconds.

                  You could try starting with a coarse (almost sandy) grind and gradually work your way finer?

                  BTW supermarket beans are a learners best friend. 
                  Great minds think alike, I just tried to run straight water through the grouphead without any grinds in the basket, single shot basket caused sputtering and very little flow, double shot basket flowed freely. Filled the double basket with grind setting 10 beans and still got some sputtering, its frustrating as I know around the 10-11 mark I can get a shot to pull through, but its weak and watery, not the nice strong espresso hit I want, which a finer grind would give me. Grrr... side note, just invested in 1kg of coffee club (read: practice) beans... If I can get a half decent cup out of them, i should be able to make some phenomenal coffee from good beans!!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                    May have to replace the group seal. You could also be getting channeling, I had a lot of problems on my EM4800 with channeling.
                    Are you tamping around the edges (North - South - East - West pattern)? Also you may be able to tighten the group head further as you start to pull the shot, ive found mine will tighten up a little bit more.

                    You may also try grinding a little finer, and tamping more lightly.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                      Originally posted by 567F7065110 link=1324691934/9#9 date=1324712565
                      May have to replace the group seal. You could also be getting channeling, I had a lot of problems on my EM4800 with channeling.
                      Are you tamping around the edges (North - South - East - West pattern)? Also you may be able to tighten the group head further as you start to pull the shot, ive found mine will tighten up a little bit more.

                      You may also try grinding a little finer, and tamping more lightly.
                      Hi Gnat,

                      My first thought was the seal too, except if it was the seal, you would expect it to not hold pressure regardless of the grind that is in the bucket. Ive done a fair bit of experimenting this afternoon and noticed the following:

                      Single scoop bucket: Will always cause sputtering, even with an empty bucket

                      Double scoop bucket: Provided grind is 10+ on the EM0480 grind settings, will pull through, but require a full double shot (60ml) for a strong enough coffee for 1 person. Finer grind WILL cause sputtering, everytime without fail, irrispective of how tight I have the grouphead in or lighter/heavier tamping.

                      As far as the N-S-E-W tamping goes, this is the first ive heard of this, im a newbie when it comes to home made espresso (i research a lot, so learn terms and techniques quickly), care to explain?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                        Originally posted by 466D75587B630C0 link=1324691934/0#0 date=1324691934
                        been losing wisely spending lots of valuable time reading up on the threads
                        there, fixed it for you

                        but seriously, do check the group seal and collar. The symptoms sound similar to a warn collar, which is strange given its near-new. And yes, different baskets could have different effects on "spluttering" if theyre pressurised. The smaller one will build up pressure faster than the double. Forget the single for now anyway - it will take a different grind and dose than the double, and its just a bunch more variables to play with. Once youve mastered the double, then try the single.

                        NSEW means press the tamper at the 12oclock edge of the basket, then at the 6oclock edge, then 3, then 9. Its useful if your tamper is a different size to your basket, but if theyre the same (to less than 1mm) its probably not necessary.

                        The other thing to check would be the grinder - grind a pinch onto paper and have a close look and feel - does it look fairly consistent in size? Also, tiny changes to the grind can have a large effect, so make your changes in tiny increments. The pressurised basket will also hamper your efforts to find the "sweet spot".

                        I dont know how to "measure" the collar, but there are lots of posts here about padding it with spacers, so you can check those to see if your symptoms are the same. Seems a shame to have to do that with a newish machine, but what youre extracting quick and watery is probably what the last owners called good coffee... either that or its the reason they returned it!

                        hope that helps a bit. I dont actually own one of these so I cant comment definitively!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                          Wait, hang on I may have missed this. Are you still using the pressurised baskets? If so, grind size and tamping have almost zero effect on your coffee. Pretty much the only thing that will happen with a finer grind/harder tamp is that the machine will choke and splutter. This would be the problem that you have having.

                          The single-shot pressurised basket may have some grinds blocking the single hole at the bottom, or some between the filter walls, this would certainly cause the spluttering - there is no where for the water to go.

                          Get an unpressurised basket asap, otherwise you will not see very much improvement at all, regardless of your tamp and grind settings.

                          EDIT: Merry Christmas all! Santa delivered a shiny new tamp

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                          • #14
                            Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                            I had the same grinder and found providing the beans you have a good quality and are fresh i set my grind setting to between 1-3. With that i was able to achieve approx 30ml of coffee in 20-30 seconds which was of a good consistency.

                            As for the machine i agree with comments above lose the pressurized baskets

                            Good luck and i hope it works out for you

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Just cant seem to get a good coffee, help a noob out!

                              Thanks to the 2 guys above... Anyone got any suggestions of places to buy unpressurised baskets? Either in Brisbane or online?

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