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Gaggia Classic flow rate too fast

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  • Gaggia Classic flow rate too fast

    Hello all, just registered for coffeesnobs today after buying a second hand gaggia classic espresso machine and gaggia (mdf i think) grinder yesterday.
    Don't really know anything about making espresso, except what I've read in the past couple of days.
    Please redirect me to another thread if this scenario has already been discussed. Have been hunting around forums trying to find answers but am a stay at home dad, studying full time online. i.e., have little time, need lots of coffee.

    I'm getting the basics of the terminology but will no doubt make semantic errors.

    The flow rate of my shots is really fast. Filling 60ml in maybe 10 seconds, and the shot is fairly watery with little or no creme. I know that grinding fineness affects flow rate, and I have tried several settings all the way down to 1 on the MDF (from 1-34).
    I know that tamping pressure can affect flow rate (though the extent of this affect seems to be a matter of debate). I don't know exactly how much pressure I'm using, but I'm being pretty firm. Admittedly I'm using the plastic tamper which comes with the machine (which seems to be a little too small). I'm sure a proper tamper would be better but the poor results I'm getting seem to be pretty extreme.
    What I'm doing is...
    • I heat machine for 10 mins or so with the portafilter in place,
    • take out the portafilter, run a bit of water through the group head, dry that and the portafilter,
    • grind my beans, fill the double basket portafilter until it is just overflowing, level it off with the back of a knife,
    • Tamp it pretty firmly, and load it into the machine. (i need to turn the handle quite far to the right to get it to lock into place)
    • run the machine and get the aforementioned crappy shot.

    I had tested the machine out initially with some older beans (like a couple of months old, I knew they would taste no good but was just excited to try out the machine), But read that stale, dry beans can effect the flow rate. I bought some fresh beans today from a local roaster. This hasn't changed the flow rate.
    Not sure if this is useful at all but I just tested running water through the machine with no coffee in the portafilter. Filled a 250ml cup in just under 30 secs.

    I read something about the OPV setting being different on newer gaggia classics to allow for prepackaged pod things. not sure if this is an issue, surely it should still be able to produce a decent espresso from fresh beans.

    I am a novice, it is no doubt operator error (and I hope it is).

    If someone could let me know what I'm doing wrong from the steps above that would be fantastic. I'm sure I can improve every step, but there must be something drastic that is causing the issue.

    Thankyou everyone

    Last edited by thomcombe; 20 February 2014, 01:49 PM.

  • #2
    I find the following steps were helpful for me...
    - Weigh your beans... I find it easier to dosing consistently by weighing as I am pretty bad at eye balling how much grind I have... plus, the finer the grinds, the fluffier it can get, so it would seem fuller... you can tell by tapping the PF holder on the table and they will flatten alot... some people would dose, tap, dose, tap instead of weighing... but the trick is to do it the same way all the time...
    - Get a proper tamper that will fit your basket... the cheapy plastic ones are really crap... if too small, then you going to have channels and holes forming on the edge of your basket.
    - Tamping pressure should not be the hard... If you get a scale and press down on it with a tamper... you be surprised how little it takes to get 15KG... again, keep it consistent and even (make sure your grinds are flat after you tamp)
    - Fresh beans... always...
    - Make sure your machine is warmed up long enough... cold machine will still pull a watery sour shot even if everything else is perfect...
    - Leave the OPV alone... it might make things worst for you if you don't know what you are doing...
    - Patience... lots and lots of it

    good luck with your new adventure..

    *add* After market baskets can also help... specially when you increase the size of it.... brand of baskets are personal choice and get rid of the single baskets... I use a double or triple basket instead...


    • #3
      There is a website dedicated to Gaggia machines. It is called the Gaggia Users Group. Google can get you there and you can get all the guidance you need for your Gaggia Classic.


      • #4
        Thanks for your replies. Yep have signed up the the GUG, but the registration hasn't been completed yet.

        Initially wasn't tamping too hard, just tried doing it harder to try and slow down the flow rate. Always plan on using fresh beans, just didn't want to waste too many double shots of the good stuff before I got used to the machine.

        Certainly want to get a decent tamper at some point, just thought I'd be able to get something vaguely resembling an espresso with the plastic one.
        Have a scale somewhere but have recently moved interstate and it's still packed in a box somewhere.

        Thanks guys


        • #5
          Fellow Gaggia Classic user.
          Do you do nth sth east west tamping? (ie just using the slightly small tamper and tamping all the way around the edge)?

          And how did you go having tamped harder? Interested to know.



          • #6
            ok. think I've worked it out. I just wasn't rotating the group handle far enough to the right (it doesn't point straight out at 90degrees from the machine when locked in which threw me a bit). a double shot basket is now filling a 60ml glass in around 35 seconds, so I can now afford to up the grind setting a little. seems like a rookie mistake, but possibly useful to someone else starting out having a similar issue. can now start trying to make a decent espresso, as opposed to just trying to make an espresso!


            • #7
              Sounds like you may need a new group gasket in the not too distant future. There are good instructions here ....... How to change the Group Gasket on a Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine ....

              It also includes cleaning up the shower head which should be done every few weeks/months depending on usage.


              • #8
                great, thanks deegee. The guy we bought it from gave us a spare new group gasket with the machine (the one in there is a few months old apparently), so I might get the old one out and compare it with the new one to see if it has deteriorated. Will bookmark that link you sent me. Cheers


                • #9
                  There's one tip that is not in that article. The shower holder disc can be hard to remove if it has not been taken out for a while. The easy solution is to use a screw/bolt of the same thread size as the shower screen screw, but a bit longer ( it's a 5mm metric ). Anywhere from 25 to 75mm would be OK.

                  If the disc does not come out easily after you have removed the two hex-head retaining bolts, just screw your 5mm bolt through the centre hole until it contacts the group head, then gently but firmly turn it, and it will force the disc out of the group head.

                  P.S. This works fine for Classics and probably for any of the small Gaggia's that have a three-way valve -- but probably not for Carezza's or other models that don't have the valve, because their water inlet is in the centre of the group head.
                  Last edited by deegee; 21 February 2014, 12:05 PM. Reason: see PS