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Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

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  • Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

    I purchased an Atomic in the spring, and am about to completely give up on it. I cant produce anything drinkable on it. =(

    Currently, I buy Stumptown beans (in Oregon, its the most reliable roaster), grind on a Kyocera (rather coarse, otherwise I end up with lots of nasty, powder-y muck in the coffee). I use a full container of water boiled in a separate kettle- my attempts to reduce the water used have been unsuccessful, often resulting in burnt coffee and increased bitterness. Using the smaller filter, I extract about 2 ounces of coffee, and then consider the rest waste (which stinks up the whole house while it is dripping). After I get two ounces extracted, I foam my milk. This is the one part which Ive success with! Buts alas, no drinkable coffee.

    So what am I doing wrong?! I feel like I have read a lot of conflicting advice on how to use these. Many people also seem to be able to extract larger quantities of coffee from the Atomic, and the scans Ive seen of the instruction manuals imply that these quantities can be made. Its be great if it can produce more than 2-4 ounces, but my experience tells me only the first bit of coffee that flows out approaches a reasonable quality.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Re: Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

    Originally posted by 4C5653565E4C5A4E4A5A564D5E3F0 link=1311713400/0#0 date=1311713400
    grind on a Kyocera (rather coarse, otherwise I end up with lots of nasty, powder-y muck in the coffee)
    While there are Atomic users here who may well be able to provide more assistance, I reckon the above may well be the problem.
    It appears that the Atomic may like a grind thats slightly finer than espresso to function best, so if youre grinding coarsely that may well be where the process is failing.
    Ive found that the grind from my Kyocera is often extremely uneven - certainly I wouldnt consider using it in an espresso machine. It may well be that your grinder isnt up to the task.
    Additionally, although you say Stumptown beans are "reliable", do you know they are fresh? Is there a roast date on the beans? If the beans are stale, that would also cause significant extraction problems.
    I dont know if this will assist - it seems youve already researched the process - but theres a step-by-step how-to here (I think its okay to link to this):


    • #3
      Re: Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

      I would also be looking at your grinder. It sounds like there may be too much variation in the grind- from powdery particles to larger chunks.

      Atomic type machine do no want powdery coffee- they operate at a much lower pressure than an espresso machine and the coffee need to be coarse enough that the water can pass through it without too much ease- or to much obstruction.

      When the coffee comes out does it just drip? or gush? you are looking for a steady smooth stream.

      Try again with less water- it really works for me.

      Where did you get your machine?


      • #4
        Re: Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

        The reality about making coffee is that it is a combination of knowledge and skill that gives the best results. Nothing beats real coaching for the skill part.

        Can you find someone close by who can run through the process with you, and guide you to a successful outcome?



        • #5
          Re: Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

          Couple of comments I can add;
          (1) The Kyocera grinder is a good hand grinder generally reported to have reasonable consistency for fine grind settings. 
          As far as grind repeatability goes, one of the issues I have with my kyocera grinder is the grind setting can change and you may not know as there is no relative scale, (unless you go to zero and back every time).
          I dont think you would need a grind quite as fine as is typically required for a pump espresso machine, but you do have steam pressure which generally means a finer grind than used for other methods like plunger for example.  It should be able to grind well enough for your Atomic, but if you need a consistent courser grind I believe there is a mod that can be done to achieve this.
          (2) Consistent dose amount can be difficult to master on any machine and is just as important as grind size, although again an Atomic may be less critical than a typical pump machine.  Sounds like you might be able to dose a bit more into your basket to get more decent brew volume.
          (3) How are you heating the Atomic?  Too much heat can cause the brew water to be too hot and that will give poor tasting brews, (although of course more heat is always good for steaming, when you get to that stage).  With my little Moka pot on the stove it is relatively easy to put too much heat into it and the water inside gets too hot, causing bitter brews, patience and lowest heat setting possible is required for good brews.
          (4)  If your Atomic is an older one, I believe there is some newer versions of filter baskets that work better than the older style ones.
          (5) Also you can now get filter paper that can help catch some of the fines in the grinds, see Sorrentina Coffee site for more info on those items.
          (5) It may be worth trying another bean type/blend or even supplier, sometimes there are beans that just do or dont suit us as individuals, and the brewing process that we use.


          • #6
            Re: Help! Im about to throw my Atomic away!!

            If all else really fails and you are going to give it up, I wouldnt mind if you threw it my way


            • #7
              Reviving an old thread, Stumptown coffees at that time were very good and may still be so today.

              The linked post claims that you can't make good coffee with a moka pot because it always sends steam through the coffee. That is wrong. As with the Atomic you use low to moderate heat and stop the extraction early before the brew water overheats. With a moka pot you dip the bottom in a bowl of cool water before steam bubbles start erupting from the spout.

              I'm just starting to try my Atomic, and I replace the jug with a catch cup the moment the brew starts to overextract. Already I've brewed coffee of good strength, not overheated and with subtle flavor that is less monotone than moka pot coffee.

              I look forward to getting Jack's new baskets with smaller holes and will also try filter paper. I'm using a much better grinder than a Kyocera -- so far, a 68 mm conical Fiorenzato Doge.

              I trust that the designers of Italian moka pots and Atomics had in mind a brew that is not burned or overextracted. They would not still be popular without that capability. In contrast I don't know of anyone personally who still uses a percolator.