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Reviving an old EM6910

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  • Reviving an old EM6910

    So the mother (upgraded?) to a Nespresso machine about a year ago and left her barely used EM6910 gathering dust in the spare room.

    I decided to ask If I could have it and get it up and running for myself. She said the last time she used it no water / coffee came out and she assumed it had died or needed servicing (hence getting the nespresso)...

    Anyway I plugged it in and switched it on, ran a descale and had the same issue, no water coming out... managed to fix this by purging the hot water for about 2 minutes (after lots of spluttering and weird sounds it finally started to kick back in).... But then I did some research and came across this site where I found lots of tips and tricks on pulling it apart and cleaning the shower screen and brew head (yuck that was pretty filthy - but I scrubbed it well clean).

    Got all that done and then ran about 4 litres of fresh water through the machine to give it a good clean.

    Made my first few cups of coffee which were not that bad, but I could still smell that kind of stale old coffee smell coming from somewhere... is this normal and will eventually go away? Or do I need to clean further? I've scrubbed and soaked just about everything that looked like it had old coffee / stains on it and everything has come up pretty nice so I'm stumped as to what it is?

    Lastly the other question I have is about brewing... I've tried 2 different types of pre-ground coffee from a well known coffee shop in Adelaide (the first was too course, second much better) But no matter how much or how little coffee I use, hard soft or how hard I tamp or how over or under I dose, I keep getting similar brew results (have made about 10-20 tests now)... they are all quite "fast". I've seen some videos online where the brew pours out really slowly and thick and creamy... all of mine start brewing VERY dark black for the first few seconds and then a golden crema starts to form but its all pouring out quite fast.... and every brew has had a bitter smell to it (the taste is fine and acceptable - but I think it could be better)... and as for the Gauge thing on the machine, I've had it range from under to over to even perfectly in the middle with not much difference. Actually, having said that I did once pack it down real hard and over dose and that produced a slow pour but it was really black and dark and bitter, and the puck was super hard and dry... so that was obviously well over.

    I've also tried the Dual filter as well as the single (both double sizes) and not much difference there either...

    After reading on here the next step is to go out and buy a grinder and try super fresh coffee... But I just cant see how the freshness would make THAT much of a difference??

    Can anyone shed some light or provide some tips? I'm happy to film a brew to show what Im getting so people can have a look.

    Really keen to get this machine up and running perfectly!

  • #2
    It's not so much the freshness of the coffee, although that DOES affect your results, but the grind. If it is pouring fast, it usually the grind is too coarse. If you have your own grinder and beans you can adjust the grind to where it 'chokes' the pour then back off a little and get lovely coffee.

    Use the single floor baskets - the dual 'fake' the crema so you can get a lousy coffee that looks nice.

    Once you have a grinder, go buy some nice fresh beans and enjoy your coffee. (What I did was buy some Vittoria beans from Coles for my first lot - much cheaper to play around with than good beans from a roaster. And you CAN get a drinkable coffee from them while you learn your Grind/Dose/Tamp process. Then once you have that happening, chuck the cheapies and buy your quality beans.

    Note you will still have to 'dial-in' any new beans you try, but once you have your process settled in, (as in consistent) it is very easy to do.


    • #3
      Ok grinder it is...

      Any recommendations? I don't want to spend a fortune to start off with.

      I was looking at the Sunbeam EM0440. Its $99 and looks almost identical in specs to the EM0480 for double the price?

      I read about the shim set and using them to adjust the blade, im happy to do that if it saves me $100.


      • #4
        The stale smell will be from the gunk lining the thermoblocks and plastic tubing>

        Check with teh more professional guys here but it may need a dose of diluted citric acid or something strong to clean it out properly.

        Firstly I'd give it a number more good soakings with espresso clean, and the required purging afterwards.
        i.e fill the reservoir with water and cleaner, heat up machine and pump through about 1/2 of the solution through all the water paths.
        turn it off and leave to soak for about 45 minutes
        pump through the rest of the solution, then refill with clean water and pump through again.

        prepare and run through a big shot of coffee and toss it, this will make sure that all the residue is gone from inside the shower-screen.

        use the double shot, single wall basket and aim for your "over" result that you had above
        60ml pour in 25-30 seconds.
        don;t worry about the bitterness yet, it may just be the brew temp is incorrect. Or the coffee itself.
        stay away from very dark roasts at this point until you've got it all dialed in you want something medium and fruity, it's easier to taste the changes and bitterness/ sourness from too hot or cold brew temp, the darker roasts generally can be more bitter

        work out the pressure on the gauge that gives 60mls in 30 seconds, remember that grind/ dose/ tamp.
        My machine would just touch the red on the gauge for a perfect pour, they're not very accurate at all after time.

        some people will preach about how HUGE the difference in pour is with seconds fresh beans/ grind.
        but any decent shop will give you beans under a week or so old, so you won't have a problem there.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Robbks View Post
          use the double shot, single wall basket and aim for your "over" result that you had above
          60ml pour in 25-30 seconds.
          Cheers Robbks

          Just did another test then, using the double shot single wall basket and over-dosed and compacted well... this obviously made a slower pour (45 seconds to get 60ml) but yet again the same dark / watery black initial pour followed by some colour after a few seconds... I didn't film it as I was using my phone as a timer, but took some photos afterward of the shot... see below.

          Thoughts? I assume 45s for 60ml is way too long? Also the gauage was almost in the red... so I assume it was over extracting? It still seemed "fast" yet took 45s to get to 60ml so thats confusing me now.

          Photos (note I was using a frozen glass as I generally drink iced coffee's hence the frozen glass)

          ClouDrop 11 Jun 2014 2:57:21 pm 11 Jun 2014 2:57:22 pm.png

          ClouDrop 11 Jun 2014 2:57:21 pm 11 Jun 2014 2:59:47 pm.png



          • #6
            just back off the dose or tamp a little and get that full 60ml out in 30 seconds.
            have you done the 5c test to check your dose?
            i.e dose teh PF and tamp, put a 5c coin on the puck and put the PF into the group.
            the coin should be just pressed into teh puck about 1/2 the depth of teh coin

            Too slow of a pour initially will result in that black, bitter flavour,
            you're hunting for a deep, dark brown/red initial pour.

            After the pre-infusion "ramp up" of pressure I generally used to see another 2-ish seconds of constant pressure before the coffee comes out of the PF


            • #7
              Originally posted by rockethouse View Post

              Made my first few cups of coffee which were not that bad, but I could still smell that kind of stale old coffee smell coming from somewhere... is this normal and will eventually go away? Or do I need to clean further? I've scrubbed and soaked just about everything that looked like it had old coffee / stains on it and everything has come up pretty nice so I'm stumped as to what it is?
              Hi rockethouse

              Cause of the stale coffee smell is ... strangely enough, stale coffee.

              If you are using the standard 6910 p/f, they come with a plastic insert that will have an amazing collection of "excreta" under them. Also, the spout unscrews, which probably has even more gunk. Personally, removing the plastic is probably the most significant first step in getting good coffee out of a 6910 (just finishing a superb light Colombian out of one of my 6910's as I write this). I removed the plastic before I pulled the first shot out of mine. Converting it to a naked p/f is arguably / possibly the second step (i.e. getting all unnecessary parts out of the coffee path).

              If you check out Journeyman's, there is all the info you need to get a 6910 up and running.

              Grinder: The 480 is way better than the 450, probably worth the extra. As JM says, to control your coffee you need a grinder. FWIW, I would always spend more on a better grinder than a better espresso machine because it makes more of a difference. If the grinder is NFG, there is no way you can make a good cuppa no matter what machine you are using. Given a good grinder & some experience, you can work around most machines foibles to a large degree.

              Hope this helps



              • #8
                Thanks for the tips and advice guys, will be getting a grinder this weekend.

                In the meantime I made a quick video of my last pour so you can take a look... this time it came a bit under 30 seconds (arounds 20 seconds) and this was under-dosing only a little bit compared to my last one which was about 40 seconds.... so I guess there is still LOTS of room in between which doesn't seem like it....

                You will see in the video below how the first initial pour is dark black and no crema, which I thought was unusual?


                • #9
                  I think your grind is too coarse,
                  mine would never see liquid coming from the PF until pressure was at it's maximum for at least one second
                  yours is spitting out water straight away. so the water may just be running through the puck instead of letting the pressure build and then be squeezed out, along with all the goodness


                  • #10
                    Thought I'd report back on here after buying an EM0480 over the weekend...

                    First go, setting 12 with fresh beans and WOW what a difference... completely new taste / brew... getting 60ml in 40s and real nice slow dark red / caramel pours. Really happy.

                    If anyone else needs to hear it then here it is again - get a Grinder!

                    I have one last question (maybe specific to the EM6910) that I haven't seen anyone else bring up or ask..

                    How hard / tight do people twist on the PF to the machine? I generally do the same, but feel like I could do it less or even more tighter... does it matter / make a difference? Also mine doesn't tighten and line up in the middle (if you were to look at it from a birdseye view it would be sitting around the 5pm mark when tightened).

                    Loving this coffee... might make a video to share one day.



                    • #11
                      Don't over tighten the pf. The collar does ware after a while. I had mine for 6 years and the collar needs replacing now. The pf sits around the 4 pm mark using your analogy.


                      • #12
                        the best way to work out where it seals properly is use the blind basket.
                        start a pour then insert the pf and keep tightening until it seals properly.
                        If you haven't over-dosed the basket, then that's as far as you should need to tighten it.

                        I suspect your previous grind probably was suited for drip/ plunger.
                        but even asking for pre-ground to suit espresso is machine dependent again.


                        • #13
                          Hi Rockethouse
                          I have the same gear and I find the best grind is on about 6 on the grinder dial. This changes for each different bean I use.
                          Make sure you periodically clean all the parts you have found to keep your coffee fresh each time.
                          I can recommend Ricca at Thebarton, Coffee Barun @ Sefton, Coffee Craft @ Glandore or La Crema @ St Marys for good locally roasted coffee.


                          • #14
                            Sorry to be blunt, but you can't use someone else's grind setting, as all grinders are different.

                            Unless you've tried two grinders side by side and can confirm they work identically.


                            • #15
                              I have the same machine and use the ground coffee from BeanBay - its ground just right [got tired of changing the grind on my grinder as my family uses it for aero press] Love my morning coffee!
                              Last edited by balwoges; 21 June 2014, 03:28 PM.