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Is it REALLY all in the grind?

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  • Is it REALLY all in the grind?

    Hi all,

    Ive just purchased my 1st espresso machine (Sunbeam EM6910) and am having a great time working out how to make the perfect cup. What Im currently frustrated with is the quality of the pour I am getting from pre-ground beans (I had them ground for me at a specialist store) as I havent purchased a grinder yet. Ive varied the amount of coffee I use, the pressure of the tamp and the length of the pour and Im not very impressed with the amount of crema Im getting with the pour despite changing things up. The instructions mention the pour should have the texture of dripping honey. Well, the pour Im getting is looking like black water with a very thin layer of golden scum on top, I have 3 different blends of bean (which I assume were ground to the same texture) and the results dont differ much regardless of the coffee used or variable changed. So what Id like to know is, am I wasting my time trying to improve my technique when the one variable I have no control over is the grind? Ive seen pictures of the EM6910 and the quality of its pour on this site and know that it can produce a great pour (Rich golden espresso..mmm). I assume this is an important factor. I also have timed the single pour (auto button on the EM6910) and it lasts about 16s. I can pre-program the length of pour with this machine but if I let it run for 25-30s Ill have too much liquid in the cup (watery black liquid). So....should I go shopping today and pony up the $ for a grinder? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

    Cheers

    Justin

    P.S Ive removed the plastic liner from the PF as was recommended in another forum by other 6910/6900 users. Doesnt seem to have made a difference to the pour though. i.e its still looking dodgy

  • #2
    Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

    Yes, you should buy a grinder to go with your machine. In fact, there are those here who would recommend that you purchase your grinder first and the machine to match it...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

      Yes, DEFINITELY get a grinder when you can.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

        Originally posted by Saambo link=1168126727/0#0 date=1168126727
        <snip>

        So....should I go shopping today and pony up the $ for a grinder? Any and all suggestions are welcome.
        Yes Jason (aka grasshopper)....It really is all in the grind....Part up ....Oh, get some fresh coffee too- and youll never find that in the sttopidmarket either!

        2mcm

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        • #5
          Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

          The golden scum you describe is crema and if you are getting it you are on the right track.

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          • #6
            Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

            I appreciate that the scum I am getting is the beginnings of crema but what is frustrating me is the ratio of crema to coffee liquid: about 1:50. Ive seen pics of a good pour from the EM6910 with a ratio of crema to coffee of greater than 50:50 and it looks great. The grind appears to be the critical variable...Im off shopping

            Cheers


            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

              Jason the photos of my pour with the EM6910 was using good fresh coffee from Merlo in Brisbane but the second photo was with fresh home roasted beans using a popcorn maker and that produces by far the best crema. The grinder is very important, but for great crema the coffee must be FRESH. Cheers.

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              • #8
                Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                Sounds very much like the coffee has been ground too coarsely --- needs to be finer to get 60 mls in 25-30 seconds.

                The age of the beans (stale?) may also be a factor in lack of crema.

                You have to have your own grinder and adjust it daily to get the ideal extraction to suit the age of beans, type of beans and prevailing humidity.

                Incidently --- and I am certain many, quite rightly, will disagree here ---crema, to my palate, is not the taste sensation one would expect. We use descriptive words like golden nectar.... but without half - to one teaspoon of sugar, me thinks not much of this product on its own!

                --Robusto

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                • #9
                  Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                  Have to agree with all on post about 2 important things, cook and grind your own green beans for ultimate freshness, (and heaps of fun when the taste tests come around), and also, and the most important thing till last, must have your own good quality grinder for best results.

                  I own a Sunbeam 6900 and do the above and have great crema in my brews.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                    GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER! My grinder cost me twice as much as my coffee machine and I think thats the way it should be. It is the single most underestimated piece of kit a budding barista can own. Just get one!

                    I have a Mini Mazzer and it is supreme.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                      hahaha...my mazzer cost less than my sunbeam...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                        Originally posted by robusto link=1168126727/0#7 date=1168150114
                        Incidently --- and I am certain many, quite rightly, will disagree here ---crema, to my palate, is not the taste sensation one would expect.  We use descriptive words like golden nectar.... but without half - to one teaspoon of sugar,  me thinks not much of this product on its own!

                        --Robusto
                        Me thinks Robusto hasnt experienced a "god shot".

                        I agree that most shots cant cut the mustard straight up without sugar. An espresso drinking mate reckons sugar in espresso is the way its meant to be. In my experience it makes a completely different drink, sort of like coffee syrup and very nice. However adding sugar to a really good espresso will kill the subtle tastes IMO. I think the problem is that obtaining these subtle tastes is so difficult that on a day to day basis its best to make your shot and drink it the way you like it (I usually add milk).

                        My last "god shot" was from Naked Coffee pulled by Ant on a LM Linea using Campos Superior blend beans. The time before that was from Campos on their LM GB5. The crema wasnt too thick, but it was brick red! This has had me searching for the "red crema" zone. I finally managed to find it on the BZ35 and got a shot that was very similar in taste to the descriptions given to me by a few professionals who have tried this blend. Unfortunately the descriptions of this blend werent very flattering and nor was the shot...

                        For the OP:
                        Its no use even looking for this "god shot" unless your beans are fresh (less than 3 weeks since roast) and have an aroma that has you salivating with excitement. Then you need to grind them to the right consistency for the shot, which means tweaking the grinder until you get it right. You need to distribute the grinds evenly in the filter basket and tamp them uniformly with a decent quality tamper to a repeatable pressure.... Theres so many variables involved in making a good coffee. Just the presence of voluminous crema doesnt really indicate if youve done a good job or not. The taste is the final and only arbiter... The bottom line is start with good fresh beans and get a decent grinder (its about $200 for the minimum decent grinder, but do your homework before launching out and buying one). Beans need to be ground the minute you need to use them, otherwise theyll be stale within a hour of grinding them.

                        Cheers,

                        Mark.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                          Originally posted by Sparky link=1168126727/0#11 date=1171425212
                          My last "god shot" was from Naked Coffee pulled by Ant on a LM Linea using Campos Superior blend beans. The time before that was from Campos on their LM GB5. The crema wasnt too thick, but it was brick red! This has had me searching for the "red crema" zone. I finally managed to find it on the BZ35 and got a shot that was very similar in taste to the descriptions given to me by a few professionals who have tried this blend. Unfortunately the descriptions of this blend werent very flattering and nor was the shot...
                          I have seen pictures of this red crema on the net and have salivated over its beauty. I have never tasted one mind you. So is this red crema all down to the blend? Can you get red crema from any bean?

                          Originally posted by ozscott link=1168126727/0#6 date=1168143866
                          Jason the photos of my pour with the EM6910 was using good fresh coffee from Merlo in Brisbane but the second photo was with fresh home roasted beans using a popcorn maker and that produces by far the best crema. The grinder is very important, but for great crema the coffee must be FRESH. Cheers.
                          Do you have a link ozscott to these pics? I would love to see them. It will give me something to aim for on my EM6900

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                            Originally posted by marky link=1168126727/0#12 date=1171428162
                            Originally posted by Sparky link=1168126727/0#11 date=1171425212
                            My last "god shot" was from Naked Coffee pulled by Ant on a LM Linea using Campos Superior blend beans. The time before that was from Campos on their LM GB5. The crema wasnt too thick, but it was brick red! This has had me searching for the "red crema" zone. I finally managed to find it on the BZ35 and got a shot that was very similar in taste to the descriptions given to me by a few professionals who have tried this blend. Unfortunately the descriptions of this blend werent very flattering and nor was the shot...
                            I have seen pictures of this red crema on the net and have salivated over its beauty. I have never tasted one mind you. So is this red crema all down to the blend? Can you get red crema from any bean?
                            Coffee being what it is, I dont think there are any definitive answers. However, it cant be too blend dependent as a few weekends ago we were getting it with every blend put into a La Marzocco FB70 and that was a range of single origins from three different continents. My guess is that its a combination of extraction temperature and shot parameters. I managed it on the BZ35 by going to a higher temperature combined with a tighter ristretto shot.

                            I have the idea that this red crema is produced from caramelised sugars and so gives you more sweetness and some toffee/caramel flavours.

                            Cheers,

                            Mark.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is it REALLY all in the grind?

                              Originally posted by Sparky link=1168126727/0#13 date=1171429447
                              However, it cant be too blend dependent as a few weekends ago we were getting it with every blend put into a La Marzocco FB70 and that was a range of single origins from three different continents. My guess is that its a combination of extraction temperature and shot parameters. I managed it on the BZ35 by going to a higher temperature combined with a tighter ristretto shot.
                              Yep, certainly a big part of it. It think that it is slightly blend dependent, but also quite roast dependent, too. Its also probably quite dependent on the lighting when you take the photo!




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