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Thread: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

  1. #1
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    My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Greetings all

    Im a 25-yo professional from Melbourne, who has long enjoyed all that the roasted bean has to offer. *However, it is only recently that I have ventured into the land of home espresso. *I share this story so that veterans may sigh with nostalgia and newbies may be encouraged and excited.


    The first step.

    Coffee has been a part of my life since high school. *From humble instant beginnings moving on to plunger and stove-top espresso, then during uni hitting the cafe for a latte.

    Since I started working in Melbournes CBD, coffee has become more significant to me. *I have 6 cafes at the bottom of my office building and so many more within walking distance. *I have a plunger at my desk which I feed with organic, fair trade coffee from the Vic Market.

    In recent years I have desired a home espresso machine, but never made the move because I couldnt quite justify it. *However, when my fiance confirmed that she too would love an espresso machine when we were married, I was over the line.

    I employed my Gen-Y googling abilities and discovered this forum. *After learning much about portafilters, unpressurised baskets, steam wand modifications and the merits of grinders, I bought a Sunbeam 3800 for $47 brand new on eBay.


    Step two





    The Sunbeam arrived and I eagerly unpacked it. *My expectations had been tempered by the knowledge I had garnered from CS - I knew that I wouldnt make cafe-quality espresso until I got a grinder and some unpressurised baskets.

    I played around with the machine for a week or so, learning to steam milk and pulling some shots with supermarket ground coffee. *However, as all CSers will know, a low-end machine with rubbish coffee will only produce a cup of hot milk with the barest hint of flavour.


    Step the third

    After looking around for a while, I managed to score a second-hand Sunbeam 0480 grinder from a fellow CSer. *The first grind was extremely disappointing: coarse as raw sugar. *Fortunately I had read about the potential for 0480 modification, and Sunbeam kindly sent me a spare washer in short order. *They also sent me a silicon spout extension, which was very nice of them given that I hadnt even provided proof of purchase.

    On installing the extra washer, I found that the grinder had never been assembled properly. *Once I got it together, the resulting grind was sensational. *On a setting of 15/25 it choked my little Sunbeam completely.

    I set the grinder to 25 and pulled a shot. *Many of you will know the feeling of elation that I experienced when I took the first sip of espresso made with fresh ground coffee. *I swear, I was happy for days after that heavenly taste.





    Step 4

    In more recent weeks, Ive bought some unpressurised Krups baskets and tinkered with the grind some more. *My milk steaming skills are rapidly progressing (good wand on the Sunbeam) and Im starting to produce lattes that rival at least half the cafes I visit.

    I still have plenty of room for improvement - finding the perfect grind and dose, discerning which bean gives me exactly what Im after, and consistently getting silky steamed milk at just the right temperature.

    However, largely thanks to the knowledge and insight of CoffeeSnob members, I have avoided joining the crowds of people who buy an espresso machine but give up after a few months because they dont understand the intricacies of the art.

    To the veterans: thanks!
    To the newbies: read and learn, and dont give up!

    AE







  2. #2
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Nice story, and it does illustrate that you dont have to spend yourself into a large mortgage to get high quality espresso at home.

    Now if you can only resist upgraditis youll be fine.

    Greg

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery


    Excellent post MrFurion.
    Home espresso is a lot of fun and the results can be amazing.

    Enjoy!

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    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Good story mf, a bit of home roasting next??????green beans, bread machines, heat guns, fans, thermocouples, roast monitors.......god its fun!!!
    Enjoy your coffee journey........................

  5. #5
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Yes it is a wonderful journey full of upgrading and experiencing different Single Origin Beans and upgrading, finding different roasts and how they affect the taste and upgrading. Did I mention upgraditis a disease that affects all who venture here. It is highly contagious and most exciting. Welcome to the club. ;D ;D ;D Now if I tamp slightly harder or should I grind a little finer or do I need a better machine? :-/

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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Hehe yeah, Im very wary of upgrade-itis. If in a year or two Im still pumping out as many shots as I am at the moment, I will definitely look into getting a Silvia :)

    I think Im getting nearly as much out of my Sunbeam as possible, because I have hit the wall in terms of richness and crema... if I grind any finer or tamp any harder I just choke the machine. Im getting what Id call 6-7 out of 10 but I fear that to get up in the 8-9 range Ill need a more hardcore machine :-/

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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Just looking at your set-up, are you grinding as you need it, or filling the container? Im not sure why Sunbeam includes the container as it defeats the purpose of fresh-ground coffee.

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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Quote Originally Posted by flatwhite link=1229135277/0#6 date=1229210202
    Just looking at your set-up, are you grinding as you need it, or filling the container? Im not sure why Sunbeam includes the container as it defeats the purpose of fresh-ground coffee.
    I grind as I need, but into the container not the handle. I do this because the Sunbeam sprays a little, so if I grind straight into the handle it can make a mess.

    I grind into the container then put the lid on and shake it to settle the grounds, then it pours easily and neatly into the handle :)

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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Great post! It had me reminiscing of when I first got my first machine (Silvia) after years of using a plunger and stove top pot. If you do decide to get a Silvia you wont be disappointed but in the meantime enjoy the sunbeam :)

  10. #10
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan link=1229135277/0#4 date=1229163611
    Did I mention upgraditis a disease that affects all who venture here.
    Speak for yourself. :P

  11. #11
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1229135277/0#9 date=1229219848
    Quote Originally Posted by Stan link=1229135277/0#4 date=1229163611
    Did I mention upgraditis a disease that affects all who venture here.
    Speak for yourself. *:P
    So, you dont think moving from a popper to a coretto is an upgrade? ::)


  12. #12
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Good point.
    Never considered the roasting equipment.

    References to upgraditis generally refer to grinders and espresso machines and I still use the same ones I started with.

    I suppose if I moved to professional roaster it may have crossed my mind.
    Its just that my initial corretto setup cost me less than my popper so I suppose thats why Ive never though of it that way.

    If you are going to pick on me you could have chosen to mention my Gino Rossi conical grinder.
    Ive never considered it as such either, because I picked it up as a bargain too good to pass up, and its not in day to day use.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    So TG you started with the Macap M5 and Pullman Tamper - or were they upgrades (I am not picking on you just searching for knowledge) :)

  14. #14
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Started with the Expobar and Macap (from Talkcoffee).
    Ordered my Pullman as soon as possible.
    In those days the LM baskets were the rage.
    Hazel offered to get me one on a trip to Coffee Parts as I wouldnt have even known what to ask for in those early days.
    Then I sent it to Greg for him to measure and make my tamper.

    These days you could get a Pullman tamper and fitted basket with your machine but not two years ago that I know of.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    The old days were good (or is that just the way we remember them) (when we can remember). But I think I prefer it when you can order something that works as advertised such as the Pullman. With my machine I didnt have to order baskets. But what did you use before the Pullman?? :-/

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    I had a cheap metal one I bought off evilbay to replace to plastic thing that came with the machine.
    It was better than the plastic but always a stopgap.
    I didnt even instal the tamper on the grinder.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Then you have upgraded. ::)

    Sorry - I know I said I wouldnt pick on you. :(

    It affects us all in one way or another.

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    Re: My first tenative steps into coffee snobbery

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Welcome MrFurion, it is good fun. *Since joining this site I have changed my status at work , from "mild eccentric who brings in her own coffee" to "loonie coffee evangalist who wants everyone to roast their own beans so we can all compare notes". *8-) *I can only wish you similar joy .

    The people here are an invaluable source of knowledge, always helpful, * and usually friendly *;)

    Cheers - Carrie



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