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Thread: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

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    Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Merry Xmas CSers,

    Today should be a happy day but I find myself in espresso hell (or perhaps purgatory is a better description?).

    Ive been enjoying espresso from Ms. Silvia for about nine months now, making do with a sub-par grinder and tamper. Managed to produced decent espresso with that setup nevertheless.

    One would think I would be over the moon now that Ive acquired a (Mr?) Rocky to accompany Ms. Silvia and a beautiful, custom made Pullman tamper with matching Synesso baskets. I should be over the moon... except I cant seem to produce anything even remotely resembling espresso.

    Your assistance would be appreciated in diagnosing where Im going wrong with my technique, which is roughly as follows:

    - Grinding about 22g of fresh beans directly into portafilter with Rocky at a grind setting of 5
    - Settle grinds with 2-3 taps on the bench, one mid-grind, the others post-grind
    - Levelling off grinds and dumping the excess
    - Firm ~15kg tamp

    The result is almost always 10-15 second gushers, and the sad part is that I get excited when I manage to draw it out as long as 15 seconds :(.

    Obviously the full 22g doesnt make it into the portafilter, but my hope is that the process of settling the grinds and levelling off the excess should consistently give me around about the right dose.

    Another observation is that the grind setting of 5 seems too fine (since my burrs touch one step lower at a setting of 4). Sadly, any higher grind setting and the result is catastrophic. Like Niagara falls, only with crema.

    This is a personal tragedy for me. I can just feel Ms Silvia, Mr Rocky and Mr Pullman Tamper rolling their eyes and making disparaging remarks about me behind my back :-[.

    Help!

  2. #2
    A_M
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 444A4E534F4455210 link=1261691767/0#0 date=1261691767
    Merry Xmas CSers,

    Today should be a happy day but I find myself in espresso hell (or perhaps purgatory is a better description?).

    Ive been enjoying espresso from Ms. Silvia for about nine months now, making do with a sub-par grinder and tamper. *Managed to produced decent espresso with that setup nevertheless.

    One would think I would be over the moon now that Ive acquired a (Mr?) Rocky to accompany Ms. Silvia and a beautiful, custom made Pullman tamper with matching Synesso baskets. I should be over the moon... except I cant seem to produce anything even remotely resembling espresso. *

    Your assistance would be appreciated in diagnosing where Im going wrong with my technique, which is roughly as follows:

    - Grinding about 22g of fresh beans directly into group handle with Rocky at a grind setting of 5
    - Settle grinds with 2-3 taps on the bench, one mid-grind, the others post-grind
    - Levelling off grinds and dumping the excess
    - Firm ~15kg tamp

    The result is almost always 10-15 second gushers, and the sad part is that I get excited when I manage to draw it out as long as 15 seconds :(.

    Obviously the full 22g doesnt make it into the group handle, but my hope is that the process of settling the grinds and levelling off the excess should consistently give me around about the right dose.

    Another observation is that the grind setting of 5 seems too fine (since my burrs touch one step lower at a setting of 4). *Sadly, any higher grind setting and the result is catastrophic. *Like Niagara falls, only with crema.

    This is a personal tragedy for me. *I can just feel Ms Silvia, Mr Rocky and Mr Pullman Tamper rolling their eyes and making disparaging remarks about me behind my back *:-[.
    Help!
    Where are you... Nth Side or Sth Side...

    I have my Rocky now spare... Setting is at 18 ( It means nought)...

    Chance that we could catch up ? *Sunday ???

    1: My first thought is beans... and then BEANS..

    2: If too fine it will choke... However with stale beans even fine will gush.. Until you go that next step.

    I forgot to roast, as was away... *Thus have no real supply of quality beans..

    So other than the BEANS... And maybe a meat up... Can not offer any thing other than.. Merry- Caffeine free x-mas.

    [edit]Looking back, when did the gushers start and what changed ?[/edit]



  3. #3
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 16393032251A36393630323A323923570 link=1261691767/1#1 date=1261692915
    what changed ?
    My first suspicion is the beans.

    But what has changed?

    Try the old grinder and tamper again with the same beans and tell us what happens.

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    Senior Member Luke_G's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    I agree with AM about the beans.

    Its either that or your new baskets are of a larger capacity and you havnt compensated for the extra?

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 122B353B01195E0 link=1261691767/3#3 date=1261697208
    Its either that or your new baskets are of a larger capacity and you havnt compensated for the extra? *
    Im not sure you are right here Luke.
    If you use a larger basket the extra coffee will slow down the pour.

    The new baskets would have to be smaller to create a gusher; all other things being equal.
    However too many variables have changed at once here:
    *Grinder
    *Basket
    *Tamper(?)

  6. #6
    Senior Member Luke_G's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Yeah good point Thundergod!

    BUT not if he is only putting 15gs in a 21 gram basket?

    I shouldnt be answering qustions as soon as i get outa bed I had a laugh


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    A_M
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 6E5749477D65220 link=1261691767/5#5 date=1261698617
    Yeah good point Thundergod!

    BUT not if he is only putting 15gs in a 21 gram basket?

    I shouldnt be answering qustions as soon as i get outa bed I had a laugh
    Ya need coffee and a back rub first ;D

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 1C253B350F17500 link=1261691767/5#5 date=1261698617
    Yeah good point Thundergod!

    BUT not if he is only putting 15gs in a 21 gram basket?
    Quote Originally Posted by 353B3F223E3524500 link=1261691767/0#0 date=1261691767
    Grinding about 22g of fresh beans directly into group handle with Rocky at a grind setting of 5

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    A_M
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 7F435E454F4E594C444F2B0 link=1261691767/7#7 date=1261700955
    Quote Originally Posted by 1C253B350F17500 link=1261691767/5#5 date=1261698617
    Yeah good point Thundergod!

    BUT not if he is only putting 15gs in a 21 gram basket?
    Quote Originally Posted by 353B3F223E3524500 link=1261691767/0#0 date=1261691767
    Grinding about 22g of fresh beans directly into group handle with Rocky at a grind setting of 5
    Interesting... Need to get scales... Every one seems to think that say a lot :-/

    Grind and Dose levels followed by how hard ya tamping says more to me...

    Unless ya have some background as to teh basket size and the gram levels that one might have previously used... If teh same... Then BEANS are the obvious change..

    WHY...

    Cause Beans always change... Age and roast...

    It is not like ya can warranty an ongoing batch with teh exact same performance day in day out... Without some minor adjustments to the three main user issues... Grind / Dose / Tamp.

    Yes, equipment can come into play... But one assumes... A smaller chance...

  10. #10
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    AM Ive already agreed with you that the beans are suspect.

    However everything now is conjecture until the squirrel tells us everything thats changed.

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 4579647F757463767E75110 link=1261691767/9#9 date=1261702895
    AM Ive already agreed with you that the beans are suspect.

    However everything now is conjecture until the squirrel tells us everything thats changed.

    giggled like a schoolgirl....... *TG you crack me up some times *;)

    Not holding my breath... Squirrels known to get side tracked when lots of nuts around *;D *After all, it is x-mas time... hic * :-?

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Eveyone

    thanks for the replies

    agree I need to do some more investigation on what has changed

    and yes... Did get sidetracked by nuts today ....

    Will report back in the next day or so.

    If its the beans perhaps Ill need to start dropping hints to my mrs about the advantages of a roasting setup

    Tee hee!

    *Hic* :(

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Two suggestions - take a video for proper diagnosis - there is no shortage of experts here and the 5 minutes it takes to film it might well be worth your time.

    Secondly, change only one variable at a time. Sounds logical? Well sometimes its easy to get excited and change your tamp as well as tapping the PF that one extra time. Resist temptation. ONE variable only.

    15kg tells you nothing, I have found. Tamp harder til you get a 30 second shot. Taste and refine from there.

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    p.s surely your tamper deserves a better name than Mr Pullman tamper ;)

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Decaffeinated Squirrel reporting another sting of failures here :(

    Thanks for the advice, tashie. Sadly, no matter how hard I tamp, still achieve only gushers...

    ...that was, until I changed back to my old grinder this morning (a Saeco MC-2002). Managed a few decent shots on the Saeco, so logic tells me this isnt about the beans...

    Odd thing is that my Saeco (which by all accounts, and personal experience, is a piece of junk) seems to be capable of a much finer grind than my Rocky. Ran the two side by side and compared the fineness of grind by hand, and the Rocky at a 5 setting (just one step above the burrs touching at 4) produced a notably coarser grind than the Saeco. Kept all other factors (basket, does, tamper and tamp) as constant as I could manage.


    Logic tells me my problem is about one of two things. Either shifting to the Rocky requires some adjustment to my technique... or... my Rocky is f****d. Latter seems unlikely though since its brand new...

    There is a third possibility... which if its the culprit Im going to feel very embarrassed about...

    You know that plastic guard that sits in the hopper of the Rocky just above where the beans fall into the grinding mechanism? Well I thought it was a pain in the butt as I kept having beans get stuck in the holes where the screw goes etc... so I removed it. Assumed it was just something to protect idiots from sticking their fingers into the grinding mechanism...

    Somebody please tell me this has nothing to do with it. Cant imagine how that piece of plastic could in any way affect the process, but that could be my ignorance speaking.

    ...actually... somebody please tell me this is in fact the problem so I can just put the grinder back to its original state and start enjoying my espresso again.

    These holidays really are going to suck if I dont fix this soon....

    *Cry*


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    Senior Member Luke_G's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    I dont think removing that part would have a huge affect in the way you describe... its mainly there to relieve pressure from the burrs.
    So unless you filling your beans hopper when grinding then i dont think it will impact too much.

    I accidently snapped mine off my old Sunbeam EM6910 whilst cleaning it and it had no effect...but i only ever put the desired amount in the hopper.

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Something doesnt fit here:
    Burrs touching!
    Coarse grind!

    If all is put together correctly and working right this cant be happening! so:
    Check that burrs really do touch at 4. (Turn off, unplug, turn burrs by hand.)

    If burrs dont touch, keep fining up grind until you block the espresso machine and then back off a click or two.

    If burrs touch and there is coarse grind, then burrs must be mis-aligned. Remove top burr, clean everthing. Re-assemble with teflon tape mod. Check again.

    If still misaligned, then bottom burrs will need removing. Id suggest that somewhere here this is a warranty job.

    Greg

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    A_M
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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 497C6B6959617C636F626A0E0 link=1261691767/16#16 date=1261795337
    Something doesnt fit here:
    Burrs touching!
    Coarse grind!

    If all is put together correctly and working right this cant be happening! so:
    Check that burrs really do touch at 4. (Turn off, unplug, turn burrs by hand.)

    If burrs dont touch, keep fining up grind until you block the espresso machine and then back off a click or two.

    If burrs touch and there is coarse grind, then burrs must be mis-aligned. Remove top burr, clean everthing. Re-assemble with teflon tape mod. Check again.

    If still misaligned, then bottom burrs will need removing. Id suggest that somewhere here this is a warranty job.

    Greg
    I fully agree with Greg...

    I am also aware that another CSér up the sunshine coast is also having similar problems with his Rocky... I believe that burrs were changed... Thus he is pulling the unit down and going to ensure top and bottom Burrs and carriers are CLEAN etc...

    As I said in another post... The physics are such that if the burs touch and that is your ZERO (could be any value... Mine is 20) and you ome click up on that you should CHOKE just about any machine... Even with slightly stale beans...

    My system runs at about 2 to 3 clicks of true zero... And if I tamp extra hard.. I can almost choke my system...

    It has to be with the alignment of the burrs and or beans that came off teh Ark ;D

    Ifd a new system... As per Greg.



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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Thanks for the advice ppl...

    Sounds like I either need to get my hands dirty and pull this thing apart (am quite clever with my hands but would need instructions...)

    or

    warranty job (a pain, given the time of year and fact that would need to transport this to Sydney)

    or

    engage the services of a friendly local CSer

    poor decaff squirrel :(

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 343A3E233F3425510 link=1261691767/18#18 date=1261807562
    Thanks for the advice ppl...

    Sounds like I either need to get my hands dirty and pull this thing apart (am quite clever with my hands but would need instructions...)

    or

    warranty job (a pain, given the time of year and fact that would need to transport this to Sydney)

    or

    engage the services of a friendly local CSer

    poor decaff squirrel :(
    I am available In teh Morning till about Mid afternoon at the latest...

    I have tools and Compressors etc etc.. As well as a working Reference ROCKY at my disposal.. If it is realy bad... Ya could contact the supplier and [s]rent[/s] borrow mine for a while ;D

    Happy to assist... We can sort out any Remuneration at a time suitable to teh wives...

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Hi AM

    Thanks for the offer... think Ill take you up on it in my desperation.

    Sending PM.

    Gotta love this forum and the coffee community in Brissy :)

    Squirrel

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 5B55514C505B4A3E0 link=1261691767/20#20 date=1261811056
    Hi AM

    Thanks for the offer... think Ill take you up on it in my desperation. *

    Sending PM.

    Gotta love this forum and the coffee community in Brissy :)

    Squirrel

    Joking as to $$$$ Always happy to assist a fellow snob...

    But if a loan unit is required; then may need some form of security... Kids or the Wife :-)

    Your choice ;D :D ;)

    Be very careful how you reply 8-)

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    AM is like Santa Claus.

    So very generous :)

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 7164766D6C60050 link=1261691767/22#22 date=1261827866
    AM is like Santa Claus.

    So very generous :)
    Did ya get ya Group Handel yet ???

    CS has just left and looks like he has a smile on his face... Grind is significantly improved...

    His beans may be an issue, as they were purchased from a store out of desperation :o They sell a well known brand of beans.... But they did not smell as good as one might expect... Here is hoping he can get fresh beans in the morning..

    OH... As he did not need a loaner, I was unable to accept his offer of the inlaws as security ;D

    Regards

    AM.

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    CS is indeed v. happy and, AM, you are a bit like Santa Claus (in the sense my Christmas holiday would have been s*** without you).

    AM greeted me with the salutation "...what people will do for a good cup of coffee...".

    Well, we stripped Rocky, rebuilt him (her?) with a few modifications here and there. I was astonished at the noticeable improvement in the grind (both in fineness and in consistency). Really, it was obvious to the touch...

    ... and it shows in the cup as well. After struggling with 10 second gushers for the past week or so, am pleased to report I pulled a 20-25 second extraction this evening (still a little quick, but I attribute the rest to the beans).

    So, AM, I owe you one. Was also a pleasure to meet your family and I very much appreciate your hospitality. Love your setup too... feeling big-time kit envy here... feel upgraditis less than 12 months away... honestly, how can one live without an HX?

    Will report back once Ive sourced some fresh beans and see what my babies are really capable of...

    Regards,

    Fully caffeinated squirrel


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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    No Group handle yet, I am trying not to get too excited... I know what the post office is this time of year! :( Then I gotta get it cut - it will be a while before I get my new toy!

    In laws for grinder sounds like a good to deal to me. Win-win, really.

    CS did you find AMs house okay? Did the HUGE sign on the roof help ;)

    How lovely are coffeesnobbers?

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Csers are great tash.

    No problem navigating to AMs. *Roof painting didnt help, but glowing embers of cigarette on sidewalk did.

    Felt like a film noir movie for a moment there ;)

    CS (still wide awake from excess beans) :P

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Quote Originally Posted by 424C4855494253270 link=1261691767/26#26 date=1261836902
    CS (still wide awake from excess beans) :P


    Think this guys having the same trouble Squirrel..... ;D

    Mal.

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Yikes, mal!

    That poor little guy has gone nuts!

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    Re: Espresso diagnosis needed, please help!

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by 737D7964787362160 link=1261691767/24#24 date=1261834116
    AM greeted me with the salutation "...what people will do for a good cup of coffee...". *

    Well, we stripped Rocky, rebuilt him (her?) with a few modifications here and there. *I was astonished at the noticeable improvement in the grind (both in fineness and in consistency). *Really, it was obvious to the touch...
    For those interested...

    Checked... * Was also only about one and a bit clicks off zero -and my gut says a minor high spot ????? and in need of Rocky mods....

    1: Removed the burrs and a good clean... *(brass brush and used some wet and try to polish both sides of each burr on a flat surface...)

    2: Checked the carriers and cleaned with brass brush and compressed air. *Did not remove bottem carrier, for a number of reasons... But *did note that the seating grove for the bottom bur was full of chatter.. Appeared to be cut with a parting tool and not finished as well as I have seen on some... *Minor issue, so long as the depth of teh grove/seating surface is parallel....
    3: Cleaned the rocky - Compressed AIR.

    4: A single layer wrap of white ptfe tape... *Thread was very loose. (should have used Yellow- but out)

    5: Used 8mm Si tubing and split and slid onto the hopper housing...

    6: Re assembled and had CS add some leg extensions (6mm of drip riser from old garden irrigeration system) to the finger guard.. Happened to have some of the right size and length screws to allow for teh extra length *:o *

    PS. *Do not give a CS a stanly knife, when they have been without *good coffee :D

    7: True Zero is NOW exactly at Zero (0) and it is also a cleaner sound of a fuller burr on burr. *We were also able to leave the safety screw in.. * I believe we changed it over all by about 4 or 5 clicks.

    8: CS kept trying to stash away my Click Clack lid... *Good thing this CS did not have the same cheek pouches as some... Or I would have been missing my Click Clack lid *:D ;D

    9: A test and compare on the beans and a noticeable change...

    THEN


    Quote Originally Posted by 737D7964787362160 link=1261691767/24#24 date=1261834116
    So, AM, I owe you one. *Was also a pleasure to meet your family and I very much appreciate your hospitality.
    A quick cup of coffee on my stale beans... Sorry about that *:-[ *:-[ *:-[ *Well, I ran out and it has been a while since I got the Special QLD Barista Champ special blend... And my roasted first crack beans were only 24hrs old... *Tim Adams is teh man, but I digress...

    A quick show and tell of *an early KKTO roaster... *AMD poked her head in and said hi...

    Mrs AM was her usual pleasure and kept both myself and CS hopping, as she issued orders and berated both of us for being so Coffee mad.... Good thing she did not start using the Dressage whips or even better the riding crop.... *(G rated = NOT)

    Thus at the end of this... It was a well spent 2 hrs for a bit of a chat and to have a Rocky working the way it should.

    I saw CS off and while I lit; yet another lung lolly, I could no longer refuse the gift that CS had pulled from his special stash... *Am sure Mrs AM will enjoy when we are up on the Mountain for the next few days...

    NOTE: *Having the right tools and a solid understanding of what it doing is 3/4 of teh battle...


    Pleasure CS... Ya welcome to drop by any time ya in the area...



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