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Thread: Newbie - Finding the right grind

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    Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    :-/ Hello Coffee Snobs. I purchased the Breville Cafe Roma ESP8B and just needing help with choosing coffee. I realise and understand this isnt a $1000+ wizz bang machine nor is it a coffee snobs machine but I did a lot of research for my beginners budget and this machine seemed to get a thumbs up as being a neat little machine so long as you get the beans and grind right.

    Herein lays my problem. I like a nice drop of coffee, I have read a few posts on coffee boards about people snubbing the likes of Gloria Jeans as not making good coffee. Well IMO they make nice coffee so that is the standard of coffee I am happy with. I realise I cannot replicate an expensive shop machine with a domestic machine like I have but there is absolutely room for improvement in what Im currently doing and this is what I am trying to achieve by posting here.

    I do not have a grinder. I went to the local place that grinds coffee, Nut Shack which have Monte brand of beans. He ground them on "Cappacinno" grind which he said was on the finer end of medium / fine. The coffee would not extract AT ALL. I tried and tried and nothing came out. I tried lightly tamping, heavy tamping, extremely light etc. Nothing worked. I think I even clogged the filter basket.

    I went back today and got espresso beans and he ground them course, inbetween dripulator and purculator he said. The coffee just runs thru but then I didnt tamp heavily (after my last problem) so that may be my problem. He told me to mix the course with the fine ones I had. Im not sure about his advice there as I thought beans had to be equally ground to get a good shot. In any case I had nothing to loose by experimenting but it still seems to run thru too quickly.

    I am also confused about the 30mm shot and the 1/3 capaccino thing. 30mm is not one third. How do I make a cappacinno? I obviously need more than 30mm of coffee? With regard to timing also ... 20 seconds seems so long for the coffee to express, if I wait this long I end up with bitterness. If you wait this long, obviously you are going to get more of a drip or dribble coming out then a flow of coffee right?

    I can see you all shaking your heads at me ;D but please can you just point me in the direction of how to find a grind that is right for my machine without having to buy my own grinder and without having to spend a fortune buying all this coffee I cant use :-/

    Michelle

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Hi Michelle. Welcome to CoffeeSnobs :)

    What I used to do before I had a grinder was to ask the person grinding the coffee to please tell me what number/setting the grinder was on. Then next time I would ask them to go up or down a notch, depending on what was needed, until I was happy with what was coming through my espresso machine. This could take a few weeks, depending on how much coffee you drink or are prepared to waste. Also keep in mind that coffee shops use different grinders and they are all callibrated differently so the key is to keep going back to the same place.

    30ml of coffee is in fact a standard espresso shot. Many Cafes use a double shot (60ml) as the base for a cappucino, which would be one-third of a 180ml cup. The rest is actually steamed/frothed milk. The aim is for it to take 25-30 seconds for this 30 ml to come out, so were talking strong, concentrated coffee. It shouldnt really be bitter - much depends on the quality and freshness of the beans, the right water temperature, etc - but coffee can taste sour if it gushes through the espresso machine too quickly.

    Hope this helps. Every coffee made is an experiment, I reckon. Have fun experimenting and please let us know how you get on.

    Cheers,

    Rob

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Thanks, I kept asking the guy the number of the grind and he kept giving me these coffee names rather than numbers so it is making it very difficult. First off the setting was cappaccino with a little less then it was kinda half way between this and that ... you get my point.

    I read the cheap grinders are no good but surely it is going to be better (not to mention cheaper!) to start experimenting with a cheap one than what Im doing. I was also thinking of going to Gloria Jeans and getting a grind done there.

    25-30 seconds for 30mm to come out ... that would be dripping out? Mine seems to spurt (and I mean spurt) out if I tamp hard or gush out if I dont.

  4. #4
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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    A good grind and fresh beans will always bring out the best. The consensus is that cheap grinders (electric blade grinders) unfortunately dont grind fine enough for espresso, though they may be ok for plunger coffee. You could post something in the "Grinders" forum asking about peoples experience with blade grinders matched up with a Cafe Roma. Im sure therell be some helpful advice there.

    In terms of grinders that are definitely up to the task, the new sunbeam grinder (~ $190) does the job well, by most reports. What about a good hand-powered coffee grinder? Ive not used them but its possible that a good adjustable one will work. Again, you could ask in the "Grinders" forum.

    Maybe you could ask your coffee shop to grind your next batch of beans in three lots, each with a different setting. If its too much trouble for them, perhaps try a coffee supplier who is more "into" coffee and is happy to talk grinder settings with you. Its important to get the numbers from them because different people might be behind the counter each time you go in.

    In the meantime, we feel your pain . . .

    - Rob

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Hi Michelle,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs [smiley=thumbsup.gif].....

    Aside from acquiring a good quality grinder for yourself to make the whole process easier, I think the best thing to do is as Robster has already suggested, and try to find a fresh coffee supplier who is willing to help you dial-in a suitable grind for your Breville.

    You dont need to restrict yourself to physical shop-front suppliers either, there are a number of very reputable suppliers around who do business via mail order, and after youve explained to them what is going on, Im sure they will be happy to help you find the right grind in order to secure your long-standing business.

    Its not a difficult exercise really, just a little mucking around at first with small batches ground at varying degrees until you identify the one that works for you. After that, it should be relatively plain sailing for you. It must be said though, that your PF dosing, distribution and tamping must be next to spot-on in order for this to have some level of success so if youre not sure about any these steps, you should practice until you have it down pat.

    The ideal shot criteria or so-called "Golden Rule" for pulling great espressos is...... 30ml(60ml for a double) poured in a time of between 25-30 seconds at a nominal Brew Water temperature of 93deg C and a Brew Pressure of 8-10 BAR. With your machine though, if you can get the brew time close to ideal then you will be well on your way. It all comes down to a matter of practice in the end.

    Something I have noticed with Pressurised PF Basket machines such as yours though (I used to own a similar Sunbeam model ;D), is that they can become very finicky to use if the grind is too fine.... its better for the most part, to try and keep on the slightly coarse side of the grinding scale and adjust the pour time with dosing and tamping adjustments. Itll all come together eventually you know 8-)

    Hope that helps some......

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  6. #6
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Very good information in the above posts, LikeMyCoffee....

    If you are thinking of buying a grinder, best to buy a decent one from the start, rather than spend the money on one which will soon prove to be unsatisfactory, and then have to outlay much more again on an upgrade.

    Buying ground coffee will become a pain --- the type of grind needed for a particular moment will tend to vary throughout the day, affected by variables like age and humidity.

    Also, you may want to try other blends, and that will mean experimenting with different settings once again. Having your own grinder will enable you to make adjustments as necessary.

    Good luck on your journey through the wonderful world of coffee.

    Robusto



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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Thanks all.
    About the grinder ... a hand held one. Are there different standards of these too? I saw a hand one in Target yesterday for $20. How do you achieve different grinds using hand helds? I dont want to spend $200 on a grinder!

    I also might look around to see what other places are around to grind. I just need to keep experimenting. I get the feeling a lot of these places dont want to sell small quantities but I dont want to be buying coffee that is just a throw away.

    I was also going to ring Breville. Surely there are that many people who are beginners that crack the sours over it and Breville must have a few thigns they can suggest to avoid people returning machines left right and centre.

    I made a nice drop today putting together a combination of the Nut Shack beans though. At first nothing came through but I had tamped hard. Next I did a light tamp and it was a really nice drop. Probably expressed a bit too quickly though but it was still nice.

    I also bought a tiny $2 pack of Vittoria --- ugh that was like cats wee that one.

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    I also bought a tiny $2 pack of Vittoria --- ugh that was like cats wee that one.
    Youre a braver person than I LMC,

    Im not game to try any of that stuff anymore :o. Regarding Manual Grinders, there are quite a few different types of these around with most of the best ones being made in Europe. I know its possible to pick them up for a good price at Op Shops, etc but it might be worth your while to take someone with you who has experience using them, so as to make sure you dont get a dud.

    Conversely, you could buy a new one for less than $100 to a bit over, like the ones advertised here....http://tinyurl.com/3mj4b at The Coffee Company. Im sure there are other places where you can buy them from too, maybe some of our Site Sponsors have the odd one or two about, you never know :). Id steer clear of $20 specials in Target, et al though.... you get what you pay for in those places :-?. All the best,

    Mal.

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Quote Originally Posted by LikeMyCoffee link=1143258404/0#6 date=1143423198
    Thanks all.
    About the grinder ... a hand held one. Are there different standards of these too? I saw a hand one in Target yesterday for $20. How do you achieve different grinds using hand helds?
    They adjust the grind by tightening/loosening the nut (typically a wing-nut) that holds the handle on.

    Java "A bit of a wing-nut" phile

  10. #10
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Absolutely steer clear of the $20 specials. A good hand grinder has to be made of durable components --- theres an immenseamount of torque stress put on it during a grind, and a$20 or $40 one isnt going to last.

    I inherited an ancient Trespade grinder, which I used for years. The metal parts look to be cast iron and steel. The body is of decent, carved hardwood.

    Ive compared it to grinders available now and there is no comparison.

    The crankshaft which holds the movable conical burr goes through a bearing hole which is part of the stationary burr. Once that shaft or hole (or both) begin to wear, therell be a lot of wobbling. And that means its no longer possible to adjust for an even grind.

    Besides, hand grinding fine for espressos is bloody hard work and tiring.


    Robusto

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    What about one of those tube-like brass turkish hand-grinders? Ive seen them for about $50.

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Actually I did notice the one in Target seemed to wobble a lot so maybe not a good sign, although I guess the screw thing could of just been loose.

    I dont know what to do as I am not ready to invest in a grinder at this stage. I might look at getting one later in the year for my birthday or maybe Christmas. I think Ill just stick with experimenting with grinds from the Nut Shack or other Delis and a few people have recommended I buy Cafe Plazo or similar from the supermarket to try.

    Michelle

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Michelle,

    If I were you, I would sell the espresso machine, buy the sunbeam grinder and drink french press coffee.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    so is there anyone who lives near michelle who can grind her up some coffee in their grinder, or even organise a get-together and demonstrate the difference/value the grinder can do for coffee bliss? But failing that, Id try a new place to buy beans from, as suggested earlier, so that you can get someone who will be more willing to assist you.
    brett

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    Re: Newbie - Finding the right grind

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    This may not be what you want to hear but here goes......
    Spend the money on a reasonable grinder. Buying a bad grinder is equal to filling a sports car with kerosene. You wont get the flavours, the aroma or satisfaction from a cheap grinder. If you wonder why people bag Glorias coffee its because once you get that "god shot", you will never drink their coffee again. This "god shot" NEEDS a good grinder. Even a cheap machine with a good grinder can produce some great coffee. Around $300 should have you covered, making you wonder how you lived without it for so long.



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