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Thread: Coffee tastes bitter

  1. #1
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    Coffee tastes bitter

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I can't seem to get the bitter taste out of my shots. Also the pour is much quicker than 30s - I would fill two shot glasses in 30s.

    1. Nuova Simonelli Musica machine with Eureka grinder
    2. Machine is definitely warmed up (heater light off), I prime it by pouring some water through an empty portafilter until it stops sputtering
    3. I'm using fresh beans from a local coffee shop
    4. Have tried adjusting grind from coarse to fine
    5. Have tried tamping gently to firm

    With a finer grind and firmer tamp, the pour is slower (about 25s to fill an espresso shot glass) and the crema looks better but then the bitterness is at its worst. With a coarser grind and gentler tamp the pour is less than 20s, not much creme and the bitterness is somewhat less but still there.

    I have taken a video of a few shots and will try and figure out how to upload to youtube. Meanwhile, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I've probably only poured 5 shots in my life that were what I would consider drinkable as straight espresso, without any sourness or bitterness, from maybe 100 I've sampled straight from the pour. I tended to have better luck with slightly coarser grind dosed higher and tamped firmer, but you need to check your distribution too. Beans were always roasted same week. You can often tell just by the way it's coming out how good it is. A nice tasting shot really will look like warm honey. You can even hear it, it makes a syrupy sound as it pours into the glass.

    I think from memory underextracted (fast pour) = sour, overextracted (too slow) = bitter. Coffee older than a week is generally not going to make a drinkable espresso without sugar and/or milk added.

    A naked PF might help you diagnose. Also keep very close eye on the colour change, and try tasting different "portions" of each shot.

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    Some of my pours - various tamps & grinds - they were actually done in reverse order and I was making the grind finer each time (I think)

    Pour 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmd6Rm-3fIo
    Pour 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prp4HdUHxc4
    Pour 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNJELcdyLRM
    Pour 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q7IkW5WYmw
    Pour 5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nhQGBQBWNw

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    Darkfalz, we normally drink lattes and caps, so the bitterness is not obvious. But today I set myself the challenge to adjust the shot to make it good enough for espresso. So far its been a dismal failure.

    My beans were bought 3 days ago from roasters - I'd say roasted 4-5 days ago and kept sealed. I bought a kilo and I've gone through about 250g so far today just pouring shots for a couple of hours. I have had one or two that tasted drinkable, but still pretty ordinary. The rest were abysmal. I had better shots from my $300 Saeco Via Venezia than this setup.

    I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, but the odd thing is that the shots tend to taste better when the pour is very quick (15s) and then there is no creme. With a longer pour and better crema, the bitterness makes it almost undrinkable.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfalz View Post
    I've probably only poured 5 shots in my life that were what I would consider drinkable as straight espresso, without any sourness or bitterness, from maybe 100 I've sampled straight from the pour. I tended to have better luck with slightly coarser grind dosed higher and tamped firmer, but you need to check your distribution too. Beans were always roasted same week. You can often tell just by the way it's coming out how good it is. A nice tasting shot really will look like warm honey. You can even hear it, it makes a syrupy sound as it pours into the glass.

    I think from memory underextracted (fast pour) = sour, overextracted (too slow) = bitter. Coffee older than a week is generally not going to make a drinkable espresso without sugar and/or milk added.

    A naked PF might help you diagnose. Also keep very close eye on the colour change, and try tasting different "portions" of each shot.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Toomanyhobbies,

    You talk about grind and tamp, but not your dosing level...which is at least equally as important (and what one would normally try to get to an approximately right level first). As you changed your grind in the 5 pours above, the dosing level in the basket will have changed, as finer grinds compress to a lesser volume. How did you determine your dosing level?
    Cheers

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toomanyhobbies View Post
    Some of my pours - various tamps & grinds - they were actually done in reverse order and I was making the grind finer each time (I think
    All those shots look to be gushers to me. If these arise from progressively finer grinds, I would say you have distribution problems. Is your Eureka a doser or doserless grinder?
    Can you do another video showing your grind-dose-distribute-tamp technique?

  7. #7
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfalz View Post
    Coffee older than a week is generally not going to make a drinkable espresso without sugar and/or milk added.
    I think you will find many here will disagree. I usually don't open my bags until 10 days post roast and I've had excellent short blacks from coffee that is 3 weeks old.

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    Yes it's frustrating that I cannot perfectly replicate it. I suspect very small flaws or variations in distribution or pressure can greatly influenece the taste of the espresso shot. I think I've only ever pulled one shot (that I tasted straight) I would genuinely describe as "sweet" and a handful of others that had no obvious flaws. Could it be our palates too? I've never been to an espresso bar or barista course to sample what a champion barista considers a nice shot. Maybe a hint of sourness or bitterness is an intended part of the flavour profile. I am limited by the granularity of the grind too, as one notch on my grinder is a huge difference (I essentailly only have 2 usable espresso settings 15 and 16 out of a range of 25).

    I've got "fresh roasted" stuff that was a dud too, so roasters aren't infallible either. They will occasionally do a bad batch that will pour and taste bad regardless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    I think you will find many here will disagree. I usually don't open my bags until 10 days post roast and I've had excellent short blacks from coffee that is 3 weeks old.
    I'm talking about age from opening (after post-roast de-gassing period in a sealed bag).

  10. #10
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    All those shots look to be gushers to me.
    I agree.

    Toomanyhobbies, try and get your pour to look like "mouse tails" not the rats tails that they currently are.

    One of the easiest ways to do that (assuming your dose and tamp are the same) is to set your grind so fine that it justs drips... from there go a little more course until it pours a fine tail.

    From the videos you will have to go a fair bit finer before you can get a drip, drip, drip over fine pour.

  11. #11
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    Look at the spent puck too. Is it soft? If that's the case, you are underdosing.

  12. #12
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    There are some great "How-To" videos on one of our Site Sponsor websites here...
    Espresso Machine How-To

    Not the same machine perhaps but the principles still apply...

    Mal.

  13. #13
    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    Is your machine clean? i don't know much about how to clean Nuova machines however on my Expobar i start getting this taste which is like its bitter which i now know as i need to do a clean out with back flush. Just something else to consider.

    Cheers,

    Chris
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toomanyhobbies View Post
    Darkfalz, we normally drink lattes and caps, so the bitterness is not obvious. But today I set myself the challenge to adjust the shot to make it good enough for espresso. So far its been a dismal failure.

    My beans were bought 3 days ago from roasters - I'd say roasted 4-5 days ago and kept sealed. I bought a kilo and I've gone through about 250g so far today just pouring shots for a couple of hours. I have had one or two that tasted drinkable, but still pretty ordinary. The rest were abysmal. I had better shots from my $300 Saeco Via Venezia than this setup.

    I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, but the odd thing is that the shots tend to taste better when the pour is very quick (15s) and then there is no creme. With a longer pour and better crema, the bitterness makes it almost undrinkable.
    Hi Toomanyhobbies

    I am assuming you have not changed your technique, merely the roast?

    As you are now producing gushers (from somewhat to major as the video numbers went up), either something new is wrong with your gear or, more likely, you have hit a dud roast.

    FWIW, about a month ago I bought a medium Colombian roast from a local roaster. It should have had a warning "Abandon all hope ye who try to use me". Apart from the fact that it was roasted at far too low a temp for way too long (the inside of the beans were utterly dessicated), I really doubt that it was Colombian at all. Neither does the (non local) roaster I usually go to, as I gave him the beans to see what he thought of it (summary: very little). The only flavour it had was bitterness, and even using a 20g VST (I usually use a 7g on SO mediums) it still had nothing much in the cup. Truly diabolical. I suspect you have managed to obtain its twin brother.

    I really urge you to do a top to tail maintenance of your gear and if nothing is wrong to try another roast from somewhere else. Although to be fair, we all have bad hair days, so perhaps it would be premature to write that roaster off until you have a chat perhaps?

    Good luck w the troubleshooting.

    TampIt

  15. #15
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    ..try another roast from somewhere else.
    Good points. We are assuming it is technique, when we don't know about the bean you are using. Try another bean from another roaster for comparison .

  16. #16
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    I also agree that your shots are gushing; looking at the pours I would think that the coffee would have to be sour, nasty, right at the front of your mouth.

    If you use the technique that Andy posted (#10) and choke the shot so that it only drips (cut the shot at about 10mls) then taste the coffee,
    no matter what the roast, it will be bitter, sitting right at the back of your palate, in a very unpleasant manner.

    Then, as Andy says, back your grind off, a little more coarser, until you find the zone.
    Check the link that Mal posted, they're pretty good and do some searching on the tube using parameters like ' perfect espresso pour ', 'good espresso pour',
    and 'techniques for good espresso'. You will get plenty of visuals on what a good pour looks like. Also add the name of your machine and see what youtube has.

    Chris (Talk Coffee) told me, when I was first learning about espresso, that a good pour was like a " drip that wants to pour".

    Don't discount anything in the process, dose and tamp has been mentioned, water that isn't at the right temp, (too cool) and as Flynn has mentioned above,
    try another bean and ask for an espresso roast, make sure it's not a filter roast, which will be sour. However the roast is the last thing to consider as you have some work to do
    getting the pour right first.

    When taking video, include the spouts on the group handle so the start of the pour is easily seen, it's easier for you to get helpful advice if your whole process is visible.
    Flynn's suggestion of uploading your grind/dose/tamp is a good one.
    Although a naked p/f are great for diagnosis, they are by no means essential.

    cheers

  17. #17
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    *grins* Couple of those shots I wanted to call, 'Thar she blows Cap'n!'

    I seem OK with shots - I grind 1 notch finer (really have to get to do Ray_C's fix on my EM0480) and tamp a bit lighter. That seems to make dose more sensitive in that if I over or under even slightly the shot isn't particularly good. I like my macchiatos and bitter or sour in one of them is obvious, so I did quite a few attempts to work out my machine. At the end I was getting passable shots even from Coles Vittoria beans. (my version of sacrificial beans while I was learning )

    On your machine, is that gauge water temp or pressure? I'm guessing temp as it drops a bit as you pour a shot. Could you pour some water and measure the temp to see what it is when it's 'in the zone'?

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    I did an experiment, finer and lighter tamp, and coarser and tighter tamp. Dose about the same. Both poured about the same. Coarser one tasted better, less bite. Both weren't too bad though. You need to spread it around in your mouth a bit too. I'll often also find if I am pouring into two cups, one will usually taste better than the other - I suspect unless your distribution is perfect, one side will always have more channelling/faster extraction than the other. I made some videos but the lighting is terrible so I won't bother posting them.

  19. #19
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    @Darkfalz - here is the puzzle. Look at your double spout PF. Think about how the coffee goes into the bottom of the PF through the filter. Now ask yourself, how is it possible that one side of the double spout could possibly get a preferential version of the pour. The distribution affects the water travelling through the grind, but it is extremely unlikely to affect what goes into the 2 cups. Unless you have a very unusual PF, whatever comes from the basket drops into a common chute which feeds out into 2 spouts.

    Maybe check the level of your machine?

    As for lighter and finer... my version of that has been changed by TampIt's suggestion to do graduated tamping. When I ground a full basket and tamped at 15kg (give or take) was prior to me experimenting with grinds for espresso shots. When I say I grind finer and tamp lighter I am talking about moving (for my current beans) from a 13 to a 12 and tamping 3 or 4 times as I fill the basket and at finger pressure tamp levels. i.e. I rest my fingers around the top of the PF so I know how level the tamp is and then I give a slight pressure with the palm of my hand. I also finger-tap the PF to approx level the grind before I tap & tamp. For the final dose, I use the tamper (why do people bother with knives/popsicle sticks/flat edges when you can just rotate the tamper across the top of the basket to level the grounds?) to level it, tap it once and then nutate-tamp and tamp at about the 3kg level.

    If I forget to adjust the grind, I just lean on the tamper a bit more to get the nice shot I like.

    Oh, and I get dark beans. I just recently bought some mediums because of what I read on here that implies I can learn more about my technique by changing my beans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

    As for lighter and finer... my version of that has been changed by TampIt's suggestion to do graduated tamping. When I ground a full basket and tamped at 15kg (give or take) was prior to me experimenting with grinds for espresso shots. When I say I grind finer and tamp lighter I am talking about moving (for my current beans) from a 13 to a 12 and tamping 3 or 4 times as I fill the basket and at finger pressure tamp levels. i.e. I rest my fingers around the top of the PF so I know how level the tamp is and then I give a slight pressure with the palm of my hand. I also finger-tap the PF to approx level the grind before I tap & tamp. For the final dose, I use the tamper (why do people bother with knives/popsicle sticks/flat edges when you can just rotate the tamper across the top of the basket to level the grounds?) to level it, tap it once and then nutate-tamp and tamp at about the 3kg level.

    If I forget to adjust the grind, I just lean on the tamper a bit more to get the nice shot I like.

    Oh, and I get dark beans. I just recently bought some mediums because of what I read on here that implies I can learn more about my technique by changing my beans.
    Hi Journeyman

    Just a couple of minor points & clarifications.

    It has always been called progressive tamping in anything I have ever read. I am not a stickler for jargon, however another CS'r trying to look it up online as anything else may find it unobtainium.

    The best starting point on tamping I have ever come across is still Mark Prince's semi-abandoned 2006 effort (no part two yet, AFAIAK)

    CoffeeGeek - Tamping Science, Theory and Practice, Part One

    Careful reading of the whole article plus all associated comments (esp. Tim Wendleboe's insights) can really show the amount of havoc / disagreements / differing methodologies etc. I have posted somewhere on CS that IMHO matching each one of the various methods to specific roasts is a worthwhile exercise for those with time on their hands plus satiable curtiosity (Winnie the Pooh). Probably goes a long way to explain the minefield of disagreements.

    The ONLY (virtually) universally accepted factors amongst those "in the know" is:-
    1) NEVER tap to settle the coffee. It creates gaps between the grounds and the basket and promotes channelling. From my direct experience, VST baskets have a particular hatred of tapping, and it often leads to inconsistent coffee. Assuming the grounds are dry & fluffy, even a gentle side to side shake is often enough prep to be capable of easily tamping it level. If you must spread it evenly, use anything that can do it whilst maintaining a (fairly) level surface to tamp later. FWIW, on the rare occasions I bother to do so, I use a "one off" plastic CD case from years back which happens to be flat at the "bottom" and almost exactly the correct curve for circa 10% underdosing at the "top". If I ever felt the need, I would make the bottom around 57mm long so it would go inside a 58 basket allowing me to level out the grounds further down. That would help when using grinders that throw badly enough to need it (mine don't, or they recalibrate / disappear rapidly). These days I mainly use it when dialling a machine in to set a precisely known underdose (at whatever real percentage the thing actually is).
    2) IF you are going to polish the puck just before loading it into the grouphead, do not put any downwards pressure on the tamper. Just spin the tamper and let its weight do the job. Putting downwards pressure on it whilst polishing is called "tearing the top of the puck". It also creates channelling, and VST baskets specifically will react very badly to it...

    Those two factors are probably the two most common snafu's I see commercial baristas make. If the same baristas used a naked p/f it would spray everywhere. Strangely enough, I have never seen a culprit "go naked". Wonder why?

    A little more about VST's: Always get the ridgeless baskets. VST would probably not even make ridged one based on their own research papers if LM had not sponsored them historically. VST baskets hate tampers with a curved bottom. Must be a flat bottomed tamper or it fouls up the flow of the coffee. VST actually state this at some length in one of their publications. Kinda explains why so many CS'rs have issues with VST baskets, doesn't it?

    An experiment a day ....

    TampIt

  21. #21
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    I'll try not tapping and see if it improves the flow. It's a light tap I use anyway as I noticed a heavy tap disrupted my nice lightly-tamped puck. But the tap I was doing was not after my final tamp, it was to settle the newly ground pile into the filter. Then I tamp it.

    I've seen (but never done) some coffee makers bang their PF solidly on the bench - maybe they don't have my miserliness about watching my hard earned coffee grounds spray across the bench.

    The finger tap I mention is just a gentle tapping on the side to get the dome to even out after grinding, then a light tap on the mat and tamp it.

    Something I've wondered about; should I polish after each tamp? I've been tending not to because I thought it might create planar surfaces deep in the puck rather than allowing a smooth transition between tamped amounts. I learned the no-pressure-polish thing very early on when I noticed the difficulty I was having keeping my coffee level if I spun the tamper while under pressure. It was much easier to tamp level then spin the tamp than try to keep a rotating tamper level.

    Interesting read on tamping. Mind you, his one about the God Shot was pretty informative - must go make a coffee...

  22. #22
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    I've tapped my Group Handle while dosing for the last 10+ years and never experienced the problems touted by the so-called gurus...

    Mal.
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  23. #23
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    I tap lightly after the levelling pre-tamp, but not the final tamp.

    The most important thing about polishing, imo, is that turning the tamper before you lift it stops any coffee sticking to the underside of the tamper, leaving craters in your puck.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    Why tap after a tamp? What result do you think it has?

  25. #25
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    Tapping after the tamp is definitely not helpful. Ive cringed a few too many times at various cafes as baristas tamp and either tap or bang the side of their porta for god knows why.
    Before the tamp is ok
    I am a huge fan of a naked portafilter- it sheds light on your tamping technique (not level, angles etc)
    Tamping consistency is something thats comes with practice. Ive been taught to bend the elbow and have my upper arm at 90 degrees. I can then successfully push in a downward motion to tamp as level as i can. I slight polish without pressure then off the pull the shot.

    I havent really read through previous posts so i might just be repeating others. Anyways keep practicing, reading and learning! Theres always more to learn.

    A video on your tamping technique and dosing may help us identify any necessary changes?
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    Hi toomanyhobbies

    What is the brew pressure reading on your machine when your shot starts flowing? If you have a gauge

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    Why tap after a tamp? What result do you think it has?
    My pre-tamp is just for distribution, it applies no pressure, just the weight of the tamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    I'll try not tapping and see if it improves the flow. It's a light tap I use anyway as I noticed a heavy tap disrupted my nice lightly-tamped puck. But the tap I was doing was not after my final tamp, it was to settle the newly ground pile into the filter. Then I tamp it.

    I've seen (but never done) some coffee makers bang their PF solidly on the bench - maybe they don't have my miserliness about watching my hard earned coffee grounds spray across the bench.

    The finger tap I mention is just a gentle tapping on the side to get the dome to even out after grinding, then a light tap on the mat and tamp it.

    Something I've wondered about; should I polish after each tamp? I've been tending not to because I thought it might create planar surfaces deep in the puck rather than allowing a smooth transition between tamped amounts. I learned the no-pressure-polish thing very early on when I noticed the difficulty I was having keeping my coffee level if I spun the tamper while under pressure. It was much easier to tamp level then spin the tamp than try to keep a rotating tamper level.

    Interesting read on tamping. Mind you, his one about the God Shot was pretty informative - must go make a coffee...
    Hi Journeyman

    Even a fairly light tap can sometimes result in uneven streaming. Although it is not really channelling, it is still using extra effort to create an unwanted problem. On seriously busy days, every movement counts...

    When you go naked, it is surprising to see the sheer volume of the horde of gremlins coming out of the woodpile. Ditto VST's. I literally had to go back to first principles again to get rid of ingrained errors that crept in over the years. I still marvel at the difference it made on my La Pav. Always a good ego trimmer to do something on a machine that you think you have tamed over a decade ago and be astounded!

    Polishing: I have even seen strong disagreement on CS posts about this. I believe one key issue is as you say "It was much easier to tamp level then spin the tamp than try to keep a rotating tamper level". My tentative conclusion: When using progressive tamping if you polish a puck off properly it is always a slightly different pour than no polishing. I suspect it makes a +ve change to the taste, however we all know 'bout the power of delusions*. Consistency rules supreme: so either polish it properly using no pressure "in the spin", or do not bother to polish at all and adjust the grind or dose slightly instead. I remain convinced that "tearing the top of the puck" is always bad news (it channels), and that is as far as I will commit.

    *FYI, I read somewhere (buried in an old mag I kept for other reasons) that an Italian barista at one of the championship comps did not tamp at all. Although he did not win, it also made me go back and try the "no tamping technique" about a year ago. Unsurprisingly it needed a complete revision of grinding & dosing to get a good result. At the end of the day I gave it up more due to (my?) lack of consistency than giving the method the thumbs down. Using a naked it tended to stream and spray. When it decided to behave, it gave a truly excellent cuppa. I often wonder if it meant that it would work if you were willing to count the individual granules, pray to the correct deity or whatever... for him to compete at that level it must have been possible somehow.

    God shot: When a guy with enough talent gets his hands on a decent grinder** and a 6910, it is amazing what con be achieved.

    ** I heard several times it was an EM480. Given my experience with them, when correctly set up they are "up there" in my view. That is why I bought my 480/6910 for home originally - one stale grind retention too many and a warmup taking too many frustrating eons from my commercial "home" setup when all I wanted was a single decent coffee in the same calendar year. Oh, and all that without the need to spend 30 minutes and 4 cups in an arcane Byzantine ritual first... I literally took a punt and have not ever regretted the purchase for home use.

    Have fun

    TampIt

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfalz View Post
    My pre-tamp is just for distribution, it applies no pressure, just the weight of the tamp.
    Ah... that's the reason I tap the side of the PF with my fingers. It's not so bad with my EM0450 grinder as that hasn't got the PF holder or the rubber spout so I have more scope to move the handle around as I grind and so get reasonable distribution. But the 450 is set for the wife's decaf. The 480 tends to spray my preferred beans around a bit so I leave the rubber on but I am thinking of removing the PF holder.

    Even so, on both of them, I tap sideways to even out the mound; my thinking is tamping on a mound will compress the centre much more than the sides. So I am unlikely to not tap by finger. I'm trying the no-bang (using 'bang' to differentiate from my tapping) PF method mainly because, as TampIt says, less movements = more efficient - for similar reason I have also moved towards doing only 3 steps in the progressive tamping. I haven't noticed any difference in reducing it from 4 steps and I did side-by-side shots to test it. (well one shot then another... )

    I will say this though (i.e. getting back OT) with the changes made to my technique across the past few months, as well as getting a naked PF and VST baskets, my coffee is much better than it was and I have been unable to get a coffee that pours anywhere near normal and has the bitter taste of a macchiato from most cafés - I actually asked on CS about it but so far the suggestions I have tried tend to give shitty pours - if it pours OK it tastes good - and the café versions pour OK but have that taste.

    Maybe I should leave some beans out in the open for a couple of weeks?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    The 480 tends to spray my preferred beans around a bit so I leave the rubber on but I am thinking of removing the PF holder.

    Even so, on both of them, I tap sideways to even out the mound; my thinking is tamping on a mound will compress the centre much more than the sides. So I am unlikely to not tap by finger. I'm trying the no-bang (using 'bang' to differentiate from my tapping) PF method mainly because, as TampIt says, less movements = more efficient - for similar reason I have also moved towards doing only 3 steps in the progressive tamping. I haven't noticed any difference in reducing it from 4 steps and I did side-by-side shots to test it. (well one shot then another... )

    I will say this though (i.e. getting back OT) with the changes made to my technique across the past few months, as well as getting a naked PF and VST baskets, my coffee is much better than it was and I have been unable to get a coffee that pours anywhere near normal and has the bitter taste of a macchiato from most cafés - I actually asked on CS about it but so far the suggestions I have tried tend to give shitty pours - if it pours OK it tastes good - and the café versions pour OK but have that taste.

    Maybe I should leave some beans out in the open for a couple of weeks?
    Hi again Journeyman

    480: Mine does not use the extra silicone / rubber thingy, it does use the 58mm p/f holder. It does not throw much (I could leave the bench uncleaned for 4 or 5 shots and not have to worry about domestics), however I have now noticed that I hold the p/f quite "high" on the auto switch. Also, as discussed, I clean it out with my compressor every 250 to 500 grams so the mechanism does not build up crud.

    4 to 3 steps: it actually does make a very subtle difference to the pour, which is easy to adjust via grind / dosing anyway. FWIW, the only time I do the "whole progressive thing" is when I am dialling in a new roast or machine. I then know exactly what I am trying to alter until I get at very close, then I do fine tuning with whatever method I have chosen. When learning, the full version helps consistency especially whilst you learn how to tamp level with an even pressure... Knowing what and when to compromise plus exactly the effect it has is, IMHO, always a good thing.

    Prepare yourself for a rant, or skip 2) until 6). "bitter taste of a macchiato from most cafés":-
    1) I have mentioned grind retention several times. Ground beans oxidise in 15 minutes at normal temp & humidity (whatever that means). Even if everything else is perfect, less than 2g of oxidised grinds destroys a (say) 15g double by going bitter and often tasting stale to boot. Most commercial grinders retain 2 to 5g, whilst certain (well regarded) doser models easily double that. They really do waste a lot of coffee if you run it long enough to get rid of the oxidised stuff (most places don't). I still regard it as the elephant in the room for baristas, given it is generally ignored.

    2) The same grinders also usually use the weight of the beans to feed into the grinder (as does your 480 /450 and almost every other domestic burr grinder). Those that clean everything out and measure the exact quantity of beans (whether by weight or volume) into the hopper lose out due to the feeder mechanism messing up the particle size consistency as the weight of beans drops. The extra airflow would be relevant if the beans are preloaded, however that is rarely seen. Those that keep the hopper full win that battle, but lose out because beans hate light, heat, moisture / humidity and airflow and they have increased the potential exposure to all of them. FWIW, I have a "medical grade neoprene / rubber" plus metal weight in my 480 which fits exactly near the bottom of the hopper, and is tapered to match the hopper's curve. Until the beans get to the "sharp curve" it is always over 250g loading into the mechanism. First 480 mod I did in 2010. Apart from massively reducing the airflow, it also stops the beans from bouncing around as a free bonus.

    3) Some grinders overheat the beans as they grind, whilst the big motors on other ones transfer significant heat into the beans via the grinder housing after a few shots. The housing is often a conducting metal which really enables the process... And so many CS'rs slam plastic housings?

    4) The cafe environment often has the grinder too close to the espresso machine or other hot spots, which also helps to kill the beans off.

    5) As mentioned above, humidity is a killer as well. One of my other pet snafu's is to watch clouds of steam hit just below or on the hopper. I love it when the condensation runs down the side of the hopper into (somewhere)... Never helps, probably hurts. Fastest way I know to render a Robur's grind useless until the next major clean (seen it at two different Melbourne cafes that really should have known better).

    6) If you let grounds go into the grinder mechanism (normal use does a little of that), it throws the particle consistency out. The number of times I am asked to dial in a troublesome machine when their grinder is actually unable to work properly until a top to tail cleanout is performed... I believe it was you that said something about “as clean as a hobo in a tip” or suchlike? I have lived it too often. Not to pick on a Robur (I kinda like them) but their users seem to regard them as indestructible. That may be true, however if you want decent coffee out of them surely they deserve a little attention? I have actually taken them to a nearby servo to blow out the worst of the gunk before hitting them with one of those “almost useless” compressed air spray cans to remove the extra moisture a servo air gun often provides free of charge.

    7) Most catering blends are rubbish.

    ... are you still wondering why their macc's are bitter?

    Cheers

    TampIt

  31. #31
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    Personally, straight espresso is an acquired taste for me, my early plunge into espresso wilderness was filled with memory of bitter tastes which overpowered any other tasting notes that i suspect were always there, but unrecognised by my (still) unrefined palette. I think general bitter taste always features in any espresso beverages, overtime i just get more appreciation of its other nuances, my tasting notes at the moment is limited to yum and yuck but I am enjoying the ride

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazooka View Post
    Personally, straight espresso is an acquired taste for me, my early plunge into espresso wilderness was filled with memory of bitter tastes which overpowered any other tasting notes that i suspect were always there, but unrecognised by my (still) unrefined palette. I think general bitter taste always features in any espresso beverages, overtime i just get more appreciation of its other nuances, my tasting notes at the moment is limited to yum and yuck but I am enjoying the ride
    Exactly what my niece said until she had one done properly. It changed to "Hey, it is not bitter at all" (shocked look) then to "Can I have another one, please?". Current status: walks in door, demands coffee (but ever so sweetly), often espresso.
    Short version: if it is bitter then something is wrong somewhere in the chain.

    TampIt

  33. #33
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    some people are just conditioned to very bitter coffee due to instant/POD coffees they been drinking all these time...
    an example was when one of my missus's friend came over for a visit, and asked for a coffee... my Giotto only had around 10min of warm up time, and is not ready... but since he insisted, and I didnt really like the guy anyway, so I pulled a double shot for him... and sure enough, the shot was not the normal syrupy run, was slightly watery, and had very light coloured crema... normally a sink shot... and funny enough, the guy loved it.... he said it was the best espresso he ever had so far...




    ... or maybe he was just too polite to say my espresso tasted like crap

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by okitoki View Post
    some people are just conditioned to very bitter coffee due to instant/POD coffees they been drinking all these time...
    an example was when one of my missus's friend came over for a visit, and asked for a coffee... my Giotto only had around 10min of warm up time, and is not ready... but since he insisted, and I didnt really like the guy anyway, so I pulled a double shot for him... and sure enough, the shot was not the normal syrupy run, was slightly watery, and had very light coloured crema... normally a sink shot... and funny enough, the guy loved it.... he said it was the best espresso he ever had so far...




    ... or maybe he was just too polite to say my espresso tasted like crap
    Hi okitoki

    The whole pod / capsule thing: My nearly-local roaster (50km north) is well on the way to taming pods. I suspect he will have it all nailed by Xmas (taken him about a year so far). You take your Nespresso / whatever pod machine in & he sets up the exact grind /dose /load & seal pods for that machine. Then he just hammers them out. On a good day, he is perilously close to a great espresso (surprised the hell out of me with the quality). I would be a little circumspect in dismissing that technology so casually. He is still awaiting the automatic machine he ordered, as the time he is spending doing pods is becoming prohibitive. Of course, it also means you can chose any of his daily roasts for the pods (a range of about 15 medium SO's plus a few assorted blends / darks & one light). If you are referring to the stale, mostly over roasted pap that is commonly on the market, yes they are truly awful. You have probably noticed I didn't mention instant.

    normally a sink shot: Cracked me up. Of course you really cared which alternative applied, didn't you?

    Cheers, you made my day


    TampIt

  35. #35
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    @Darkfalz - here is the puzzle. Look at your double spout PF. Think about how the coffee goes into the bottom of the PF through the filter. Now ask yourself, how is it possible that one side of the double spout could possibly get a preferential version of the pour.
    I take back this statement. When I sample the straight espresso, I take the tiniest sip from the top of the shot. I don't stir it first like I've seen in the barista championships. This is most likely the reason I think the two taste different - I am getting different parts of of the shot in each sip.



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