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Thread: Coffee Grounds in Coffee - not the usual

  1. #1
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    Coffee Grounds in Coffee - not the usual

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    I'm a barista in a small coffee shop, and have recently been getting an excess of grinds in my shots. I've searched around and haven't discovered what it would be as yet.

    It is not:
    - Grinds on the bottom of the group handle spouts - they are rinsed clean before every shot I pull.
    - Too fine a grind - we use a spring loaded tamp that ensures the correct 30lbs of pressure is exerted. A full shot takes 27 seconds. Shots taste right, a courser grind results in under extraction and too much volume
    - Pretty confident it shouldn't be the filter baskets as they are 6 months old and supplied with the machine. I'm hoping they aren't this bad anyway.


    So other ideas? After one shot around the shower screen seems excessively dirty.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    G'Day Dave, welcome to Coffee Snobs, why not take the time to tell us a bit about yourself here http://coffeesnobs.com.au/off-topic/...o-easy-me.html
    Re your problem, knowing the make/model of your machine and grinder may help diagnose the problem.

    You say "After one shot around the shower screen seems excessively dirty." is there a possibility your overdosing?

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    Thanks Yelta, will do.

    Its a Boema AGCA grinder, which is a base model. Espresso machine is a three group head Dal Tio SRL Dal Tio S.r.l.

    I'm not overdosing the single basket, which seems to be the worst. The double basket is close to being over-dosed but has minimal grinds in its shots. The single basket is a fairly deep concave to keep the grind pouring right in both the single and double baskets.

    The used coffee pucks are a good consistancy from both baskets, as is the pour, timing and taste. I wonder if I need a smaller single basket for a more even basket. No idea what size basket came with the machine though.

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    What's changed?

    You've already said new baskets but they've been OK until now?

    New beans?

    How much are you dosing?

    Dull grinder blades?
    Check the grinds for particle size uniformity.

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    Its a new cafe, about 8 months old, I've been the barista since opening. All equipment was new when the cafe opened. Nothing has changed - same blend, same dosage. Only changes are a slow but gradual adjustment of the grinder - every few weeks making it a notch finer. So far I've just attributed it to the new blades wearing in. Though 8months is a long time to wear in.
    Is the thinking with the grinder that grinds are actually passing through the filter basket? Grinds seem uniform. If the problem was with the grind the double espresso basket should be just as bad as the single basket no?

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave187 View Post
    Its a new cafe, about 8 months old, I've been the barista since opening. All equipment was new when the cafe opened. Nothing has changed - same blend, same dosage. Only changes are a slow but gradual adjustment of the grinder - every few weeks making it a notch finer. So far I've just attributed it to the new blades wearing in. Though 8months is a long time to wear in.
    Is the thinking with the grinder that grinds are actually passing through the filter basket? Grinds seem uniform. If the problem was with the grind the double espresso basket should be just as bad as the single basket no?
    Single baskets can be a real PITA to use Dave, they seem to be universally unloved.

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Single baskets can be a real PITA to use Dave, they seem to be universally unloved.
    I love my single baskets!
    ...they get thrown in the junk box and they amuse small kiddies at work.

    Does anyone actually use them for coffee?
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post

    Does anyone actually use them for coffee?
    Seems Dave does, I suspect that may be about to change.
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    I've used the expobar single baskets. They're not perfect but much better than the rancilio ones.

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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    I love my single baskets!
    ...they get thrown in the junk box and they amuse small kiddies at work.

    Does anyone actually use them for coffee?
    No, I put my blind filter in the single pf........permanently. :-D
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    No, I put my blind filter in the single pf........permanently. :-D
    Me too. Singles are useless...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave187 View Post
    Its a new cafe, about 8 months old, I've been the barista since opening. All equipment was new when the cafe opened. Nothing has changed - same blend, same dosage. Only changes are a slow but gradual adjustment of the grinder - every few weeks making it a notch finer. So far I've just attributed it to the new blades wearing in. Though 8months is a long time to wear in.
    Is the thinking with the grinder that grinds are actually passing through the filter basket? Grinds seem uniform. If the problem was with the grind the double espresso basket should be just as bad as the single basket no?
    Group Head seals? Also you only adjust your grind once every few weeks?

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skippy View Post
    Also you only adjust your grind once every few weeks?
    Not so, in changeable weather and as your beans age there is a need to make frequent small changes, as in sometimes daily.

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    I think that was the point being made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    I think that was the point being made.
    That's what I was getting at

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    This might be a long shot, but how clean are your portafilters? Sometimes I find grinds in my coffee I usually just soak the portafilter for about 10 minutes in some cafetto and the problem usually disappears....

    So is it grinds or carbon?

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    Is it worth getting a naked for diagnostic purposes?

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skippy View Post
    That's what I was getting at
    Ahhh I see, that's what you were getting at.

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    Haha, I wasn't saying I only adjust the grind every few weeks. I do daily depending on temp, humidity etc. What I meant was every few weeks I adjust the grind one notch finer, and that becomes the new normal. i.e. when the grinder was new it was set at the 45th notch. In 7 months its now down to the 35th notch. In another few months at this rate it will be the 30th notch. I'm certainly not saying I don't adjust it regularly.

    Its certainly grinds, not carbon. It isn't consistantly bad either, this morning its been pretty good. Perhaps it is just the grind is a little too fine for the single basket on the more humid days, and the water can't pass through it fast enough. Boss isn't allowing me to dump the single basket - too much wasted money.. Anyway, that's another issue - I'm just after clarity on the grind in coffee issue. A certain, yes its the crap single baskets is sufficient hehe...

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    Hi Dave,are you using a blend or single origin? The blend may have a bean that is of a different cell wall structure and when roasted it is not compatible with the others.eg Thinner wall beans roast faster than thicker.If your roaster blends prior to roasting this can make the thinner beans become more brittle,darker and more volatile.Also you may want to change your grinder blades, as 6 months is over the "use by" date for any cafe.From my past experiance,original Boema blades are best used as paper weights and replaced with "after markets"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave187 View Post
    Its a new cafe, about 8 months old, I've been the barista since opening. All equipment was new when the cafe opened. Nothing has changed - same blend, same dosage. Only changes are a slow but gradual adjustment of the grinder - every few weeks making it a notch finer. So far I've just attributed it to the new blades wearing in. Though 8months is a long time to wear in.
    Is the thinking with the grinder that grinds are actually passing through the filter basket? Grinds seem uniform. If the problem was with the grind the double espresso basket should be just as bad as the single basket no?
    Hi Dave

    Firstly, I have nil experience with your machine. I do own a Bo-ema RR45 grinder (the old indestructible one), which has very little relationship to your model. So please take all my comments as generic, not specific.

    Secondly, there is a tendency lately to rubbish single baskets. I really feel the critics should consider that the Italians have been doing single espresso shots for over 50 years, and very few would be brave enough to criticise their food or drink quality. IMO, the "elsewhere problem" with flavour in singles is mainly due to poor beans & roasting, especially "too cool for too long" so the beans are dried out to the point of needing a 22g to extract any flavour at all out of them... or they are turned to charcoal and the rest of a setup becomes a bunfight to try to correct the resulting burnt mess.

    Thiirdly, if any of the Italian baskets in my collection are any guide, they are massively inconsistent in flow. Some of my worst ones are almost blocked in some spots whilst other parts of the same basket have overly large holes. Without getting into yet another set of argumentative posts, Synesso's are the original "better replacement", VST precision baskets are my current personal choice (caveat: needs a good "finer than standard espresso" grinder and different setup to work properly) and Talk Coffee (sponsor) has HQ(?) precision baskets which seem to be this weeks version of a slightly updated Synesso. Any of those three are under $40 and will almost certainly go a long way to sort your issue out. Unless you have Carte Blanche to experiment (doesn't sound like it) The Synesso / HQ is a drop in instant improvement in flow consistency.

    Fourthly, you really need to get a naked p/f to see what exactly is going on. A few shots examined using a mirror to see what is actually coming out of the basket will answer most of your queries.

    Grinds seem uniform: Have you done a white paper test? FWIW, that is probably the other bit of essential info you need at this time. I have had a friend's cafe barista state that and the white paper test showed it was a shocker and the grinder needed a major cleanup just to assess whether the burrs were shot or not. Your call on whether "seem" is "actual fact".

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave187 View Post
    Haha, I wasn't saying I only adjust the grind every few weeks. I do daily depending on temp, humidity etc. What I meant was every few weeks I adjust the grind one notch finer, and that becomes the new normal. i.e. when the grinder was new it was set at the 45th notch. In 7 months its now down to the 35th notch. In another few months at this rate it will be the 30th notch. I'm certainly not saying I don't adjust it regularly.

    Its certainly grinds, not carbon. It isn't consistantly bad either, this morning its been pretty good. Perhaps it is just the grind is a little too fine for the single basket on the more humid days, and the water can't pass through it fast enough. Boss isn't allowing me to dump the single basket - too much wasted money.. Anyway, that's another issue - I'm just after clarity on the grind in coffee issue. A certain, yes its the crap single baskets is sufficient hehe...
    It sounds as if the grinder should have bedded in by now. Are you sure you are not slowly drifting it finer and then hitting the basket flow limitations?

    Hope this helps


    TampIt

  22. #22
    TOK
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    Welcome Dave.

    Let’s cut to the chase.

    Have you thought to show your service providers the problem, and is it actually "a problem"? This really involves you involving them so they can help you.


    Under normal conditions the only way “grinds” can actually get through or around the filters is if:

    Your filter/s have a mechanical fault ie either cracked round the bottom “edge” OR have been bashed flat (and possibly cracked there) at the top rim (by bashing on a damaged knock tube) and are either not sealing properly against the under cup washer (group seal) or are leaking through the crack at the rim
    Or
    The under cup washers (group seals) have reached the end of their useful life and are allowing grinds to be blown out of the filter at the top allowing coffee to leak down from there into the cup.

    Very often in the case of filters that are cracked round the bottom “edge”, it is not easy to see in an empty filter as the crack is closed up. When the filter is dosed up and tamped and locked into the group head, the crack opens up due to the pressure involved and lets grinds through.

    You would also need to define “grinds” and check the size of the “grinds” against the size of the holes in the filter. I suspect you mean “fines” rather than grinds, it’s a subtle but important difference.

    If your filters are crack and bash free, in real terms I would forget them as the possible source of the problem, which will more likely lie elsewhere.

    Also note that busy cafes go through enough filters on an ongoing basis so they are not always very old and should be in reasonable condition and not worn out. The commonest cause is through loss in the knock tube and is a simple fact.

    Also as many have stated the industry does prefer not to use single filters and it is a subject in itself requiring separate explanation that would just waste time here as it doesn't have anything really to do with the problem at hand ("grinds" in the coffee).

    Suggest you do a simple excercise. Do a rough calculation of how many kilos your cafe turns over in a week, and multiply by the number of weeks you have been open.

    EG, say 15 kilos a week, for say 30 weeks = 450 kg
    Or
    say 30 kilos a week, for say 30 weeks = 900 kg.

    Call your coffee or equipment supplier (or Boema direct in Sydney) and ask them how many kilos the grinding burrs in the grinder should be good for.

    If you are doing a consistent 30 kg a week then I suspect with that model grinder, you are at a point where you should consider replacing the burrs pretty much right now.

    New burrs should solve the problem because the amount of fines in the run of particle sizes in the “grinds” will be reduced to whatever is normal, where on the contrary if the burrs are worn, they will be producing a much greater quantity of fines in the run or spread of particle sizes.

    These kinds of “problems” are best discussed with your commercial service providers first, who will for the most part want to cut to the chase and get to the bottom of the problem quickly and get you on your way.

    Remember the KISS principle.


    Hope that helps.



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