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Thread: Perks of a new hobby - Adventures of a Green Bean

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2019

    Perks of a new hobby - Adventures of a Green Bean

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    The Green Bean is me -

    I'm new to this aromatic, caffeinated world and as green as they come... So I thought I may as well begin to document my removal from normal society and chart my downfall chasing the perfect brew

    This may be awkward and painfully frustrating to follow, as I'm sure many of you will see me leap headlong into a multitude of novice errors and jump to faulty conclusions along the way. But here it is, warts and all for anyone with time to kill... my journey into coffee snobbery.

    From the beginning (with Live updates until i find something else to distract me):

    This story starts a week ago, with this thread:
    I have at home a faulty but evidently quite reasonable built-in machine that had been used for the first few years of it's life to make ESE pod coffee. It stopped working and being that i live in Adelaide it was hard to find anyone prepared to look at it and so i left it in situ and moved on with my life, drinking Lavazza Pod coffee for longer than i care to remember.

    Having recently contemplated that i don't have enough distractions for the few precious minutes of free time i occasionally enjoy, I decided that for several reasons it is time to put some effort into turning out a halfway decent coffee at home.

    And so i found CS - the Forum and you seem like my sort of people
    Last edited by TroubleBrewing; 13th January 2019 at 01:09 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Loved your post TB!!!

    Welcome to the forums, coffee truly is such a great hobby. And whilst there have been many frustrations and obstacles along the way, it has been so worth it. Even if you just simply want to enjoy a good cup, as not everyone wants to get deeper into it than that.

    My own journey saw me just utterly fascinated with the process of making of coffee, and it just grew and grew from there. I've learned so much along the way, and there is still so much more!

    There's a vast array of useful information already on these forums, but feel free to ask away! I always recommend keeping it simple, understand the key variables, and go from there. Breaking the rules comes later, after you've got the basics
    Javaphile and TroubleBrewing like this.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2019
    Step One - Fix the Machine and for God's Sake Buy a Grinder!

    First the good news: as mentioned on the other thread, my machine is repairable and I hope by early next week to have her home again and to start making sink shots while i learn what the hell I'm doing! Of course, to do that i will need a grinder - and some coffee to grind.

    The main problem with acquiring new knowledge, in my experience, is it shows how little one knows! So it is for me with finding the right coffee grinder for home use, on a budget. And so, I have thrown that towel in and bought a second hand EM0480 - not at all what i had in mind but one could do worse as far as first footsteps on this journey no?

    Figuring that it should do a job for a time and once I know where next to invest how much of my hard earned, it can live in the back of the cupboard as a French Press/Backup grinder (should be fine for those duties long term right?)
    Hmm, guess it's time for a new French Press...
    French Press.jpg
    Well, I need something to make coffee with while the Espresso Machine is in for service - and my last one of these had a hard life on building sites... Luckily Harris Scarfe had 40% off homewares today; which allowed me to put the final piece of the 'not a hipster, coffee maker's starter pack' together:
    None of which is of any use whatsoever without some coffee...

    Step 2 - Get some coffee up ya (Now the trouble is Brewing)

    I'm getting to an age where I don't often find myself doing much for the first time anymore (I hope to have sex one day though ) but today, for the first time in my life I purchased fresh roast whole coffee beans - applause please.
    Blends.JPG Blends2.JPG
    Two kinds actually, A blend called 'Tuscan' which is the house blend at 'Perfect Cup' in the Adelaide central Markets and some single origin 'Columbian Supremo DR' from Ang's at Westfield Marion. Couple hundred grams of each to have a play.
    I enjoyed a long black at the Perfect Cup Cafe, made with these same beans and it was an enjoyable, mellow, easy drink. Inoffensive but I am unsure on what the flavour profile actually is...(can i say 'Coffee'?)
    The 'Tuscan' made for a pleasant plunger coffee too although unremarkable, but i am too fresh myself to start judging the beans (most variances at this stage i am sure are down to me trying to keep my head above water).
    The Columbian is a much more intense, dark roast (i assume the DR stands for double roasted) and is very much my cup of tea (is that blasphemous to say around here?) - will be interesting to see how they compare beyond a coarse grind and french press...

    The best news so far is once i got home and started experimenting it took all of about eleven seconds for my wife to notice that the house smells 'wonderful' - better than i do at this point...(Those following closely may have deduced that i probably have had some intimacy at least once or twice )
    She wasn't so keen to join me in my 4pm brew, although she did have a taste and nodded approvingly. She was even less inclined to share in my 7pm brew - I guess i will bear this cross largely alone (but at least i am not falling asleep writing a midnight post!)

    But now I am getting ahead of myself...
    Last edited by TroubleBrewing; 13th January 2019 at 12:11 AM. Reason: Technical Difficulties (PEBKAC)
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  4. #4
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    Jan 2019
    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    Loved your post TB!!!
    There's a vast array of useful information already on these forums, but feel free to ask away! I always recommend keeping it simple, understand the key variables, and go from there. Breaking the rules comes later, after you've got the basics
    Thank's Simon - we'll see how long it takes for you to get sick of me In the meantime i will no doubt be asking many more questions than i am able to answer and I'll try not to infuriate everyone with being a total noob!

    I'm hoping for some symbiosis with this forum; i plan to learn a lot from you all here and hopefully some of you will get a laugh or two (probably at my expense) until i have anything of value to offer the community myself
    Dimal, Javaphile and simonsk8r like this.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Welcome TroubleBrewing on your journey down the rabbit hole into the wonderful world of coffee. I somehow get the feeling you'll enjoy the trip.

    Java "Another one hooked!" phile
    Dimal and TroubleBrewing like this.
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  6. #6
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    Jan 2019
    Step 3 - What the hell have you done? Stupid, Stupid Man...

    My final update this evening and i will back it up just a little bit.

    Upon my triumphant return home this afternoon, heavily laden with coffee paraphernalia and the spoils of pawn shop negotiating cleared a space on the kitchen bench and went to work...

    The grinder had sat on 'Cashies' shelf for some time and had evidently not been cleaned prior to going up there and so the whole thing had both the smell and appearance of stale grinds. No problem, i ran some warm soapy water to scrub out the hopper and dosing container, wiped over the other surfaces and went to the garage for a fine brush and some wax and grease remover - seriously what is with those price stickers from Crime Convertors? After scraping their sticker off in a thousand pieces there was still more residue than a damp scourer could remove...

    Anyway with the obvious cosmetic bits clear i decided to work out what comes apart and give it a good brush/blow job.
    Dirty grinder.jpg This was not the most endearing site but i wanted a clean slate with which to start...
    Clean Grinder.jpgAnd it came up a whole lot better.
    Burr.jpgI only have a pre-clean photo of the top burr but I'm sure you get the idea (and are probably bored by now)...

    Once all clean and dry i re-assembled and put this bad boy to work - Columbian Supremo, let's turn you to powder!!!
    Bad Grind.jpgHouston, we have a problem - this picture is of the grinds from either extreme setting...and i can't tell the difference as to which is 'fine' and which is 'coarse'... WTH junkyard POS have i just bought????? Not to worry there's a 30 day warranty and i'll just return it - what's more no sooner did i get home than another one in 'excellent barely used condition' is posted on Gumtree for less than half the price i just paid! (Typical)

    After four hours or maybe 30 seconds of self pity, my enquisitve nature got the better of me and I decided to look in to what may be happening. I also arranged to pick up the stupidly cheap grinder from gumtree tomorrow and will compare the two before deciding my next step... (probably keep one and sell the other, unless grinder number 2 shows grinder number 1 to be faulty)...

    So i found the sunbeam pdf for shimming and calibrating the grinder (thanks CS - was hosted on this site) and went back to the garage for my socket set and screwdriver.

    Once i pulled the bottom burr out, I found it jammed up with ground coffee (the bonus is that now the grinder has had a proper clean out) and that my EM0480 has 4 shims already installed.
    I removed everything, rushed it down then reinstated and tightened it all up - not expecting much to change...
    grinds1.JPGAs it turns out there is a bit of adjustment available in grinder all of a sudden - the coarsest setting is now less coarse but more consistent than prior and the finest is very fine, although clumpy and difficult to get out of the grinder consistently (it seems to dump all or nothing), the setting about halfway seems to be a good in-between... i should at least be able to experiment with pulling espresso shots now.

    The coarse setting made for some enjoyable french press but I will continue my experiments tomorrow.

    Where to from here? Unknown, although hopefully i will have some of this original batch of beans left for espresso when i get my machine back...

    More to follow
    Dimal, Javaphile and Mono like this.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2019
    Step 4 - You don't know what you think you know...

    So I finally had the chance to collect my freshly repaired machine yesterday and get the old girl home. Espresso is a go.

    I have at home an Avanti 'butt plug' tamper someone gifted me in another life that had never really been used in either capacity (much smaller than the PF Basket) and so i figured i should pick up a 58mm Tamper.

    It was at this point (luckily i had the machine and therefore PF in the car) that I learned I don't have a standard 58mm portafilter after all. It's 57mm! Perhaps it is a Lelit machine inside???

    Anyway, here is a pic of the old girl back in situ...station.jpg
    Last edited by Javaphile; 19th January 2019 at 12:02 PM. Reason: Removed link
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Maddington, Perth. Wa
    Way easier to make a tamper smaller than larger.

    Good to see you getting some grinder adjustment now. I came across a similar grinder, and the dogs that pull the burrs up and down were broken. I'd think that would be from adjusting it tighter while there were beans in the burrs. It's only a plastic burr holder after all.

    Good to see the machine all fixed and back in place

  9. #9
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Central Queensland
    You shamed me into cleaning my Rocky Rancilio grinder - and checking the burrs and recalibrating.
    It was filthy! grind caked on everywhere. I was ashamed. Burrs are fine 10 years down the track.
    Now it is quieter and the calibration closer to where it should be.
    Thanks for the kick up the ass.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Ok so it's now April....sorry to have been absent for so long!

    Since January I have left secure full time employment and started on an adventure, seeing how long i can stave off hunger on my own...

    My machine has also broken down again - this time a brass threaded pipe running between the coffee boiler and a coupling decided to shear, half off in each. Luckily i have since found a great technician much more local too me who was able to extract the thread and re-fabricate something for me... saving me from a replacement boiler (or more likely the machine going to landfill!)

    I managed to try several different blends prior to the machine crapping out on me again and have so far settled on 'luxuria' blend by Kicco - local here to Adelaide and roasted about 10 minutes from my house. Soon enough i will order some snobs beans to compare now that i am back in the game once more.

    Having made do with pods again for several weeks it is truly a joy to start my morning ritual with the industrial noise of a grinder
    I am actually really happy with the results i am achieving from my humble em0480 and obscure built in semi auto machine. I'm now questioning if and when i should up the grinder game and if so - to what?

    More reading required - for now however i am happy with the results i am getting - who'd have thought 16 grams odd of local, freshly roasted beans, ground on demand and turned into 35ml of liquid would be more enjoyable than 5-7g of pre-ground vac sealed pod?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TroubleBrewing; 17th April 2019 at 03:15 PM.
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  11. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I have a Bugatti

    I will never complain about paying $4 for a nice cup of coffee again.

    This hobby is becoming ever increasingly frustrating and also rewarding.

    Just as I have found the right bean blend to keep the household happy (although u will continue experimenting - more on that later) and dialled everything in so I'm producing shots that both look and taste on a level I am happy with (rivalling most decent coffee spots I frequent although still not the very best)... A fresh challenge presents itself.

    Our weekend morning routine has started to consist of the wife getting up first (good bless my man size bladder) and making herbal tea and flicking the coffee machine on to warm up. Half hour later I make the coffee.

    This morning, I made swmbo cup, duly delivered it and ground my beans ready to go...

    Less than half way thru the extraction water and grounds started flowing over the top of the pf and going everywhere.


    I suspect a new group seal may be required (this machine having been manufactured sometime between '06 and '08) but, after swearing and hitting things for a few minutes I decided to pull off the shower screen and have a look. (Generally I prefer to do my tinkering after coffee and not before but my hands were tied).

    This revealed my Bugatti IMG_20190420_094231477.jpgIMG_20190420_094231477.jpg
    Unfortunately it is only a plastic puck that sits between the shower screen and group seal.

    I did find one metric f*#@ ton of compressed black powder (old very burnt coffee I presume) between the seal and the puck and the puck and the screen and in every conceivable nook and cranny.

    After wiping it all over, removing the crud and reassembling it all my morning brew was extra delish.

    Now to track down a new group seal or three...

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