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Thread: Espresso Consistency - Help?

  1. #1
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    Espresso Consistency - Help?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all, I'm struggling here to find consistency with my espresso. I'm not talking tweaking here and there with a second or two, or a gram or two. Something is way off.

    For example, this morning I made a perfect (for me) espresso. 18g in, 36 out, 28s pour. Tasted great, I loved the consistency of it. Perfect.

    Second shot, no adjustments at all, same measurements and beans but shot rushed through in 15s.

    This has been an ongoing issue for me. Sometimes I get 2 great shots in a row but more often than not I end up with something great, then something terrible. It's just all over the place. I can chase the good shots by adjusting the grinder up and down but I'm sick of wasting time (and more importantly perfectly good coffee). Also a pain if I want to make coffee for others.

    Equipment: Rancilio Sivia V1, Cunill Tranquilo

    I'm not quite sure on where to start trying to fix this. So any help is gratefully appreciated. I get the problem with any bean I use. My first thought was the grinder being inconsistent but eye check and feel tells me that the grind itself is relatively similar. But can't be sure 100%. I regularly clean the grinder and the burrs seem to be in pretty good shape.

    Unsure on the pressure coming out of the machine, or if this could be the problem? No leaks, hissing or otherwise weird sounds when the machine is in operation. Taking the same amount of time to heat up and so on.

    Cheers and thanks for reading,

    G.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    Do a flow check on the pump. 300g in 30sec with screens removed.
    My thoughts are that maybe there is a start pressure issue. Ie, it's taking a while for the pressure to build, but by the second shot, it's all primed up nicely.

    What about if you grind first shot into container, then grind second shot and use it in first cup and use first grinding for second cup- this will isolate grinder issues..

    I had similar issue with my Musica, it was the one-way valve in the nose of the pump. Very varied pump flows/pressures, all the time. A opv didn't help, but did draw my attention to the flow/pressure problem.

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    Thanks for reply Jackster, I did some flow checks (5 for consistency) with screens removed and found that I'm hitting 300g in 30s right on the button every time. There is an initial steam burst once things get heated up but over the 300g it hits 30s every time by the looks of it.

    I will grind more than one shot in a cup now and see what I get with that now. Thanks for tip.

    Cheers,

    G.

  4. #4
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    I wasted a ton of coffee.

    It appears my results across the same grind are reasonably consistent. I ground enough for 2 or 3 shots in one go and using that coffee is pretty much the same result.

    Once I grind again, without changing anything else, I'm out again by 5-10 seconds. Then it's consistent across that batch of ground coffee.

    Frustrating. I am guessing something is screwy with the grinder, losing the place setting somehow or drifting out as I use it?

  5. #5
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Important question: what level do you keep the beans in the hopper at? Do you aim for half full, completely full? Do you fill it right up then let it get all the way down before refilling to the top?

    In my experience, almost all grinders have some invisible lines in the hopper, that if the bean level crosses (up or down) the grind setting noticeably changes (usually enough to throw the shot off). If I'm playing with a new grinder (new to me) I start out by assuming the lines to be at 1/3 and 2/3 of the hopper height above the body of the grinder (i.e. don't count the poorest of the hopper that goes into the grinder) and adjusting from there. Some grinders only seem to have 1 line, many have 2, occasionally they won't seem to have any (e.g. Mahlkoenig Vario). My Eureka Atom's standard hopper has 2, but the smaller round hopper only has 1.

    Second question: are you temperature surfing your Silvia?
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  6. #6
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    Interesting questions, thanks for reply.

    I only ever add beans to the grinder that I am grinding for the shot. I don’t store my beans in the hopper. Since it’s just me drinking it I feel like they will stay fresher in the bag. Could be mistaken here but it’s what I’ve always done. So I guess the hopper level is always super low, only a max of 40-50g at a time.

    I have always been temperature surfing in the past, and always thought this could be messing with the consistency but following the instructions of others I thought pretty safe to do and didn’t see this mentioned anywhere else. I have done some experimenting today without surfing, just so I could churn out shots faster as I was testing and they seemed to be more consistent if anything. Definitely not swinging as wildly. Which I thought was interesting.

    Cheers,

    G.

  7. #7
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Sounds like your bean level and shot temperature should be consistent. I don't know much about your grinder, so I don't know how consistent it would be for single dosing. Some grinders just can't handle it without the particle distribution going out the window. It's strange that not temp surfing have your more consistency, I wonder if your normal routine doesn't leave the water at quite the right temperature (meaning that is consistent but either too high or too low a temp)?

  8. #8
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    The main reason why a Silvia or a Gaggia Classic is best fitted with a PID. Your grinder is espresso capable so I doubt if that is the culprit.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Important question: what level do you keep the beans in the hopper at? Do you aim for half full, completely full? Do you fill it right up then let it get all the way down before refilling to the top?

    In my experience, almost all grinders have some invisible lines in the hopper, that if the bean level crosses (up or down) the grind setting noticeably changes (usually enough to throw the shot off). If I'm playing with a new grinder (new to me) I start out by assuming the lines to be at 1/3 and 2/3 of the hopper height above the body of the grinder (i.e. don't count the poorest of the hopper that goes into the grinder) and adjusting from there. Some grinders only seem to have 1 line, many have 2, occasionally they won't seem to have any (e.g. Mahlkoenig Vario). My Eureka Atom's standard hopper has 2, but the smaller round hopper only has 1.

    Second question: are you temperature surfing your Silvia?

    Hey level3ninja

    A quick correction for other CS readers -

    The particle spread on all three of my Mahloenig Varios (2 * gen2, 1 * gen3) goes straight to hell as soon as the last bean disappears from view - about 30g or so before the grinder runs out of beans. Other than that minor quibble, your post is spot on.

    BTW, the only other way the Vario has a spread issue - when the chamber is full (about 500g of most roasts) the sound of the grinder changes and the spread heads to the Twilight Zone in an even bigger way.


    Quote Originally Posted by LowVibe75 View Post
    Interesting questions, thanks for reply.

    I only ever add beans to the grinder that I am grinding for the shot. I donít store my beans in the hopper. Since itís just me drinking it I feel like they will stay fresher in the bag. Could be mistaken here but itís what Iíve always done. So I guess the hopper level is always super low, only a max of 40-50g at a time.

    Cheers,

    G.

    ... and the reason for your inconsistent shots is mainly due to that.

    Every grinder I know of (100's of them since 1970, mostly commercial behemoths) relies on the weight of the beans to feed the grinding mechanism. Not enough weight = lousy particle spread = major inconsistencies in the pour no matter how good your technique is. A lot of grinders need 100+g of beans in the hopper to work properly. I made a tapered 750g weight for one of my old grinders as it needed an almost full (1Kg) hopper before it worked well enough to use at home.

    Storage (sigh) - rather than repeat hundreds (thousands) of earlier posts by dozens of CS'r's, avoid these
    1) Heat - the reason why most "all in ones" produce crap coffee by day two ("second roasting stage" anyone?).
    2) Light - so cover the grinder with something opaque when not in active use. I have seen all sorts of covers, ranging from "uber stylish birdcage covers" to my own method - an old tea towel folded to fit "well enough to block light".
    3) Moisture / humidity - Covering the hopper and not drowning the poor defenceless beans under a tap should minimise those.
    4) Airflow - unless your hopper is open to the elements, airflow should be near enough to zero - after all, the only hole is at the bottom...

    Avoiding those gremlins will mean that your beans will keep well enough for weeks.

    I hope this helps

    TampIt
    Dimal, rawill, simonsk8r and 2 others like this.

  10. #10
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    I had this issue recently, it was the grinder, it would be wildly inconsistent from dose to dose.

    I cleaned the burrs and use compressed air and brushes etc. to clean the rest of the machine, I also dried it out well and it was consistent from then on.

    It was the Sunbeam EO4080 (or whatever the part # is).

  11. #11
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Probably EM0480

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    The couple of grinders I have had were bad as single dosers also.
    I use a lido E now, and through the handle it is possible to load the bearings so to imitate a burr/hopper full of beans. It is also easy the paintbrush all the grinds out of it, and as I have taped a millimetre scale to the adjuster, I can disassemble and clean and get it back at the correct setting very easily



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