Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    37

    Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I bought a David Makin machine off Chris about ten days ago. Ive made LOTS of coffees since then and being a newbie, I just couldnt get the coffee right no matter what I did. As for the milk texturing...I STINK.

    Fortunately for me, my neighbor across the street had her daughter visit and she just happens to be the sales rep for Merlo coffee. She has also owned a coffee shop for many years.

    She came over to have a look at the machine. She reset the grind (ECM KS) to a finer setting, filled the PF to just slightly over full and tamped to about 10Kg. Tasted bitter! So she filled it again and just lightly tamped...maybe 5Kg. What a difference! The best shot Ive seen this machine make came out....lovely syrup followed by a beautiful crema. Then she textured the milk and did a perfect rosetta in the crema. In two goes...she had it right....Grrrr!

    I have a lot to learn. :-[ It has soooooooo much to do with the grind and the tamp. She felt that it was never necessary to tamp to 15Kg. Usually just a light tamp and a quick twist. And I have to remember to pour the shot as soon as the PF is put into place.

    Besides getting a valuable lesson....I got a whole lot of free coffee too 8-)

  2. #2
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    16,980

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Meaty0 link=1196585836/0#0 date=1196585836
    I have a lot to learn. :-[ It has soooooooo much to do with the grind and the tamp. She felt that it was never necessary to tamp to 15Kg. Usually just a light tamp and a quick twist. And I have to remember to pour the shot as soon as the PF is put into place.
    Great to hear Meatyo ;D

    As you know though, a good tradesman never blames his tools :P ::). As with most aspects of learning how to consistently pull excellent espresso, its all about practice, practice and more practice..... not so much about absolutes per se.

    Most of the numbers you see bandied about are really only guidelines to get you started but once you have more of an appreciation of the processes involved, you will discover variations on the empirical data theme that works for you and allows you to consistently pull great shots and quickly troubleshoot issues that might crop up from time to time.

    You are very fortunate to have a professional living in such close proximity to you and willing to help you out, says a lot about your neighbours integrity I think. Keep practising Meatyo and it will all start to make sense in time and then you will be helping other newbies get on to the straight and narrow towards espresso nirvana with the rest of us.....

    Cheers mate :),
    Mal.

  3. #3
    TC
    TC is offline
    .
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    14,665

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Hmm...

    I worry about those dosing techniques....Sounds to me like the standard cafe underdose and token tamp.... :-? How are the pucks looking Paul?

    I dont think too many here would recommend that. Its a fast track to the world of chanelling and underextraction. ;)

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    580

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    [QUOTE=Meaty0 link=1196585836/0#0 date=1196585836]


    She reset the grind (ECM KS) to a finer setting, filled the PF to just slightly over full and tamped to about 10Kg. Tasted bitter! So she filled it again and just lightly tamped...maybe 5Kg. What a difference! The best shot Ive seen this machine make came out....lovely syrup followed by a beautiful crema. Then she textured the milk and did a perfect rosetta in the crema. In two goes...she had it right....Grrrr!

    I have a lot to learn. :-[ It has soooooooo much to do with the grind and the tamp. She felt that it was never necessary to tamp to 15Kg. Usually just a light tamp and a quick twist. And I have to remember to pour the shot as soon as the PF is put into place.

    Maaaate may I suggest that if you stick to proper tamping and dosing techniques you will have a far more stable platform to work from. Ie. Always dose to a level portafilter, tamp to 30 lbs force which equates to about 13.6 kgs force, and adjust your grinder to achieve the required pour time for your shot of coffee, anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds is quite acceptable, the only real variable left to deal with will be the particular beans you are using and then its just a matter of shifting your grinder settings to once again achieve that pour time... Ray.
    8-)

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    37

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1196585836/0#2 date=1196595282
    Hmm...

    I worry about those dosing techniques....Sounds to me like the standard cafe underdose and token tamp.... :-? How are the pucks looking Paul?

    I dont think too many here would recommend that. Its a fast track to the world of chanelling and underextraction. ;)
    She used the single shot basket first. Slightly overfilled it and then just skimmed the coffee off so it was level. Then she tamped it hard enough to the line in the basket...not 15 Kg..I reckon about 10Kg pressure if that. That came out bitter and syrupy and the puck was wet. We both noticed that.

    She did exactly the same thing again, but this time only tamped lightly...maybe 5 Kg. It was perfect and the puck was dry, no channellings. Couldve been dumb luck.

    I told her to do the same with the double shot basket, but this time she slightly overfilled the basket and didnt level it off. Just tamped it down again with about 5Kg....perfect again! But youre right...I thought immediately of all the "cafe staff" Ive seen do this.

    Her comment was that she felt the grind was too fine still. Before she left, she said to try a coarser grind and a harder tamp. Will be experimenting with that tomorrow....I love experimenting :)

    So, shes coming back next week-end to test my coffee making skills :o More free coffee I hope! :)

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    37

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray C link=1196585836/0#3 date=1196596366
    Maaaate may I suggest that if you stick to proper tamping and dosing techniques you will have a far more stable platform to work from. Ie. Always dose to a level portafilter, tamp to 30 lbs force which equates to about 13.6 kgs force, and adjust your grinder to achieve the required pour time for your shot of coffee, anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds is quite acceptable, the only real variable left to deal with will be the particular beans you are using and then its just a matter of shifting your grinder settings to once again achieve that pour time... Ray.
    8-)
    Hmmm. She watched for "blonding" and then stopped the shot. We went by how the shot tasted rather than the time it took to pour. I reckon the second "perfect" shot would have taken about 20 to 25 seconds.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    580

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    But what happens if there isnt a standard practice and youre using a fresh high oil content bean, it will leave you guessing, there are too many variables. On the other hand its these variables that must be eliminated to produce "consistent" extraction times, coffee after coffee after coffee, day after day, week after week etc. etc.

    Ray.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    580

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!


    Her comment was that she felt the grind was too fine still. Before she left, she said to try a coarser grind and a harder tamp. Will be experimenting with that tomorrow....I love experimenting Smiley

    So, shes coming back next week-end to test my coffee making skills Shocked More free coffee I hope! Smiley...

    Sounds to me that youre on a winner, how blessed are you to have that kind of support, as Mal says; coffee nirvana is all that much closer to you.

    Ray.

  9. #9
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    16,980

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    A standard and proper dosing/tamping technique :-?.... Thats a newey to me.

    If Ive seen nothing else here over the last few years, its the myriad number of techniques used both by pros and amateurs alike that produce great results, in the cup. Naturally, the basic technique needs to be in the ballpark but after that, its doing everything consistently that really matters so that by adjusting one parameter at a time you can arrive at the desired outcome.

    You need to be guided by the results in the cup, everything else comes second.....

    Mal.

  10. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    623

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    As for her dosing and tamping tecniques. Im not saying that there is anything wrong with them but....
    That is a technique used by Merlo to extract their beans. It is taught to cafe staff and takeaway shop owners around Qld. It is a fairly consistent way of ensuring average, not great nor offensive, results in the cup. The perfect extraction time taught to cafes is 20 secs, to take-away joints its 16 secs - as taught by the Merlo reps. It is a basis of lowest common demoninater training.
    So it may have worked, but it could be better. I believe, and a lot of specialty barsita will agree, that dosing and distribution is just as important as the coffee you use, the grind, and the tamp. Its always good to get a few opinions and thats what I would suggest doing.

    How about something like this: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1194473461

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    37

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer Roaster link=1196585836/0#9 date=1196631396
    As for her dosing and tamping tecniques. Im not saying that there is anything wrong with them but....
    That is a technique used by Merlo to extract their beans. It is taught to cafe staff and takeaway shop owners around Qld. It is a fairly consistent way of ensuring average, not great nor offensive, results in the cup. The perfect extraction time taught to cafes is 20 secs, to take-away joints its 16 secs - as taught by the Merlo reps. It is a basis of lowest common demoninater training.
    So it may have worked, but it could be better. I believe, and a lot of specialty barsita will agree, that dosing and distribution is just as important as the coffee you use, the grind, and the tamp. Its always good to get a few opinions and thats what I would suggest doing.

    How about something like this: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1194473461
    I bow to your greater experience. Im a total newbie to all of this. BUT her first words to me were to forget about extraction time and concentrate on how the shot tastes. We just got hold of some "practice" coffee...a one week old bag of Merlo Espresso, and tried different grinds and tamps until it tasted good. Her instructions were to stop the shot when it "went whitish" (blonding?) and not worry about time. Then we tasted it. She was explicit that I should do this with each different type of coffee I use, then maintain that routine.

    Perhaps when you get the taste right...the extraction time is right too?

    Anyway...at lunchtime...Im going to try a coarser grind and harder tamping. Ill watch the time as well.

    Now if I can just get the milk right... :-/


  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    2,165

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Meaty0,

    Keep going, youre doing well. One thing which cant be denied from what youve seen is that the combination of beans, grind, dose, tamp, timing and technique she used gave better results than your versions of the same. So thats a good starting point. The above comments arent intended to say her technique is useless - clearly it gave results that impressed you. However what they are indicating you could get *even better* results by using a better combination than the one she used. If you work on it, what all that tells you is the machine is capable of *at least* as good results as what she got, and probably better. Sounds like the skys the limit mate!

    Greg

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    37

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Pullman link=1196585836/0#11 date=1196640932
    Meaty0,

    Keep going, youre doing well. One thing which cant be denied from what youve seen is that the combination of beans, grind, dose, tamp, timing and technique she used gave better results than your versions of the same. So thats a good starting point. The above comments arent intended to say her technique is useless - clearly it gave results that impressed you. However what they are indicating you could get *even better* results by using a better combination than the one she used. If you work on it, what all that tells you is the machine is capable of *at least* as good results as what she got, and probably better. Sounds like the skys the limit mate!

    Greg

    Thanks for the encouragement Greg. If I can get better than the shots I tasted yesterday, I will truly be in Heaven. No more sex for me...just coffee! ;D

  14. #14
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    16,980

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Yes Meatyo,

    Greg is spot-on...... Its all about being consistent with every aspect of the process of making espresso. If she (the neighbourhood tutor) can show you a method that works as a starting point, then thats great as far as Im concerned 8-). A bit further on down the track when your understanding of the processes and your confidence is higher, then you can start to adjust the method you use one parameter at a time and examine the end results with knowledge gained up to that point.

    Go for it mate and practice the method you use until the end results are exactly where you want them, practice makes perfect and consistency is everything when it comes to extracting the best the bean has to offer. Onward and upward...... [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

    Mal.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    580

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Man! I just love this web site....... you guys "rock"

    Ray.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NW Tasmania
    Posts
    148

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Meaty0 link=1196585836/0#12 date=1196642511
    Thanks for the encouragement Greg. * If I can get better than the shots I tasted yesterday, I will truly be in Heaven. *No more sex for me...just coffee! ;D
    Wow Meat0....... *Why not try having both, but not at the same time? * Giving up either one sounds like you need counselling. * *;D ;D


    b4b.


  17. #17
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    10,496

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    I read in my Mens Health magazine that one can help with getting the other.

    So next time ones invited back for coffee...............

  18. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    846

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1196585836/15#16 date=1196681661
    I read in my Mens Health magazine that one can help with getting the other.
    Always cryptic TG ... which one helps getting the other?

  19. #19
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    10,496

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Well I suppose it could work either way, but my hint was in the second line; coffee first helps.

  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    37

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    I think Im sorry I mentioned the sex bit :(

    But on a brighter note....my shots are consistently good now. Tried a coarser grind (just half a step) and I need like "battering ram" tamp pressure (probably 15Kg..Im so weak) to get the same pour, but I think it might just taste that bit better too.

  21. #21
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    16,980

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Quote Originally Posted by Meaty0 link=1196585836/15#19 date=1196723286
    I need like "battering ram" tamp pressure (probably 15Kg..Im so weak) to get the same pour, but I think it might just taste that bit better too.
    Gday again Meaty0,

    Handstand tamps should not be necessary mate, you really need to try and find the grind setting, dose (with good distribution) using a force in the range of 7.5-15Kg for example that you can consistently apply that results in pours of 30/60ml (single/double) within 25-30 seconds.

    After a series of strokes some years ago left me with significant loss of strength and dexterity in my arms and hands, etc about the most force I can apply consistently in a series of pours, is in the region of 9.5-10.5Kg. So as you can see, it is not necessary to try and force the PF through the benchtop. It comes down to a combination of dose (quantity), even distribution in the basket, grind setting and tamp force.

    Best thing is to grab a set of bathroom scales, put em on the benchtop near where your espresso hardware is and try to find a technique of holding the tamper, your wrist, elbow and shoulder that allows you an easy way of coming up with a tamp force within the range above that you can apply day in and day out and is within +/- 1.0-1.5Kg of the nominal tamp force that is comfortable for you to apply.

    Regarding dosing, there are lots of different methods that experienced people, both pros and amateurs alike employ, in an effort to ensure that they load the PF Basket with a quantity of ground coffee that is +/- 1.0g within the nominal amount that their basket can properly contain. How much is this? Well, its another number thats not really set in concrete but the quantity of coffee that you need to aim for, as an accepted "rule of thumb", is that amount which after dosing, distributing and tamping.... leaves a very slight impression of the Group Shower Screen or Nut/Screw when the PF is locked into its normal position ready to pull a shot, NOT after the shot is poured. Keep adjusting your dose either up or down until you discover the correct dose quantity that provides the slight impression described above.
    There are so many different ways to do this (dosing) Im not going to try and describe several of them here but aside from weighing each shot (which quite a few people do) a method that I have found which works for me and for quite a few other CSers, is to.....

    1) Initially, overfill your Basket so that a small mound of coffee sits proud of the Basket Rim.
    2) Tap the PF on the benchtop (using a small breadboard or similar to protect the laminate) a set number of times to settle the coffee, say three times, then
    3) Overfill the basket once more and tap on the benchtop again another couple of times, then
    4) Level off the coffee across the Basket Rim using a straight edge, the side of your finger or what ever is most convenient.
    The basic idea is to ensure that there are no voids or excess coffee in place over the surface of the Basket, it should be flat.
    5) Now you can tamp the coffee down using the force you have found to be the easiest to apply consistently.
    6) Lock the PF into position ready for a pour and then remove again to view the surface of the coffee puck and verify the nature of the S/C or screw/nut impression.
    7) As mentioned above, youre looking for a very slight impression into the surface and not enough so as to cause significant disturbance of the puck.
    8) If the impression or lack there-of requires an adjustment to the dose, you will need to go back to the dosing/distribution stage again and either increase or reduce the number of taps on the bench you use to settle the coffee (especially the second round), tamp again and retry the PF lock-in and inspect. I hope you have a good quality Tamper for this Meaty0 as a substandard one can really make it difficult for a newbie to come to grips with the method required.
    9) Basically, the Tamp should be applied in a single firm motion such that the puck surface is parallel with the Rim and maybe a slight polishing spin if you feel so inclined.... its not really necessary though.
    10) Right, now youre ready to pull a shot. Lock the PF into place and hit the Brew switch and then place your cup(s) into position. As you already know, youre looking for 30/60ml in 25-30 seconds as the benchmark. If the pour is too quick then you need to grind slightly finer and the opposite if the pour is too slow. When youre stating out like this, I wouldnt bother using the Single Basket at all, just stick with the Double and you will find it a lot easier to get things right. If you only want a Single shot, then you can either waste half the shot or collect them and put em in the fridge for later use when making the occasional Ice-Coffee.... Mmmm, beautiful ;).

    And thats about the guts of it mate. Once you get this side of things sorted out, you can try variations to this system if you feel you can tailor certain aspects of it to suit the way you prefer to do things, but thats a bit further on down the track Id reckon. All the best Meaty0 and I hope this is of some help to you,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Lizzie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Bridport, Tas
    Posts
    1,151

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    WOW, Mal the Magnificent!! ;)

    Top post, Mal!!

    L

  23. #23
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    16,980

    Re: Hey....Machine Isnt To Blame After All!

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Aw shucks :-[



Similar Threads

  1. Can anyone recommend a machine under $500 that isnt an Ikon
    By ajohnc in forum Brewing Equipment - Entry level (sub $500)
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 22nd September 2010, 01:24 PM
  2. This is complicated isnt it!
    By Rocky in forum General Coffee Related...
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10th February 2009, 07:31 PM
  3. Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt
    By robusto in forum General Coffee Related...
    Replies: 78
    Last Post: 26th March 2007, 09:04 PM
  4. Thank God this isnt true...... It isnt is it?
    By Dimal in forum General News
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 21st October 2005, 06:30 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •