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Thread: Crema Dilemna!

  1. #1
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    Crema Dilemna!

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I just bought my first espresso machine, an "Avanti Compact" model, from a private seller. It is a little known manual house brand machine that is made in Italy (by who, I'm not sure), circa 90's perhaps. Having never used an espresso machine before, apart from stovetop moka pots, I find I am unable to make "crema" with this machine. I am now starting to wonder if the machine itself is unable to make crema; either because of some defect I know nothing about, or it just isn't up to par. It is a pump-driven machine with quality parts, ie. heavy brass non-pressurized portafilter, but whether it goes to 9 bar or 15, etc. I don't know. It's a discontinued model, can't get info on it.

    I use a whole bean espresso from Costco called "Moretto" brand. I grind using the Braun KMM30 (aka Type 3045) variable burr grinder, from settings 3 to 5, as suggested by the seller. The shot takes about 25 seconds, a standard time, from the time the button is pressed. I tamp using a plastic tamper, with about as much pressure as I can get on it. (Anyway, it's not the tamper or the grinder. The seller showed me a perfectly fine crema on his Saeco Aroma, with the same tamper and he uses the same grinder). I've tried another brand of coffee as well. The closest I've ever come to crema on this machine is a tiny bit of blond foam that quickly went away. What is wrong here?




  2. #2
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Sounds like stale beans to me. Get some fresh roasted beans from your local coffee house/roaster and try them. Also is that basket a single or double walled one? When you hold it up to the light can you see through all the holes? Can you see all the holes looking at the basket from the bottom or is there just one?


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  3. #3
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Don't buy coffee beans from Costco. Where are you located someone might be able to recommend someone, or there is always beanbay.
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    Senior Member Logga's Avatar
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    Welcome Gavalia, your machine reminds me of my first machine, a Krups brand. Any way + 1 for fresh beans, then if you still get no crema then maybe its your technique.

    That's the cool thing about coffee, your all ways learning. Keep going mate, you'll get it.

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    Thanks guys for helping me get to the bottom of this. Well, the espresso beans are fresh, in that it's a new bag, I just bought them from Costco. And the grinding is done just before the brewing. Plus, the seller I bought the machine from uses "Lavazza" pre-ground on his Saeco Aroma, and he made a fine cup for me with plenty crema. So this evening, I tried a bag of pre-ground (bold) espresso coffee, that is a grind for moka pots. I usually use 2T coffee in the portafilter (it's about as much as I feel is safe to drink, per person). With this coffee I fully loaded the portafilter, shaved off the excess, tamped it down not too hard (as suggested by the seller). This time it produced some light crema-like froth. A bit on the first try, and enough to cover the top lightly on the 2nd try. I mean, i don't think this is true crema, but at least it isn't all black!

    What do you guys think about this crema?:

    First shot
    :





    Second shot (the cup was filled with more water)
    :





    This is the basket
    . I "believe" it is single-walled, but I'm not sure how to spot the difference. I know the portafilter is non-pressurized, and I can see light through all the holes that cover the bottom of the basket, from both sides.





    The portafilter:




    In order to test the "technique" theory, what part of that would I need to work on to create a crema?

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Just because you bought the beans from Costco today does not mean they are fresh. They could be literally over a year old. Both of the images you posted showing the 'crema' are a thin weak anemic looking excuse for crema. Real crema has a dark rich looking appearance and fresh from the portafilter will present as half or even more of the volume of the espresso shot. When you have a lightly colored thin layer of it it says one of two things. Seriously over-extracted coffee and/or old stale beans.

    So again, go to a local roaster and buy freshly roasted beans. Freshly roasted as in the beans were roasted with-in the last few days, a week at the most. If the shop can't say with certainty exactly what day the beans were roasted walk away and find a roaster who can tell you exactly when the beans were roasted. Buy only whole beans. Do not have the beans ground at the point of purchase! Properly stored beans will typically remain fresh for ~3 weeks.

    As to how much coffee should be put in the basket it needs to be filled to the proper level in order to get a good quality espresso shot. Judging from the apparent size of your basket it will most likely take 15-21 grams of ground coffee to fill it to the proper level. To start with with the basket in the portafilter fill it with ground coffee until it is mounded over the top of it. Tap the bottom of the portafilter gently on a pad or towel 2 or 3 times to help settle the grounds and then using a finger, knife or some other straight edge item to scrape it across the top of the basket/portafilter so the coffee is level with the top. Then tamp using 10-15kg's of force. (The exact amount doesn't have to be an exact number, you just need to be able to tamp with the same force consistently. Then lost the portafilter in place on the espresso machine and remove it. You should not be able to see an impression of the machines screen on the top of the puck. Then with the portafilter locked in place start the shot and extract 60ml of espresso, including the crema in the volume. It should take 25-30 seconds to extract the 60ml. If it takes less then you need to make your grind finer. If it takes longer then you grind needs to be coarser.

    Once you can do the above consistently then start adjusting the grind, time, and volume extracted to suit your tastes changing only one variable at a time.

    The number one thing to remember is you have to have fresh beans in order to get a good espresso. If your beans aren't fresh then there's nothing you can do that will make the espresso extracted from them good.

    While you're reading have a look here about how to store your beans.


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    I agree with Java.
    When I started brewing, I learnt to throw away my supermarket beans and get some freshly roasted beans
    I think the most important factors of brewing a good shot (besides the skills of the barista) are fresh beans and a proper grinder, followed by the machine and other factors (water etc).

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    Thanks. I understand that using beans that are freshly roasted is ideal, but it's the first I've heard that you cannot produce any decent crema unless the beans are freshly roasted. When the seller produced an espresso with good crema from his little Saeco Aroma, I'm pretty sure those beans were not roasted last week. They were commercially store bought. I also read that the Braun KMM30 burr grinder we both use isn't good enough for espresso. Yet again, he's able to produce nice caramel crema. This is why I thought it is either my beginner barista skills, something I'm missing in the process, or simply, there is something wrong with the machine. Like it isn't producing enough bars of pressure. I'm in Montreal. (Bit of a ways from Australia, I should say....). I'm sure if I look hard enough, I can find a store that sells freshly roasted beans and can tell me when they were roasted, by whom, where the beans came from, and what the name of the farmer was. And his wife. But it's just that even if this turns out to be the solution that produces the magical and elusive crema, I just have no interest in running around town going well out of my way to get this, every time I'm out of coffee. I'd rather buy another, better machine that can produce some real crema with something like Costco espresso beans.

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    When 4+ longtime CS members answer your question, then take the time to explain to you what's happening, as well as walk you through their past mistakes and you post the above response... I think that you've probably brought the wrong attitude to bring to CS.

    To summarise -
    Try with different beans. You won't know til you try. Even if you use a different supermarket/commercial variety. No one is suggesting you track down farmers in Honduras.
    Newbies looks to blame their equipment first. It's going to be a lot easier to try with a different lot of beans and see what happens. At this point 4+ people have told you the same thing and you're refusing to try and accept this as the problem.
    Good coffee starts with decent (fresh) beans. Or you can spend more money on better equipment that will make better coffee with not that great beans.

    Also, welcome to the age of the internet where you can order things over the internet.
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    Note that the Saeco Aroma has a pressurised portafilter meaning it will aerate and produce froth on a cup of liquid mud.

  11. #11
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Good crema is not the be-all and end-all of good coffee making; the ultimate goal is great tasting coffee. I've had many coffees that don't have much crema but still taste good eg plunger and other manually brewed coffee.
    There are factors other than bean age that come into play to produce crema: bean type, machine quality, grind quality, pressure, technique (dose-distribution-tamp). The advice you have been given so far is good, Sure you can produce good coffee with pre-ground and not freshly roasted beans but when you are struggling to make good coffee, a recommended approach is to start with good quality, freshly roasted beans. If you intend to upgrade your equipment, start with a better grinder.

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    The second shot is really not that bad an espresso considering what was used to make it. No point making changes if you are content with the taste. Kinda like a Nespresso shot when the machine was not given enough time to warm up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tashie View Post
    At this point 4+ people have told you the same thing and you're refusing to try and accept this as the problem.
    I think you have a serious reading comprehension problem. Not to mention the fact that you're the one with the attitude problem. Let me dumb it down for you, since you obviously need me to do that: What I said was, it doesn't matter if the problem is because I didn't buy beans that were roasted an hour earlier, or whatever. I said that I am not going to go to that much trouble, whether it means driving to some God-forsaken place in the next county that guarantees beans freshly roasted by the shopkeeper's wife every hour on the hour, or waiting 6 weeks for the postman to come and bring me coffee that I had to order on an Internet website at considerable expense, I am not going to change my entire life around, in order to get a decent crema on my espresso. Sorry if that seems strange to you, Coffee Snob #5.

    Again, if you could understand what you read, you'd see that I already told you I did a test using an (old) pre-ground bag of espresso, and that produced at least some crema, which my newly bought manually-ground whole bean from Costco did not. What I also said, twice in fact, was that the guy who sold me the espresso machine and grinder did not use freshly roasted beans, and did well without. My own daughter made me an espresso last week on her dept. store plasticated Cuisinart machine. it had a crema, and no, she does not even know the concept of recently roasted coffee beans. So I'm pretty sure that plenty of people are able to make an espresso with crema, real OR fake, without going to the extreme of having to find beans that were roasted yesterday. I only wanted to find out why. As another member mentioned, the roast is only one factor - it's not the defining factor in crema production.

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    True crema, as understood by most members of this forum, is a sort of emulsion of the fats and oils (and other goodies) from the beans, suspended in tiny bubbles of air and CO2 - or something like that.
    This is only produced from fresh coffee as it releases CO2.

    Other faux-crema can be produced by frothing coffee through a pressurised portafilter or double wall basket.
    You can not produce the
    faux-crema from your machine because you have a standard single wall basket.

    You will only get
    (true) crema with fresh coffee.
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  15. #15
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavalia View Post
    I think you have a serious reading comprehension problem. Not to mention the fact that you're the one with the attitude problem. Let me dumb it down for you, since you obviously need me to do that: What I said was, it doesn't matter if the problem is because I didn't buy beans that were roasted an hour earlier, or whatever. I said that I am not going to go to that much trouble, whether it means driving to some God-forsaken place in the next county that guarantees beans freshly roasted by the shopkeeper's wife every hour on the hour, or waiting 6 weeks for the postman to come and bring me coffee that I had to order on an Internet website at considerable expense, I am not going to change my entire life around, in order to get a decent crema on my espresso. Sorry if that seems strange to you, Coffee Snob #5.

    Again, if you could understand what you read, you'd see that I already told you I did a test using an (old) pre-ground bag of espresso, and that produced at least some crema, which my newly bought manually-ground whole bean from Costco did not. What I also said, twice in fact, was that the guy who sold me the espresso machine and grinder did not use freshly roasted beans, and did well without. My own daughter made me an espresso last week on her dept. store plasticated Cuisinart machine. it had a crema, and no, she does not even know the concept of recently roasted coffee beans. So I'm pretty sure that plenty of people are able to make an espresso with crema, real OR fake, without going to the extreme of having to find beans that were roasted yesterday. I only wanted to find out why. As another member mentioned, the roast is only one factor - it's not the defining factor in crema production.
    Hi Gavalia

    I think the point tashie was making is that many consumer machines use pressurised baskets (like the Saeco, and probably the Cuisinart you mention - and even pod machines to some degree). These machines basically froth the coffee as it comes out. This gives a fake crema of sorts, even from stale coffee. They make them like this for precisely that reason.

    Your machine however is modeled on a commercial style setup with a non-pressurised basket. This setup will not produce crema with stale beans. It is not designed to froth, but extract coffee properly. And only fresh beans give off the CO2 that creates proper cream. So in reality, if you are unwilling to buy fresh beans which still contain CO2 – you may have to put up with you coffee without a good crema. Or buy a cheaper machine with a pressurised basket that by using smoke and mirrors makes it look like you have a good crema.

    Your call
    Cheers Matt


    BTW If you buy fresh beans online from Beanbay here, you'll more than likely have them within 48 hours - often less … and I'll guarantee crema if it's made properly!
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    Does Beanbay deliver to Canada? If not, Berenda is the name of a roaster in Montreal, who delivers coffee. I'd bet it's fresh, but don't know as I only used the World Wide Web to find out.

    Youve had coffee from machines that are designed to make stale coffee look good.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavalia View Post
    I think you have a serious reading comprehension problem. Not to mention the fact that you're the one with the attitude problem. Let me dumb it down for you, since you obviously need me to do that:
    Whoa... really not cool Gavalia.

    Take a couple of days rest, read the suggestions again and give them a try instead of attacking respected members of the community.

    I can see a lot of problems with what you are doing but me, like others here, will be hesitant to help if you are going to carry-on like that.

    Please go chill and come back with a better attitude and people here will be more than happy to help you get better coffee from your gear.

  18. #18
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesigningByCoffee View Post
    Hi Gavalia

    I think the point tashie was making is that many consumer machines use pressurised baskets (like the Saeco, and probably the Cuisinart you mention - and even pod machines to some degree). These machines basically froth the coffee as it comes out. This gives a fake crema of sorts, even from stale coffee. They make them like this for precisely that reason.

    Your machine however is modeled on a commercial style setup with a non-pressurised basket. This setup will not produce crema with stale beans. It is not designed to froth, but extract coffee properly. And only fresh beans give off the CO2 that creates proper cream. So in reality, if you are unwilling to buy fresh beans which still contain CO2 – you may have to put up with you coffee without a good crema. Or buy a cheaper machine with a pressurised basket that by using smoke and mirrors makes it look like you have a good crema.

    Your call
    Cheers Matt


    BTW If you buy fresh beans online from Beanbay here, you'll more than likely have them within 48 hours - often less … and I'll guarantee crema if it's made properly!
    Matt has hit the nail on the head, Gavalia.

    You definitely have a single-walled portafilter basket.

    If you look at your friends' PF baskets, you can tell if they're double walled by looking at the bottom of the inside of the basket - there will likely be lots of holes which you cannot see through. If you look underneath your friends' PF baskets, although there may be a grid pattern there, if you look closely there will likely only be one actual hole on the bottom side, right in the middle. Hence all the coffee coming through the top holes is forced through that single hole, which has the side effect of creating a 'crema' on your espresso, even if using stale beans.

    You may be able to find a double walled basket to fit your machine which may solve your dilemma.

    Cheers

    Sniff
    Last edited by SniffCoffee; 11th October 2016 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Suggested buy double walled basket
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    I hear crickets chirping

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    Didn't Andy block him for a few days. Hence the crickets
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    UPDATE: My "crema dilemna" has been solved... by buying another machine! I had a feeling that if I tried another machine, with the same Moretto beans (Costco), I'd get the results I wanted. The machine I bought is from "Elektra" (Italy), "Cappuccina" model (yeah, never heard of it either). Looks like a Saeco Aroma, but possibly better in quality. (It's from '96, but new it cost about 6 times the Avanti Compact). Using the very same beans and grind/grinder, I got crema right from the beginning of the shot. And it looked to me like crema. Not like that weak blonde stuff in the second photo above! It tasted robust, but I haven't yet compared the taste to the Avanti. (The Avanti shot never seemed to taste like much anyway, but what do I know....). Although it's hard to believe after looking at it, I suppose if going by what I read here, the Elektra is producing "fake" crema.

    I say this because the portafilter, while much heavier duty and quality than the Avanti, appears to be the pressurized type. (See photo). You can see by looking at the exterior of the PF that it uses a channel (like I've seen on commercial Breville machines). But that means the coffee is funneled into a single hole in the centre. The inner basket however is full of holes on the bottom, not unlike the Avanti. (Except while the basket diameter of the Elektra is larger, the diameter of the holed area is smaller than that of the Avanti).





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  22. #22
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Gavalia

    That's great to hear. It looks like the basket in your new machine is a single dose size (hence the sloping sides and smaller amount of holes in the bottom) but if there's only a single tiny hole in the bottom side then it's definitely a pressurised portafilter basket.

    It actually looks like quite a cool little machine - if you've got time, please post some more photos of it, particularly the steam wand? I'm not sure if it's a single boiler machine or thermoblock...

    Cheers

    Sniff

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    Elektra Cappuccina R2
    (in polished chrome)






    "Elektra", I discovered, mostly make these amazing old-world manual "lever" type espresso machines. Which were popular in the 50's, and look like something "Bender" would be attracted to ("Futureama" reference). All full of copper, brass and chrome, crowned by sharp-beaked brass eagles. All their machines appear to be hand crafted in a small factory in Italy, and that they never sold "cheap" models. With the Cappuccina model I have (no longer made), probably being the humblest machine they ever produced.

    I haven't directly compared the coffee produced with the Avanti, but I tried my first shot this evening, and I'm certain I can taste a difference. With the Elektra, using the same beans/grind, the flavour profile is more mellow, but flavorful. I recall the Avanti as being a more bitter brew. As I am new to espresso machines, this is the first time I am able to compare and see/taste differences produced by different machines, under the same parameters.



    Pressurized or Non-Pressurized PF?






    I've been researching the difference between the two. Judging by what I saw, a pressurized PF is a more complicated affair. It incorporates a valve that opens up under pressure, a hole in the centre that is normally blocked, plus a gasket, etc. Well the Elektra, which I presumed from the crema must be a pressurized type, doesn't have any of that. As you can see in the photo, it's very simple, with just a large open hole in the centre (where the coffee exits onto a C-shaped channel), and a single-shot (single walled?) basket with holes across the bottom. No gasket, no valve.


    So it really appears to be a non-pressurized PF. Which is kind of surprising, because several people here told me the reason my Avanti was not producing crema, was the combination of non-pressurized filter and non-freshly roasted beans. Yet, again, using the very same store-bought beans, I was able to produce a good crema on the first try! Which I'm very happy about, because as I mentioned earlier, I don't plan to buy my coffee other than in local stores in my neighborhood.



    Steam Wand


    Although the quality of the steam wand definitely feels better than on the Avanti, I can't comment on how well it works.. yet. I bought the machine second hand from a private seller, and it's the one thing I did not test at their place. So when I tried it at home... some steam was coming out, but not enough to warm the milk enough to froth it. After fiddling some more with the buttons to try to get frothed milk.... well, it stopped working altogether! Even though the wand got mighty hot, it stopped producing steam no matter what button I pressed (though the brew head was still producing water, and even plenty of steam). So maybe the wand is blocked and needs cleaning, or I just need to give it another go on another day. I noticed the Elektra has only one rubber tube in the water tank, whereas the Avanti had two (one for the steam wand, one for the brewing). So it must use a different method to draw water for the steam wand.


    Too soon to tell if it's the machine at fault or me, as I'm still getting up to speed on how to work it. There is no manual available on the net, and the buttons are anything but intuitive! e.g. No markings on the steam dial to indicate which direction is open/closed. The buttons have a dot that changes from red to green when you push the button. You'd think then that "green" was ON. Except the Power button dot has to be red to turn the machine on! With the brew button, it's the opposite! "Green" means brew, "red" means no brew! The steam button is anyone's guess, as nothing I did would produce steam, after the initial period where it briefly worked.




    The Insides


    If curious, these are some pics I found on the net of how the mechanics are constructed. it appears to have a brass boiler with copper tubing, etc. I'm not sure if it uses a single boiler or thermoblock, but looking at the pics, you'll know! (n.b. The machine in some of the photos is not in good condition, but mine is like new! Still plan to descale it with Dezcal, just in case!).

    Interior bucket area (minus bucket)






    Bucket:






    Interior, both channels:







    Boiler (top):







    Boiler (side):









    Showerhead:






    Pump:






    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    Gavalia

    That's great to hear. It looks like the basket in your new machine is a single dose size (hence the sloping sides and smaller amount of holes in the bottom) but if there's only a single tiny hole in the bottom side then it's definitely a pressurised portafilter basket.

    It actually looks like quite a cool little machine - if you've got time, please post some more photos of it, particularly the steam wand? I'm not sure if it's a single boiler machine or thermoblock...

    Cheers

    Sniff

  24. #24
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Hi again Gavalia

    A pressurised PF basket is the thing. The portafilter itself (the thing with black handle and single hole, ie that heavy part), can have a hole, two holes, or even a hole with a single or twin spout underneath it, but it's literally the thing that secures the basket to the group head. In your case a single hole with a screw on twin spout.

    The basket itself (ie the small round thing with lots of holes in the bottom in the left of your photo that sits inside the handle) is the thing that might be pressurised. At the bottom of the basket itself on the inside itself is lots of holes. Flip the basket over (not the handle) and have a look at the bottom of it - is there a single tiny hole, not much bigger than a pinhole? Or, if you hold the basket up to the light, can you see through all of the holes in the bottom of the basket.

    If the former, it's a pressurised basket (and probably why you're getting crema of sorts from your old beans). If it's the latter, then you don't have a pressurised basket.

    Cheers

    Sniff

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    Okay, well it was unclear, because on a video, I saw a pressurized PF itself was different. It had a gasket and a valve, which neither of my PF's have. So I think we can confirm the PF on the Elektra is non-pressurized, and the basket as well, must be a single-walled non-pressurized type. Because the holes that cover the bottom go clear through, to where light shines through them. You can see this on the photo below, of the reverse side of the basket:


    IMG_5041.JPG


    Yet despite that it fits the description of a non-pressurized basket/PF, I'm still getting a normal production of crema from commercial pre-packaged beans, which was unacheivable on the Avanti. I also observed today that despite both machines having non-pressurized PF/baskets, on the Avanti PF, water collects on top of the grounds after a shot. Whereas the Elektra PF is dry, and cake-like after brewing (it can be cut into 8th's, not long after the brew). So while both PF's are of the same type, for one reason or another, the Elektra appears to be a better design.





    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    Hi again Gavalia

    A pressurised PF basket is the thing. The portafilter itself (the thing with black handle and single hole, ie that heavy part), can have a hole, two holes, or even a hole with a single or twin spout underneath it, but it's literally the thing that secures the basket to the group head. In your case a single hole with a screw on twin spout.

    The basket itself (ie the small round thing with lots of holes in the bottom in the left of your photo that sits inside the handle) is the thing that might be pressurised. At the bottom of the basket itself on the inside itself is lots of holes. Flip the basket over (not the handle) and have a look at the bottom of it - is there a single tiny hole, not much bigger than a pinhole? Or, if you hold the basket up to the light, can you see through all of the holes in the bottom of the basket.

    If the former, it's a pressurised basket (and probably why you're getting crema of sorts from your old beans). If it's the latter, then you don't have a pressurised basket.

    Cheers

    Sniff

  26. #26
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    That's really interesting, Gavalia. The smaller number of holes in the elektra basket would mean that the pressure has to increase, so that may explain why you're getting better crema.

    As an experiment (and if it fits) why not try using the Avanti double basket on the Elektra?

    The Elektra looks like a single boiler for sure, so remember you will need to prime the boiler after steaming milk (if you have been steaming milk).

    Most important of all - how is the coffee tasting?

    Cheers

    Sniff

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    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    As an experiment (and if it fits) why not try using the Avanti double basket on the Elektra?
    Good idea to see what influence the machine itself has on the production of crema, etc., but it wouldn't work. The Elektra PF is larger, with smaller 'wings', so the Avanti doesn't even come close to fitting.

    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    The Elektra looks like a single boiler for sure, so remember you will need to prime the boiler after steaming milk (if you have been steaming milk).
    I'll keep that in mind (I normally do this anyway), but I haven't been steaming milk. Something is blocking the steaming function from working. I have to start taking the machine apart to troubleshoot this, and I haven't gotten to that yet. I will note a correction; in that I was wrong about the status light on the brew button being the reverse of the power button. It appears that all buttons are turned ON when the status 'light' is RED, and OFF when it is GREEN.

    Most important of all - how is the coffee tasting?

    See my notes above, where I talk about the differences. I haven't used the Elektra much yet, but I noticed right away the brew was more mellow and flavorful, than on the Avanti. It was more like what I'would expect from a proper coffee house. (ie. not Starbucks or McD's!) So you can be sure that I now believe that all espresso machines will produce differences in the flavor of the brew, (apart from the normal variations one can expect), resulting directly from the differences in their design and material.


    Cheers.

  28. #28
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    There was a youtube video I found where someone demonstrated the steaming function - google should find it for you. May assist with button functions too.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by SniffCoffee View Post
    There was a youtube video I found where someone demonstrated the steaming function - google should find it for you. May assist with button functions too.

    Cheers

    Yeah, I know about that video. I saw it before I bought the machine, and that's what inspired me to me buy it! The problem though isn't not knowing how it operates. It's a bit more serious than that. Although both brewing and steaming appeared to work at the seller's place a few days ago, the steaming only worked once for me, not very well, then it stopped producing steam altogether. Then, trying to unblock the steam wand by turning on the brewing while turning on the steam knob, the machine wouldn't pour water out any longer either! So currently, it neither brews nor steams, no matter how the buttons/knobs are pressed. Right now, I have the machine partially disassembled. I hope to disassemble it completely, to see if there's anything obviously wrong. As of this moment, I'm stuck at figuring out how the metal plate that the water basket sits on comes off. Can't find any more screws to release it, and it doesn't pull out freely. This might be key to fixing it, as what sits under here is the pump and the rubber hose that goes into the water tank. Accessing this area will also tell me if there's a 2nd hose for the steam wand, as there is on my Avanti, which might have come loose... or (more likely), this machine does not use 2 separate hoses in the water tank.





    The boiler area in my machine reveals that the entire machine is spotless! It looks like it was hardly ever used since it's production year of '96. This suggests to me the problem is not likely to be serious. My Avanti was also finicky, and would just stop pouring water from the brewhead. Then, as if by magic, I try the Avanti again after everything has cooled down, it works! So perhaps I'll get lucky here as well, and it's not a serious problem.



  30. #30
    Senior Member SniffCoffee's Avatar
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    Do you know whether the previous owner was feeding it filtered / softened water? Although pretty on the outside, the boiler might be full of scale and need descaling?

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    UPDATE: I got the brewing function to work again. It wasn't a scale problem. I filled the tank with Dezcal, turned the brew switch on (steam switch remaining off). But the problem is, although the pump was vibrating and everything, no water was going through the rubber water tube. With the steam switch remaining off, I turned the steam knob open, and that eventually got the brew water to flow. However, no steam came out of the wand... (just a few drops of water).

    I'll have to research how to open the wand up and clean it, but right now, I'm not convinced the (impeccably clean) steam wand is even blocked with milk residue. With the steam switch on, the ready light indicating readiness and the steam knob turned on, nothing at all comes out of the wand (although the wand does get hot). Instead, when the steam switch is switched on, steam is coming out of the group head. But if I can't fix it, I figure I'll just hang on to the Avanti, and use that for frothing...
    Last edited by Gavalia; 19th October 2016 at 07:29 AM.

  32. #32
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    Behmor Coffee Roaster

    UPDATE 2
    : The saga of the Elektra Cappuccina R2 is over. While I never did figure out how to completely disassemble the machine (to get at the pump), I did manage to fix the steam wand, after resolving the problem with the brewing earlier today. The clue was the steam coming out of the group head, but not the wand. This suggests, as one possibility, water/steam backing up due to a blockage. I thought I would have to disassemble and troubleshoot the steam valve. But all I had to do was remove the tip of the wand, clean the tip out, and that did the trick. Now, the steam function works as well as the brew function. In fact, it works better than the steam wand on the Avanti. It feels like there's more power there, and a larger degree of variation of that power with the steam knob. As a rule, I try to avoid using the steam switch on these machines, and most of the time, I don't need to use it on the Elektra.

    I lucked out, because personally speaking, I honestly can't imagine an espresso machine I would prefer, than this model. It's a very minimalist design (single boiler, no solenoids, no overpressure valve, no guages, no automation whatsoever, no pressurized PF), which means little to break down (my greatest concern with espresso machines, since many things can go wrong with them, and they can very difficult to impossible to fix or get parts for). And what little is there in the little Elektra Cappuccina is built to a very nice degree of quality, in my (admittedly limited) experience. Bravissimo!
    Dimal likes this.



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