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Date: 31 Jan 2007 20:52:48
From: rob
Subject: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
Hi all,

I received my Silvia and Rocky (doserless) today -- it was my first
time making espresso or even drinking it. It went... alright. I have
a couple of questions that I hope someone can answer!

- I followed k Prince's guide (http://groups.google.com/group/
alt.coffee/msg/f6abad357b9c0312) on 'tuning' the Rocky - and based on
what I've read on other forums, the 'zero' point is usually never what
is actually on the machine but something like +3, +4, etc. Yet after
following his guide, I could only hear a "whisper" of the grinding
wheels when it was at exactly 0. Did I happen to get one that was
calibrated correctly, or am I not hearing the right thing?

- Seeing that the "0" point seemed correct, I decided to grind at a
+9. I then measured out 14 grams into the portafilter and put it on a
scale and tamped with ~30lbs (I also used a reg barber SS tamper - not
the plastic one). I hit the brew button (after letting it warm up,
waiting for the light to go off, running a blank shot under it until
the light went off, and repeated it 3 times and made sure the
portafilter etc was hot) and used a timer set at 25 and as soon as I
hit the brew button, I hit the timer. I noticed that I had to stop
the brew before 25 seconds was up - more like 6-10 seconds left. If I
didn't, the 3 oz Bodum Pavina espresso class (I used two of these)
would of overflowed - it was right at the top. So I take it this was
too fast? There was crema on top, not a thick layer, kind of thin,
and within 30 seconds - 1 minute it started to "fade" away. Anyone
have any tips on improving? It looks like it came out too fast, no?
Would a +7 be too fine to grind at? Could it be my tamping?

- What is the 'proper' way to clean up after the shot is done
(assuming no steaming/frothing of milk was done) if I want to turn the
machine off? Right after I was done, I removed the portafilter, got
rid of the puck, put it back on, and then ran an empty shot through it
into a glass. I then removed the portafilter and hit the brew button
again to let anything else out that might of been on the shower
screen. Is this good enough? Do I also have to 'clean' anything
around the shower screen daily as well, like the black gasket? I take
it I can just use the supplied group brush from WLL to do that? Is
there anything else I'm missing in 'cleaning up' besides this?

- My Silvia does NOT have the 'drip tray base' like the one here and
other pictures I've seen of it: http://www.sweetias.com/Rancilio/RancilioSylvia1.jpg
- mine has the holes on the right half of it, and the left half seems
to have horizontal "slots" for the water to go into. What's up with
that? Is this a new thing and all the pictures are of an "older" one,
or do I... have the wrong one?!

Thanks for any help!
Rob





 
Date: 02 Feb 2007 14:56:35
From: rob
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
On Feb 2, 1:04 am, Randy G. <f...@DESPAMMOcncnet.com > wrote:

> In my experience....:
>
> ... fresh beans are critical- and I really mean fresh- more than about
> ten days out of the roaster is too old and can be easily tasted in the
> cup. Many variables there, but I haven't used coffee more than about
> two weeks old for espresso in about five years.. maybe more...
>
> And coffee sealed in a vac bag is fine, but if it were sealed when
> fresh it would have puffed out from the outgassing. And even so, once
> exposed to the air they have about 12-24 hours of life left in them.
>
> Randy "old beans bad" G.http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com

On Feb 2, 9:30 am, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com > wrote:

> If the fresh DSB you have coming from Barry doesn't give you huge
> crema, something's very wrong. The Lavazza was almost surely stale.
> Use it to practice, use to pull a shot or two after cleaning your
> machine, but don't expect very good espresso from it.
>
> Karl

Hi Randy and Karl,

I received the beans (DSB) today from Barry and decided to try it. At
first I used a grind setting of 7 and it came out way too fast - the 1
oz. cups I bought would of overflowed with 12 seconds remaining (out
of 25 secs.)

Same results with 6 pretty much. So I grinded finer at 4 and gave it
a try. It started to drip a little before going into a somewhat
steady flow, and it looked like the whole glass was full of crema?
Right at 25 seconds the glass was filled right up to the top.. a
second longer and it would of overflowed. Once I let it rest for a
second it looked like the actual espresso was right at the 1oz k.
I took some pictures of the side and top.. can you tell anything from
them?

http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/4223/35095947tn9.jpg
http://img512.imageshack.us/img512/1787/66854131dw3.jpg

Rob





 
Date: 02 Feb 2007 06:30:10
From: Karl
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
> Can the random "sputter" also be because of stale beans? I'm not sure
> if they're stale or not - but they came with my order from WLL
> ('Lavazza Super Crema Espresso') in a vacuum sealed bag. I ordered
> some fresh beans from barry / riley's coffee (decatur street blend)
> which should arrive tomorrow.
>
> rob

If the fresh DSB you have coming from Barry doesn't give you huge
crema, something's very wrong. The Lavazza was almost surely stale.
Use it to practice, use to pull a shot or two after cleaning your
machine, but don't expect very good espresso from it.

Karl



 
Date: 01 Feb 2007 20:12:13
From: rob
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
On Feb 1, 12:09 pm, Randy G. <f...@DESPAMMOcncnet.com > wrote:

> >When I
> >brewed with a 6 setting, the espresso came out "smooth" like honey for
> >the most part, but during the process it would "sputter" a couple of
> >times - not major, but it did.
>
> That can be flash boiling of water causing a bit of steam or even
> gases being released from really fresh coffee. Try one more click
> finer- 5 with a light tamp. Experiment- it's the only way that you
> will experience different taste and what works for you. Purposely
> making bad espresso (like grinding too fine or too coarse, and tasting
> the espresso will serve you well in the future. You will learn to
> taste the mistakes.
>

Randy,

Can the random "sputter" also be because of stale beans? I'm not sure
if they're stale or not - but they came with my order from WLL
('Lavazza Super Crema Espresso') in a vacuum sealed bag. I ordered
some fresh beans from barry / riley's coffee (decatur street blend)
which should arrive tomorrow.

rob



  
Date: 01 Feb 2007 22:04:52
From: Randy G.
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
"rob" <rob@rawb.net > wrote:

>
>Can the random "sputter" also be because of stale beans? I'm not sure
>if they're stale or not - but they came with my order from WLL
>('Lavazza Super Crema Espresso') in a vacuum sealed bag. I ordered
>some fresh beans from barry / riley's coffee (decatur street blend)
>which should arrive tomorrow.
>

Do you find the beginning of the flow starts quite dark? That can be a
sign of stale beans that are creating more dust than normal that gets
into the first part of the flow and will/can/may show up in the cup as
a bitter taste off the top of the crema...

In my experience....:

... fresh beans are critical- and I really mean fresh- more than about
ten days out of the roaster is too old and can be easily tasted in the
cup. Many variables there, but I haven't used coffee more than about
two weeks old for espresso in about five years.. maybe more...

And coffee sealed in a vac bag is fine, but if it were sealed when
fresh it would have puffed out from the outgassing. And even so, once
exposed to the air they have about 12-24 hours of life left in them.


Randy "old beans bad" G.
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com




 
Date: 01 Feb 2007 07:45:11
From: rob
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
On Feb 1, 1:24 am, Randy G. <f...@DESPAMMOcncnet.com > wrote:
> "rob" <r...@rawb.net> wrote:
>
> >- I followed k Prince's guide (http://groups.google.com/group/
> >alt.coffee/msg/f6abad357b9c0312) on 'tuning' the Rocky - and based on
> >what I've read on other forums, the 'zero' point is usually never what
> >is actually on the machine but something like +3, +4, etc.
>
> The zero point means nothing, really, except a establishing a place
> from which to count about 10 steps coarser the first time you use the
> machine or after replacing the burr set. I think too much emphasis is
> placed on the "zero point.".. IMO.
>
>
>
> >- Seeing that the "0" point seemed correct, I decided to grind at a
> >+9. I then measured out 14 grams into the portafilter and put it on a
> >scale and tamped with ~30lbs (I also used a reg barber SS tamper - not
> >the plastic one).
>
> I might be in a minority there, but I don't think it is that important
> to weigh the coffee either. And unless you have a scale that has
> resolution to, and is accurate to .1 grams, it is pretty much
> worthless to weigh the coffee anyway... IMO.
>
> > I hit the brew button (after letting it warm up,
> >waiting for the light to go off, running a blank shot under it until
> >the light went off, and repeated it 3 times and made sure the
> >portafilter etc was hot) and used a timer set at 25 and as soon as I
> >hit the brew button, I hit the timer. I noticed that I had to stop
> >the brew before 25 seconds was up - more like 6-10 seconds left.
>
> Grind one click finer and try again.
>
> >If I
> >didn't, the 3 oz Bodum Pavina espresso class (I used two of these)...
>
> You used two, 3 ounce cups at the same time?
>
> >would of overflowed - it was right at the top. So I take it this was
> >too fast? There was crema on top, not a thick layer, kind of thin,
> >and within 30 seconds - 1 minute it started to "fade" away. Anyone
> >have any tips on improving? It looks like it came out too fast, no?
> >Would a +7 be too fine to grind at? Could it be my tamping?
>
> The grind numbers mean NOTHING other than being relative to what you
> are doing. They make it easier to switch from espresso to drip and
> back to espresso again, but other than that, they are meaningless
> other than being relative to what you are doing. Grind one click finer
> and try again, and click one more finer and try again... and again.
>
> >- What is the 'proper' way to clean up after the shot is done
> >(assuming no steaming/frothing of milk was done) if I want to turn the
> >machine off? Right after I was done, I removed the portafilter, got
> >rid of the puck, put it back on, and then ran an empty shot through it
> >into a glass.
>
> Run water with the portafilter OFF the machine after every shot. Then
> rinse the PF out in the sink under hot water. Use a brewhead brush-
> pull a bit of hot water onto it, brush the screen and grouphead
> gasket, and pull some more water through.
>
> >....- mine has the holes on the right half of it, and the left half seems
> >to have horizontal "slots" for the water to go into. What's up with
> >that? Is this a new thing and all the pictures are of an "older" one,
> >or do I... have the wrong one?!
>
> New design...
>
> Be patient. it will take time, but it will come...
>
> FWIW, here is my dosing/tamping procedure that can assist in
> consistent results:
> -------------------begin------------------
> Dosing and Tamping:
>
> I have been using this modified Dose and Tamp procedure which is a
> combination of a number of things I have read and other procedures I
> have developed over time. I have found that it gives very consistent
> results this way. Use this as a STARTING PLACE and adjust the
> procedure over time to match your style. Consistency is the key, and
> for new users the following method makes it easy to be sure that your
> dose and tamping is the same every time. An additional benefit is to
> those who have adopted PID control since this method makes it easier
> to sense the differences in taste created by small changes in brew
> temperature.
>
> 1- Using the doser on my Rocky I find that it is best to start dosing
> as soon as the grinding begins. Place the portafilter under the doser
> and turn on the grinder. As the grinder runs, repeatedly click the
> doser lever while moving the portafilter so that the coffee is dosed
> as evenly as possible. Continue this until the portafilter is just a
> little overfilled. The goal here is the fill the portafilter as evenly
> an level as possible, avoiding the "middle mountain" and the voids
> around the edges that invariably are created if dosing from a full
> doser.
>
> This method accomplishes two things. It eliminates voids and it
> eliminates clumping- both of which cause fracturing of the puck during
> the pull.
>
> As you fill the basket, every one or two clicks of the dosing lever
> (if you have a doser model) shake the PF _GENTLY_ back and forth, for
> and aft, with a slight circular motion to get the grounds to be level
> in the basket. The goal is to get the coffee to be as evenly
> distributed as possible while doing as little compacting as possible.
> Continue until you overfill the basket. Do so as evenly as possible-
> try to avoid creating a mountain in the middle with voids around the
> outside. Slowly operating the dosing lever while moving the PF around
> a little helps.
>
> 2- Use the straight handle of a plastic coffee measure or similar tool
> to distribute the coffee across the top of the basket. Your goal is to
> fill any remaining voids without compacting the coffee at all. In
> other words, work across the coffee without pushing it downwards. The
> portafilter should still be slightly overfilled when finished with
> this step.
>
> 3- Use the straight handle of a plastic coffee measure or similar tool
> and GENTLY tap one or two times on the side of the PF. This is only
> to fill any voids in the coffee that were not dealt with in the step
> above. The goal here is to distribute coffee evenly. You are NOT
> trying to compact the coffee at all, so tap laterally, not vertically.
> [NOTE- The above step works really well with the La zocco double
> basket and other larger-than-stock baskets which hold more coffee than
> the original Rancilio single or double filter baskets. It can create a
> situation with the original Rancilio basket in which there is too much
> coffee making it difficult to lock the portafilter or it can press the
> coffee up against the shower screen leaving a mess in there and not
> allowing the coffee to expand during the pull. If you use the stock
> basket and you find that happening, try skipping step 3 and proceed to
> step 4.]
>
> 4- Use that plastic tool (or similar) to level the coffee across the
> top of the basket. Be sure to work the coffee back and forth to
> further fill any voids around the edges if any remain (if the previous
> steps are carefully followed there should be no voids). Try to only
> level ACROSS the top of the portafilter basket without pushing the
> coffee downward so as NOT to compact the coffee.
>
> 5- Now that the coffee is leveled and the portafilter is filled with
> coffee, tap the spout downward two or three times on the counter top
> to settle the grounds. They will drop about 2mm in height or so. This
> further distributes the coffee evenly before the tamping.
>
> 6- A book can be written about tamping- everything from no tamp to the
> "handstand tamp" seems to work for someone, but here is what I have
> been doing:
>
> A- I begin with a "clock tamp." Tamp lightly at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and
> 9:00. Tamp at one position, lift the tamper enough to clear the
> coffee, then tamp at the next position. This further helps evenly
> distribute the coffee. This is done lightly- I would estimate it to be
> no more than about 5 pounds of force. Think of it more as a
> distribution than a compression action.
>
> B- Now I use the joystick tamp- when I finish the 9:00 tamp I do a
> circle tamp as if turning a joystick one full circle around its axis.
> This compacts the outer perimeter leaving just a very slight mound in
> the center. This evens out the coffee in case the previous step caused
> any high and low areas.
>
> C- Now a normal tamp with the tamper held level at about 15-20 pounds
> of force. If you do not have a good feel for this low level of force,
> use a scale to learn what it feels like. For most new users it takes a
> lot less effort than you might think.
>
> D- Using the top of the tamper's handle, lightly tap the outer side of
> the portafilter body to knock loose any coffee missed by the tamper.
>
> E- Final tamp using about 25 to 30 pounds of force.
>
> F- Turn the portafilter upside down over the doser to eliminate any
> loose coffee. This also tests your tamping efforts to be sure that the
> coffee is full and evenly compacted and stuck in the basket. Every
> once in a while (about 1 in 75 or so) I have one fall back into the
> doser!
>
> If you have not used a scale to measure your tamp before I highly
> recommend doing so to get a feel for this tamping force. It is a lot
> less force than most people think. I have found that the 'lighter'
> tamp gives a better extraction because of the finer grind that it
> necessitates (as opposed to a 35 or 40 pound tamp).
>
> Although the procedure sounds time consuming, after some practice it
> becomes fast and easy, and helps to give more consistent results by
> eliminating (or lessening) one variable. This is particularly true for
> the home barrista who probably makes fewer espressi in a month or two
> than a professional barrista makes in a day.
> --------------end--------------------------
> Additionally, see my instructions on backflushing on my website...
>
> Randy "another grasshopper" G.http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com

Hi Randy,

Thanks for your tips!

The Bodum glasses are actually 2oz - some sites say 3oz, but I checked
Bodum's site and they don't even have a 3oz.

I decided to grind finer this morning - I tried it on 6 and 7. I also
followed your dosing/tamping technique and it helped a lot! When I
brewed with a 6 setting, the espresso came out "smooth" like honey for
the most part, but during the process it would "sputter" a couple of
times - not major, but it did. It filled each cup about half way
(which would mean 1 oz each, 2oz in total - which is good, right?).
Do you happen to know how to cure this "sputter" that happened? The
crema that was produced was probably 2 or 3mm thick as well.

I also noticed on *one* of the shots I pulled, slightly more came out
of the right side than the left.. I assume this was because of uneven
tamping. It only happened once though..

Thanks for the help so far - I can see an improvement already...

Rob



  
Date: 01 Feb 2007 09:09:56
From: Randy G.
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
"rob" <rob@rawb.net > wrote:

>Hi Randy,
>
>Thanks for your tips!
>

:-D


>The Bodum glasses are actually 2oz - some sites say 3oz, but I checked
>Bodum's site and they don't even have a 3oz.
>
If you are using two, two ounce glasses, and they overflow in ten
seconds, that is WAY too fast.

>I decided to grind finer this morning - I tried it on 6 and 7.
>
I have often advocated to new barristas to start really fine- so fine
that the machine is choked, and then work towards a coarser grind
until the espresso flows correctly. I don't know why, but new users
almost universally grind too coarse, at least according to reports
here. I suppose it might be that they are afraid of hurting the burrs,
or some such thing.... ayedunno...

> I also
>followed your dosing/tamping technique and it helped a lot!
>
Remember that, as I stated in those directions, they are just one
method that can help establish a technique that can be repeated fairly
consistently without difficulty. As you go along you will find little
modifications that will work better for you.

>When I
>brewed with a 6 setting, the espresso came out "smooth" like honey for
>the most part, but during the process it would "sputter" a couple of
>times - not major, but it did.
>
That can be flash boiling of water causing a bit of steam or even
gases being released from really fresh coffee. Try one more click
finer- 5 with a light tamp. Experiment- it's the only way that you
will experience different taste and what works for you. Purposely
making bad espresso (like grinding too fine or too coarse, and tasting
the espresso will serve you well in the future. You will learn to
taste the mistakes.

> It filled each cup about half way
>(which would mean 1 oz each, 2oz in total - which is good, right?).
>
Yes-

The "rule" is:
ABOUT two ounces
in ABOUT 25 seconds
As with most things espresso, this rule is just a starting guideline.
Very good shots can happen in up to as much as 35 seconds, and they
can be +/- .5 ounces from the 2 ounce "rule."


>Do you happen to know how to cure this "sputter" that happened? The
>crema that was produced was probably 2 or 3mm thick as well.
>
There should be more crema than that, particularly if it is right
after the pull stops. But it depends on a lot of factors. Grinding
finer might help. It also might be a factor of poor distribution which
takes practice to get good... at.

>I also noticed on *one* of the shots I pulled, slightly more came out
>of the right side than the left.. I assume this was because of uneven
>tamping. It only happened once though..
>
Probably just a matter of how level the machine is, or even the
surface tension of the beverage and how it affects the flow out of the
PF. If you are drinking the doubles, you can simply unscrew the spout
from the bottom of the portafilter and pull the shots straight out of
the bottom of the PF's body.

>Thanks for the help so far - I can see an improvement already...
>
That's what we are here for!


Randy
"I love the smell of coffee in the morning...
it's a lot better than napalm."
G.
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com




 
Date: 31 Jan 2007 22:24:11
From: Randy G.
Subject: Re: First night with my Silvia / Rocky - bunch of beginner questions!
"rob" <rob@rawb.net > wrote:

>
>- I followed k Prince's guide (http://groups.google.com/group/
>alt.coffee/msg/f6abad357b9c0312) on 'tuning' the Rocky - and based on
>what I've read on other forums, the 'zero' point is usually never what
>is actually on the machine but something like +3, +4, etc.
>

The zero point means nothing, really, except a establishing a place
from which to count about 10 steps coarser the first time you use the
machine or after replacing the burr set. I think too much emphasis is
placed on the "zero point.".. IMO.

>
>- Seeing that the "0" point seemed correct, I decided to grind at a
>+9. I then measured out 14 grams into the portafilter and put it on a
>scale and tamped with ~30lbs (I also used a reg barber SS tamper - not
>the plastic one).
>
I might be in a minority there, but I don't think it is that important
to weigh the coffee either. And unless you have a scale that has
resolution to, and is accurate to .1 grams, it is pretty much
worthless to weigh the coffee anyway... IMO.

> I hit the brew button (after letting it warm up,
>waiting for the light to go off, running a blank shot under it until
>the light went off, and repeated it 3 times and made sure the
>portafilter etc was hot) and used a timer set at 25 and as soon as I
>hit the brew button, I hit the timer. I noticed that I had to stop
>the brew before 25 seconds was up - more like 6-10 seconds left.
>
Grind one click finer and try again.

>If I
>didn't, the 3 oz Bodum Pavina espresso class (I used two of these)...
>
You used two, 3 ounce cups at the same time?

>would of overflowed - it was right at the top. So I take it this was
>too fast? There was crema on top, not a thick layer, kind of thin,
>and within 30 seconds - 1 minute it started to "fade" away. Anyone
>have any tips on improving? It looks like it came out too fast, no?
>Would a +7 be too fine to grind at? Could it be my tamping?
>
The grind numbers mean NOTHING other than being relative to what you
are doing. They make it easier to switch from espresso to drip and
back to espresso again, but other than that, they are meaningless
other than being relative to what you are doing. Grind one click finer
and try again, and click one more finer and try again... and again.

>- What is the 'proper' way to clean up after the shot is done
>(assuming no steaming/frothing of milk was done) if I want to turn the
>machine off? Right after I was done, I removed the portafilter, got
>rid of the puck, put it back on, and then ran an empty shot through it
>into a glass.
>
Run water with the portafilter OFF the machine after every shot. Then
rinse the PF out in the sink under hot water. Use a brewhead brush-
pull a bit of hot water onto it, brush the screen and grouphead
gasket, and pull some more water through.


>....- mine has the holes on the right half of it, and the left half seems
>to have horizontal "slots" for the water to go into. What's up with
>that? Is this a new thing and all the pictures are of an "older" one,
>or do I... have the wrong one?!
>
New design...

Be patient. it will take time, but it will come...

FWIW, here is my dosing/tamping procedure that can assist in
consistent results:
-------------------begin------------------
Dosing and Tamping:

I have been using this modified Dose and Tamp procedure which is a
combination of a number of things I have read and other procedures I
have developed over time. I have found that it gives very consistent
results this way. Use this as a STARTING PLACE and adjust the
procedure over time to match your style. Consistency is the key, and
for new users the following method makes it easy to be sure that your
dose and tamping is the same every time. An additional benefit is to
those who have adopted PID control since this method makes it easier
to sense the differences in taste created by small changes in brew
temperature.

1- Using the doser on my Rocky I find that it is best to start dosing
as soon as the grinding begins. Place the portafilter under the doser
and turn on the grinder. As the grinder runs, repeatedly click the
doser lever while moving the portafilter so that the coffee is dosed
as evenly as possible. Continue this until the portafilter is just a
little overfilled. The goal here is the fill the portafilter as evenly
an level as possible, avoiding the "middle mountain" and the voids
around the edges that invariably are created if dosing from a full
doser.

This method accomplishes two things. It eliminates voids and it
eliminates clumping- both of which cause fracturing of the puck during
the pull.

As you fill the basket, every one or two clicks of the dosing lever
(if you have a doser model) shake the PF _GENTLY_ back and forth, for
and aft, with a slight circular motion to get the grounds to be level
in the basket. The goal is to get the coffee to be as evenly
distributed as possible while doing as little compacting as possible.
Continue until you overfill the basket. Do so as evenly as possible-
try to avoid creating a mountain in the middle with voids around the
outside. Slowly operating the dosing lever while moving the PF around
a little helps.

2- Use the straight handle of a plastic coffee measure or similar tool
to distribute the coffee across the top of the basket. Your goal is to
fill any remaining voids without compacting the coffee at all. In
other words, work across the coffee without pushing it downwards. The
portafilter should still be slightly overfilled when finished with
this step.

3- Use the straight handle of a plastic coffee measure or similar tool
and GENTLY tap one or two times on the side of the PF. This is only
to fill any voids in the coffee that were not dealt with in the step
above. The goal here is to distribute coffee evenly. You are NOT
trying to compact the coffee at all, so tap laterally, not vertically.
[NOTE- The above step works really well with the La zocco double
basket and other larger-than-stock baskets which hold more coffee than
the original Rancilio single or double filter baskets. It can create a
situation with the original Rancilio basket in which there is too much
coffee making it difficult to lock the portafilter or it can press the
coffee up against the shower screen leaving a mess in there and not
allowing the coffee to expand during the pull. If you use the stock
basket and you find that happening, try skipping step 3 and proceed to
step 4.]

4- Use that plastic tool (or similar) to level the coffee across the
top of the basket. Be sure to work the coffee back and forth to
further fill any voids around the edges if any remain (if the previous
steps are carefully followed there should be no voids). Try to only
level ACROSS the top of the portafilter basket without pushing the
coffee downward so as NOT to compact the coffee.

5- Now that the coffee is leveled and the portafilter is filled with
coffee, tap the spout downward two or three times on the counter top
to settle the grounds. They will drop about 2mm in height or so. This
further distributes the coffee evenly before the tamping.

6- A book can be written about tamping- everything from no tamp to the
"handstand tamp" seems to work for someone, but here is what I have
been doing:

A- I begin with a "clock tamp." Tamp lightly at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and
9:00. Tamp at one position, lift the tamper enough to clear the
coffee, then tamp at the next position. This further helps evenly
distribute the coffee. This is done lightly- I would estimate it to be
no more than about 5 pounds of force. Think of it more as a
distribution than a compression action.

B- Now I use the joystick tamp- when I finish the 9:00 tamp I do a
circle tamp as if turning a joystick one full circle around its axis.
This compacts the outer perimeter leaving just a very slight mound in
the center. This evens out the coffee in case the previous step caused
any high and low areas.

C- Now a normal tamp with the tamper held level at about 15-20 pounds
of force. If you do not have a good feel for this low level of force,
use a scale to learn what it feels like. For most new users it takes a
lot less effort than you might think.

D- Using the top of the tamper's handle, lightly tap the outer side of
the portafilter body to knock loose any coffee missed by the tamper.

E- Final tamp using about 25 to 30 pounds of force.

F- Turn the portafilter upside down over the doser to eliminate any
loose coffee. This also tests your tamping efforts to be sure that the
coffee is full and evenly compacted and stuck in the basket. Every
once in a while (about 1 in 75 or so) I have one fall back into the
doser!

If you have not used a scale to measure your tamp before I highly
recommend doing so to get a feel for this tamping force. It is a lot
less force than most people think. I have found that the 'lighter'
tamp gives a better extraction because of the finer grind that it
necessitates (as opposed to a 35 or 40 pound tamp).

Although the procedure sounds time consuming, after some practice it
becomes fast and easy, and helps to give more consistent results by
eliminating (or lessening) one variable. This is particularly true for
the home barrista who probably makes fewer espressi in a month or two
than a professional barrista makes in a day.
--------------end--------------------------
Additionally, see my instructions on backflushing on my website...


Randy "another grasshopper" G.
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com