coffee-forum.net
Promoting coffee discussion.

Main
Date: 29 Dec 2006 12:10:18
From: T-Bag
Subject: Starting over with Silvia
Wow...

I've had Silvia and Rocky over 1 year now.. maybe a year and a half...
I've pulled a fair number of shots from here and to this point thought
I was doing a pretty decent job... most shots end up as Americanos or
Cappas...

I usually try the shots before they become another drink, and sometimes
even finsh off a plain old espresso.. but most times they always seemed
too strong or a tad bitter. This made for pretty darn good tasting
strong americanos... which was nice.

There is really nowhere here in Eau Claire, WI that I can go to get an
espresso that's not pulled from a "press here" button superauto
machine, so with my limited espresso experience, I thought maybe what I
had been making is what it is "supposed" to taste like..

I think I was wrong... With my new found interest in actively persuing
a better tasting espresso, I was browsing the newsgroups,
home-barista.com, etc.. and found some posts about Rocky's wiggly upper
burr carrier, and though't I'd try some teflon tape on the carrier
yesterday with my grinder cleaning.. Rocky's always been a bitt wiggly
at the hopper, and my zero point has always been about +3... however I
can usually make the burrs jinjle just by touching the hopper a bit...

Well.. I teflon taped Rocky and wow.. my zero point went from +3 to -3
and is now solid as a rock... which meant startign all over with my
list of grind settings for all my beans.

I have to say... Rocky performs better now than I ever thought it
could.. the grind looks much more even, and it is MUCH easier to tell
the difference in shots from 1 grind setting to the next... Previously,
a click or two wouldn't make much difference in the taste, just in
volume. Now however, there is a chnage in volume and taste from one
click to the next... Incredible....

When dialing in new settings for my Metropolis Redline... I noticed
just how wrong I was about espresso... so much so that I'm questioning
if there's something wrong with the great tasting stuff...
I have been so used to the very strong taste of the doubles I had been
making, that the actually sweet, balanced shots I had last night were
almost tasteless in comparison.... does that make sense? If you were
used to very strong, mildly bitter shots, then had a nicely balanced
one, would it seem like a shock to you?

I think I am at a new beginning here with Silvia... my pid should be
here in a week or two and should add a whole new demention to my
tinkering... I am thinking the balanced shots I had yesterday were very
good.. but lacking in flavor.. they blonded a bit earlier than I would
like.. but I think I may be able to attribute that to temperature...
I'll have to wait an additional 20 seconds or so on teh temp surf and
see if that improves things a bit...

I do have to say though, I think that the teflon tape has really made a
difference... My guess is that the inconsistent grind I was getting
with the loose burr carrier allowed a greater variance in my shots, and
proably more fines than I wanted resulting in a much stronger and more
bitter extraction... any thoughts on that?

Sorry for the long ramblings... Seems like a million different things
are going on in my head right now... I can't wait for the PID to
eliminate teh temp variable... I also have a bottomless portafilter on
order, and we'll see if I can't get my dosing and tamping more
consistant as well...

Thanks all.

Tony B.





 
Date: 30 Dec 2006 10:16:23
From: T-Bag
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia

Ken Wilson wrote:

> I find that grinder settings are more dependant on age of beans, degree of
> roast and humidity than variety.

So far that has not been my experience... the decaf varieties always
seem to need a bit finer grind... My home roasted LaMiscala blend from
CMEBrew seems to need a bit coarser grind by a notch or two than the
Redline I'm working on now... My lighter roasted Sumatra needs even a
bit finer.

But then again, as I said, my Rocky has been a bit inconsistant until
now... We'll see if things change..

Tony B.



 
Date: 30 Dec 2006 10:16:02
From: T-Bag
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia

Ken Wilson wrote:

> I find that grinder settings are more dependant on age of beans, degree of
> roast and humidity than variety.

So far that has not been my experience... the decaf varieties always
seem to need a bit finer grind... My home roasted LaMiscala blend from
CMEBrew seems to need a bit coarser grind by a notch or two than the
Redline I'm working on now... My lighter roasted Sumatra needs even a
bit finer.

But then again, as I said, my Rocky has been a bit inconsistant until
now... We'll see if things change..

Tony B.



 
Date: 30 Dec 2006 09:48:16
From: Ken Wilson
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia
"T-Bag"

> Well.. I teflon taped Rocky and wow.. my zero point went from +3 to -3
> and is now solid as a rock... which meant startign all over with my
> list of grind settings for all my beans.


What?

I find that grinder settings are more dependant on age of beans, degree of
roast and humidity than variety.





 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 14:56:51
From: T-Bag
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia

ramboorider@gmail.com wrote:

> 1. either bitter or sour in just about every shot - plenty of crema but
> lousy taste. Actively nasty.
> 2. less bitter or sour, but still shades of bad taste in almost every
> shot.
> 3. gradual elimination of the bad tastes, replaced with nothing in
> particular. The shots tasted like very strong coffee, but not
> particularly good or bad. Not sour or bitter, but no chocolate, no
> fruity overtones, nothing sweet, etc. But the lack of bad tastes was a
> great relief and I was pretty happy with the progress at this point.
> 4. The beginnings of GOOD tastes in the shots. I started finding deep,
> rich chocolate like tastes in my shots first, but not much else. I was
> friggin' THRILLED with this.
> 5. A trip to John Hornall's shop to see what I was really aiming for.
> HOLY SWEET DIETY OF YOUR CHOICE - deep, rich chocolate with all sorts
> of fruity overtones and great mouthfeel. So this is what it's supposed
> to taste like.
> 6. Beginning to replicate similar taste sensations in my own shots -
> not every time by a long shot, but often enough to know that great
> shots were possible with my Silvia/Rocky setup.
> 7. A bad stretch of a week or more where I couldn't find a great shot
> again for anything, reverting back to maybe step #4.
> 8. Moving back up to some really good shots with lots of interesting
> tastes, and getting more consistent at it. Almost never a really bad
> one anymore and plenty of good ones and occasionally great ones. More
> and more shots - fewer and fewer milk drinks (the refuge for mediocre
> shots).
> 9. ????? No idea what comes next - hopefully just more consistency with
> the good and sometimes great shots, but I'm sure I could easily revert
> back to mediocre again - some days you seem to have the feel, some you
> don't.

Thanks for the encouragement...

I can totaly relate to your progression... I think for myself, after
step two I would have added "lazily coasted along for months thinking
this is as good as it's gonna get.. I must just not like espresso... "

I think I'm moving along into step 3 of your progression... and looking
forward to the rest.. I'd like to squeeze step 5 in as soon as possible
by finding somewhere to try a respectible version of espresso...

Anyone know of a place in Milwaukee or Minneapolis/St. Paul to get a
great espresso? I frequent both cities fairly often... Eau Claire, WI
is a giant coffee void aside from a few shops with superautos run by
college kids, and the recent Starbucks additions. Even specialty
coffeshop/roaster in town has a very poor quality product in my
opinion... generally stale beans at high prices and mostly flavored
varieties, although it's been a while since I tried a straight espresso
made there... the last one was so hot and burnt tasting I burned my
tounge... and again.. from the college student run superauto..

TB



  
Date: 30 Dec 2006 01:49:30
From: Marshall
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia
On 29 Dec 2006 14:56:51 -0800, "T-Bag" <tonyandjulieb@yahoo.com >
wrote:


>Anyone know of a place in Milwaukee or Minneapolis/St. Paul to get a
>great espresso?

Alterra in Milwaukee has a good reputation. If you just want beans,
Paradise Roasters in Minn. has a super rep.

shall


 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 14:48:00
From: T-Bag
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia

shall wrote:

> You are confirming my belief that people who think they need to dilute
> with water or add milk to make their espresso palatable just aren't
> making it right. Making a great espresso is really a tricky business
> with many places to wrong, starting with the beans and ending with the
> cup. Most people don't have the patience, budget or interest to do it
> justice.
>
> shall

After my most recent attemps I think I agree with you. Like I
mentioned, the incredibly bold/strong tasting espresso I've been making
appears to only be what I "thought" espresso should taste like based on
my limited skills and tasting experience...

I have to say I've really put more effort into improving my shots the
past week or two, and you are right.. it is hard work. Much harder and
more complicated than I believed... There are so many variables in
play, it's hard to pin them all down at once.. but I think I'm finally
getting there...

It takes much more patience and understanding of the process than I was
previously willing to put into it.... especially for the previous
"quality" of espresso I thought I was getting. Until now it was easier
to tolerate mediocre espresso, or throw it into a milk drink. But now
I know how great it can be if I take the time and work at it a little
harder at it, so I'm looking forward to the new challenges...

Now that I think I have a better idea of what espresso really SHOULD
taste like, I think I'll be willing to put in more effort into the
process...

I really also think the teflon tape job on my Rocky helped improve
things dramatically as well... It is definatley a turning point in
espresso for me. I remember my first Rocky did not grind fine enough
to make a decent shot without the burrs grinding along with the
beans... I sent the defective unit back and received my current one,
which peformed better (I could at least get a fine enough grind about 4
notches above true zero without hearing the clankity-clank of the burrs
whilst grinding) but the hopper has always wobbled and allowed burr
contact during some real fine grinds if the hopper was touched in any
way. I always meant to do something about that, but put it off for way
to long.. wish I would have taken more interest earlier... I'd have had
spared my self months of what I now consider mediocre shots at best.

Can't wait to get home and start pulling a few more just for validation
of my recent accomplishments.. :-)

TB



 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 14:32:46
From: ramboorider@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia
On Dec 29, 3:10 pm, "T-Bag" <tonyandjul...@yahoo.com > wrote:

> When dialing in new settings for my Metropolis Redline... I noticed
> just how wrong I was about espresso... so much so that I'm questioning
> if there's something wrong with the great tasting stuff...
> I have been so used to the very strong taste of the doubles I had been
> making, that the actually sweet, balanced shots I had last night were
> almost tasteless in comparison.... does that make sense? If you were
> used to very strong, mildly bitter shots, then had a nicely balanced
> one, would it seem like a shock to you?

To echo shall from the perspective of a newbie, getting rid of the
bad tastes is kind of a first step toward getting to the good taste. My
fairly rapid evolution over the past couple of months has been and
continues to be:

1. either bitter or sour in just about every shot - plenty of crema but
lousy taste. Actively nasty.
2. less bitter or sour, but still shades of bad taste in almost every
shot.
3. gradual elimination of the bad tastes, replaced with nothing in
particular. The shots tasted like very strong coffee, but not
particularly good or bad. Not sour or bitter, but no chocolate, no
fruity overtones, nothing sweet, etc. But the lack of bad tastes was a
great relief and I was pretty happy with the progress at this point.
4. The beginnings of GOOD tastes in the shots. I started finding deep,
rich chocolate like tastes in my shots first, but not much else. I was
friggin' THRILLED with this.
5. A trip to John Hornall's shop to see what I was really aiming for.
HOLY SWEET DIETY OF YOUR CHOICE - deep, rich chocolate with all sorts
of fruity overtones and great mouthfeel. So this is what it's supposed
to taste like.
6. Beginning to replicate similar taste sensations in my own shots -
not every time by a long shot, but often enough to know that great
shots were possible with my Silvia/Rocky setup.
7. A bad stretch of a week or more where I couldn't find a great shot
again for anything, reverting back to maybe step #4.
8. Moving back up to some really good shots with lots of interesting
tastes, and getting more consistent at it. Almost never a really bad
one anymore and plenty of good ones and occasionally great ones. More
and more shots - fewer and fewer milk drinks (the refuge for mediocre
shots).
9. ????? No idea what comes next - hopefully just more consistency with
the good and sometimes great shots, but I'm sure I could easily revert
back to mediocre again - some days you seem to have the feel, some you
don't.

But the bottom line, is that getting rid of the bad tastes is only one
step toward making really tasty shots - there's more to come if you
keep at it and find what works with beans (so far Black Cat and Dolce),
grind, dose, distribution, temperature, and tamp. And then, hopefully,
get consistent at what works. I think I have a ways to go towards
consistency, but I've seen that really good shots are possible and I
seem to be getting more consistent with the variables that matter. I
don't really have enough of a feel to improvise much yet though.

-Ray



 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 22:09:11
From: Marshall
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia
On 29 Dec 2006 12:10:18 -0800, "T-Bag" <tonyandjulieb@yahoo.com >
wrote:

>Wow...
>
>I've had Silvia and Rocky over 1 year now.. maybe a year and a half...
>I've pulled a fair number of shots from here and to this point thought
>I was doing a pretty decent job... most shots end up as Americanos or
>Cappas...

<snip >

>When dialing in new settings for my Metropolis Redline... I noticed
>just how wrong I was about espresso... so much so that I'm questioning
>if there's something wrong with the great tasting stuff...
>I have been so used to the very strong taste of the doubles I had been
>making, that the actually sweet, balanced shots I had last night were
>almost tasteless in comparison.... does that make sense? If you were
>used to very strong, mildly bitter shots, then had a nicely balanced
>one, would it seem like a shock to you?

You are confirming my belief that people who think they need to dilute
with water or add milk to make their espresso palatable just aren't
making it right. Making a great espresso is really a tricky business
with many places to wrong, starting with the beans and ending with the
cup. Most people don't have the patience, budget or interest to do it
justice.

shall


  
Date: 29 Dec 2006 15:08:20
From: Randy G.
Subject: Re: Starting over with Silvia
shall <mrfuss@ihatespamearthlink.net > wrote:

>
>You are confirming my belief that people who think they need to dilute
>with water or add milk to make their espresso palatable just aren't
>making it right. Making a great espresso is really a tricky business
>with many places to wrong, starting with the beans and ending with the
>cup. Most people don't have the patience, budget or interest to do it
>justice.
>


And as I have said many times,
"Add milk or sugar because you want to.. Not because you have to."


Randy "looking for a literary agent" G.
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com