Newbie frustrations: Fast and/or very gassy shots

Beginner or pro barista, all are invited to share.
mikeje
Posts: 6
Joined: May 18, 2017, 11:07 am

Postby mikeje » May 18, 2017, 12:00 pm

First time post, and thank you for all the initial information across this site that helped me make a (hopefully) reasonably well informed first purchase recently. I started with a Gaggia Classic + Baratza Vario.

I am pulling constantly fast and / or gassy shots. The former being 13s yielding 2+ ounces. The latter meaning I may get to a 1.5oz extraction in 20 seconds, but the shot glass is foaming over and I need to switch off. Using a bigger cup may get me closer to a proper ratio, but by the end I'm pulling very light. The crema also recedes very quickly.

I've read through most of the newbie articles here + a stack elsewhere on the internet, intro videos, etc. Certainly have a lot to learn, but I have tried to get closer before making a newbie post / request. Unfortunately this has become very frustrating through the first month or so.

Some more info:
Beans: Began with Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger, which I burned through. Purchased from Amazon, roast date unknown. Have since gone through some Gregory's and Joe coffee espresso blend. For consistency, have focused and logged through a few pounds of Coffee Labs Circus Dog Espresso (Tarrytown, NY -- https://secure.coffeelabs.com/blends-co ... resso.html). First purchase was right off the roast date, which I thought may have led to over gassy pulls. Second time through they said I could grind and let sit for 45m until about a week out, and did so. In the shop, this blend is very rich when pulled. I am nowhere near this.

Grind: Have gone between 1A and 2K on the Vario, more recently hovering around the 1D - 1G range.

Dose: Between 16-21g. Finding when I get to 21g I can't get the portafilter on or very tight or puck hits the grouphead. I am using the double portafilter that came with the Classic.

Temperature: I don't have a PID or temperature monitor at this point. For some consistency I am flushing until the light goes off, then hitting the steam for about 10-15s when the light comes back on, then brewing. Sometimes I am flipping the switch to release steam. I have tried numerous variations on this.

Results: I've gotten a handful (out of many!) to taste halfway decent, only five max that were good. Some tasted in the ballpark when cooled down a little. But none have pulled with a syrup / honey-like start. The taste has generally been quite thin, lacking any richness or sweetness. As mentioned, fluffy but fairly quickly dissipating crema.

When I was pulling non-stop fast shots in the 1a - 1d range at 18-20g, I figured I am dosing incorrectly. I've tried shaking the grinds across, tapping on the counter to get them down before tamping, etc.. Last few days I tried WDT with a toothpick and two sessions of trying a pretty imperfect Stockfleth move, which seems a bit challenging with a hot portafilter. None of this has worked.

Any help would be appreciated on this. Thanks!

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Deebo
Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 15, 2017, 3:11 pm

Postby Deebo » May 18, 2017, 12:40 pm

First and foremost, when you're learning, I think its best to stick with 1 bean. It sounds like the first bags were probably crap (no roast date). The second bags were likely a little too fresh. Find an espresso you like, if you have a roaster nearby, go in there and see how they pull it, and taste it so you have a ballpark target you're shooting for (although understand that likely on your equipment it will be impossible to completely replicate). Also, ask them what they recommend. If no roaster is nearby, look on the internet (not amazon). It differs by bean, generally 3 days post-roast is the earliest you can start, with 4-5 days probably being preferred. Some roasters have beans they that tell you to let for 12-14 days... its highly variable, but again, I think the sweet spot is 4-5 days. Once you find a bean you like, stick with it until you have it mastered.

Immediately though, to me it sounds like you need to tighten up your grind pretty significantly. I would look for just drips coming out in no less than seven seconds. The roast I have right now I have dialed in so I have only drips at ten seconds. (this is something that varies with roast/preference/opinion, etc...)

As far as dosing, once you have it at the right height after tamping (I am unfamiliar with the Gaggia myself, but my guess is that the manual tells you where that is, and the portafilter probably has a mark in it to give you an idea anyways), stick with that and don't change it. Beginners I think end up overwhelmed and make too many changes at once... if you change more than one thing at a time, you don't really know what worked and what didn't. A good way to check your dose is if it's too high it will impact the screen, and if its too low it will be come out mushy. A good start for roasts you are unfamiliar with, IMO, is 18 g.

Keep everything you do consistent (dose/tamp/temp), so the only thing you need to change is your grind.

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Alan762
Posts: 42
Joined: Dec 02, 2016, 1:19 pm

Postby Alan762 » May 18, 2017, 12:42 pm

Try dosing 14g. This is what the machine was designed for.

The Classic will make great Espresso but the small boiler is a limiting factor.
It never gets easier, you just go faster. "Greg LeMond"

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jfrescki
Posts: 606
Joined: Nov 18, 2009, 3:02 pm

Postby jfrescki » May 18, 2017, 1:27 pm

Can you choke the machine? I would determine that first. Maybe your Vario needs to be calibrated for espresso grind and/or has some alignment problem. Since you're using freshly roasted beans now, that shouldn't be the problem.

Channeling would result in very fast/over-extracted shots. That could result from overdosing.
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Bill33525
Posts: 284
Joined: Mar 16, 2014, 1:54 pm

Postby Bill33525 » May 18, 2017, 1:30 pm

When changing the setting on the grinder the grind size does not change right away. Retention in the grinder causes the grinds to contain particle sizes from the previous setting for a while. Your grinder may need to run for several shots before the particle size stabilizes.

Additionally, you need to weigh the shot output and a good starting point for 14g would be 28g out. Get a cheap jeweler scale with .XX accuracy.

mikeje
Posts: 6
Joined: May 18, 2017, 11:07 am

Postby mikeje » May 18, 2017, 2:49 pm

Thank you for all the quick and thoughtful replies.

I have tried to do most with the same bean, though the place is not too close to my house.

I will try tonight to 1) choke the machine on the 1a setting. Just so I'm clear, this means absolutely nothing comes through? How many seconds do you want to run it with nothing through the PF? Is there a risk of the saturated water backflushing?

If that doesn't work, I'll try to calibrate the Vario. If / when I get that straight, I'll re-start at 18g (I thought double shot standard start was 18g?) and adjust around grind only.

Bill33525
Posts: 284
Joined: Mar 16, 2014, 1:54 pm

Postby Bill33525 » May 18, 2017, 3:55 pm

Baskets are calibrated for a max dose. Your machine ships with a 14g basket. If you are using something else follow the suggested dose.

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mikeje
Posts: 6
Joined: May 18, 2017, 11:07 am

Postby mikeje » May 18, 2017, 4:24 pm

Ah good to know. So to experiment higher, I guess I need something like the triple basket that comes with this?

https://www.amazon.com/Concept-Art-zbsG ... B00KRR4K2K

Deebo
Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 15, 2017, 3:11 pm

Postby Deebo » May 18, 2017, 7:27 pm

mikeje wrote:Ah good to know. So to experiment higher, I guess I need something like the triple basket that comes with this?

https://www.amazon.com/Concept-Art-zbsG ... B00KRR4K2K


I personally don't recommend jumping up to a naked portafilter this early in the learning process

mikeje
Posts: 6
Joined: May 18, 2017, 11:07 am

Postby mikeje » May 18, 2017, 8:53 pm

On the naked portafilter, is there any specific reason against using it? I have read it's a good tool for feedback during the extraction.

 
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