Metallic Taste, Volume, and Grind - Vesuviana

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.

#1: Post by cray54 »

[I am new to coffee. I don't like it. However, my wife likes it, and I want to understand what good coffee is supposed to taste like so I can make it well. Also, I like machines and appliances. This machine probably isn't the best one to learn on, but I'm trying anyhow.]

I have a decent example of an electric Vesuviana 6-Cup "Espresso" Coffee Maker, and rebuilt it with the kids for a gift for mom. To run it: I use it with paper filters intended for Aeropress, fill the "portafilter" about 2/3 full with grounds, fill the water enough to fill the pot, and plug it in. I read not to use a tamper, so I don't tamp it. I do not have a coffee grinder, so I am getting pre-ground coffee from local roasters. I have been trying different methods, and I am open to all suggestions.

Question 1: Do aluminum coffee makers normally result in metallic tastes in coffee?
When I use the machine, often (but not always), my wife says it tastes "metallic". I have been buying coffee from cafes to get a sense of what coffee should taste like. I think I can recognize the metallic taste now. So, my question is this: does an aluminum coffee maker just have a metallic taste to the coffee, or would something specific cause this?

Question 2: In what way is this coffee maker a 6-cup size?
This is a Vesuviana 6-cup coffee maker. The cup holds just about 11 fl oz of liquid. What is the intended use where the resulting ~10 fl oz of coffee is stretched to be considered 6-cups?

Question 3: Any specific advice regarding grind and amount of coffee to use with this machine?

I'm looking forward to learning more and finding other machines to try.

Thank you for your help, Chris

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Team HB

#2: Post by Jeff »

Welcome to H-B!

That's a pretty interesting machine, one that I'm not too familiar with.

I think you've sensed that good-quality beans, well roasted, and freshly ground for the preparation technique you've selected are essential. I'd put a good hand grinder on the top of a "next purchase" list on a limited budget. Ones that will eventually be suitable for espresso (at least as people here tend to define it) start around $170. Ones that are OK for pour-over or immersion methods are about half of that.

I don't know where you live, but if you're near Boston, George Howell is one of the masters of coffee. I have heard that there are other great roasters in the area as well. Try a regular "drip" coffee from one of those great cafes to get a sense of what a balanced cup can taste like. If you're really adventurous and they have a Kenyan or Ethiopian on the "drip bar", many consider those to be delicacies. They can also be a bit surprising if you're expecting "American style" coffee, as they focus more on the flavors in the bean, rather than those in the roast.

I have no idea why they call that an "8-cup" coffee maker. You'll hear people talk about "ratio" which is the ratio of the weight of coffee to the weight of water added (pour-over) or total in the espresso cup. (No "scientific" reason I know that they are different, probably more convenience.) For drip or immersion methods, 1:17 is a common ratio. Equally puzzling, especially for non-metric folks, is the size of a "cup" (of coffee). Depending on where you are, it can be most anything, 120 mL (~ 4 fl.oz.), 160 mL, 200 mL, an American cup (~235 mL) or anything a shop says it is. Going by ratio, diluted down to typical "coffee" strength, 15-20 g of coffee (my guess as to how much is in there) works out to around 250-350 mL of drip-strength coffee. I'd call that "two cups". (Espresso ratio is around 1:2 for typical shots, but can range from 1:1 to 1:3 or so, depending on the coffee and desired style.)

As for the Vesuviana, here's an instruction manual ... 589-1.html
Orphan Espresso is a well-respected source of information and parts for some vintage machines, especially lever-style espresso machines.

My gut feeling is that it works similarly to a "Moka pot"

Here are some threads I found using the Search feature:

User Experience: Vesuviana Stove Top

Restoring Vesuviana Caffetieres


#3: Post by ojt »

Q1: No, not in my experience, unless the aluminium has been somehow damaged.

Q2: It's probably italian cups which independently of the type of coffee are espresso size and this machine is from the 50's or so. There was no filter coffee here at that period I'd wager.. Think the Bialetti 3 cup moka. It makes max 120-150ml of coffee.

I don't know this particular machine but I guess it's a bit like the Kamira. A pressurized moka pot. Play with the grind but I'd go slightly finer than for a Bialetti, a bit coarser than espresso. I know that doesn't help much though... you jut have to figure it out.

Maybe Lucio could chime in with his infinite stove-top coffee maker knowledge?

Otherwise there is a Facebook group where people obsess over these things, called "Moka lovers". If you need instant help that's the place to be.

cray54 (original poster)

#4: Post by cray54 (original poster) »

Jeff, thank you for the advice.

I'll start looking for a grinder more seriously. Is it common to find adjustable older grinders, or do you really need to look for newer grinders to get good results / adjustability?

I'm actually a few hours from Boston, so I've just been trying things at any local roaster I come by. I'll plan to check out George Howell next time I'm in Boston, thank you for the suggestion. I'm traveling soon to a more dense area, so I'm hoping to try some things there. I'll check out the Kenyan or Ethiopian options as you suggest if I come across any.

I did some checking into moca pots as you suggested they seem similar. A 6-cup moca pot is just about the same size! I'll read up on how to use one of those as I expect that will be helpful. I'll try matching ratios to moca ratios. I have the manual from the same source you suggested... and the instructions are basically "put in water, put in fine grounds, make coffee".

I'll also read the threads you suggested. I've read a few here but don't recall seeing those. I'm curious: is this forum one that appreciates adding to old threads to keep related information collected, or is this a "always start a new thread" sort of forum?

Thank you again, Chris

cray54 (original poster)

#5: Post by cray54 (original poster) »


I don't think the unit is damaged, so I'll look into other causes for metallic taste.

The numbers you share for a Bialetti 3-cup moca line right up (We get about 300ml out of this 6-cup unit). This reinforces what Jeff suggested about this being similar to a moca pot. I'll look up the Bialetti manual and related advice to see if that helps me understand how to use this one. Also, the Kamira unit looks like the same process, so I'll check on that one too!

Thank you for the help. Every bit is helpful at this point... I understand that I will have to figure out how to use this particular machine, but I am also still trying to understand what the goal is.


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Team HB

#6: Post by Jeff »

With hand grinders, there's a new generation in the last 5-10 years that are significantly better than the Skerton or Porlex of the past. A Porlex worked adequately for me traveling, for drip, but is really marginal for espresso.

There are things like a used Mazzer Super Jolly, but they're more intended for espresso. Burrs alone for a grinder like that can be more expensive than a good hand grinder.

For drip, Baratza occasionally has refurbs available. I think it is the Virtuoso that has the better burrs for drip (they've changed models since I last looked at them). Perhaps someone else can chime in. For the money, if only a cup or two at a time, I think a new-generation hand grinder may give a "cleaner" cup.