Astoria CKXE

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?

#1: Post by ryancrase »

Hello, I'm new here and dove right in to the art of espresso. It's been humbling so far, but I have hope! I just bought a beautiful Astoria machine and have been trying to make espresso daily, but I'm having a tough go at it. Right now I'm using our Virtuoso grinder, but ordered a Mazzer mini type A which hasn't arrived yet. My dilemma is that I've never made espresso before in my life and have went through 3 bags of beans without producing anything drinkable. I signed up for some coffee classes, and have been watching YouTube videos. I've also been making videos for friends who are baristas to get input. So far I've been told that the grinder will make a huge difference, but my question now, is there a chance that my Astoria machine needs to be dialed in? It's really fun experimenting, but I'm beginning to wonder if the coffee machine is part of the issue and if there's a way to check the health of the machine. It was purchased from a roasting company and is in like-new condition. They bought it new to train baristas at their roasting facility and then ended up only using it for 2 weeks before closing shop due to the pandemic. The machine seems to function well, the boiler pressure is in the green and it looks like new. Just trying to figure out the art of making espresso and hoping I have good, functioning equipment to start the process. I definitely don't expect to make amazing coffee for about a year, but I do want to make sure it's operator error rather than crappy equipment.

Any input would be great.

Supporter ♡

#2: Post by MNate »

Nice. Welcome to HB. And welcome to a great hobby that has a steep learning curve, can be expensive, but also can be fun, make great drinks, and is nice to share with friends.

Basically, espresso is hard. A lot of factors have to be right, so three bags of beans isn't surprising. Keep at it.

I doubt the espresso machine is the problem but you're welcome to post some photos. Does it make a nice shower of hot water without the portafilter in place? Reading up on here about how to get the most out of a heat exchange (HX) espresso machine would be helpful but your place to start is probably just every thread about being new to make espresso. The FAQ page is a good place to start.

Read a bunch more and try a bunch more.

I'd get a 5 pound bag of a classic espresso from somewhere like Red Bird or Paradise and make sure the beans aren't the issue. They need to be fresh (used within 2 or three weeks of roasting, freeze what you aren't going to use in that time).

Learn about dose and yield and the ratio. Get a cheap tenth-gram scale to weigh your beans and your espresso you brew.

And learn about WDT and how important good basket prep is.

Lots to learn but you'll improve. Home-Barista posts are very reliable and will help you much more than random YouTube videos, I think. Personal help is great too though, although home baristas do differ from cafe ones (we can take our time, they can't).

Anyway, nice! You'll get it slowly. Post some pics, it's fun!

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ryancrase (original poster)

#3: Post by ryancrase (original poster) »

Thanks for the great reply, I'm going to absorb any advice I can and will definitely be reading a bunch more and looking into your suggestions. Our Mazzer mini doserless grinder has arrived and it's crazy to see the different results based on the grind. I had no idea how technical it would all be. I just googled the number stamped on the filter basket we have, and learned that it's a 14-15 gram basket and not the 18 gram basket we assumed it was. Oooops!!!! I also just purchased a nice Acaia Pearl scale and tested it against our no-name scale. Whoa. You weren't kidding about it getting expensive, but I think we have all the tools and now it's time to figure out how to use them. I'll post pix and vids soon!!