Been working hard on finishing up the coffee machine. Bottom line is that it CAN make good espresso, but I might have under estimated the importance of good grinder. Between my novice barista skills and the experimental coffee machine plus the poor grinding consistency, pulling a good shot has been based mostly on luck hehehe. But it can happen at least.
The grinder in question is a Welhome ZD-16 its around 130USD. Maybe I got a defective unit, who knows, but I can tell you that grinding size gets smaller and smaller with each grind until it eventually clogs, then I have to clean the burrs and when placed back the settings change a little bit everytime. So dont waste your time, money and precious coffee beans on it. For 130 USD I expected way better. I expect to return it and to get fully refunded, lets see. Anyways I have my sights on a Baratza Sette BG30 around 280 USD in China. That should do better.
Anyways here are the latest pics. The coffee machine name is FULGENCIA, its an old fashioned Spanish name kinda funny nowadays (no offense to any Fulgencias out there
). Also the name has kind of an Italian ring to it as well so I though it was perfect for a espresso machine. On top of the machine a Nixie clock will be fixed (it is not fixed yet), kinda like a microwave clock it will stay on even when the machine is not in use as long as it is plugged. The clock has seconds so its useful to time your shot as well (it reads 00:04 hours and 30 seconds in the picture). But most importantly who doesnt like nixie clocks! they are very cool. Finally the machine will be covered with acrylic panels so you can see inside (should get them this week).
The lights in the front indicate:
-if water reservoir is low, if it is, the pump cannot work (but it has a 25 second delay in case it happens while pulling a shot)
-if boiler is full (heater cannot turn on if empty)
-PID heating output (its useless but I had an extra LED)
-There is also a autoOff timer of 50 minutes. If the pump is not triggered in 50 minutes the machine will turn off.
-And quite a few security over temperature measures, if the temp raises over 130C the system will physically stop heating (no software involved)
-Had to gave up on the idea of a steam boiler, no space anymore
On the front I improvised a tray made of alminum boxes and it also has a "labjack" to bring the espresso cup up to height to the naked portafilter, otherwise its always a mess! The little scale serves very well for measuring the volume of water (espresso) in the cup.
The temperature stability is good. The head reaches 89C in around 30 min (insulated boiler and upper siphon pipe and boiler temp at 108.5C), however, when pulling a shot there is a temperature spike to around 96C and then settles around 92C, it varies a bit, but I think its good enough.
Another problem I had was strong metallic tasting water, so I cleaned the machine with decalcifier but the taste was still there, I tried Cafiza cleaner and taste was still there. Finally, I used dish washing soap (please dont hate me) and let it sit over night and well... that did it. I presume there was still some substance clinging to the stainless steel walls (I hope I dont die). Anyways the metal taste is gone, getting rid of the dish soap taste took one hell of flushing tho...
Need to tidy up the cables, set the acrylic panels and I should be good to go (grinder issues aside).
I will try to make a video soon! (of a good shot of course hahaha).