Getting the most out of Starbucks Barista while saving for upgrade

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Ryan_A

#1: Post by Ryan_A »

Hello All,

I'm new here and have a couple of questions. I have a starbucks barista machine and I have a Mazzer Mini on the way. I am saving up for the La Val semi-auto. I have worked at a couple of coffee shops in Nor-Cal and learned more about espresso after I stopped being a 'barista'. (Go figure) I have read about some mods for the Starbucks barista and I have done a few.

Here is what I have done: I have removed the spring to deactivate the pressurized part of the the PF. I have also tweaked the screen on the grouphead to get the water to be dispersed evenly.

I have also read that some people use a awl or other device to make the hole bigger on PF below the basket. Is this something that will make better shots?

I also ordered a RB tamp but I think I may have sized it wrong. I measured the bottom of the basket for the measurement and I got the tamper and it fits like a glove, but it is about 1.5mm less than the top diameter of the basket. I think I should have a tamp that fits the top of the basket and not the bottom, am I right?

Also...I have read that people have purchased saeco non-pressurized PF's that fit the machine, but I only see other pressurized PF's on the websites. I would like to purchase a better PF for the machine.

If anybody out there has experience with these machines and has found other ways to get the most out of it please let me know. I really want to upgrade...very badly, but I just need to wait a little longer.

I live in the Sacramento, CA area are there any people on the forum that know great places to get espresso in the area? I Peet's is the only place in Folsom that I have found that can actually pull a decent shot. I have only lived in the area for a short while and I could use some advice as to where I can get some great coffee.

Sorry this is a sporatic thread, I am just getting ready to go to work and I wanted to post something to hopefully have some replies when I get home.

Thanks a bunch in advance for replies. I look forward to using all the information to finally get some great espresso at home (when i upgrade my machine).

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erics
Supporter ◈

#2: Post by erics »

Firstly, Welcome to HB.

I am going to, more than likely, go against the grain here. I wrote the first review of this machine on CG back in January of 2000 after using it for a couple of years - OK, no big deal. This machine was a workhorse and always came through using the pressurized PF.

The machine does have an over-pressure valve (OPV) attached to the pump but it is not adjustable and is set at a fairly high pressure. The machine also has a spring-loaded check valve just above the screen that serves to reduce the pump's pressure and keep the boiler from leaking while heating up.

I remember the machine working just fine with the pressurized PF as long as you let it warm up about 30 minutes and pull a shot or two through an empty PF before loading it. It performed very well for its price range. But, if you still want to stick with a different PF, here is a potential source for those and loads of other parts for the Starbucks Barista:

http://www.partsguru.com/default.html

Eric S.

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Kristi

#3: Post by Kristi »

Welcome!!!

I had an Estro Vapore (identical machine). It was fine until it started to overheat. Had I known about PIDs at the time, I probably would have PID'ed it and kept it for a while longer.

How long you let it warm up will depend entirely on your particular machine - experiment with 5min, 15min, 30min and see which you like best. The taste difference will be obvious.

Leave the pressurized pf as is. Any attempt I made to mod it made the coffee noticeably worse.

Starbucks says don't tamp. Kristi says tamp a bit - 10-15 lbs - the tamper you have should be just fine.

Soupy grounds: pull your shot, then steam your milk, then remove the pf - the grounds will be a lot less soupy.

ENJOY!!!

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Epuppylove

#4: Post by Epuppylove »

Hello,
I am also new to this. I purchased my *$ barista recently. I did not like how the shots came out. I also read about others purchasing the nonpf so I did some research on line and found two websites: 1st-line.com (sells for around $30) and partsguru.com (sells for alittle more.) I just ordered one from 1st-line. I also read about the naked pf, called espresso parts and they said they did not have a pf that fit the machine. I found a la spaziale that was 53mm (on 1st-line.com), does anyone know if that fits this machine, I would like to try it out. How do you tweak your machine? Since I am fairly knew to learning how to brew my own espresso...what is PID? (LOL)
Thank you
Happy Holidays

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Kristi

#5: Post by Kristi »

btdt laspaz will not fit a saeco or solis machine - the pf wall is way too thick.

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HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB »

Epuppylove wrote:Since I am fairly knew to learning how to brew my own espresso...what is PID?
From this forum's FAQs and Favorites you'll find a Good all round explanation of PID stuff. The short answer is it's electronically controlled brew temperature.
Dan Kehn

Ryan_A

#7: Post by Ryan_A »

Thanks for the welcome and the information.

I have not had bad luck after taking the pressure inducing mechanism out of the PF. I have noticed that the crema is more realistic but a little less than with the Pressurized PF. The shots are also more viscous and it makes me feel like the shots are better just because of the better mouthfeel. I checked that website out and they don't have the nonpressurized PF, but they do show a picture of it. Hmmm?

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iiifrank

#8: Post by iiifrank »

Ryan_A wrote:I have not had bad luck after taking the pressure inducing mechanism out of the PF. I have noticed that the crema is more realistic but a little less than with the Pressurized PF. The shots are also more viscous and it makes me feel like the shots are better just because of the better mouthfeel. I checked that website out and they don't have the nonpressurized PF, but they do show a picture of it. Hmmm?
If you're in the USA, email me or PM me your mailing address and I'll send you the saeco non-pressurized PF I used with my Barista. Even though I've moved on, I still love the machine since it's where I learned to pour latte art and make palatable espressos. :) I think I owned mine for nearly two years before upgrading and never had a single problem.

PS: Unfortunately, it's the uglier gray PF since the black version was always out of stock. :)

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jesawdy

#9: Post by jesawdy »

FWIW, I think pressurized portafilters are the devil :twisted: .

I have heard several people mention that they ordered a Saeco non pressurized portafilter direct from Saeco USA for right around $30. http://www.saeco-usa.com/

My brother has the Starbuck's Barista, and I think it is a decent machine to start out with if you can find a deal on one. He has the Starbuck's (Solis) grinder as well. He only uses the non-pressurized portafilter and currently has a cheaper 49 mm metal tamper that he uses to tamp the coffee... it works, but I know he wants a proper tamper.

I would caution you to be sure all the monkey business in the bottom of your modified (de)pressurized portafilter is cleaned... I think it would have a tendency to traps lots of gunk and possibly go rancid.

As for the tamper you have, it should work fine. Do a Staub style tamp (NSEW). I know one of the problems with Saeco machines is that it might take a 52 or 53 mm tamper depending on the baskets/machine/date of manufacture.

Report back when you get your Mini, I think you will be pretty happy with the Barista for awhile longer.
Jeff Sawdy

espressoyum

#10: Post by espressoyum »

I've been happy with my pressurized filter until recently. I just started roasting my own beans and the pressurized filter creates too much crema. I can't get a full extraction. iiifrank, if nobody else took you up on your non-pressurized filter offer, I would love to take it off your hands.