Lelit Bianca User Experience - Page 153

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

#1521: Post by FiveFingers »

Hi there! My name is Andrew and I'm terrible at pulling shots. I've had my Bianca and Niche for about a year and I consistently pull awful shots. I had zero experience with pulling espresso before I bought my gear, but I obsessively scoured the internet for tutorials and watched plenty of videos before I made my gear decisions.

I really get blown away when my brew recipe actually works out and the shot is balanced (more on this later). It's rare. Some days I think that I should have purchased something like a Breville dual boiler and a cheap grinder to "earn" my current equipment however, I paid the big bucks to have equipment that would last a lifetime. I understand that I am, essentially, driving a Ferrari with the driving experience of a 9 year old. I'm almost ready to ask some of my local roasters to come to my house to see if I'm making major mishaps that are blatantly obvious for a regular barista. If you'd hear me out, I'd like to see if there's something that you folks might obviously notice that I should be focusing on!

My current brew recipe and execution:
Northern California, very dry climate and usually 10% or less humidity.
Lelit Bianca set to 198oF.
19g in, 35g out (+/- 1g). Pulled in a 20g VST aftermarket basket. I started using 19g (opposed to 20g) when I asked around at local artisanal roasters what their grams-in were, and they all are in the 18g or 19g range, pulling ristretto shots.

My Niche sits around the "9" to "10" range for fineness of grind. I use an espresso roast from a mom and pop roaster down the street from me. He uses a blend for his espresso roast, and it's about a medium to dark roast.

I grind my beans, and then shake up the grounds in my portafilter basket while keeping my Niche cup adhered to the portafilter. I use a leveler to evenly distribute and mildly compress the grinds, and then tamp. I use the Saint Archer Industries leveler and tamper.

I pull my shot, and try to pre-infuse for about 10 seconds by constricting my flow control valve. I started doing this when I saw James Hoffman's little editorial about having longer pre-infusions usually equating to more flavorful coffee. I have nothing else or no other reason to back up why I do this.

At about 10 seconds (sometimes drastically sooner), drips of espresso start to hit my cup and I open the flow control. I try to hover it around 9 bar. Sometimes I hardly have to open my flow control at all, sometimes I have to open it all of the way. I've noticed sometimes the small variations in the roast, humidity and etc change how my machine feels the resistance of the beans and either needs more or less input from the flow control.

I aim for about 24-30 seconds to pull a 35g shot. Sometimes the entire 35g of espresso shoots out in 16 seconds. Infrequently it's right in that 24-30 time range. Sometimes it even takes a little longer than 30 seconds. I inspect my pucks and don't see apparent channeling (either in the middle of the puck, or around the edges), and I really don't see major channels when I inspect my bottomless portafilter while the shot is extracting. But it's sometimes hard to see the shot and my pressure gauge at the same time.

I think the grind fineness/coarseness and the oilyness/dryness of the beans dictates how quickly the water extracts through. Regardless of the time, I usually always end up with a pretty heavy crema - about 1/4 of the shot is jet black, syrupy liquid, and about 3/4 ends up crema. After about 10-15 seconds the shot 'settles' and ends up being about 3/4 liquid and 1/4 crema. It looks like how I think espresso should look?

The taste - usually it's pretty astringent. I think. I don't really know what an under-extracted shot tastes like, honestly. I believe that I know how a more balanced shot should taste like because I've tasted the espresso from the roaster himself, as he pulls the shot how he likes it. And I've asked umpteenth artisanal roasters to pour me a shot of their espresso how they like it. My current roaster's espresso, when properly extracted, definitely has some bite, but it's balanced out by a sort of a nutty-sweetness. Sweet might not be the best word to use, here, because it doesn't taste sugary, but there's something that cuts through the acidity. I'd ask the roaster, himself, to come to my house to take a look, but he uses a LaMarzocco and he says he doesn't change anything day-to-day other than, sometimes, his grind size. He says he very minimally changes the grind size depending on temperature and humidity. He uses a big Mazzer grinder; I'm unsure of the model. Also, he's kind of a "wing it" kind of guy, and he doesn't weigh his shots or obsessively tinker like I do. Also he is novel (compared to the internets) in that he says his coffee is like bread - it's better fresh. I've spoken to him about how people say espresso should age 2 weeks, but he won't hear it. I think he very much roasts and pulls shots by feel, and I'm lightyears from obtaining that kind of espresso nirvana.

If anyone managed to read through my essay and garner anything that seems off, and would care to guide me, I'd be so very thankful. My end result coffee doesn't taste awful, in the end. I almost exclusively drink lattes and whole fat milk makes everything taste delicious, so it isn't like I've stomached through a year of terrible coffee. I'd just like to drink even more delicious coffee!

Thank you!

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#1522: Post by elkayem »

Out of the box, the Bianca is set at 203F. Curious why you changed it to 198f?


#1523: Post by FiveFingers » replying to elkayem »

Dude (my roaster) said his coffee burns hotter than 195. I felt like that was preeeetty cold compared to what most people run their machines at, so I put it at 198.

Supporter ♡

#1524: Post by BruceWayne »

Unless the roast is pitch black and extremely oily, it's unlikely his brew temp is that low. The only coffee I've pulled at 91 C was an Italian roast and something that dark is more likely to pull bitter than astringent at any temp. 92 C is likely way too low.

When I first got my Bianca, everything I pulled was sour. Not as sour as the shot I got from the barista at the cafe that roasted the beans, but sour. I kept raising the temp. I finally got something that hit the flavor notes on the bag at 98 C. After that, I checked my PID offset using the technique another_jim posted. My flash boiling point was either 101 or 102, so my LCC was actually showing a higher brew temp higher than the actual group head temp. I bumped my offset from 10 to 11.

Check your temp offset. If the coffee has fruity notes when your roaster pulls it for you, it's not getting brewed at 91, so raise the temp, regardless. It sounds like you have other technique concerns. Move that discussion to the Techniques and Tips. :)

P.S. I use Celsius on my machine, since it's easier for me to think of offsets from boiling with boiling at 100.


#1525: Post by FiveFingers »

Hearing your advice, I switched my machine to C today and bumped it up to 97. 98 seemed extreme, but again, I'm no coffee guru. I definitely got more of the toasty(?)/nutty notes that my roaster pulls from his machine. So either his LaMarzocco grouphead just runs hotter than mine, or his machine is calibrated hotter than he thinks. Either way, it was a definite step in the right direction.

Supporter ♡

#1526: Post by BruceWayne »

Does anyone happen to know the size of the wrench used to install/remove the group head pressure gauge? It looks like it might be 8mm, but the relevant part appears to be the thickness as there is threading just above the squared off part of the stem that the wrench contacts.


#1527: Post by stump007 »

Hi there,

I'm really on the fence on getting a Bianca as my next machine, I love all the features it has, its looks, and its name. Well, the pressure control is very nice to have but I may not really need it tbf, but kind of futureproofing my needs. A little concerned about the build (I heard it's not very premium especially the tray etc.) but I have never seen one in real life.

Question for Bianca owners, is are you considering a next machine, or do you think it will completely fulfill you for the years to come? Right now it seems this machine will answer all my needs, but just a bit concerned if a year later I start thinking of upgrading to a LMLM/GS3 or a Prima :mrgreen:

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#1528: Post by slaughter »

I too had a few concerns about built quality especially compared to ecm machines but I do not think that any more. It is quite solid and has (for me) everything I wanted (and more). LMLM is double the price here in Greece and GS3 is triple the price of Bianca so I do not believe they are offering that many more feature that worth the upgrade


#1529: Post by Smo »

stump007 wrote: Question for Bianca owners, is are you considering a next machine, or do you think it will completely fulfill you for the years to come? Right now it seems this machine will answer all my needs, but just a bit concerned if a year later I start thinking of upgrading to a LMLM/GS3 or a Prima :mrgreen:
Bianca is fantastically beautiful.
But a girl can be forgiven for her beauty something :)


#1530: Post by elkayem »

stump007 wrote:...I heard it's not very premium...
That would be news to me. Mine is top notch quality.