PRE infusion with the lever of an E61 brew group?

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Qrumcof

#1: Post by Qrumcof »

I have a ECM Synchronika.. self taught since the pandemic started. A couple months ago I learned lifting the lever half way was not doing a PI, rather a puck wetting (since I'm using the reservoir / not line pressure).. Since then I started engaging the pump for about 1/2 second to try and get a PI (my lattes taste pretty good but now all coffees taste the same, and no matter what I do the last half of the pull starts channeling badly).. But the channeling may not be related to my PI question..

I'm looking for help understanding what I need to do for PI..
How can I best do PI with a lever and no line pressure?
Should I bother? Is puck wetting the same as PI? Should PI decrease channeling? Can I properly PI with no line pressure?

Moderator note: The ECM Synchronika is a pump espresso machine that uses an E61 brew group that can be activated by a lever control. Extraction does not occur by a lever-actuated piston. This topic has been relocated to the Espresso Machines forum, and I have modified the topic title to reflect that this is a lever control. drgary

shotwell

#2: Post by shotwell »

This is probably a needlessly long post, but the word preinfusion confuses a lot of people. It's a misnomer.

First, a couple definitions.

Infusion is the soaking of flavoring ingredients to extract.
Percolation is passing a liquid through a porous substance, in coffee it is meant to extract solubles as the solvent (water) passes through.
Espresso is primarily a percolation method, not infusion.

Since espresso isn't really an infusion method, the term preinfusion is a bit silly. The only infusion that happens is during what is traditionally called preinfusion! What you have are actually a few distinct steps.

Fill - Actually putting water into the space. Depending on how you want to parse these terms this could just be the space above the coffee, but it's better to consider this as partially wetting the coffee since it does.

Soak - A phase that allows more water to diffuse into the puck. In an ideal world you'll quickly soak but still have your desired resistance after.
Hold or bloom - A phase that allows a soaked puck to be held until you're ready to begin percolation. Holding and blooming are different, but have similar effects. The puck is lowering in resistance as it releases solids into the water. The more solids it releases, the faster your flow will be in the next phase.

Percolation - Actually passing water through and getting espresso in the cup.

Now, what does all that mean for partial lever lifts and 'true preinfusion?' Mainly the issue is that there isn't enough water to effectively soak the puck or fully fill the headspace. The method you're using to quickly engage the puck fixes this but lowers resistance by being more effective at releasing solids before your percolation phase. Either adjust the grind, shorten the extraction (you're likely extracting more quickly both by ratio and time,) or work to improve your puck prep.

Hope that helps.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#3: Post by Jeff »

All of the above is good to think about. Understanding why you might want to wet the puck evenly and let it sit there a bit before ramping up the pressure is important. For lighter roasts, one advantage is it helps you to be able to grind finer (for easier extraction) without choking the machine or having the puck channel badly or fall apart too soon.

When I was trying to pull "drip" roasts many years ago in my E61, I tried "the lever" with my reservoir-fed machine. I had about the same experience. I couldn't find an approach that reliably improved my results, and many that reliably made it worse. No pump was a mess. Neither pump by count/time nor pump until pressure hits X bars, seemed repeatable enough. Every espresso machine has limitations, even the crazy expensive ones.

The lesson I wish I had learned sooner is that if I couldn't dial it in within a few shots, to enjoy the remainder of the bag as pour-over or some other non-espresso preparation.

Qrumcof (original poster)

#4: Post by Qrumcof (original poster) »

Thanks.. but I got lost on the last sentence..
Are you saying I shouldn't bother to try to do a pre-soak? Either by a quick lever lift.. or a puck soak?
Is it worth the trouble to plumb in my machine?

Here is a shot I pulled:
12/14_f205_G22_gr3.5_11d35t_20.8o28s_950
.. 205F
.. 22gr in the pf (it's supposed to be a double basket, but I have plenty of head room).
TIME FROM LIFTING THE LEVER: 11d35t (11s to first drip)..
TIME PER LUNAR SCALE: 20.8o28s (20.8 Gr esp out)..
PUCK WETTING.. whether wetting or the 1s lift.. I leave it about 25s before I pull the shot..
___After I get about 11-13 Gr esp out, the channeling gets severe..

For the channeling, I'm stuck.. I thought I'd fixed it a couple months ago by increasing the temp.. no dice.. i'm starting to wonder if this $3000 s synchronika has good temperature stability at the group head. The electronics flashes me the temperature, but that sensor is not at the group head.

PUCK PREP:
Kafatek flat grinder into a blind shaker..
(Shake gently in different directions.. grinds are nice and fluffy)..
WDT with fine needle tool to level grounds..
TAP down (multiple medium taps..and 1-2 hard taps)..
SPINNING LEVEL TOOL.
TAMP..

.

Qrumcof (original poster)

#5: Post by Qrumcof (original poster) »

Jeff wrote: When I was trying to pull "drip" roasts many years ago in my E61, I tried "the lever" with my reservoir-fed machine. I had about the same experience. I couldn't find an approach that reliably improved my results, and many that reliably made it worse. No pump was a mess. Neither pump by count/time nor pump until pressure hits X bars, seemed repeatable enough. Every espresso machine has limitations, even the crazy expensive ones.
You can see with my post right above, I've been trying very hard for repeatability. My time and grams out are pretty close.. I just wish I could get better tasting shots. I'm going to give up the 0.25 seconds left of the lever, because all my coffee's are tasting the same. When I was wearing the park for 20 to 25 seconds I was tasting the character of the different coffees.

I have about five different coffees I'm using, and come to think of it some of them don't channel that bad. I have not been changing the temperature for the light roast, because I'm not quite sure what to do and it takes 30-40 minutes waiting time (I know to generally increase the temperature for later roasts, but my medium roast's seem to be coming out fine at 205F).

I'll try wetting the light roast longer.. 20-30s maybe?

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#6: Post by Jeff »

What coffees are you working with?

Which burrs are in your grinder?

The better E61 DBs, like yours, have good temperature repeatability when run in a typical home or even a catering situation.

If you want to explore extraction profiling, I'd go with a flow-control kit. Even plumbed in, the E61 lever is a hack at best, from the days when choices in espresso roasts were dark and darker. You really need to know pressure in the basket to know when it has filled. E61 valving also works against you as it's easy to open the exhaust valve when trying to hold with little or no flow.

Extraction profiling isn't going to cure puck prep.

Edit: Try fewer steps in your prep. I'd try grinding right into the basket, WDT and level, and tamp. No cup, no taps, no spinny-spinny tool.

You might also try dropping your blind pressure. If you're at 9, try 7. By making a big change you are more likely to taste a convincing change in the cup. You can tweak from there.

There are some other "tricks", but will depend on your coffees and burrs as to if I think they'd help.

Qrumcof (original poster)

#7: Post by Qrumcof (original poster) »

I have the shiruken M/D burrs..
Last few months docent coffees..
https://docentcoffee.com/collections/frontpage
Had good luck with snarf snarf, cream & sugar, meander, conceit..

I have flow control with a gauge on the group.. but it's not controllable.. I can't imagine I'd get where I'd be able to repeat anything.. the knob I need to turn is touchy, and everything around it it hot-AF (poor design of you ask me).. I experimented with reducing the flow towards the end of shots, but it didn't seem worth the trouble..

" I'd try grinding right into the basket, WDT and level, and tamp. "
Are used to do almost exactly this, and the blind shaker cup seemed an improvement. The only thing I did differently was the taps.
I could try it again without the tapping. Lol, but everyone else says to tap. Do you think tapping could be screwing with the fines somehow?

I have not messed with changing the pressure, because the adjustment is from the bottom.. it would be easier to use the flow control that reduces pressure in the group.

PIXIllate
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by PIXIllate »

There is some excellent advice in this thread.

As someone who has a very similar machine to yours only WITH the flow control I'd agree that is the way to go. I'm continuing to learn how to best use it and recently have been drinking lighter roast coffees so there has been a renewed need for me to engage with it.

What I find works well for me with lighter (Roast Vision 23-28) roasts is:

- Start with the flow control in the position that gives me 7.5ml/sec water debit
- Let that run for 3 seconds to fill the headspace and begin to saturate the puck
- Move the control to the 3ml/sec position as the pressure begins to rise
- Wait until the pressure rises just above 2 bar and then close off the control so there is no water flow and pressure holds at ~2bar
- Wait until I get 1-2ml of drips in the cup
- Slowly open the flow control back to the 3ml/sec position
- When the pressure reaches 4 bar open the flow control up until I hit my peek pressure of ~8bar
- Taper off the flow (optional)

All of this sounds more complicated than it is. I plan on updating my thread on using flow control once I've had more time to fine tune it and experiment with different roast levels.

I should also say that I'm pulling most shots quite short (17-18g in / 27-33 g out) as I prefer a thicker more concentrated shot.

Qrumcof (original poster)

#9: Post by Qrumcof (original poster) »

PIXIllate wrote:- Start with the flow control in the position that gives me 7.5ml/sec water debit
Thanks, I'll try it..

But I noticed when I would start the pump for <1/2 second (trying to PI), that all my coffees were tasting good, but tasting the same.. Have you experienced this at 7.5 bars? I've also tried engaging in the pump full pressure until I see the first sign of espresso at the bottom of the basket (then wait 25s). Although I didn't take note of the bars at the puck when I did the quick pump on/off cycle (it probably never rose at all).


FYI, I do have flow control, very similar to the picture above.. I don't have a way I know of to set ml/sec, but I see the pressure in bars change with the flow control. I have a manual flow control set by turning a knob, and a lever that turns on the pump.

So if I understand correctly, the pressure should rise because of the pucks resistance to flow?

JRising
Team HB

#10: Post by JRising »

Qrumcof wrote: FYI, I do have flow control, very similar to the picture above.. I don't have a way I know of to set ml/sec, but I see the pressure in bars change with the flow control. I have a manual flow control set by turning a knob, and a lever that turns on the pump?
Go ahead and set the flow-control to closed and raise the lever... You'll probably get a drop through the showerfilter every 2 or 3 seconds. Turn the flow control just the slightest more open so that you're gettng 4 or 5 drops per second (or maybe the thinnest trickle that breaks and reforms) and remember that position.
In that position, you won't have to raise and lower the lever, that will be good for your pre-infusion. Put your portafilter in with the prep, and raise the control lever, the trickle will "pre-infuse" your prep for about 8 seconds (if your idea of a thin trickle is the same as mine) and then the group gauge will begin to rise. At that point, open the flow control to let pressure rise to 8.5 (or something) across the puck, when the shot is about 2/3 done, start closing the valve slowly to decrease the pressure drop across the puck (and maybe stop the channeling, then lower the lever to stop the brew.