Frustrating issue with 2nd double shot, grinder?

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.

#1: Post by jiminycrickett »

I've had this problem for a very long time. I try to work around it, and some beans are more forgiving...most are NOT. I think it is the Vario, not my Gaggia espresso maker. Here's what happens. I can get a wonderful double shot, the very first shot. Thing is, I always do TWO doubles. The second shot runs very fast---3 seconds & fast after turning on. Example 2G, 16.8grams of beans first double, comes out at first drip 6-7 seconds, which is great. Second double, even adding an extra gram of beans comes out 3 seconds--fast & sour. So, I up the grinder to (up one finer)2F on the second double, same thing--shoots out at 3 seconds fast & sour.
It has something to do with the 2nd double as the 1st double is great. I wait about 5 minutes in between the 1st & 2nd double, so allowing enough time for boiler to reheat.
It's not like there is leftover coffee in the grinder from the first double--or it would not be running at 3 seconds out of the boiler, it would be slower.
It would be great if someone could help me figure out why the second double shot is fast & sour despite adding more beans & making the grind a little finer. What in the world could cause this to happen? I'm getting to the point of dumping all my machines & giving up the caffeine. Thanks


#2: Post by Jeff »

How are you managing temperature of your Gaggia?

How do you clean your grinder at the end or start of a session? (I'm not saying that you should or shouldn't be.)


#3: Post by jiminycrickett »

Heated 2.5oz. of water in styrofoam cup with the instant therm. before doing the actual test under group head. It heated to 196-198F with the few tests we did before putting under group head. Then ran about 6 seconds of water from the group head into the styrofoam cup with therm. on. It read about 196F.
The instant therm. reads automatically 82F as that is the temperature of our unairconditioned home. Where my confusion comes in is if we are heating up the instant therm. already before we put it under the group head, is that giving an actual true reading? So, what I did was run the 6 seconds of water from group head with therm. at room temp. It read 193.3F.
Then I ran the test about 5-7 minutes later with the therm. heated first. Read 198-199F.
So with that, am I thinking right that my Gaggia Classic is heating properly,

I use Grindz in the Vario every 3 months. I only make 2 double shot cappuccinos per day.


#4: Post by Jeff »

Depending on where you are in the temperature cycle, the temperature of the water and group might vary by 10°C / 20°F or more. This is common with single-boiler units. You might want to try one of the "temperature surfing" techniques.

One thread I quickly found is ... ess-shots/

It links to A different approach to Gaggia temperature routine as one way to manage the temperature.

Personal opinion is that adding a PID and an OPV to a Gaggia is expensive compared to the results you could get investing in another machine, if your budget permitted.


#5: Post by jiminycrickett »

I read. It said: "When I used my Classic I always used temp surfing and would always flick the steam switch 6 seconds before pulling the shot as I found it gave me a better (less sour) shot".
My first shot is for the most part very good. So, I'm assuming that on the 2nd double, I should turn the steam switch on, but also turn the knob on so water comes out of the steam tube or just turn the steam switch on? What is the purpose of doing that? Thanks.


#6: Post by Jeff »

Single-boiler machines like these often have a thermostat with a very wide "dead band". They might turn off at 105°C, then not turn on again until 95°C. So depending on your timing relative to its turn on time, you might be at 95°C or 105°C or anywhere in between. 20°F can easily be the difference between sour and bitter coffee.

"Temperature surfing" is a technique developed for these kinds of machines where you do something very specific so that you're at roughly the same point in that cycle each time you start to brew. I don't know that specific machine, but on some of the single-boilers I used in the past it was just when the light turns on, when it turns off, or N seconds after one of those indications.


#7: Post by jiminycrickett »

Sigh............. I don't know that the light is even effective as it seems to turn on with a minute after turning the machine on. Then after I brew a double shot, it seems to come on with seconds after that which doesn't make sense.


#8: Post by Rickpatbrown »

How long do you let it warm up? The light will go off as soon as the boiler gets up to temp/pressure. When it goes off the first time, it starts to dissipate all the heat into the rest of the machine. After multiple cycles, the fluctuation becomes more and more consistent. This in/off temperature cycle is the "wave" you need to surf.

After a long warm up period, flush the machine. Then start taking note. How many times does the light come on and off? How long does it take you to grind and tamp? Is it the 3rd cycle that you are ready? Now time either from light on or light off. You need a specific ritual so your first, second, third, etc shot are all the same.

Optimize your grind for this.

Also, do you rinse your portafilter with cold water after the first shot? This will take away a lot if heat.

You need to do 1 of the following:
1) install a PID
2) Figure out a way to surf consistently
3) buy a $2K espresso machine.

There is a reason people buy $5K machines. It's not all pretentious BS. It's hard to make a good shot of espresso on a consistent basis.


#9: Post by jiminycrickett »

How many times does the light come on and off? The light comes on within about a minute after turning the machine on. It comes on and off frequently during the time I have the machine on (anywhere from 15-30 minutes) How long does it take you to grind and tamp? Maybe 20 seconds Is it the 3rd cycle that you are ready? ? Now time either from light on or light off. Will do that You need a specific ritual so your first, second, third, etc shot are all the same.

Optimize your grind for this. I'm trying...

Also, do you rinse your portafilter with cold water after the first shot? This will take away a lot if heat. NO, just wipe it out really well with a paper towell.

I know when there was a Gaggia forum, many 'Gaggia' experts put PIDs on their machines. For the most part, I have been happy with my Gaggia Classic. To be perfectly honest, wouldn't you say the grinder could be more of the problem than the espresso machine? Also, if I knew the espresso machine was the culprit, would I be willing to spend $2K on a machine? Not sure, as I am the only one who drinks it in our household at only ONE four shot cappuccino a day. So, it's not getting a lot of use. I've asked in the past what a good quality espresso machine (also grinder) would be, and people are all over the board with what they think is good/great.


#10: Post by Jeff »

If you're happy with the quality you're getting from the Gaggia with that first shot, working out a "temperature routine" will hopefully resolve the second-shot issues.

Just to confirm, you're pulling two shots, back to back, then doing your steaming, yes?

My guess is that it's not the grinder as you don't do something "different" with it for the first shot and the second shot, from what I can tell. If you for example, vacuumed out the grinder every day, then I could see the grind changing.

The Baratza Vario is a solid performer; I'd imagine that anything significant enough to cause the large changes you're seeing would reveal itself in strange noises or something notably loose. Baratza has great DIY information on their website that would let you carefully examine its internals.

Managing temperature of this kind of entry-level, single-boiler unit has been a challenge for many years. It has been compounded by coffees tending to be less forgiving than they were 20 or 30 years ago, as well as people's tastes becoming more demanding. The Silvia drove up the marketing value of PID to extreme levels, even in places where it doesn't matter (HX boilers or steam boilers, as examples). It also took what was once an affordable machine and pushed it up to or above the $1,000 price point.

On machines in any price range, there will always be a range of opinions. Each has their own advantages and failings. Within a given price range, it comes down to personal experience and preferences as to the balance of those. The "$2,000" machine isn't where you need to go to get a more repeatable machine without significant failings. It's more of a very rough line as to where most of the better machines don't have significant failings. Some might put that line at $1,500, but many people consider the appearance of the BDB or their perception of it as a consumer appliance to be a failing.

Should you determine that the Gaggia just isn't going to cut it, there are options like the Cafelat Robot at about $400 and using the Gaggia to steam.