Hall of Shame: ''What I did when I was a newbie...'' - Page 9

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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#81: Post by Elbasso »

A friend came over and noticed my Silvia. He told me he had something similar, a Krups. I couldn't stop laughing. That is, untill he managed to serve me a cup from his "machine" that actually sucked less then the 210 F liquid death that I was producing at home. That was the moment I discovered the cooling flush :oops: .
Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.


#82: Post by zin1953 »

My first espresso machine was a Pavoni Euripocola . . . well, OK, first I had a moka pot and a stovetop steamer. That worked great until the glass beer stein I was using to steam milk in shattered into a thousand pieces one night (leaving me with milk -- literally -- on my face and the glass handle still firmly in my hand . . . and my date rolling on the floor laughing!). :oops:

That's when I discovered steaming pitchers. Of course it took me a while to figure out I was using an ibrik and not a steaming pitcher, but -- :oops:

Once I got my Pavoni, I struggled with it for years wondering why I couldn't consistently pull great shots -- sometimes it flowed too quickly; sometimes it choked -- with my Krups blade grinder . . .
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.


#83: Post by quoad »

:D @ this thread...

I'm still very, very new... But a lot of these posts ring true!

My starting point was Whittard beans (a UK store selling beans that were probably - hopefully - roast in last month or so, and only sitting in jars open to the air for a week or so. Hopefully)...

With my whirly blade Krups grinder and a cafetiere, that WAS the peak of sophistication. I hadn't even heard of espresso, until I saw someone post on another website that they'd just spent £120 on 'an espresso machine'... Spending £120 on an espresso machine? Christ. Surely NO-ONE spends THAT much on coffee... Did he not know that there's a shop that sells beans? And he could get a grinder for twenty quid? A grinder with GOOD REVIEWS. On AMAZON, no less!

So, ey. I'd brew my (eight-cup) pot in the morning, have a mug with cream, and leave the other half of the cafetiere sitting there (cold, and brewing indefinitely) until I got back from work...

Came a point where I was quite enjoying my luxury coffee, so decided to spend fifty quid (NINETY dollars!) on one of these espresso machines. I did my research. On coffeegeek. And found that the DeLonghi Cafe Treviso was well up there.

Cue a year of painfully undrinkable cappuccino, as I lounged around being the peak of sophistication. One plumber told me it was the second best coffee he'd had in years.

Then I discovered a roaster, then got my own roaster (oddly, the beans still tasted better in the cafetiere...), then was talked into getting a Rocky Rancilio, so HAD to get a better espresso machine - a Gaggia Classic.

Thing is, the Rocky was factory-knackered. The burrs were off-kilter. So - having read EVERYWHERE what I had to do (six notches up from the zero point), I was producing six- to eight-second shots all year. And convinced (because that was 200 quidsworth of new grinder) that it HAD to be right, because - dammit - the equipment was so expensive.

Oddly enough, I stuck to cappuccinos. The one lad who came round for a 'tasting' of 'single origin' 'fresh roast' beans left in absolute horror. No crema, and I guessed that if it absolutely gushed out looking all foamy then - well - that must be kinda right.

Long story short - I've just had four weeks of revelation. Including a Mazzer Major, Macap M7, several screwdrivers, minor burns, one self-electrocution, and an Isomac Zaffiro.

So, uh, that's what espresso is, ey? Gosh. I quite like this drink :) It doesn't even need sugar and cream, aye!

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#84: Post by Stuggi »

This is such a great thread that I just have to revive it. Here's my complete story.

My father got a steam toy, some kind of Krups knock-off, for Christmas from his company back in the day, must have been around '04-'05. I started using it with some preground Italian coffee that cost 10€ per can, didn't buy it though as my father usually got a can or two every Christmas.

Then Christmas came again, this time '06, and my friend got a Krups pump machine (one of those with the crema enhancers and pod filters). He started reading about espresso online, found some old text file that was from the turn of the millennium, and we had a good laugh about how OCD people can be about coffee (the special made wooden tampers were particularly funny for some reason). Little did I know that in 2-3 years I would be way past that text file in terms of OCD.

He continued to drink his burnt Lavazza, and I stopped making espresso as it didn't exactly taste that good.

Then, in the summer of 2007 I had a boring summer job as an IT-techie, and I spent a lot of time on the Internet as I had very little to do (and very little in the terms of payment for my time so it worked out alright). Anyhow, I found this site, and the CG, and the La Pavoni machine. A while later I bought the machine.

Here's how my "usage" progressed;

1. I had no money left, so I used the same preground Italian stuff and some Illy preground to get by until I could buy a grinder. This phase lasted for about 2 months.

2. I bought all the needed accessories, tamper (really hefty 51mm hunk of stainless steel), grinder (i-Mini), 1 kg of burnt up "Vienna" roasted Monteriva beans, still have 900 grams left of that), steaming pitcher etc.
This got me by for a while, probably around ½ year or something.

3. Slowly I started buying "fresher" beans, I found a guy that did espresso roasts every 3 weeks (not so good coffee, he used some Cuban beans and they tasted quite baked). I also used some other roasts, but nothing was very good.

4. Around 1 year after all this, I started to do my own home roasts. I roasted some Kenyan AA (that's what the bag said) in a pot on the stove (burnt), in the oven (good method, but I was too newbie to get it right), and slowly find a Poppery and Sweet Marias. This was about the same time I started to get microfoam right on the La Pav and everything started to fall into place.

5. Now, a year after that, I'm finally starting to get drinkable espresso out of the La Pav, and I'm also starting to look at upgrades; a proper grinder (the i-Mini isn't that great after all) like an M7 (75mm flat burr), a new machine (Elektra A3 probably), and some proper beans (my home roasts aren't as good as I've thought...) as I really can't get anything local, but luckily the UK and Square Mile Coffee isn't that far away.

Well, that's about it, probably in two to five years I'll be on here telling everybody how wrong I was, and how it's impossible to make good espresso without 2 M7K's, a 3 group La Marzocco (probably the Strada or whatever they call their new pressure profiling machine) and a Probat in the kitchen, but until then I'll try to just improve my espresso bit by bit. :mrgreen:
Sebastian "Stuggi" Storholm
LMWDP #136

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#85: Post by Ichabod »

Well I still am a newbie, very much so, but I've improved my habits in the last few weeks. I've used Illy pods in my FrancisFrancisX5 for the last 8 years or so, reasoning I got 80% of the quality for 50% of the effort. I'm now using fresh roasted beans ground in a (borrowed) Mazzer (while I obsessively research grinders), and I'm changing that assessment to less than 50% quality for 80% of the effort. Really - a quick wipe of spilled grounds, and knocking the puck out of the portafilter, such an imposition... :oops:

My greatest sin? Would it be warming up chocolate milk in the microwave to make mochas? I revealed that recently to a barista (who has played a part in my evolution) and she laughed and gave me my drink for free for entertaining her.


#86: Post by oldworld_luke »

I think mine is really bad

when I first read about espresso years ago, I had read that it was best when using cheaper beans combined with higher quality beans...at the time that is all i knew nothing else.

I took Folgers and combined it with some Jamaican blend I had at the time and was pulling these shots that tasted God awful on what was my Cuisinart...

Today things are nothing like that as I roast and blend my own coffee and have had the time to work on and learn about espresso machines, but I never will forget just how little I knew starting out (and I am sure I have worse stories as well!)

Supporter ♡

#87: Post by mdmvrockford »

I have been long time cafe espresso drinker and forum reader. Prior I never posted due to fact I was using a superautomatic. After four years with the superauto, the Boss (i.e. wife) finally got used to grinding own beans and agreed to getting a proper espresso machine. Just last week I finally talked her into ok'ing a semiautomatic (Alexia PID) and so I joined the forum.

The saying "there is difference between knowing the path and walking the path" rang quite true for my first extraction. Prior to owning this machine, I have never actually tamped or used a semiautomatic machine.

I thought my first shot espresso should be with the Rancilio naked portafilter. (Intelligentsia Black Cat 20 grams, Rocky grinder doserless with Weiss Distribution Technique, Espro 30# tamper, PID brew temp 200F).
My 5 y/o young lady was eager to watch her father use his new "big shiny machine". As the extraction was going on, I was pleased to see the single stream and some tiger striping. Not bad I thought, not bad....Then I looked at my daughter who asked me "why is it so messy?". I failed to notice the very fine stream of channeling spraying her T-shirt (Doh!).

Main moral of story: do not use a naked portafilter with little kids watching (who will then talk with your spouse) on one's very first tamp and extraction no matter how much reading one has done.
LMWDP #568


#88: Post by zin1953 »

Well, considering that I've never claimed to be more than "an experienced newbie," I'll post what I did this morning . . .

OK, it's been a weird week in Berkeley, California with snow on the ground, morning temperatures of 34° F (1° C) and daytime highs of no more than 47° F (8° C), and icy roads, freezing rain, and a dog that's too smart for my own good!

Dog "ain't no dummy," that's for sure -- why go outside in the freezing rain? But nature calls eventually -- rain or no -- and she got me up at 1:30-2:00 this morning to let her out. That means I have to go downstairs, let her out, wait for her in order to wipe off her paws or she will track mud all through the house (and my wife would kill me). This I do, and now wide awake, I trudge back upstairs (now with a much happier dog) and climb back in bed.

Bear with me.

So at 6:20, the dog -- who has yet to know how to read a calendar, no matter how hard we've tried -- wakes me up for breakfast. (She hasn't figured out that she should sleep in on Sundays.) So, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, I head back downstairs and feed her. And there's the espresso machine . . . on for over an hour, perfectly warmed up and ready to go . . .

I grab the bottomless portafilter, I grab my dosing funnel from OE, I put the pf in the holder of the Mahlkönig K30 Vario, and I watch as 14.5 grams of coffee pass from the chute, right through the pf, and onto the catch tray because I had forgotten about a little thing called a portafilter basket! :cry: :roll: :oops:

A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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#89: Post by Psyd »

zin1953 wrote:I had forgotten about a little thing called a portafilter basket! :cry: :roll:

That is not a newbie mistake. Every single one of us has made the same mistake, or it's equivalent. The problem is that you need caffeine to prepare the mornings first caffeine.

And we've trained the Greyhounds to sleep through the night. On top of the feather bed. And eat when they're fed. They're just so damned happy to be out of those cages and not running in circles that they'll pretty much do whatever pleases us as long as they get the couch!
And they shed more heat per squinch of nearly any other breed of dog or cat! Toasty!

(BTW, mine was getting everything except the cup organised. First shot right into the drip tray. And I wouldn't even mention it if I'd only done it once! ; >)
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175


#90: Post by SL28ave »

zin1953 wrote: I grab the bottomless portafilter, I grab my dosing funnel from OE, I put the pf in the holder of the Mahlkönig K30 Vario, and I watch as 14.5 grams of coffee pass from the chute, right through the pf, and onto the catch tray because I had forgotten about a little thing called a portafilter basket! :cry: :roll: :oops:
When I was a barista in Santa Cruz, one 6AM I forgot to grind the coffee altogether and put whole beans in the brew basket and brewed away. My manager pointed it out. I was embarrassed. I went to rebrew it, and made the same exact mistake. The look on my manager's face was priceless.

It never happened again. I swear!
"Few, but ripe." -Carl Friedrich Gauss