Bezzera Strega for dummies!

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
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#1: Post by minotakis »

Hello, I am using the Strega for a few months now and honestly I have no idea of what I am doing...!
I do not get very nice shots..the flavour is mediocre most of the times.
I know that it is a great machine and I am sure that I am doing it all wrong!
So I will need some serious advice for beginners...
I have searched in the forums but it is impossible to choose the proper one for my case since they are numerous.
I must apologize in advance if the things that I am asking are already written in the forums.
Practically I have a lot of questions...
First of all my grinder is a mazzer jolly that I will replace in the near future.
I am using a VST 20 gram and I have ordered the Ims Competition Shower Screen E61 200NT.
I always use freshly roasted coffee.
I have bought a naked portafilter...and my first question is: does a bottomless portafilter make any difference?
I used to measure the time of extraction, but I was told that in this kind of machines has no it true?
Should I manipulate the lever during the extraction? I understand that you can achieve an enormous number of different results, but is there any compass on how to manipulate the lever? I mean when should I hold it, for how long and what is the difference if I hold it for example in the beginning or in the middle of the extraction... Or is it better not to interfere with the extraction?
From 20 grams of coffee is it too much to take 40 grams of espresso? Should the ratio of extraction be under 2?
Do you believe that with the Weiss distribution technique I could have better results until I will change my grinder?
My point is that I need some simple advice in order to start to explore the world of the Strega following the wright paths..
A major problem is that I can make maximum two coffees per day, so I cannot experiment seriously.
Thank you in advance!


#2: Post by Spad_VII »

Being your first post should be beneficial to know your background....

So some question from reader side to square the situation:
Do you have experience with other espresso machines?
Why are you unhappy of the Mazzer? Is it unfit for your needs, or just because people say this and that?
Are you confident about how your coffee should taste?

Then, I own a lower tier machine so my best possible extraction won't match the one of a strega, therefore my advice have limited power:
I'm experimenting as many coffees as I can at the moment, and I found how each one loves it's own grind, dosing and tamp.

I range from seven to sixteen grams for 30/35 grams shot, each dosing will expose some flavors and mute others. I've learned not to give a damn to extraction time, rather how the combination of grind, dose and tamp will alter the extraction speed to get the flavors i like most from that specific coffee.

I'm a test engineer for a living, and I work all the day with instruments, measures and stuff. I wanted the magic moment of espresso a sort of zen experience. That's why I went for a ground basic machine, and banned all the measuring instruments from the counter. I've used a precision scale the first two weeks just to understand a couple of things, and now I go all by sensation. I find the part of never having two shots the same as funny, not frustrating.
LMWDP #620

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#3: Post by Stephane_Paris »

Hi i'am almost a begginer (with my Bezzera) but i'll try to give you some info:

First you Mazzer Jolly is great, you can alway go for more but you have a very good grinder, forget that

Try around 16 or 17 Gr in pf for around 30-36 Gr in cup.

Find the grind setting that make the first drop start to fall on you pf (naked portafilter is perfect) just when the pump finish to fill the group, then just press up the lever to release it and let it do his job, remove the cup when blonding

When you'll have good result (you can have Very good just with that) you can try have fun make start the lever before the pump finish to fill the group, retain it...

Of course look the videos on the first page here Bezzera Strega - Second Look is very ionformative ;)

Use warm cup ;)
LMWDP #588.

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#4: Post by minotakis »

Thank you for your quick answer,

My former experience with semi pro machines was with an Isomac Zaffiro, that I used for 3 years, so as you can understand I do not have a lot of experience with the espresso machines.
I am not unhappy with the Mazzer but everyone that I asked, that already owned the Strega, told me that I should replace it in the future with a more modern one.
My goal is to decrease the bitterness and get at the same time some nice flavours. A few times I have got some nice and intense flavours with very little bitteness, but now the best result that I can get is a flat taste with a little bitterness..

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#5: Post by minotakis »

Should I have to replace to VST 20 gramm with a basket that uses less gramms or this is not necessary?

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Team HB

#6: Post by another_jim »

The 20 gram VST basket is because Bezzera has no clue at all on how to properly use the machine they design and build; and therefore supply baskets that don't work?
Jim Schulman

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#7: Post by minotakis »

The VST basket was recommended to me from owners of the Strega. I was told that I would get serious results with this basket. The problem is that I donnot see any difference and very often gives me worse results.


#8: Post by walt_in_hawaii »

The stock basket it came with is just fine. I use a HQ14 basket in mine and the difference is very slightly better, but only just so... if you are a beginner I doubt you'd even notice a difference. Stick with stock basket for now, you don't need the 20g baskets. I bought HQ18? baskets and they are still new/unused, I never needed them for this machine. Start at 18g and work your way up slightly but that should get you close. I settled on 19g.
There is nothing wrong with the superjolly, you don't need to upgrade it. Maybe a set of SSP burrs, but that's it. It won't change the taste of the shot very much if you go to a more expensive grinder. Yes you can adjust the rate of flow by keeping your hand on the handle, but I try to adjust the grind so that it will go on its own without my touching the handle much.

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#9: Post by minotakis »

If I am not mistaking the original basket is 16 gr, is it ok if I put 18 gr in a 16gr basket?


#10: Post by walt_in_hawaii »

No, it will probably start talking in italian and tell you how ridiculous your president is if you do that.
...just try it and see, its only espresso. You won't learn if you think every step is a carefully laid trap by terrorists; relax and enjoy yourself. Its a great machine and you have a wonderful grinder. Learn to trust them, and your own tastebuds.