Cafelat with Timemore Slim Plus

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
Veganpotter

#1: Post by Veganpotter »

Hi!!! This is my first post and I'm not really sure where this post belongs. Here or the grinders section?!?!

Anyhow, I got my Cafelat and Slim an hour apart in the mail. The Slim doesn't give a ton of range with espresso. But it's supposed to be capable. I had to do some burr alignment as it was bad at 7 clicks. I know people are using 8 on electric machines with good results. But at 8 clicks, I'm pulling sour, 10 second shots at 2 bars :( At 7 clicks, I'm also pulling 10-12 second shots at 3-4 bars. Coffee is slightly less sour. Even though Timemore doesn't want you going down to 6 clicks, I did and I got similar results to the 7 clicks in terms of pressure and taste. I know I don't need 9 bars. I just don't want to be pushing 10 second shots at 4 or stretching to 30 seconds with 1-2 bars.

This is the first non-junk espresso machine I've ever owned myself(cheapo $120 machine in my parents house with a blade grinder). But I've dated and lived with great baristas with prosumer setups at home and the grinds I'm getting really do seem as fine as what they were using. So I'm wondering what's going on :| I've just recently tried the paper filters and the results are similar. I've only had it for 4 days. But I'm pulling a lot of shots(I have a lot of coffee as a roaster trying to get a business started). I've even tried tamping with a good 100lbs of force and it makes little difference from the typical 30ish pounds. I've tried multiple shots from 17-20g. I'm getting similar pressure at all those doses with the best tasting shots around 18. Only about 2 in 5 is a shot I wouldn't be extremely ashamed of sharing with someone not seasoned in drinking espresso :) My best shots have been OK. But I know my coffee is capable as I've had superb shots with it from a friend's Lelit Bianca. I've been pulling with a Burundi and a Yirga Cheffe. The Burundi shots have been far better on my device. I live at 4500' and don't think I can get water hot enough to pull great shots with how I've roasted the Yirga Cheffe. Even though they're very good on the Lelit.

*No idea how people are grinding for Turkish with this thing. From poking around online, the alignment I have seems to be better than most with only mild burr rubbing at 5 clicks. Wondering if people are just grinding at 4-5 clicks despite the burr contact?!?!

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Jonk

#2: Post by Jonk »

If the grinder is brand new, perhaps it needs to be seasoned before it'll work well for espresso for you. I have an older Timemore without the spikes, but otherwise it's the same burrset - I believe it just takes more time to grind with. On my grinder there was minimal burr rub around 1 click in the beginning. After a few kilos of beans it started to grind smoothly without touching at the zero point.

Aside from being quite a bit slower than my other grinders when grinding for espresso, I've always thought it delivers quite a good grind. In the cup, somewhere between the Comandante C40 and one of the Italmill burr grinders like Kinu M47.

I'd suggest using it for pour over and so on to begin with, then when you notice a slightly improved performance try it again for espresso. If it still won't turn smoothly just off 0 (use the thumb screw on the top to adjust) you have to revisit alignment. My older version won't allow grinding for turkish, the beans stop feeding through the burrs at too fine settings.

mikelipino

#3: Post by mikelipino »

Hi and welcome! Your setup is exactly my initial setup. I'm by no means an expert, but here's my take.

As with anything espresso, the ability to pull nice shots will be limited by materials, equipment, and technique. I'd argue without constraints in grinder or max temp due to altitude, a Robot can pull good shots at any roast level with some modifications to technique. But if you are constrained in any of those areas, it will make selection in the other areas smaller. Based on your description, here's how I see where you might have limited shot types

Constraints
- grinder - large click steps, finest grind limited by alignment
- temperature - high altitude limits max water temp, Robot will also steal heat unless aggressively preheated

Resulting Limits to M, E, & T
- materials - lighter roasts will be difficult (requires higher temps and finer grinds, compared to med-dark that can grind coarser and are less "picky" about being dialed in)
- equipment - already purchased (but luckily the Slim plus benefits by having a wider grind distribution as the increased fines help build pressure, and you can modulate pressure on the Robot easily on the fly)
- technique - lower doses will be limited by finest grind available (you can use dose to increase pressure, find a bean / roast level that can choke the machine at or over grind setting 6, increase grind setting by 1 and then try increasing the dose. I've gone as high as 22 g for a stubborn light roast); 7-9 bar will be difficult for lighter roasts that can require finer grind (but it's okay to pull at lower pressure due to the nature of lever machines, and I've had some tasty shots pulled as low as 5 bar); 2:1 ratios and 30 s shots will be difficult for lighter roasts (but some shots can be very good pulled long and with wildly varying shot times); depending on altitude and boiling point, preheating might be mandatory (either by overflowing the basket, prewarming the basket / portafilter [can be done over the kettle], preheating the piston, or all 3)

That's my take on it when I was in a similar situation (I've since upgraded to a grinder that is better aligned, can grind finer, and is stepless, but still I find very light roasts to be too much of a hassle with my setup as it would require preheating everything and playing with dose). But I certainly welcome suggestions from folks with much more experience than me! Keep at it and I'm sure you'll be able to find a shot you like.

Veganpotter (original poster)

#4: Post by Veganpotter (original poster) »

Sounds like you seasoned way more than I did!!! I ground through about 100g. I've only done one 30g french press with it, and probably 11-12 17-20g shots at this point.
I'm tempted to add washers to increase spring tension. That may keep the axis more centered. And it may let me get away with grinding at 5-6 clicks. I wish a had a Kruve to test for particle size. .*I had a lot of movement with the ring burr. Probably 0.3mm or more. Teflon tape throughout did the job. I'm happy the inside or the chamber is very round. Many don't seem to be going off of how others have aligned theirs.

Veganpotter (original poster)

#5: Post by Veganpotter (original poster) »

Thanks, happy to be here vs lurking!!!

I have a Kenyan I roasted further past 1sr crack Saturday morning. Hopefully that's good to go by the weekend. Not that it would be a great espresso under the best conditions. I don't know. It cupped nice and bright, with a good orange note though.
I may try that 22g shot. I'm happy going up to 2.5:1 if need be. I like lungos anyway. So even 3:1 would work but that would really be pushing it with chamber size. I'm just perplexed by the pressure being so low at a grind others have used. And with the extreme pressure I've tamped with. I feel like I need to do a 1bar shot for it to go 30seconds. I can't imagine that being much richer than a moka pot.
*I bought this grinder as I wait for a Knob. I'm Kickstarter customer #1052 or something. So I'll be waiting until February if things go as planned. I was hoping I could make this work until then

Veganpotter (original poster)

#6: Post by Veganpotter (original poster) »

Finally got some real pressure today. I went down to 6 clicks. I also put in way less water. So instead of the filling 5mm from the top, I put in 55g of water with 18g of coffee. It was definitely less hot though. So it had the same sourness(tolerable amount) but way more richness with that sourness
*Not sure how big the shot was since I'm waiting for a scale that fits

Jonk

#7: Post by Jonk »

Hope you learned your lesson. Fill to the top! 8)

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Veganpotter (original poster)

#8: Post by Veganpotter (original poster) » replying to Jonk »

Ha, so far, they've been the best shots :lol: James Hoffman also put in a similar amount of water which is why I tried it

Jeff
Team HB

#9: Post by Jeff »

There are a couple of things in the physics suggesting a reasonably full fill. More hot water is more heat to warm the piston, basket, and coffee. You'll likely get hotter extractions. For "un-dark" coffees, or especially medium or lighter coffees, that's probably an advantage. Less air to compress may mean something, at least in the feel. I'm not immediately seeing how that would manifest itself in the cup.

thirdcrackfourthwave

#10: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

Veganpotter wrote:Ha, so far, they've been the best shots :lol: James Hoffman also put in a similar amount of water which is why I tried it
Never really understood why Hoffman did that. Pretty sure he does not know more than Paul Pratt about how Pratt's machine works.

At any rate you should be able to easily grind fine enough (don't know anything about Timemore) to get in the 6-8 bar comfort zone (or higher if you desire) with a decent espresso grinder.