Caravel Techniques and Results

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Postby hbuchtel » Aug 31, 2008, 3:56 am

Seeing as we've got a whole deck-full of folks sailing the good ship Caravel, how about some talk about different techniques?

I bet there are a lot of ways to get a good cup out of the Caravel, but here is my regular routine for starters:

I'll fire her up with the kettle filled to about an inch from the top and wait for the water to come to a boil. Then I turn off the power and prepare the basket (out of the PF) while she cools down.

I haven't weighed the full basket recently, but I dose till the basket is almost full, tap it once on the counter, then dose again till there is a small mound coming out of the basket (this has to do with my grinder cleaning routine). After pressing down with my piece of tamper-jewelry ;) the puck is about 1cm from the top of the basket.

I'll pull a bit of water into the cup to warm it, then put the basket in the pf and lock it in. I then raise the lever to its uppermost position (uncovering the opening to the kettle) and leave it there ('pre-infusion') for the time it takes to empty and dry the cup.

Slowly lower the lever till the pressure builds up and put pressure on. Crema starts to appear after the bottom of the cup is filled, and I keep on pressing till I have about 30ml including crema.

This technique produces very intense shots, which I usually like (and can go well with milk), but I'd especially like to hear about how to make some milder shots. Double pump? Holding the lever down till it stops dripping? Simply less coffee?

So what works for you guys?


Postby CoffeeOwl » Sep 16, 2008, 8:04 pm

I managed to reproduce the technique that I used the very first time I tried to brew a shot with Caravel. It was yet manual water heating those first days and I was so very concerned to preheat the machine properly etc. that - somehow pulled good shot, but didn't remember how :shock: and then later couldn't just get any crema.
But no, it was not magic! I intuitively followed what was my idea of doing it the simplest yet proper way, probably accumulated from all the post I earlier read (and vids I watched - thanks Henry! - but the lever mounted not your way :D ). Also, I have no tamper nor anything that actually fits in the basket and could be used and that's a tricky point.

I preheat the cylinder letting hot water in and pressing the lever, then raise the lever and pull down again to press some more water through. Then I raise the lever to the point just before letting more water out and mount the pf with basket, then raise the lever for preinfusion and then press down. And always for pressing lever down I close the boiler and for raising it up and preinfusion - open it. If the boiler is open, there is air flow through the inside hole of the piston, upwards.
I made something similar to this routine on the very beginning and with the last shot. The inbetween shots, after I got the cord replaced were done without proper care for the preheating and without raising the lever before mounting the pf with basket, so probably there was some air in the cylinder.
Also, because of having no tamper and remembering how I got good shot tamping with my thumb, one time I thumbed with care LOL and another one (after seeing the result, which was no crema) didn't tamp at all (resulted in very thin crema). So today evening I got the golden point, the trick is to not to thumb too hard (OK - I'm going to sacrifice Schomer's Ergo Packer tromorrow with a help of an metal-worker :mrgreen: )

Anyway I'd like to stress the word managed that stands in the beginning of the post... after I started pressing on the lever, situation seemed really grave - I press, it stands, I get red, loose the force, it stands... I think I got hotter then the machine at one moment, pressing hard on the lever and on the boiler lid with my left hand - but finally something brown appeared at the bottom of the cup, and then - drop by drop - CREMA! It tasted differently then the way I remember first shot - less clear - but it was good! Like an essence of Vivaldi's double, but really it was tasty!
'a a ha sha sa ma!

LMWDP #199

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Postby mhoy » Sep 17, 2008, 2:09 am

I've used a shot glass with my Elektra Microcasa a Leva and managed a reasonable shot. :shock:



Postby CoffeeOwl » Sep 17, 2008, 5:01 am

I thought of that too, not actually a shot glass, because their diameter completely doesn't much, but a small honey jar. But finally I used my thumb, the jar's bottom is concave so I gave it up.
Anyway - why not get her a tamper, specially that I have this piece of shine and don't use it nor plan to use it any other way in its current diameter.
'a a ha sha sa ma!

LMWDP #199


Postby hperry » Sep 17, 2008, 6:24 am

I have a metal coffee spoon that came with the Caravel. Actually doesn't do too bad a job, but a custom tamper would be nicer.
Hal Perry

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Postby hbuchtel » Sep 18, 2008, 9:20 pm

I love the little tamper that I got from Richard (espressme), but I recall getting some good shots just tamping with my thumb when I first got the machine. It feels sort of like tamping down on a pipe :)

Having the tamper has certainly helped my consistency though... I used to get a lot of 'meltdowns' when using my thumb. Of course...I was using a pretty crappy grinder at that time. Maybe I should try again?

Tap to settle, no tamp (taken about 2 years ago :) )

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Postby hbuchtel » Sep 19, 2008, 3:46 am

I wanted to mention that I just experimented with a low dose (estimate 8g), no tapping, and a thumb tamp. It flowed much differently then my usual updosed, tapped, tamped shots (a constant stream rather than drips), and had a completely different taste- a distinct unsweetened chocolate (which I've never noticed with this bean before!?!) and a slightly 'cleaner' (less oily) mouthfeel.

I kinda liked it!

alex f

Postby alex f » Sep 24, 2008, 9:44 am

I could use some tips on using the solid piston models (no O-ring).

I can expel some air bubbles by gently pumping the lever up and down but I can't fill the cylinder completely. I do get some resistance but not as much as I do from a second pull off the spent grounds. Any advice ?