How to avoid wet pucks with spring lever? - Page 4

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TheMadTamper

#31: Post by TheMadTamper »

One other thing I'm experimenting with a bit now to handle some of the mess is trying the ridged Faema style hq basket instead of the ridgeless. A lot of leftover wet grinds gets stuck on the smooth edge area's where no holes are on the ridgeless style, and the conical shape of the Faema style might improve that (or just get stuck on the slope...). Plus i think i end up knocking out the puck with the puck in the middle of the knock bar, thus recontaminating the basket with gunk due to the ridgeless knocking itself out of the pf if i just hit the edge.... It's a nice loose pf spring on the cafelat PFs, so the ridgeless comes out a bit too easy, and the ridged comes out very easily anyway. Worth a try...

(A big contrast to the cimbali PF springs that are like iron clamps requiring a pry tool to remove a basket even if it's ridgeless....)

I do admit I'm spoiled by the utterly bone dry pucks I used to get on the E61, but I realized that probably had to do with using VST baskets and the inherently coarser grind they require..... Not sure Id want to go the VST route in a lever.
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mathof

#32: Post by mathof »

TheMadTamper wrote:I do admit I'm spoiled by the utterly bone dry pucks I used to get on the E61, but I realized that probably had to do with using VST baskets and the inherently coarser grind they require..... Not sure Id want to go the VST route in a lever.
I thought VST baskets required comparatively fine grounds, which in turn yielded higher extraction. In any case, I use the VST ridgeless 15g basket regularly with my Londinium lever and the pucks are usually dry (not that this matters much to me).

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TheMadTamper

#33: Post by TheMadTamper »

mathof wrote:I thought VST baskets required comparatively fine grounds, which in turn yielded higher extraction. In any case, I use the VST ridgeless 15g basket regularly with my Londinium lever and the pucks are usually dry (not that this matters much to me). I also see no signs of the four divots you find on yours.
Hmm i could be remembering wrong, i thought VST had smaller holes requiring a coarser grind but you may be right, maybe it was fine. I just remember a huge grind adjustment when I went to IMS screens, and minimal adjustment from there to HQ. That makes the difference that much more confusing though if so! (Note that same coffee with dry pucks on E61 vst yielded very wet pucks in cimbali m21 with ims baskets and only wet pucks if I'm impatient with hq on lever.)

I'm not the puck divot guy though, that's SeanSheep's thread :wink: I'm just the one with the soggy coffee!
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TheMadTamper

#34: Post by TheMadTamper »

While not perfect, I am noticing two interesting extra bits of info here. I've been experimenting with double-pull lungo extractions to get over 1.5oz volume. I notice the puck seems to come out drier faster when doing this and/or combined with the "pull the handle a little before removing the PF" compared to doing the single pull. Can't say I have a good double pull technique yet, but I do find that an interesting difference.

Also, the simple act of knocking out harder against the bar seems to knock the puck out more completely, leaving less gunk. I need to find a better brush though. I bought a 2.5" wide pastry brush....it seems like it should do a good job, but seems to leave stuff on the edges still.

I'm liking the ridged HQ baskets ATM though. The ridgeless just fall out of the Cafelat portafilters if you rap them hard enough on the bar....I love soft springs like that, but in this case, I think something actually retaining the basket a little is beneficial. It still just snaps out with a little pluck of the fingers, though the brush might work better on the straight-walled ridgeless.
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TheMadTamper

#35: Post by TheMadTamper »

Another update!

One thing with the lever that I've noticed in general is fairly show shot volume on doubles/split singles. The shots have tasted fantastic, if a bit ristretto, so I haven't felt there was any problem to address. The lever does catch a little "high" on it's rise, and every so many shots I get the sense that it starts catching lower than that, but then "slips" and continues upward to it's normal catch point anyway. I've seen threads on "slipping" levers, but it didn't seem like the same thing. Extraction didn't start, it was just a little false catch before the normal point on the handle. You can feel it but it's otherwise irrelevant. Once, and only once, yesterday, the lever actually did "catch" at that low point and pull fully from there, outputting quite a bit more volume.

Anyway, I decided after 3 weeks to drop the screen and clean it for the first time. I've heard so much about how clean levers are. What I found inside was arguably the dirtiest group I've ever seen. Granted, I've been doing the "pull the lever a little to avoid wet pucks" trick. And I've been experimenting with a second pull on the occasions I want a lungo pull. So maybe some group gunk is to be expected. But this...seemed excessive. Thick coating of coffee film on the inside of the screen. A thick, wet coffee slime on the bottom of the piston, and around the sleeve. I pulled the lever a bit to lift the piston a few mm and wiped even more thick wet coffee slime from the inside of the bottom of the sleeve. Yuck!

I soaked the screen in cleaner for a few hours, but the coffee wasn't fully dissolving when I stirred. I went to scrub it and that's when I realized, the coffee slime was in fact grease! It smeared all over the screen, in every corevice. Smeared coffee jelly all over it, too. My brush head became slathered in gobs of grease, too. So THAT is what was all over the piston, sleeve, and screen: Coffee soaked into huge globs of lube grease, pressed against the surfaces. The factory overgreased it!

Since that screen is probably ruined beyond serviceability after slathering grease all over the mesh, fortunately I had the Cafelat IMS 200 and silicone gasket on hand to replace it. I pulled 4...actually no, 6 doubles now that I think about it. The lever behaved as normal, catching high (no "slip" prior though.) Normal volume. Pours seemed a little fast (due to the new screen, I'm sure) but even tightening it/increasing dose, pucks now seemed even wetter than before!

Then just before bed, I pulled a double decaf - this time the lever engaged low, and delivered a high volume shot. I had to pull the cup long before it was done pouring....a first when not doing a double pull! Usually I pull the cup right after the lever returns to rest and the flow starts slowing.

This morning, I pulled my usual 7 doubles for the to go mugs - 6 of the 7, the lever caught low with a very long extraction (remember that before yesterday that had NEVER happened over 3 weeks, yesterday happened randomly once, and starting last night, after 6 doubles that were all high catches, 7 of the last 8 shots have been low catches. The one high catch I did do a double pull.)

Meanwhile while those first 6 doubles post de-gunking yielded high catch and very very wet pucks (including 2 that stuck to the screen when I did the "pull slightly to prevent sneeze" method) of the ones that had low catches the pucks have been dry, much quicker, without doing a "pull slightly" method, and without sneeze other than a soft "pfff" when unlocking.

I'm not sure exactly what's happening here, but it, on the surface, seems to be something on the order of: The factory *massively* over-greased the group. This has, somehow been causing the lever to catch too high, pushing too low a water volume out, and somehow maybe trapping some of that brew water in the group, releasing it onto the puck only after the group is no longer under much pressure. Maybe.

I think it will depend on what happens over the next day or two, but the lever catch height, grease gobs, and wet pucks may be related. And, possibly/presumably, the level of grime inside the screen/piston/sleeve.

Funny thing was the high catch espressos were very very good espressos. Even if they were loaded with Dow or Haynes or something.

I'm tempted to try one of the IMS 35 screens as well, but with shipping from Londinium, that's a $42 screen. I can't quite justify that for a part that's, like, $5 for the garden variety and $24 for the version I currently have, so it's not so tempting overall.
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IamOiman

#36: Post by IamOiman »

You really do not require much grease compared to the amount that was in your group!
TheMadTamper wrote: This morning, I pulled my usual 7 doubles for the to go mugs - 6 of the 7, the lever caught low with a very long extraction (remember that before yesterday that had NEVER happened over 3 weeks, yesterday happened randomly once, and starting last night, after 6 doubles that were all high catches, 7 of the last 8 shots have been low catches. The one high catch I did do a double pull.)
Hold up you pull that many shots to go? Do you drink them all yourself or do you share it with others? If you do the latter taking multiple shots to go is an Italian thing called caffè in bottiglia.
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-Ryan
Using a spice grinder violates the Geneva Convention
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TheMadTamper

#37: Post by TheMadTamper »

IamOiman wrote:You really do not require much grease compared to the amount that was in your group!


Hold up you pull that many shots to go? Do you drink them all yourself or do you share it with others? If you do the latter taking multiple shots to go is an Italian thing called caffè in bottiglia.
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I'd sure hope you wouldn't need that much grease if it's enough to squeeze it all out into the screen and cover the whole piston end!

That's actually cool about the sharing. Alas, I'm only partially so generous. Only one share. :) It's 3 doubles each in two cups (that make up a large latte to go each), plus another double for the barista while working.... Or, on occasion....two doubles for the barista while working for a total of 8 doubles. Depends on the mood :wink:

Thus, also the emphasis on dry pucks and working fast. 7-8 doubles and 2 big steamed pitchers in 15-20 minutes is the goal!
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cafebmw

#38: Post by cafebmw »

i had a 3 group gaggia lever (54 Esportazione) in a commercial operation and during rush hours we were able to pull one shot after the other changing from group to group. the recovery time for each group, and that's true of my home machine as well (70 orione), is around 10-15 seconds with the spent puck being surface dry.
if you have standing water on the puck even after longer recovery time it means that air found a way around the puck somehow. it's the pressurized air cushion in the headspace which causes the residual pressure which in turn pushes the remaining water through the puck as the piston is already in its lower dead position.
i reduced the head space as much as possible by lowering the top assembly (with the piston at the bottom) while making sure that the fill/pre-infusion position is still correct.
i use the EP precision baskets and dose between 14 and 16 grams. on the esportazione i modified E61 shower screens which replaced the original ones. at my home machine i left the original and rather crude drilled brass screen in place.

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TheMadTamper

#39: Post by TheMadTamper » replying to cafebmw »

That's very informative and detailed, thanks!

I'm thinking this has something to do with the problem I didn't actually know I had, regarding the "high" catch point of the lever, which may be related to the overgreasing of the group. It's hard to say, I still don't have consistent catching. I'd say after removing the surplus grease I went from 100% of shots catching at a high point, lever incline of maybe 65 degrees if vertical is 90 and flat horizontal is 0, to about 40% of shots catching there and 60% catching lower, maybe about 40-45 degrees. And went from the feel of an occasional "false" attempt to catch at the 40 degree mark, to actually catching there more times than not.

I'm thinking something in there relates to what you describe of air making it past the puck - I'm assuming that means through the seal that's not fully seated due to excess grease and up into the upper part of the cylinder.

I may have to see if there's a new deposit of grease behind the screen on the bottom inner part of the sleeve that was moved down after removing the previous deposit and if that lends to consistency. It doesn't seem to be an actual mechanical defect since the state of "normal" is changing, but that extra grease packing could sure be affecting things.

I do notice that when it catches lower and runs a longer volume shot, the puck is dry within that 10 second period, and the same is true if I do a "double pull" and get more water in the group. I did back to backs this morning with about 5 low catches and 2 high catches (but adjusted with a double pull) and the puck was dry within seconds each time.
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