Seeking feedback - Coffee Sensor Flow Control kit

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
_Ryan_
Posts: 183
Joined: 2 years ago

#1: Post by _Ryan_ »

Hi,

Coffee Sensor make two flow control kits
- General e61 kit https://coffee-sensor.com/product/coffe ... roupheads/
- Vibiemme specific kit https://coffee-sensor.com/product/vibie ... ol-device/

I'm considering the VBM kit. I haven't come across many (any?) solid reviews.

Key questions:
Q1: How is the build quality, fit and finish of the kit? Does it appear obviously after market once mounted?
Q2: Is the needle valve fiddly/over-sensitive or do you find it reasonably repeatable?

Thanks,

Ryan

jrham12
Posts: 268
Joined: 5 years ago

#2: Post by jrham12 »

Hi Ryan,

I have the standard E61 kit installed on my ECM Synchronika. (No experience with the VBM kit). I will say that the build quality and fit & finish of the standard kit is excellent. After installation, it doesn't look at all out of place.
Upon initial installation, I did seem to have some difficulty in fine-tuning the flow rate from my machine. It was very sensitive and I found that I would go from zero flow to default (flow rate with the stock mushroom installed) in 1/2 to 3/4 of a turn of the needle valve. it did not allow for fine adjustment. So I reached out to Coffee Sensor and explained my issue and shared some flow rate data with them and they ended up sending me a different stem to install in the device and it has worked wonderfully since then. In my opinion, their customer service is top notch as well.

Hope that helps with your decision!
Josh

User avatar
BaristaBoy E61
Posts: 3450
Joined: 9 years ago

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I use our E61 pretty much like the OP, line pressure preinfusion set at 4-1/2bar. Using a naked portafilter and single dosing my own blends. I measure beans going into and coming out of the grinder and measure extraction with a tared out pre-warmed cup on a scale. Everything is done on the fly, in the moment, by the seat of the pants, brewing and watching the bottom of the portafilter basket through a shot mirror on the drain tray rack. iPhone stop watch is started when brew lever goes just above 45˚ angle and preinfusion begins. Lap timer is touched when 1st drop hit the bottom of the cup, again when pump mode is initiated and then when post infusion mode back to line pressure recommences at the end of the shot. The clock is stopped when the entire process is terminated. If I look at a screen shot of the stop watch months later I can still tell whether it's of a shot made for me or my wife and if the grinder needed further tweaking.

My process is determined by what I'm seeing at the bottom of the portafilter basket through the shot mirror - all by flow, shape of the cone, fissure indications and weight of the extraction in the cup ratio to ground beans. The stop watch is used for grind adjustment and ground coffee weight analysis to determine what I have to do for the next shot!

I do have a line pressure regulator inline with our BWT filter and counter and find 4-½ bar gives good results with line level preinfusion.

Flow control mushrooms are not for me; not my thing and I don't want it to be my thing.

The next step in the process will be either a LM GS3 MP or a KvdW Speedster Idromatic, I'm not sure which one. A lot depends on kitchen space that is limited and whether I want to go through the installation challenges of a 230v hookup and that of an external pump. The GS3MP is more practical and that's the tear.

I'm always mindful of, 'careful what you wish for', Caveat Emptor and my wife's ever prescient, soul searching question of , "Is it manageable?" The LM GS3MP is certainly more manageable should we ever move from our own home.

My brain says LM GS3MP - but my heart says KvdW-Idro - That's the killer!

- End of rant.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

_Ryan_ (original poster)
Posts: 183
Joined: 2 years ago

#4: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) »

jrham12 wrote:Hi Ryan,

I have the standard E61 kit installed on my ECM Synchronika. (No experience with the VBM kit). I will say that the build quality and fit & finish of the standard kit is excellent. After installation, it doesn't look at all out of place.
Upon initial installation, I did seem to have some difficulty in fine-tuning the flow rate from my machine. It was very sensitive and I found that I would go from zero flow to default (flow rate with the stock mushroom installed) in 1/2 to 3/4 of a turn of the needle valve. it did not allow for fine adjustment. So I reached out to Coffee Sensor and explained my issue and shared some flow rate data with them and they ended up sending me a different stem to install in the device and it has worked wonderfully since then. In my opinion, their customer service is top notch as well.

Hope that helps with your decision!
Josh
Thanks, how many turns do you have now from zero flow to default?

jrham12
Posts: 268
Joined: 5 years ago

#5: Post by jrham12 »

I'd have to check it to be sure, but I want to say about 1-3/4 turns from zero to "stock" flow... I'd have to dig out my testing notes (after remembering where I put them!) to be able to say for sure. But there is plenty of adjustment to make meaningful changes on the fly.

_Ryan_ (original poster)
Posts: 183
Joined: 2 years ago

#6: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) replying to jrham12 »

Greater than one rotation does kinda rule out making a little indicator dial though. it could still be done, just wouldn't be as intuitive.

Marmot
Posts: 375
Joined: 2 years ago

#7: Post by Marmot »

An indicator dial is not needed in my opinion. You remember the significant flow rate steps pretty fast and mainly use the brew pressure gauge you install on the front of your E61 group.
On my Izzo Alex Duetto the stock flow rate is also at about 1 3/4 turn. When I want to do slow preinfusion with 2 bars I open the valve about 1/8 and wait for pressure to slowly build up and then I often close the valve a little so pressure will not rise anymore. Afterwards I open the valve to reach full 9 bars. I reach maximum pressure and flow rate without opening the valve all the way to stock flow rate because the resistance of the coffee determines flow rate out of the portafilter. Then I like to let pressure decline during the shot. For that to happen I have to close the valve pretty much and pressure often does not start to decline until I close the valve to 1/4 turn or less and at that point pressure suddenly starts to decline fast so I have to close it slowly. This may sound difficult but I never had problems using the valve this way. I rest my hand on the top of the machine and slowly turn the valve with my fingers. You just have to get used to the sensibility of the valve at low flow rates in the beginning and the end of the shot.
The set from coffee sensor is really well made and should you ever get tired of flow profiling (you wont :mrgreen: ) you can always set it to stock flow rate, take off the handle and brew pressure gauge and then you can hardly tell you ever did a modification to you group.

_Ryan_ (original poster)
Posts: 183
Joined: 2 years ago

#8: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote: Flow control mushrooms are not for me; not my thing and I don't want it to be my thing.

.
tbh I've toyed with the idea of a needle valve and gear pump (hidden) similar to the mod that LM owners do, that would give me repeatable preinfusion and profiling, but I don't understand it well enough to design and engineer it from a profiling perspective- yet.
A mushroom setup to learn more about what works and what doesn't seems like a sensible, reversible experiment.

I don't drink milk, and the cost of the mods would be far less than buying a Decent, a machine that I consider ugly.
Grinder upgrades are higher priority for me.

Marmot
Posts: 375
Joined: 2 years ago

#9: Post by Marmot »

Repeatable preinfusion and profiling would be nice but it would have to be a complex system like with the decent where the machine adjusts flow rate to the resistance. You have too much variation with coffee, grinder and puck preparation to always get the same resistance.
With a flow control device you can (and have to) react to those variations.

_Ryan_ (original poster)
Posts: 183
Joined: 2 years ago

#10: Post by _Ryan_ (original poster) »

flow meter + pressure sensor + micro-controller.