Dialed in technique and then all of sudden, the pull got worse

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#1: Post by oldskoolboarder »

For over a year, I've been dialing my Lelit Elizabeth and Baratza Vario. I'm partial to chocolate bombs and love Blue Bottle's Hayes Valley. I dialed in the grind setting, dose, timing, etc and consistently pulled just the right ristretto. Then a few months ago, the pulls changed dramatically. Everything was the same but it started to pull too fast and the coffee was thin and sour. No more perfectly timed shots with the rich crema.

I couldn't figure out what changed. I pick up the beans at the local Blue Bottle store, making sure to get the most recent roast date, so that's not an issue. So I started with maintenance.

- Cleaned the grinder. Cleared old coffee. Ran Umex Grindz
- Clean the Lelit. Reservoir, screens, backflushed, all of it.

And still the same problem existed. I played w/ grind and temperature and nothing worked. I ran out options. I thought, maybe Blue Bottle changed something w/ their process so I went to the local Verve out of desparation. I haven't been a fan, mostly because I couldn't get the recipe right. But then I tried a bag of Sermon w/ my normal procedure and the ristretto came back. So then wondered was it Blue Bottle? I tried the same procedure w/ Blue Bottle and fast and thin again. I tried Verve's Sermon and pulled great. But I was missing my caffeine so recently tried Ritual Roasters. Thin and sour again.

When I re-tried HVE again, I played w/ weight and grind settings but still could not get the right pull.

What gives? In this past year, I've been able to use regular and decaf w/ slightly similar settings and got pretty good results. But now regular beans just don't 'work'. Ideas?


#2: Post by Pressino »

Good that you cleaned the grindert. Even though it didn't help it, I still suspect the grinder is the problem. Try grinding fine enough with it that you choke the machine and then back off slightly to see if your extraction is better. If you can't choke the machine the Rocky can't grind fine enough for the coffee you are using for espresso.

edit: I see now you are grinding with the vario, not the Rocky. Above comment still applies.

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#3: Post by cannonfodder »

Normally decaf and regular coffees take a good adjustment. I do not normally use decaf but the very few times I have used it, it required a much finer grind and higher dose. They could have also changed the blend, new batch of coffees in the blend.
Dave Stephens