Difficulty Dialing in Espresso - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Aug 01, 2018, 7:58 pm

When I bought my newer machine, I bought a bottomless portafilter with it. I don't think I could have gotten coffee dialed in properly without it. This and the cheap scale were the 2 most important pieces for me learning to dial in different beans.

Watching the extraction will tell you if there is channeling and will tell you if your distribution is on track. Lots of vids available on what good extractions look like. At first I got all kinds of bad results, but could see them through what was coming out the bottom. (Lots of spurts at first)

Don't get too hung up on the time. I actually like a slower extraction, So if your beans do well at 1:2, I use 18g in 36 g out and maybe 40 seconds (maybe even 45). So grind a bit finer, taste the output and see if you prefer that taste to the faster extraction. As long as the pour is continuous a slow extraction sometimes seem richer.

One other variable can be an issue.. temperature. Is your brew water close to 200F? Any way to tell? I have an HX machine with PID and was using the manufacturer's recommended setting, but it was wrong in my kitchen. I measured it (maybe somewhat inaccurately) to be about 175-180. I was getting nothing as rich as I thought I should. I then kicked up the PID 5 degrees, and think I'm up to over 195, but more importantly, the taste and feel of the espresso improved significantly. I should experiment more, but since I like the espresso taste, got lazy..

Although I had no previous experience making espresso other than reading/watching a ton, I found it isn't too difficult dialing in stuff once you just get close with all the variables. Likely there is only one variable in your setup that might be off.

Maybe I missed it in a previous post.. do you know the recipe your shop uses? Some might use a ristretto pull?

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Aug 01, 2018, 8:03 pm

ojt wrote:I'm no expert by any means, but this sound to me like something I get when the machine / group is not hot enough, and also sounds like you might want to grind finer.


Just noticed this.. yes.. I agree on both counts

From looking online at that coffee, it doesn't list the roast level. However, it does say Espresso/Filter roast. I gotta think that would be a medium to medium dark roast, so you should be getting a rich crema (just guessing).

From your picture it looks like what I got when my brew water was too cool. (Finer grind being a secondary factor)

Got a fast, accurate thermometer with long probe? I used a foam cup method with thermometer stuck in side to get an idea of the brew water temp. Usually with HX the temps are too high unless you flush long, so will be surprised if your brew water is too cool.

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Aug 01, 2018, 8:13 pm

Bluenoser wrote:When I bought my newer machine, I bought a bottomless portafilter with it. I don't think I could have gotten coffee dialed in properly without it. This and the cheap scale were the 2 most important pieces for me learning to dial in different beans.

Watching the extraction will tell you if there is channeling and will tell you if your distribution is on track. Lots of vids available on what good extractions look like. At first I got all kinds of bad results, but could see them through what was coming out the bottom. (Lots of spurts at first)

Don't get too hung up on the time. I actually like a slower extraction, So if your beans do well at 1:2, I use 18g in 36 g out and maybe 40 seconds (maybe even 45). So grind a bit finer, taste the output and see if you prefer that taste to the faster extraction. As long as the pour is continuous a slow extraction sometimes seem richer.

One other variable can be an issue.. temperature. Is your brew water close to 200F? Any way to tell? I have an HX machine with PID and was using the manufacturer's recommended setting, but it was wrong in my kitchen. I measured it (maybe somewhat inaccurately) to be about 175-180. I was getting nothing as rich as I thought I should. I then kicked up the PID 5 degrees, and think I'm up to over 195, but more importantly, the taste and feel of the espresso improved significantly. I should experiment more, but since I like the espresso taste, got lazy..

Although I had no previous experience making espresso other than reading/watching a ton, I found it isn't too difficult dialing in stuff once you just get close with all the variables. Likely there is only one variable in your setup that might be off.

Maybe I missed it in a previous post.. do you know the recipe your shop uses? Some might use a ristretto pull?


Thank you for all of this. Unfortunately, though my Mara machine does have PID, I do not have control over it. It is factory set, so basically the PID functions as a more of a tight control temp unit, than a fine tuning device. I have been wondering about the temperature on this machine since when I go to do a cooling flush (after it sits idle for 1hr) I don't get the anticipated flash boil effect. I have considered bypassing the cooling flush all together for a hotter pull.

After all of these attempts at dialing in the coffee, I went through two entire bags, and I'm still not fully satisfied (although, I have improved significantly since you guys started helping). I have decided that, instead of purchasing another bag of these beans, I needed to go with something cheaper (so that I could have enough beans to mess up) and more noobie friendly. I have read a lot about Red Bird Coffee, so I decided to get their espresso blend, and see what I can do with it. Once I become better at dialing in shots, I'll progressively work my way back to this roast. This was a little defeating of a decision, but I also have to be honest with myself and start with something more on my beginner level. There were some good suggestions here in this thread as well which will likely be the next bags that I purchase.

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Aug 01, 2018, 8:22 pm

If you have the PL62T, the manual tells how to adjust the PID temp. I just looked at the latest version.

If I couldn't have done this on mine, I'd have crappy espresso forever.. Never heard of one fixed.. You sure you can't change? (Really old version?)

Cause there's a saying about reading the manual.. grin..

My new Profitec Pro 500 has PID and should operate exactly like yours. Yours also has a thermosiphon like mine. Higher PID means higher steam pressure which also will equate to higher brew water temp. On older pressure Stat HX designs you didn't fiddle with the pressure stat too much and used the flush time to regulate temp (with help of an option thermometer on the E61 group head (Erics Thermometer being the best/ most popular I've read). So the theory on these new ones is that the PID regulates the steam pressure and the thermosiphon will make the brew water temp very repeatable. Which it does.. But it doesn't make it absolutely accurate. Kick up your PID 5 degrees.. that's your issue, I'll bet.. Then play with different temps.

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Aug 01, 2018, 8:25 pm

Bluenoser wrote:If you have the PL62T, the manual tells how to adjust the PID temp. I just looked at the latest version.

If I couldn't have done this on mine, I'd have crappy espresso forever.. Never heard of one fixed.. You sure you can't change? (Really old version?)

Cause there's a saying about reading the manual.. grin..


Unfortunately, I really don't think so... I got the PL62S-T. I hope this wasn't an awful purchase...

https://www.1st-line.com/buy/lelit-pl62 ... in-sensor/

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Aug 01, 2018, 8:46 pm

Seems like that is a cross between the PL62S and T and unfortunately Lelit doesn't provide a user manual online so I can't look at it.. But from what other owners seem to say about it, it should have the internal PID set high enough to ensure your brew water is plenty hot. There is another conversation on this HB site about that machine, search for that model # and you will find another conversation and might get some ideas there.

The only thing I find a bit frustrating about all HX machines is there is no way to easily find the brew water temp to see how close you are. I used the foam cup method and it gave me something that gave me confidence I was within 5 degrees of 200F, then I just went by taste..

If you are not seeing any flashing water, however, when you do your first cooling flush after its been on for a while, I might worry something is wrong there. Because if you don't have flashing water, how are you supposed to cool it down to a good brew temp? Maybe a call to the supplier for advice?

Bluenoser

Postby Bluenoser » Aug 01, 2018, 9:13 pm

Here is something I found.. might help..

Great value in the Lelit Mara so far

Post #25 talks about another person who got same machine and was having same difficulty. Many sour shots and suspects temperature problem. I didn't have time to read the entire thread, but this thread might offer some advice on optimizing the flushing routine for this model.

ojt

Postby ojt » Aug 02, 2018, 1:01 am

One more thought: If the coffee tastes OK before milk, make sure you don't heat your milk too much. Also someone said low-fat milks taste sweeter, so that might suppress the coffee taste. I only use whole milk so I can't say really, but I can definitely taste the coffees in my cappuccinos.
Osku

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Aug 08, 2018, 4:59 pm

So, I just switched beans to the Red Bird Espresso, since I heard good things about it. I'm still getting a bit acidic of shots pulled (but MUCH better than before). Milk is still overpowering the espresso on the drinks a little bit (not as badly as before, but still some). However, I have been able to get a 2:1 ratio in the time that their website suggested. 27-33 seconds from the first drip. The crema is much thicker than before, but it is still not that dark brown color... It seems a bit blonde.

Thoughts?

tossik

Postby tossik » Aug 10, 2018, 11:55 pm

Buy yourself the darkest roast you can find to get dark crema. Some roasts will produce blonde looking results