Elektra A3 + Shower Screen

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
Grant

#1: Post by Grant »

So recently ran across some threads talking about the stainless steel shower screens that are now available - i.e. the BPlus etc.

I love my Elektra A3, but one of the things that has always been an issue is that when you pull that lever (well, just hitting the switch as that is all the lever really does), that rotary pump slams that puck pretty fast and hard. It is very unforgiving.

Generally speaking, would a BPlus shower screen likely to be beneficial and help calm the beast a bit?

Grant
Grant

baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

I'll suggest first trying cutting a paper filter (Aeropress filter, Melitta paper filter, v60 paper filter, etc.) in a circle to fit in your basket. Its okay/preferable that the circle be a little oversized.

Prep a basket. Wet the paper and put it on top of the puck and lightly tamp into place.

Pull a few shots. Does the paper filter make a difference? If so, then consider a puck screen like the BPlus. If not, then a puck screen probably won't help.

Good luck!

Grant (original poster)

#3: Post by Grant (original poster) »

Thanks for the suggestion @baldheadracing You've given me an early X-mas present!!

Did some experimentation this morning making a screen with some paper coffee filter material and after numerous shots there was a VERY noticeable and positive difference immediately seen:

1) I had to immediately adjust my grinders - coarser - numerous "clicks" (1ZPresso J-Max) as adding the paper filter immediately and significantly changed the shot timing, extraction etc. Went from 18g in 30s extracting a 40g shot, to almost stalling the shot initially. A HUGE difference.

2) Using my naked portafilter, I went from the usual "erratic" extraction all over the basket to "espresso porn" worthy extractions. Previously difficult and now easily repeatable.

3) Puck. The puck, after extraction, is much more adhesive and far less disrupted on the surface. I am pretty sure the rotary punp/water flow was just drilling through previously.

4) Timing. After readjustment, the amount of time until first drops being extracted has gone from almost IMMEDIATE to now taking 4-5 seconds.

5) Flavor. Instantly improved taste and clarity and reduced bitterness. My current espresso (Butter Knife Espresso from Sam James Coffee in Toronto) is now SCREAMING berries and toffee and the sweetness is amazing and was lacking before.

So, bottom line, I think for years I have been grinding finer to compensate for the "beast" which has resulted in less than ideal extractions. Such a simple change has made quite the difference. Probably the most significant difference I've made in some time.

So...bottom line is I've ordered a metal screen and hope it will make a relatively similar impact as filter paper tests.
Grant

baldheadracing
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#4: Post by baldheadracing »

That sounds like a lot of improvement!

One thing to keep in mind with the puck screen is that it will take up room so you'll need to dose less coffee or get deeper portafilter baskets. As you're in Canada, Coffee Addicts in Calgary (and, in Canada, only Coffee Addicts) carries the well-regarded and quite deep Espresso Parts HQ baskets: link to Coffee Addicts Free shipping with no minimum purchase this weekend too.

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#5: Post by cannonfodder »

On my A3 I installed an adjustable delay on make relay. Then I could dial in the delay between the solenoid opening and the 3 bar line pressure pre-infusing the coffee before the pump kicked in. I was running around 4 seconds of delay and got super results. It is as simple as snipping the hot wire to the pump, putting on a could crimp spades, and connecting the relay box.
Dave Stephens

MatGreiner
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#6: Post by MatGreiner »

The paper filter and preinfusion circuit are both great for this. A few other things may also help with what sounds like persistent channeling troubles.
The A3 likes ample headroom. Use baskets deep enough to give a lot of space between the grounds and the screen. I used a barista pro 20g basket with 16.8g doses.
Changing the gicleur gets the water debit in line, which is a big help.
Drop the Pstat setting.
The IMS screen was good. Was never sure if it offered more even water distribution. It wasn't a convincing difference.
The forums have specifics on both these ideas specific to the Elektras, often with careful and straightforward advice from cannonfodder.
I did a strange thing if lighter roasts really wanted preinfusion - I'd wave my loaded portafilter under the group while I flushed it for a gravity-fed preinfusion :).
LMWDP #716: Jeez, kids! Don't swing on that!