Help with Gaggia Espresso perfect crema device and machine

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
jsweeney

Postby jsweeney » Jun 27, 2006, 6:14 pm

I recently purchased a Gaggia Espresso machine on Ebay after some research where I concluded that this was one of the better machines for the cost. However, it does not produce any crema in my shots and wonder if that so-called "perfect-crema" device has any merit to it. Also, it's taking quite a long time to even pull a shot now. Is this indicative of other problems or could it just need to be de-calcified?

Please Help!

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cannonfodder
Team HB

Postby cannonfodder » Jun 27, 2006, 7:48 pm

Welcome to the forums jsweeney.

It is a good idea to decalcify and backflush any pre-used machine; a thorough cleaning will not do any harm.

The perfect-crema device is a pressurized portafilter insert. It creates crema by pressurizing the puck prior to allowing the espresso to flow. Most people do away with them and use the standard portafilter and basket. The machine should have come with a standard single and double basket, the perfect crema device is an option. Gaggia states in their manual...
    "To ensure the optimum function of the "perfect Cream" device, insert the frothing jet device into the filter holder.
    We recommend that the "Perfect cream" device be cleaned on a daily basis, before use, in order to prevent any blockage of the delivery hole. A pin may be used to clean out the hole..."
    http://www.gaggia.com/dam/bo/alle...es/45_espresso.pdf
    page 11.

You could have a coffee grind in the jet partially plugging it.

What type of grinder and coffee are you using?
Dave Stephens

jsweeney

Postby jsweeney » Jun 27, 2006, 11:58 pm

I usually get the italian or french roast from starbucks and have them grind it for espresso for me since I don't have my own burr grinder nor the money to purchase one (when in Chicago where I go to school I opt for Peet's instead of Starbucks, but at home the 'bucks is all I have)

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HB
Admin

Postby HB » Jun 28, 2006, 12:08 am

Uh oh. Searching on "preground" will reveal a chorus of recommendations to give top priority to grinder selection. For example:

cannonfodder wrote:Preground would be the key word. When I got my first machine I was in the same trap. I convinced myself that all of these people did not know what they were talking about and a can of fine grind Illy would be just fine. It was not.

In the end I got a cheap burr grinder, then upgraded to a Gaggia MDF, a couple months later I got a Mazzer, and thanks to the sponsors and HB's incredible birthday special, a new Cimbali will be arriving today.

The moral of the story, the grinder is as, if not more, important than the machine, and a cheap grinder will just not cut it. My MDF does a respectable job. But if I were doing it again, I would get a Mazzer from the start.


Saving for a grinder and replacing the crema enhancer / pressurized portafilter is the first steps towards better espresso.
Dan Kehn

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cannonfodder
Team HB

Postby cannonfodder » Jun 28, 2006, 9:46 am

Ouch! Preground, Starbucks, and good espresso just don't work in the same sentence. As HB points out, I have been there and learned the hard way.

You can pick up a grinder in the $150 range that will do the job, even cheaper if you can find someone that is selling their machine for an upgrade. I recently parted with my almost new MDF for $100. Coffeegeek.com has a for sale forum (would post the link but CG appears to be experiencing an issue right now), you can get a pretty good one there.
Dave Stephens

jsweeney

Postby jsweeney » Jun 28, 2006, 4:23 pm

I got a cleaner and decalcifier today and took everything apart and cleaned and scrubbed it all. However, it still doesn't produce any crema nor the three distinguishable layers either. Despite the abhorance of the name among espresso connoisseurs, I've seen the Starbucks espresso machine pull consistently perfect shots. However, my Gaggia Espresso Machine (supposedly a comparable machine) pulls decently tasting, single tiered shots. Not being a coffee-snob myself, the taste suits me and gets the job done and the espresso grind and beans purchased at the local starbucks accomplishes what I like it to. I just don't know why I can't get perfect shots out of it. It seems that I need the perfect crema device that comes with the original, but since mine was purchased second hand off Ebay it wasn't included. Is there a way to get a new one without purchasing an entirely new portafilter or is that the only way? Could there be another way to pull a proper shot without the device?

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jrtatl

Postby jrtatl » Jun 28, 2006, 4:46 pm

jsweeney wrote: I just don't know why I can't get perfect shots out of it.

. . .

Could there be another way to pull a proper shot without the device?



Hello,

The answer to these questions has been posted above. You need a good quality burr grinder and fresh whole bean coffee. I know it sucks to hear it, but it's true.

Good luck.
Jeremy

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

Postby Compass Coffee » Jun 28, 2006, 5:13 pm

OTH since the benchmark ideal perfect shot is a *$ roast pulled on a *$ Superautomatic by all means replicate it as closely as possible using the pseudo crema creating device PF paired with pre-ground *$. (No I don't have a clue if it can be purchased separately from PF.) If that's the cup that makes you happy don't worry about what good espresso from fresh ground fresh roasted (and not burnt up roasted) properly rested beans tastes like. Save the money that would have been spent on quality grinder and fresh not over roasted beans for copious milk and flavorings to further enhance the *$ experience! And in all seriousness there is nothing wrong with that, if that's what floats your boat. Just don't be deluded into thinking that is what quality espresso is about. You've come to the wrong place to learn how to emulate *$. :twisted:
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

mattwells

Postby mattwells » Jun 28, 2006, 5:15 pm

Jsweeney,

They speak the truth. You can only get it from having recently ground coffee. The gaggia is definitely capable of pulling a decent shot (one of my friends just picked one up, and we are having fun with it), but you are going to need a grinder to get the job done, just how it is.

One of the reasons you are missing the crema is that *$'s coffee is usually older (after 2 weeks, coffee has aged), which limits crema, and, on top of that, it is becoming super-stale because it is being ground a long time before you use it (more than a couple of minutes is a long time).
Matt
Matt Wells

LMWDP #160

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HB
Admin

Postby HB » Jun 28, 2006, 5:38 pm

*Ahem* Sounds like some members need to revisit Hall of Shame: ''What I did when I was a newbie''.

jsweeney wrote:It seems that I need the perfect crema device that comes with the original, but since mine was purchased second hand off Ebay it wasn't included. Is there a way to get a new one without purchasing an entirely new portafilter or is that the only way? Could there be another way to pull a proper shot without the device?

Below is a photo of a "perfect crema device", or what is more commonly called a pressurized portafilter basket by non-marketing types:

Image

That teenie tiny hole introduces air, producing a "fake" crema. The marketing people probably figure it's better to have something visible they can call crema than nothing, since it takes fresh coffee, a good grinder, and good technique to produce "real" crema. Like learning to cook a fine meal, many consumers don't have the patience, funds, or interest in such ventures, they just want a fast cuppa joe.

My last comment is not directed at you, but a musing I would apply to myself: If I were to do it all again, I would start with the absolute best grinder I could afford and get an espresso machine later. I would prefer a couple years of fantastic French press made with fresh coffee than mediocre espressos. Even my dad, who used preground coffee for countless years, raves about the drip coffee he makes today using a Solis Maestro+ that I bought him for Christmas (his first comment was: "This grinder is huge! What's wrong with my Braun grinder?" Good thing I didn't get him the grinder I really wanted to buy -- a Rancilio Rocky).

cannonfodder wrote:You can pick up a grinder in the $150 range that will do the job, even cheaper if you can find someone that is selling their machine for an upgrade. I recently parted with my almost new MDF for $100.


Sometimes just posting in CG's Buy, Sell, & Trade that you're looking for an "upgrade fever victim" will push someone over the edge and they'll sell their grinder. :wink:
Dan Kehn