No matter what I do, I get channeling!

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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Joined: Jan 16, 2010, 1:07 pm

Postby GriffDeLaGriff » Feb 13, 2010, 7:51 am


I have a LaNuovo era Cuadra e-61 espresso machine and a Macap M5 grinder.

Ill tell you what I have done and how I do it first.

I have had the machine for 2 years and used to always pull a +-25s shot through the single basket.
I used to level with the basket and tamp 40pound.

I came upon this site and saw the naked portafilter for the first time.
I ordered one and at the same time got:
New convex tamper
Digital +-0.1g scale
New showerscreen
New gaskets

I made a complete cleaning backflushing the head with cafiza.
Cleaned it shiny everywhere under the screen.
I put in a new screen and basket and use the new famea naked portafilter.

I have used the black hand beans about 8 days.
Yesterday I got some 3 days beans from a local (Red goat coffee)

I grind them so when I pinch the coffee they stay pinched but with
some cracks happening.

Now I have tried in the 14g basket:

The grounds do not touch the showerhead.

I flush over the portafilter until the hissing stop, and the filter gets hot.
I put the handle into the machine as I dose the basket.
I do not flush the basket it stays dry.
I pull the shot at about 22-25seconds, I get lovely tigerstriping, it doesnt blond
to early, and the result in the cup looks beautiful.
I have tigerstriping in the cup, just about perfect.

BUT....gah, it is spritzing like there is no tomorrow!!!!!
No matter what I do:
low dose - high dose
hard tamp - tamper weight tamp
stockfleth move.....taping the basket, not tapping the basket
circular light tamp and then hard tamp
normal tamp

It doesnt seem to matter what I do, it is always channeling. Always.
I do sometimes have less (just one tine squirt) and sometimes
it sprays all around.
This does not happen according to me changing my ways.
Im thinking yay no channeling - I do the same and its spraying like there is no tomorrow.

As I said, the cup looks glorious, apart from very much dots all around the edge that
I have to wipe clean. The taste is from very good to not so good.
Im thinking I have more often bitterness in the taste.
I would think the shots should taste watery with the channeling going on
but they do the opposite - they taste strong.

Channeling - its spraying alot. (I sometimes get some small grinds in the coffe but not much)
Taste: often towards the bitter, and to my surprise also
too full bodied - doesnt really change from 14g to 16g they can both
be about right or too full bodied with to much bitter.

So now, what should I try and do?
Im thinking grinding coarser because it feels like the puck is too hard
and the water is fighting and finds the easiest way through the puck
to land on my hand :mrgreen:
But if I level the basket with the grind Im having I get the right timing
so wouldnt that make it run to fast?
Im really stuck here, is there something I could try that is the most
likely variable and then try all aspects of that (like different dosages)
What is my list of things to try and in what order?

I do know I can get a very nice espresso from this setup without
channeling - it has happened.

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Joined: Jun 01, 2008, 9:29 pm

Postby clumeng » Feb 13, 2010, 10:16 am

two suggestions:

1. Try grinding a bit finer
2. Try the weiss distribution technique - basically stirring the grinds prior to tamping to disrupt any clumps. I found that this got rid of any channeling.
LMWDP #383

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Postby eriwet » Feb 13, 2010, 10:45 am

Interesting, I have exactly the same problem. I use a Rancilio Rocky doserless and Rancilio Silvia. However I've also tried the WDT to get rid of clumps and get a perfect distribution but it has not helped at all. I've also tried grinding finer but that only makes extraction time too long but still with anything but a perfect cone.

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Joined: Jun 01, 2008, 9:29 pm

Postby clumeng » Feb 13, 2010, 11:54 am

Hmmm...this should be doable. I was able to get consistency with my Rocky and Silvia.

- Fresh roast beans is important as well (4-7 days after roast)
- Try grinding finer and tamping lighter. The original poster mentioned 40# pressure...too much perhaps.
- Over time I migrated to triple baskets because I liked pulling longer shots. That's one thing you could try.
LMWDP #383

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Postby Javacat » Feb 13, 2010, 12:41 pm

WDT - Weiss distribution technique.

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Joined: Jan 31, 2010, 12:27 pm

Postby sdavidp » Feb 13, 2010, 1:11 pm

Are you single-dosing? If so, maybe you're suffering from inconsistent grind due to popcorning. That was my problem. I too had channeling no matter what I did. I tried the WDT, tamping harder, tamping softer, NSWE tamping, updosing, downdosing, everything, and I always got side-channeling, so I just ignored it and used the spouted portafilter. As soon as I tweaked my grinder to avoid that the channeling problems vanished.


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Joined: Jan 16, 2010, 1:07 pm

Postby GriffDeLaGriff » Feb 13, 2010, 1:26 pm

What do you mean by single dosing?
Im not using the single basket no. I am pulling a double with the double basket.
Im using the double 14g faema basket and leveling that gets me about 16g
I think I misunderstand what you are telling me. Tweaking the grinder?
Please explain as it sounds interesting :mrgreen:

WDT doesnt help me one bit, im sorry.

I am also a little skeptic about grinding finer, I really get alot of grains in the
coffee this way, with just a click finer.
I do think that its the channeling that makes the grinds come out tho.
I can see on the splattered side of the cup that there are alot of coffee grains.

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Joined: Jan 31, 2010, 12:27 pm

Postby sdavidp » Feb 13, 2010, 2:09 pm

By single-dosing I mean starting with an empty grinder, measuring 14 grams (or whatever your dose is) of coffee and putting that into the grinder, then grinding until it's all gone. Many people don't recommend doing this but instead recommend having at least several doses (100+ grams?) in the hopper. There is a lot of information on this board about this subject; check it out if you want to learn more. So if you aren't doing this then you probably don't have the same problem I did.

Maybe "tweaking the grinder" was a poor choice of words; it sounds all techie but it wasn't. I just used a cardboard tube to extend the hopper throat so that the beans go straight into the burrs and nowhere else. It made a huge difference for me. I can't speak from experience since this is the only grinder I've owned, but from what I've read different grinders experience that popcorn thing more than others.


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Joined: Jan 16, 2010, 1:07 pm

Postby GriffDeLaGriff » Feb 13, 2010, 2:34 pm

Really nice information.

But I dont think I have the problem.
I know they can hop some, and its usually only
the very last ones that do, but back when I didnt have
a naked filter I used the stopwatch very much and the
shots were consistent enough.

I fill up with enough beans for a normal day.
I usually have the doser-part of the grinder empty,
start the grinder and fast-thwack as I fill the basket.
As soon as its filled - i stop the grinder.
There is some ground coffee left in there and of course
the little that I level off goes in there but I dont really
wanna be totally anal about everything and clean it everytime :mrgreen:

I think Im gonna try finer grind and lower dose.
Im gonna start at 13 and 14g and see what happens between them.
Then I will fine-up the grind until I have 25s and if that doesnt do it
Ill jettison the naked portafilter out on the railway tracks and go back
to my spouted one and just enjoy the coffee like I used to :mrgreen:

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Postby another_jim » Feb 13, 2010, 4:05 pm

It takes about a week or two to become proficient with a naked pf. If your despair is based on a few days of bad shots, don't get too bent out of shape, and don't end up with a shot making routine that takes an hour by adding all sorts of things you don't need.

Chances are you have some simple and fundamental problems. For instance, on an E61, if the first drops show up before about 8 seconds, you are grinding way too coarse. If you are filling up a 3 ounce espresso glass, it is not a double. A double should weigh in at about 1 to 1.25 ounces, and have 2 ounces of volume. On an E61, with it's long ramp up, you are looking for a total shot times of 28 to 35 seconds.

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