The problem is on the handle side of the portafilter

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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HB
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#1: Post by HB »

Kristi wrote:I would still suggest you meter the screw on the showerhead. I think you'd be surprised as to the temp during the pull. Cost for some k-type fine wire is 5-10$ and an adequate meter cost me 17 incl shpg from Ontario. Ebay is your friend! See my link in my sig.
Kristi wrote:tc and meter the showerhead screen FIRST
Chris Tacy and Abe Carmeli will gloat, but I strongly disagree. Allow me to explain.

My investment in measurement tools is considerable. In retrospect, investing in developing my technique and palate would have been far less costly and ultimately a more practical expenditure. This finally hit home when almost a month went by before I bothered collecting data for the A3 review. When I did finally take measurements, it was with a certain reluctance since it only confirmed what I already knew. That was a very enlightening experience.

I can't quote error limits of my equipment off the top of my head, but I can say that it's darn expensive to measure even close to the tolerances that are routinely bantered about as crucial. To put it another way, if a $30 meter is "telling" one something, I suspect that the equipment or barista's routine are far off the mark and that one can assert there are far more important concerns than noting a readout.
  • My new approach to equipment evaluation is easy: Taste the coffee.
To further simplify, I stick to a very short list of blends early in the evaluation. Since I know the blends' characteristics very well under their best (and not so great) circumstances, identifying problems is faster and easier than collecting datasheets. This holistic approach is even more applicable to machines like the Rancilio Silvia that benefit from exceedingly well documented usage notes.
Dan Kehn

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malachi

#2: Post by malachi »

Gloat gloat gloat!!


Seriously though... I could not agree more.
Tasting is so incredibly valuable - developing your palate will result in huge improvements... far beyond anything you could get from mods and tweaks.
And, of course, developing your barista technique is far, far, far and away the best way to get great espresso.
Almost any barista on the planet would see better results from professional training than anything else. Anything.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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Kristi

#3: Post by Kristi »

Hi Dan! Yeah, I disagree, but...

I found out too late that many of the Silvia hints are written for folks who have/had machines with 110C thermostats. The ideas and concepts are very interesting, but...

I can not taste the difference of .1 degree. I cannot yet, I discovered, after I metered the shower screen, hold the temp constant to more that 3, maybe 4 degrees. With the shower screen tc I am able to tune the PID so that after an hour warmup (currently at 215F), I can pull a shot and have it nicely asymptote to 89C.

My little $17ppd meter has allowed me to greatly speed up the process of getting a good and dependable taste.

I understand that the brewhead temp gradient is the limiting factor in shower screen stability so will sometime soon order and install the AndyS rope heater mod.

See, you spent (apparently) tons of money on electronics, while I have spent relatively little. My pid/tc/40A SSR, cost maybe $80 ppd. My shower screen meter/tc cost about $20ppd. I just picked up a meter (reads tenths) and J probe for $26ppd. i have no idea where I'll stick that. :twisted: I have run out of places for *me* to reasonably monitor.

All I want is a reasonably good brew, relatively consistently, done on the cheap, cause I don't have lossa bux. I do have good working knowledge of electronics, plumbing, hi-pressure/hi-vac, etc. My curse is having expensive ears - I can easily hear the difference between $1000 and $10000 speakers/components/interconnects. Fortunately I do not have such in the tastebud dept - quite possibly because I chainsmoked for 13 years when I was young.

Anyway!
Thanks for your thoughts!

My intent was directed at newbies (I'm a newbie with espresso and roasting experience going back to 1990) starting out, feeling that something was wrong, reading all the piles of info on the forums, and still being befuddled, which I was. All has now become translucent! :wink:
Kristi
Kris

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Kristi

#4: Post by Kristi »

malachi wrote:Gloat gloat gloat!!


Seriously though... I could not agree more.
Tasting is so incredibly valuable - developing your palate will result in huge improvements... far beyond anything you could get from mods and tweaks.
And, of course, developing your barista technique is far, far, far and away the best way to get great espresso.
Almost any barista on the planet would see better results from professional training than anything else. Anything.
I can agree with this, even though my skills are not at the point of understanding...
Kristi
Kris

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Kristi

#5: Post by Kristi »

HB wrote:To put it another way, if a $30 meter is "telling" one something, I suspect that the equipment or barista's routine are far off the mark and that one can assert there are far more important concerns than noting a readout.
OR, I'm simply running the PID too high, or not warming up enough, or, or...
Kris

stevendouglas

#6: Post by stevendouglas »

HB wrote:In retrospect, investing in developing my technique and palate would have been far less costly and ultimately a more practical expenditure. This finally hit home when almost a month went by before I bothered collecting data for the A3 review. When I did finally take measurements, it was with a certain reluctance since it only confirmed what I already knew. That was a very enlightening experience.
  • My new approach to equipment evaluation is easy: Taste the coffee.
I like the idea of NOT spending a lot on testing equipment, but here's the dilemma of a newbie: I've read the reviews, tips, and techniques. I'll follow them as closely as I possibly can, and I'll taste the result and like it or not like it. However, how will I know if it's as good as it can be? How do you develop your palate? Will it just come as I practice? Does it develop by evolution - "Wow! That was a great shot, what did I do differently?"

I could take Malachi's advice on professional training, but I honestly don't see $1,000+ training classes in my future.
Steve Douglas
Sacramento, CA

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HB
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#7: Post by HB »

Kristi wrote:My intent was directed at newbies...
That's where we disagree.

Although I followed much the same methodology and tools you advocate, in retrospect, I think today that my time would have been better spent focusing on taste and technique rather then ever-increasing expeditures on gadgetry. The el-cheapo styrofoam cup + digital thermometer technique I used to document some extraordinary results by reverse temperature surfing more than two years ago is no worse than the type K thermocouple and el-cheapo meter that replaced it. The Bench discussion of the thermofilter revealed just how unreliable in-basket measurements can be, even if one ignores the errors of the equipment itself. Speaking only for myself, these toys of technology offered a false sense of certainty, and that "certainty" was my crutch preventing genuine learning.

The "tc and meter the showerhead screen FIRST" approach obviously works for you, and I thought it worked for me too. But today I no longer recommend the "get more data" path for most home baristas. I don't expect you to agree with me, and that's OK. If however you would like to humor me, consider disconnecting the TC attached to the dispersion screen for a month, paying careful attention to technique, and taking copious tasting notes. At the end of the month, let me know if you still think you need a number on a digital readout to get consistent espresso.

PS: Trust the Force, Kristi. :-)
Dan Kehn

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Compass Coffee
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#8: Post by Compass Coffee »

malachi wrote:Tasting is so incredibly valuable - developing your palate will result in huge improvements... far beyond anything you could get from mods and tweaks.
And, of course, developing your barista technique is far, far, far and away the best way to get great espresso.
Almost any barista on the planet would see better results from professional training than anything else. Anything.
Almost any barista on the planet also might benefit from non-professional training by being forced to learn to use an unmodified Silvia, especially one running 16bar no-flow, a great handle end of the PF learning tool! (Not all stock Silvias run this high, but that's what mine measured with two different pressure gauges) Sure I'm into lots of fun mods and measuring now. But that's after over three years learning, surfing and running a high pressure Silvia. I was somewhat shocked when with much trepidation I first attempted a naked shot, and got no channeling, and it was pre opv mod! Technique good enough for 16bar naked shots with no channeling just make it that much easier other machines. Surfing forces paying attention to shot flow and crema color and of course taste! Thermofilter measurements have mostly only confirmed what I'd already observed about Silvia, now quantified. If barista techniques on an unmodded Silvia can allow you to serve shots to the likes of Tom Owens without fear of disgrace, then the handle end of the PF skills easily transferable and adapted to other machines, even modded Silvia. Last month though I only pulled one shot on the LM GS3, and was highly intimidated not so much by the machine but by more than one professional barista being present, first try a quite acceptable no channel naked double.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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malachi

#9: Post by malachi »

A barista with average to poor technique and average to poor understanding of coffee will make average to poor espresso on the most temp stable, tricked out, full bells and whistles, PID'ed steam wand, cybernetic neural net espresso machine.

"The problem is on the handle side of the portafilter."
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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Compass Coffee
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#10: Post by Compass Coffee »

malachi wrote: PID'ed steam wand,
Hmmm, hadn't heard of that mod, oh boy something else to think about! :wink: (PID steam boiler yes, but not the wand itself, gotta know that actual steam temp and pre-heat the wand accordingly don't ya know)
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com