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About jimbow

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    Horsham, West Sussex, UK

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  1. Great question - I think the answer will depend a large part on the thermal mass of your house (how long it takes to heat up and cool down) and how well it is insulated. Sent from my HTC One X using Tapatalk 4
  2. If I recall correctly, I believe Costa use a triple shot cut short (not technically the same as a ristretto) in their version of the flat white. This allows them to maintain a shorter coffee : milk ratio in a larger volume serving and recreate the sweet flavour of the drink more easily and consistently. I make a flat white at home with a double shot of espresso in a 160ml cup with steamed milk with a little froth. I tend to like my espresso fairly short so usually brew what would probably technically be classed by many as a ristretto - 17g of grounds producing 28g of espresso in around 30 seconds. I find that if the espresso is under extracted or is too acidic then it can taste sour in milk. Also, I believe adding sugar can sometimes make coffee taste sour (there was an article posted on this a while back by Colonna and Smalls).
  3. As I was in Cambridge today and after a decent coffee I wandered down to Massaro's but found it has unfortunately ceased trading. A real shame as the two group lever machine and numerous grinders I could see through the window hinted at potential. Instead I carried on down to Hot Numbers and ordered a Chelsea bun and double espresso. The Chelsea bun was rather excellent and the espresso was okay - it balanced acidity and sweetness but lacked depth. I was impressed by the brewed offerings - Clever Dripper, Aeropress and Siphon. The staff were friendly and helpful, the atmosphere was good and the blackboard/drinks menu was clear and cleverly laid out.
  4. The older Cherub designs suffered from the same problem. The solution was to make the drip tray a drawer type of affair rather than the drop-in design used currently.
  5. From the picture posted above, it looks like the machine has a panarello wand. This type of wand is designed to make frothing milk easier but unfortunately, in reality, it makes it very difficult to produce microfoam. It typically introduces big air bubbles through the entire steaming process. Microfoam with this type of wand is possible but requires a different technique. About half way up the side of the wand you should see a tiny hole. This is used by the wand to suck in air which it then mixes with the milk. When stretching the milk with a panarello, you want to position the wand in the milk so that this hole is partly submerged in the milk. Once the milk gets to body temperature (the jug no longer feels cool to the touch) it is time to stop stretching the milk and start texturing. Raise the jug so that the little hole on the side of the wand is completely submerged. Once the jug feels almost too hot too touch then close off the steam valve and then remove the jug once the steam has stopped.
  6. Also, the hot water tap comes as standard on the Cherub but is an optional extra on the Heavenly.
  7. HasBean Sweepstake. It is really rather good. The blend has definitely improved with resting - today is the 9th day out of roast and has been the best so far. Nice, balanced acidity and sweetness but I am not yet getting as much boozy fruit as I was expecting.
  8. With use, group gaskets tend to give a bit so that you have to turn the portafilter handle slightly further in order to create a seal. This is not necessarily a problem providing the gasket itself is still soft and able to create a proper seal. Over time, the rubber the gasket is made from may grow hard and stop making a good seal. In this case, the gasket should be replaced. Depending upon usage, this usually happens every 1-2 years - how long have you had yours? Also, as recommended above, I would suggest that the portafilter is only engaged very loosely in the group when not in use and removed entirely when the machine is switched off. This should prolong the life of the gasket and give the rubber a chance to relax after being under pressure.
  9. Agree with the above posters. Grinders designed for espresso do not usually tend to work well for brewed. This is because with espresso a certain amount of fine particles is actually desirable and so the grinders are designed to output two main sizes of ground particle (a bi-modal particle distribution). With filter however, this is not at all desirable and the consistency of particle size is arguably even more important to produce flavour clarity in the cup. Also stepped adjustment mechanisms can be a plus for filter grinders because you need to make big changes to the grind adjustment and return to known settings when switching between brew methods. Ditting and some of the Malkoenig grinders are brilliant for filter but are expensive. However, most of the Baratza grinders tend to work very well for filter (especially the Maestro+ and Virtuoso). The OE Lido is supposed to be excellent but is manual so will require some elbow grease! Depending upon the brewing methods you are considering you may also want to consider a pouring kettle such as the Hario Buono. These kettles have swan necked pouring spouts and provide control for pouring the water over the coffee bed in the filter, ensuring an even distribution. If you are considering pour over filter brewers like the Hario V60 or Chemex then I would definitely recommend a pouring kettle.
  10. The 4 hole tip is definitely a beast and it took me a long time to tame it. With 4 holes you do need quite a vertical angle as stated above and you need to work really quickly and really precisely. You can chill the milk and jug before steaming to buy a bit more time and increase your stretching window. Discard your thermometer if you are trying to use one - it simply cannot keep pace with the rate at which the milk is heating. Use your hand against the side of the jug and feel how hot it is. When the jug no longer feels cool (it is around body temperature) then stop stretching and sink the tip ever so slightly to start texturing. If you try to stretch beyond this point you will create big bubbles because the milk is too warm to incorporate the air properly.
  11. I usually give my machine an hour or so to warm up after switching on (I use a timer plug so I can set it to come on automatically). I then purge about 2 Fl Oz from the group prior to grinding, tamping and pulling my shot. If you have been using the machine recently then you may not need to flush before the next shot. If you look at some of the photos under my profile you can see some pictures of the Cherub in my kitchen and pictures of the Gaggia Baby Class it replaced. It provides a size comparison of the two machines.
  12. I stopped by and tried some of your espresso just before Christmas and I think we might have spoken at the time. Are you still running the stall on Saturdays?
  13. I believe the K6 is comparable to a Mazzer Super Jolly. The Compak K8 and K10 are bigger and comparable with the grinders you mentioned.
  14. I seem to recall reading there were some grind inconsistency issues on the Hario Skerton although these may now have been resolved. I think it was related to the way the burrs were mounted (too much play in the mounting allowed the burrs to move during grinding). I think the newer Hario slim was supposed to be better. The Porlex models are good and said to be at least as good as the Slim if not better.
  15. Things may have changed since I last looked a couple of years ago but I found that the Dezcal sachets had different ingredients compared to the tablets and powder. Only the sachets seemed to include the aluminium specific buffer salts. I remember being surprised that they were different. If I remember correctly the Saeco and Gaggia descaling fluids are actually the same product with different branding so it should be fine.
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