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Brewing Nicely

Brewing Nicely (4/8)



  1. ... Yes and no, The Magnificas, at least the entry level ones I'm familiar with, are fairly good value and make decent coffee (especially after adjusting the grind level to be finer than what the machine allows as delivered). They are a bit noisy, and the double shot is actually a single shot with more water, which is not right (taste will be different, for instance). I've owned and used a Magnifica 4200s for a couple of years without any issue (The interface is basic, and sometimes cryptic, but it works fine and can make decent micro foam once the auto-frothing gizmo is removed). An alternative are the Gaggia super-auto machines which are a little bit more costly but which make double espressos properly (in effect, they make two single espressos back to back). I have a Gaggia Titanium which is 15 years old and which works as good as new thanks to some maintenance (replacing many o-rings, changing the electronic board, and derusting and repainting the case). It's a higher end machine than the Magnifica 4200s, with a better interface (2x20 LCD text display as opposed to lights and symbols) and a dual thermocoil for quick steaming but the coffee it makes is about equivalent (as with the Delonghi, the grinder had to be tweaked to grind fine enough). With both machines it's possible to make proper single espresso with a 1:2 ratio in 25 to 30 seconds (or thereabouts) and 10-12g of coffee beans, but this requires some fairly significant testing/tweaking (keeping in mind that any adjustment will not have any impact on the next 1 or 2 shots), and temperature control is far from perfect. Once the machine is properly configured, anyone can use it and get decent results. Warm up time is also very quick and overall convenience is high. I'm in the process of upgrading to a completely different machine (Evo Leva), but expect to be trading convenience for much better and more consistent shots.
  2. I've seen Borjomi water in some Russian (or, better, Georgian) ethnic stores in London. Borjomi was, I understand, a premium brand in the former Soviet Union, and is thus a somewhat popular import in the diaspora... Georgia also has a reputation for interesting (but somewhat unusual for Westerners) food and especially wine... well worth a try, BTW 😉
  3. We should start a contest to find the water with the highest TDS... starting with the famous Borjomi (TDS just above 3900), as follows... Even it it weren't slightly sparkling, this water has a taste which would be noticeable when making coffee 🤣 Composition in mg/litre CALCIUM 60 MAGNESIUM 50 POTASSIUM 30 SODIUM 1550 HYDROCARBONATES 3900 CHLORIDES 380 SULFATES <50 BARIUM <1.0 pH = 6.5 TDS 3,905
  4. I am 🙂. I emailed Paolo on Friday and am awaiting his reply...
  5. I should soon be owning a Vesuvius Evo Leva (but am making do with a 15 yo Gaggia Titanium at the moment)
  6. @Paolo5, would you mind telling us what was the "pilot error" you were making, as this might others avoid it ? Thanks.
  7. I think "we" should create a FAQ thread (with tips and techniques as well) for this machine, so that all the good stuff (banter excluded) doesn't get lost in this very long thread... I'm very new at the coffee game (and have yet to receive my shiny new machine), but I'd be happy to contribute in due time within the limits of my expertise
  8. I think these two arms are the same. As far as I know there are basically three designs: the "squarish" Vostok one (as in the pictures), the "rounded" Minima one (see pictures of the ACS minima) and the Vesuvius E61 ones.
  9. ... or not wanting to distract Paolo while their machines are being built 😉
  10. Out of curiosity, while I'm (eagerly) waiting for ACS to resume operations and ship my Evo Leva, why is it that the boiler temperature must be set above the group temperature for a flat profile ? The heat loss in the piping between the insulated boiler and the group might be a factor, but I'd expect it to be small... Is this then due to the arrival of cold water in the boiler while the water chamber gets filled ? Just curious...
  11. Thank you for the very clear instructions! Looking forward to repeat these steps in September once my machine arrives!
  12. As an Osmio Zero user, there are a few things which could be improved upon, including a better way to handle low usage and short business trips (having to empty the system when away for a week or more is getting old quickly, as is dumping the first glass of water after a day without using the machine) and the ability to program the volume of water dispensed (The Osmio machine delivers too much water for most of the glasses I use). Some feedback on actual water temperature (event if it's a light to confirm that the water dispensed has reached the desired temperature) would also be a plus... although a temperature display would be even better. I presume Osmio could also upgrade the firmwire on their machines to address these niggles, but competition may result in better products for us.
  13. Besides freshness, the other reason for grinding your own coffee, is that you can make it finer or coarser, which will have a major impact on taste (as it will change the 'brew' time significantly). Typically, it should take 25-35 seconds to make an espresso shot (or somewhere around this range... 15 seconds is too quick, 50 is too long). Most commercially ground coffee is OK for filter coffee, but is too coarse for espresso.
  14. In my experience, stock BTC machines won't give you real espressos or coffeeshop grade milk based drinks, but with decent beans and some tweaks it's possible to get pretty close, and compete with a decent coffee shop. On the milk side, removing the 'auto steam'/panarello device is a good way to start. You'll end up with a 1 hole steam wand which, while slow compared to a 'proper machine', will enable you to make latte art grade micro foam (You'll have to play with the size of the milk pitcher as the steam wands on most BTC machines have a limited range of motion). On the 'espresso' side, the BTC machines I have played with (Delonghi Magnifica 4200s and Gaggia Titanium) don't grind fine enough as delivered. One needs to open up these machines and get the burrs closer. The built-in grinders are not perfect, and their adjustment steps are a bit too big, but it's possible to make them work so that you get a single shot espresso in 20-35 seconds (or better) with a brew ratio of around 2:1. Alternatively, if the bypass chute is well designed, you could use a proper grinder and pour ground coffee directly into the machine (if you can see fully the 'dispersion screen' when opening the bypass chute, as on my Delonghi, this may work well, otherwise it won't) These machines are designed for a maximum dose of 10-12g (depending on the model), which means one needs to make 2 coffees to get a 'double espresso' (some machines can make 2 shots by double pressing the shot button, like my Gaggia... on others, the 'long coffee' feature doesn't work properly for double espressos and one needs to make 2 back to back shots) You can play with temperature and the "preinfusion" settings on some machines (3 "options" on the Gaggia), as well as water quantity to optimise the results, although temperature consistency isn't a forte of these machines! Getting good results takes some patience and multiple attempts (grinder adjustment won't show immediately as in a modern single dose grinder, adjusting the water quantity may be tricky -either lacking fine adjustment or difficult to 'programme' finely). Even knowing how much coffee is used can be tricky (I'd advise putting 200g or more of coffee beans in an 'empty' hopper and counting the number of coffees till there are no more beans in the hopper). Each machine will react differently (My 15 years old Gaggia has a flow meter which means the amount of water is very consistent shot to shot, and it has more flexibility with 3 water amount buttons, 5 temperature settings and 3 preinfusion settings, on top of a double thermocoil for quick steam production... the Delonghi has stepless dials to adjust coffee and water amounts but the useful range for espresso is very narrow... and the preinfusion can't be bypassed, but it can take up to 12g of coffee and is/was quite cheap). I have no experience with the fancy milk carafes and one-button milk features of BTC, although they seem problem prone and complicated to clean... let alone quite expensive for what they are. With all the above caveats, it's possible to get 'decent' espresso (e.g 10g of coffee beans for a 20g drink, +/- 5%) at the touch of a button and make latte art out of an entry level BTC machine such as the Delongh Magnifica, all with minimum warmup time. For complete disclosure, I have an Evo Leva on order, which I expect to result in a step change (or 2) from these machines, but superautos/BTC can still make better coffee than what one can find easily on the high street.
  15. Regarding the look of the Osmio Zero, I do have the (glossy) white version, which looks like a regular kitchen appliance and seems to weather regular use without any issue or markings. The peanut gallery made some snide comments initially about the pinkish hue of the silvery bits, which is an acquired taste shall we say... and I almost had to return the unit because of it. After checking with Osmio, this is normal, and both the black and white editions have a pinkish hue in their silvery parts, even though it's hardly visible on the website pictures.
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