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ClaretAnt

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About ClaretAnt

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    Green Bean
  1. Just to say I ordered the myespresso wand: delivered very promptly at £20 including shipping. Took less than five minutes to fit. Just slipped the rubber bit and big nut off the Silvia wand, unscrewed the Classic wand and swapped the nut over (didn't need any bending or hack-sawing of the wand), and screwed the Silvia wand onto the Classic. Absolute doddle, and MUCH superior in use to the stock wand. First effort with it can be seen here: http://antheald.tumblr.com/post/15308403579/4-366 Apologies at the touch of camera shake, but given that I'd never come anywhere close before to getting milk of the right consistency for 'latte art', and wasn't really trying on that first occasion until I suddenly realised the texture was bang-on, I don't think it looked too bad. I can get the milk right pretty much every time now (but my 'leaves' are still invariably wonky at best!)
  2. I've had my Iberital MC2 a week now and quickly got through the Italian blend that came with it, and am now using up a couple of packs of beans I already had that have been kicking around a while, so i guess they're not great. I don't know if there's anywhere locally that I can get good genuinely fresh roasted beans (I'm in Doncaster - anyone know anywhere nearby?), so I've been looking at the online roasters linked on here. I've been tempted by the HasBean espresso starter pack. Do you think this is a good way of starting to develop a 'palate' for different bean types (I'm utterly clueless at the moment)? I guess I'm only likely to use roughly 250g a week, so is five bags too much to buy in one go for it to remain fresh enough? What's the most economical way of buying decent beans regularly in small quantities?
  3. Tricky: my birthday was in January, so too late for that. I've got no problems with relatives staying (sister-in-law lives with us at the moment), so it wouldn't gain any credit. I just made a raised-bed in the garden to grow some veggies so I'm not doing too badly on the brownie points front, but I don't think that was a shiny machine's worth of labour. I did consider selling one of the bikes, but as the number of bikes you need is given by the formula n+1 (where n= the number of bikes you already own), I can't bring myself to do that. You see that's my problem. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. I used to be happy with a nice cup of tea and a digestive.
  4. Yes - the leaky wand has been bothering me for ages. Used to have the machine on a wooden table while we were having our kitchen redone and the excess water ruined the surface despite me trying to be careful and catch it in a jug/glass. I've replaced the rubber O-ring that goes on the wand inside the screw on nozzle and that helped a bit, but not much so it must be an internal problem I have been considering a new machine (in fact I've been considering little else!). Gaggia Classics tend to go for not that much less than the £200 the former Gaggia outlet shop want for a reconditioned model once you've included postage, so I think it would make sense to have the warranty / after sales service of a shop.
  5. Glenn - I trust that was the version for AFTER I've got the new machine, not instead of ??
  6. I've experimented with varying weights of tamp. I think I was probably tamping harder there than it looked, but as the tamper is 5/6mm too small I find I need to go round tamping lightly first to avoid the coffee squeezing up the side, before giving a final hard tamp - but I I guess I can't give a full 30lb even tamp without a tamper that fits the portafilter. Yep - it does take a lot of force to lock the portafilter in without getting leaks. I need to lean on top of the machine and put nearly my full force to turn the handle. If anyone else wants to suggest I need a new machine, the correct form of words is something along the lines of: " Dear Mrs ClaretAnt: the investment your husband made in a decent new coffee grinder is, frankly, wasted given the inadequacy of the machine he is being forced to use to make the coffee. I am aware that the milky drink he brings you after dinner is perfectly adequate as far as you are concerned, but you just don't understand. Don't be put off by the fact that the last time he got a bee in his bonnet about 'new kit' after wasting weeks trawling internet fora it resulted in the garage eventually being filled with five expensive new pushbikes and associated paraphernalia when one old clunker ridden till it rusted had sufficed for the previous two decades. This isn't like that at all. Once he's spent a couple of hundred on a reconditioned Gaggia Classic, that'll be that. Mwwaaahahahahaaaaaaaa!"
  7. Wow - that grinder really does take some fine tuning. Thanks for the tips. I'm getting closer, but having initially backed off to a pretty coarse grind (which involved nearly getting blisters on my hand from turning the adjusting knob so many times) I've used up nearly all my beans zeroing in on the 'sweet spot'. I still think I could maybe go a bit finer. The problem is, the finer I go, the more water gets chucked out of the steam wand, and I end up with a dribble that takes ages to extract. Here's a of the closest I've got so far to extracting a 2oz double in 20+ seconds. What do you think I could do to improve further? I know my tamper is a little on the small size (and it's a Jack Daniels glass not a proper shot glass!) It's tasting OK, but a little on the bitter side for my taste. I'm not experienced enough to know whether that's my technique, a deficiency of the machine, or the beans, though.
  8. So, the Iberital MC2 was delivered yesterday, along with a free packet of Italian Espresso Blend beans and the lurid green knockout box I 'd ordered). It has a pleasingly solid feeling, and I couldn't wait to give it a go even though I didn't get home till late last night. The instruction sheet said that it's factory set to espresso grind, so I bunged some beans in, set it going to fill the (double) portafilter, gave it the kind of firm tamp I've been using lately with some (rather horrid) Asda espresso coffee and set the Magimix going. It whirred and strained but not a dribble found it's way out of the portafilter spout. It just leaked water from the steam arm even more than usual. So I started again. I notched it down to give a a coarser grind (3ish rather than 4ish on the scale on the hopper), gave it a much lighter tamp. This time I did get some coffee out, but only drop-by-drop, taking about a minute and a half to finish, with virtually nothing by way of crema. I used this to make a sort of cappuccino that was quite tasty. My third and final attempt before bed involved making the grind even coarser, and hardly tamping at all other than to level the surface. It still took over a minute to extract a double and there was virtually no crema. It tasted much nicer than the stuff I've been drinking hitherto, but it wasn't really espresso. It was more like the stuff you get out of a stove-top pot. I have been able to get something resembling a proper espresso out of the Magimix using an Asda brand pre-ground espresso coffee, using quite a firm tamp. Using Illy preground, the machine struggles much more: I have to use a smaller dose and lighter tamp, but I can still get a bit of a crema. They both taste crap on their own though, so I tend to make milky drinks for the wife and a little foamed milk to mine to take the bitter edge of. The coffee from the freshly ground beans didn't have the bitterness and was noticeably richer in flavour. But it wasn't espresso. I was surprised that the first attempt literally couldn't force any water through the coffee at all, after all it's supposed to be a 15bar pump. As I say, a lot of water leaks from the steam arm. Might the pressure be being diverted that way because of a faulty seal or something? Anyway, I'm going home now to experiment a bit more.
  9. It's probably bad manners to post a thread begging for wisdom and only then introduce myself, but I hope I can be forgiven. Heaven knows why I've suddenly become obsessed with trawling coffee sites and forums, but there you go. I know next to nothing about coffee at the moment, but having a couple of years ago got a taste for espresso on holiday and then 'accidentally' buying a machine with an espresso making part when replacing a broken filter machine, I somehow seem now to have reached the point where I'm no longer satisfied with what I'm making and want to move to the next level. So here I am.
  10. I've been itching to start another newbie 'new machine' thread since I started obsessing over coffee sites and fora during half-term last week. Since a good few posts seem to have been mislaid in the server-move, I think it's even more important that I now do my bit. I really enjoyed reading Rowlybum's thread from last month. I had a pretty similar starting point and was heading in a very similar direction. I've bought into the idea that the beans are more important than the grinder, and the grinder more important than the machine, so I've been checking out the coffee supplier links on here and have just ordered an Iberital MC2 that should be here in a day or two. The accompanying step was going to be investing in a new machine, and I figured I'd go with the almost ubiquitous recommendation of a Gaggia Classic. We're reasonably close to the former Gaggia outlet (now Caffeshop) at Castleford, so we had look in the other day. A 'nearly new' classic was £199 (though the model in stock had fairly worn switches so I think their interpretation of 'nearly new' is probably fairly liberal). They also had a Coffee Deluxe at £125, and my wife felt that 80-odd quid just save to save a few drips (which was basically how the difference between a solenoid and mechanical valve was explained) was an unnecessary extra expense. But then she never makes the coffee, so doesn't have to scrape the soggy gunge out of the basket before loading up again. I'm now wondering though whether I should even bother with a new machine at the moment. I've got a Magimix Expresso & Filtre which I picked up new about 18 months ago for about £100, but the current model retails at about £250. I never use the filter side and the steam wand leaks like crazy. Since I've been learning a little more about espresso I realise that most of the time I wasn't using a fine enough grind of coffee and wasn't tamping firmly enough. I now find I can get something that looks and tastes a bit more like coffee-shop espresso, but sometimes at the expense of water leaking from the portafilter as well as the steam wand unless I lean on the machine and tighten it really hard. So what I'm wondering is whether to stick with the machine for now while I experiment with beans and the new grinder, then make the leap to a significantly more expensive machine later if I still have the enthusiasm, or would I be likely to find that a Classic (or similar) would make a big enough difference to be worth getting now? (And I would probably get £50+ towards a new machine by selling the Magimix on ebay.) I haven't seen much in the way of reviews of the Magimix from knowledgeable people who can compare it with other machines, so I don't even know if it's capable of making a decent espresso, especially given that at this stage I don't even have much of an idea what a decent espresso is myself. Which way do you think I should go?
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