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About espresso_a_day

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    Brewing Nicely
  1. I've already posted about Fazenda UK in the "UK based roasters" thread but I'd like to give a better chance to this shop to be discovered by those who are looking for Italian-style beans. I've now bought four different blends of beans from them and they were all great. Beans are roasted to the point where they are not too dark and oily, but also not as light as many of the currently popular UK/ London roasters. Today I found out a little more: the Italian owner roasts the beans himself near Rome on a wood-fired roaster and brings them over to London about every two weeks. So the beans are not ultra-fresh as from most online roasters, but all the ones I've had have definitely been fresh, and perfectly fine for producing great espresso. They usually have a daily blend, and will make other blends up for you on the spot. To me, these are exactly the types of beans I have been looking for for two years -- I've got more accustomed to the acidity in the light blends and I do like them in milk-based drinks, but for espresso this is the style I prefer. So far, I've been buying beans from a Munich-based roaster because I couldn't find them in the UK. Their address is 13 Leyden St in E1 7LE near Spitalfields Market and in walking distance from Liverpool St Station. It's also a cafe and they serve lunch and cakes, neither of which I've tried.
  2. I've recently discovered a small roaster in London, Fazenda UK: http://www.fazendauk.com They don't seem to sell online. They're Italians and will make up an on-the-spot blend for you if you like. I've got this twice, and really liked both of them. What I like is that the beans are roasted a bit darker than the current very-light-roast fashion, but not too dark and oily.
  3. You are right that the boiler is (partly) empty after steaming. By pressing the brew switch you are switching on the pump and refilling the boiler (I think this is called venting the boiler). This is exactly what you should be doing. The inflow into the boiler on the CC is at the bottom. The boiler has a vertical dip tube so water going into the brew head and into your cup actually comes from the top of the boiler. The 6 sec is the lag until the water level is above the entry of the dip tube. I usually refill the boiler with the steam wand open, as I once read that is recommended, presumably because this will take water from the highest point in the boiler (though not sure this is all that important given the dip tube). Because the heating elements of the CC are mounted externally on the boiler, they are AFAIK pretty well protected from overheating. Again AFAIK for other single boiler machines with internal heating elements like the Silvia, overheating is a real danger if you let the boiler fall dry, so refilling the boiler with water is really important there. My CC is fitted with a PID, and it seems that filling about 2/3 of a small glass of water after steaming also gets the boiler temperature back to brew temp. This is handy to know if you are making more than 2 milk beverages where I find it convenient to brew -- steam -- brew.
  4. I was facing a choice between the Silvia and the Gaggia Classic as my first espresso machine almost 2 years ago. I went with the Gaggia, which I still own. (and an Iberital MC2 grinder). I don't know the Silvia so cannot compare, but my thoughts: (1) Do you have a grinder yet? You absolutely need one, so if you don't have one get the Classic and a good entry-level grinder. (2) I didn't have a strict budged and I like the hobby with playing with the Classic, so I got a Rancilio steam wand for the Gaggia immediately, which is great but costs a bit of money to get the steaming up to scratch on the Gaggia. (3) PID. I got a PID from Auber and think it is a great addition, both in terms of toy value and I also think (non-blind, non-systematic tests) that I can actually taste difference between 2-3 degrees higher or lower and it has a noticeable influence on some beans. More importantly, I have often heard that the Silvia has a pretty wide temperature range as well, so you'll either temperature surf or PID the Silvia. Me, for the same money I would go Gaggia + PID again. (For the Gaggia, the PID also helps with steaming as you can see the temperature of the boiler as it gets up to steam and you can start steaming at about 130, forcing the boiler to keep heating so you do not run out of steam. You can do this without the PID, by learning how long the boiler takes until it switches off at the top of the steam temp cycle and timing accordingly, but with the PID it's easier and fun. This point is moot I hear for the Silvia which has a bigger boiler with more steam power). (4) Drip tray. I have heard the drip tray on the Silvia is pretty shallow. The one on the Gaggia is pretty deep and it may seem silly but now often you have to empty a drip tray (i.e. usually carry a shallow wide container with coffee muck sloshing around in it to the sink without spilling) really does make a huge difference to comfort. (5) External heating elements. While the Gaggia's aluminium boiler gets a lot of negative attention, its external heating elements are a great design allowing them to be better protected from accidental overheating (as I understand). Again, my understanding if you forget to refill the boiler with water after drawing steam on a single-boiler machine like the Silvia with heating element inside the boiler, the heating element is more prone to overheating and needing replacement. (6) The water tank is accessible from the front and the top. If you have low countertops you can pull out the tank to the front to refill. (You need to remove the portafilter, the drip tray, and the tube coming down from the stolenoid valve, all of which are easy though). I would choose the Gaggia again and would spend any extra money (again) on the PID and then on good beans (a HUGE factor in now your coffee tastes). But then again, if I had bought the Silvia, I might now be a Silvia fan.
  5. Just a quick note that I have considerably improved the consistency of single shots using the LM single basket by finally getting a 41 mm tamper. (I used to use 8-10g to build a mound above the lower narrower part and then tamped that with the 57mm HappyDonkey tamper, but now use 7-8 g and can properly tamp that inside the narrower part). I got a Concept Art one through a German website, vitaliano.de (I found it hard to find in the UK but maybe my Google skills are just bad.) So this is both a tip to go get one if you use the LM basket and also where you might find it, just search for "41 mm tamper" on froogle.google.de I'm not sure how easy or hard it is to order through a German website but in case it helps "durchmesser" means diameter and 41 is what you want for the LM single.
  6. I also must admit to not liking any of the Hasbean beans I've tried (even though I'd like to like them). I agree they are a great shop. +1 for coffeebeanshop! I've just got my first fortnightly promotion set from them last week and the two I've tried, their Roaster's Blend and the Rwanda A Grade were both very nice -- not too dark but not too light either. And v fast service as well. The only problem I see .... going on their website now I don't see the Rwanda A Grade anywhere -- so it seems the fortnightly promotions are not available once the promotion is over.
  7. I own a 2010 Gaggia Classic. I assume if the stolenoid were blocked, I'd notice fairly quickly (no wooosh?). But is there a separate "fault issue" (gaggiamanualservice's post to me sounds like there is) -- what is it and how would I notice?
  8. I'm also a fan of the soapy water trick. The German coffee wiki where I found it also recommends using instant coffee for practising latte art. Haven't tried it yet.
  9. Indeed, time for a followup from me I guess! I've become a fan of the Monsoon Malabar (either from Hasbean or James Gourmet Coffee). Tried about three different roasts from Algerian and wasn't a great fan. A bit too much at the dark/ oily end of the spectrum for me. Otherwise, I have really got the bug and am trying out different roasts. Haven't taken detailed notes and haven't detected a clear pattern yet. Hasbean breakfast bomb is also very nice. The flavour described as fruitiness or acidity is starting to grow on me -- I think it adds an interesting note. I still find it overwhelming in many roasts, even if they are described as more chocolatey, but who knows maybe that will change, too. I now find most roasts boring that lack it completely. I do think that there's an entirely different ideal version of espresso in UK and USA vs Italy. For example, I still don't really enjoy the espresso served by Monmouth (also, I find their espresso cups are way too big for single espresso, so the coffee cools down v quickly). But I do enjoy their flat whites -- so I'm wondering whether to some extent it just goes with most people buying milk based drinks at cafes here (vs eg Rome, where most drinks are served as espresso) and different roasts going well with/ without milk. OTOH, there seems to be a true appreciation of a very fruity taste in UK/USA. I once had an espresso made with Square Mile coffee made by a vendor in London who was clearly enthusiastic about what he was doing. The coffee to me tasted like a very acidic fruit juice, not espresso. But clearly Square Mile has many fans. p.s. edited error above: Monsooned Malabar was actually from James' Gourmet Coffee
  10. Sorry to hear about your problems. Two thoughts: maybe grind a bit finer to go with a lighter tamp (using the 58mm tamper). I don't use >9g for the single basket using the 58 mm tamper. I usually tamp pretty light, even on the double basket. Also, I have mucked around with the OPV when I got the machine, aiming to set it at 9bar. So maybe it works better with the OPV set to a lower pressure. (Coincidentally though, I mucked around some more with the OPV last night, setting it a bit higher again, to go from flow rate of ~130ml/30 seconds to ~90ml/30 seconds, and I still get good results). Also, of course we don't know whether my result is in fact better than yours, or whether you've just go higher standards! Paying attention today I get a similar result as you describe, with shot becoming a bit faster after about 12-15 seconds and early blonding. However, I observe the same with the double basket at the moment, and my best guess is that this is due to the 3 month old beans I'm currenlty using up. Using the bottomless PF, there are no other signs of channelling (such as diagonal streams of coffee gushing out). I may try to compare a bit more between the double and single basket result once I'm back to fresh coffee.
  11. The LM single basket fits into the standard Gaggia Classic portafilter (but I usually keep it in the bottomless PF). I don't have a special smaller tamper. I get good results using the standard "58 mm" tamper from Happy Donkey. When I dose about 8-9g aiming at the deep narrow middle of the LM single basket, I end up with a little mound of coffee inside the basket. Tamping that results in a flat surface extending all the way to the wider rim of the basket, about 1mm above the deep narrow part of the basket. Works fine for me. Look forward to hearing your experience.
  12. I have a Gaggia Classic with the Rancilio steam wand. Steaming works great. Are there steps to take after steaming? I clean the steam wand including blasting some steam through. Then I switch off the steam switch. The machine will eventually cool down to brewing temp, but the boiler is now, if my understanding is correct, v hot and only partly filled with water. Should I press the brew switch a few times, to get cool water into the boiler and cool it down? Good idea or bad?
  13. I was also confused about 9 bar pressure and OPV setting. I think I've figured it out, and here is my current understanding: The pressure that is ideally 9 bar is the pressure just above the puck. Your grind and tamp influence this. (Of course, if you had a pump that could only do less than 9 bar, you would not be able to achieve this pressure at the puck no matter how perfect your tamp -- but the Gaggia can easily do 9 bar). The OPV sets the max pressure that will ever get put through from the boiler to the channel that leads to the puck. If the OPV setting is 15 bar, eg, the OPV opens when pressure is higher than 15 bar, and releases water back to the tank. However, if you have ground and tamped correctly, this should not happen. Reducing the OPV from 15 to say 9 bar should, according to this understanding, only mean that if your puck yields just a bit more resistance to 9 bar, the machine "chokes" -- where otherwise you might now get a ristretto made with a bit over 9 bar pressure (at the puck). If your coffee gushes through in 10 seconds, the pressure at the puck is too low -- your grind is too coarse or tamp too light or both, and no pressure of 9 bar ever builds up at the puck. The OPV remains closed, whether it is set at 15 or 9 bar.
  14. There are two rubber tubes normally hanging into your water tank. You need to identify the tube through which water flows back into the tank if pressure gets too high at the OPV. I don't remember how it's identified but I'm quite sure one of the OPV adjustment pages shows a pic. You put this tube into an empty measuring container. The other tube, the one that actually pulls water from the tank into the boiler, stays in the tank filled with water.
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