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Endless effort without success


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Gaggia Classic (OVP adjusted), Iberital MC2 grinder. For 3 years I have been trying to make decent coffee but so far not a single decent cup. I weigh in my dose 14g, I weight out my dose 28g (25-30 second extraction). All of my cups are soooo bitter, really horrible. Coffee shop coffee tastes infinitely better than mine, sweeter, nutty. Today I tried pulling a double shot into 2 glasses to create a single shot but it just tastes thin watery and bitter. I use fresh beans (Rave) and have tried many different blends and single origins but all taste bad. This cannot be that hard! Any suggestions?

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I have my grind fineness and dose time set with the target of 28gms after 25-30 seconds (it's never exact, roughly the same but always tastes awful!). I have an in-print of the shower screen/screw in my puck after extraction, I have asked in previous posts and the general advice seemed to be a 14gm dose.

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As Mark intimated which basket are you using ? They are manufactured to accept approx set doses Ie 8 and 16 gm (make sure you are not using one with a letter C stamped on inside edge, this is for "pods"

Is the M/ch thoroughly clean ? especially shower screen and dispersion block behind the screen, these collect lots of coffee oils which will taint all your coffee and make it bitter. Does the coffee seem to be up to temperature ? not cool = faulty brew stat ?

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For 3 years I have been trying to make decent coffee but so far not a single decent cup.

 

That's dedication!

 

I haven't seen your other posts but it may help if you describe everything you are doing - from weighing, tamping, age of beans - everything.

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I have my grind fineness and dose time set with the target of 28gms after 25-30 seconds (it's never exact, roughly the same but always tastes awful!). I have an in-print of the shower screen/screw in my puck after extraction, I have asked in previous posts and the general advice seemed to be a 14gm dose.

 

An imprint of the shower screen in a 14g puck seems a little odd, do you get the imprint when you put the PF in and remove without making a shot? Have you tried working out how much headspace you have by putting a coin, or similar on the puck & seeing when an imprint occurs (again, without making a shot)?

 

If you are too fine, you could be getting channelling around the edge of the basket & the puck is getting sucked up against the screen when the 3 way solenoid does it's thing.

 

Be more flexible with time. Don't be afraid to go longer.

 

Are you sure you really want a 1:2 ratio shot?

 

It strikes me that for all this time, you have been trying to make the same shot, if you didn't like it 3 years ago, why would that change? Perhaps it is time to change the inputs to see if you can get a more pleasant output?

 

I'd start by trying 1:3 (with maybe 15-16g dose) keep adjusting grind until the flavour becomes more balanced. When this happens, start tweaking finer to see if you can keep the balance with finer grind & shorter shots.

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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I've never looked to see if I have an in-print post shot, I'll look and try the coin thing on my next attempt. I have been using the 1:2 ratio since I posted on here a few months back, bitter taste being the reason. before then I was using a coarser grind, same shot time and getting about 40gms out. Still tasted bad.

I keep my equipment very clean, sponge down the shower screen after every shot, back flush the machine every couple of Kg of coffee.

Shot temperature seems fine, it's hot

I have a double filter basket from Happy Donkey, no 'c', it's not a pressurised basket.

Water, just tap water but that's what my local coffee shops use and their shots taste fine.

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I've never looked to see if I have an in-print post shot, I'll look and try the coin thing on my next attempt. I have been using the 1:2 ratio since I posted on here a few months back, bitter taste being the reason. before then I was using a coarser grind, same shot time and getting about 40gms out. Still tasted bad.

 

By going coarser & pulling a longer shot you could be pulling a similar, bad tasting extraction, just weaker.

 

Try a fine grind & a longer (heavier) shot output.

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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I'll give the longer shot a try, how many gms out would you recommend I aim for?

 

The more water you put through the puck, the more chance of a balanced shot (but it will get weaker).

 

Aim 16:48g to start with, you can reduce the output if shots are smokey & drying.

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Backflush every couple Kg?? Don't think I want to see what's behind the shower screen...

Your local coffee shop probably uses some in line filtering of the water...

Try working out your headspace, you want to make sure there's some space for the puck to expand...

A video of your shot might help as well...

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If cleaning was the problem my shots would taste better post clean but there's absolutely no difference I do remove the shower screen and clean behind, there's a little residue but no real muck.

My coffee shops use a water filter, I seriously doubt that where I live!

I'll coarsen my grind, try 16:48 and see where that takes me.

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Concentrate on the advice from Mwjb to start with , fresh coffee and water should get to tasty , you can finesse tastes with water but concentrate on working the ratio as suggested before changing gear , using water recipes etc etc etc ...

I write a blog, it's nothing to do with coffee ...

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If cleaning was the problem my shots would taste better post clean but there's absolutely no difference I do remove the shower screen and clean behind, there's a little residue but no real muck.

My coffee shops use a water filter, I seriously doubt that where I live!

I'll coarsen my grind, try 16:48 and see where that takes me.

 

Do you / have you removed the dispersion block behind the screen ? this is where much of the "muck" collects and if it is the aluminium one they are even worse/ disgusting. Water does not clean this , it needs scrubbing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So after much tinkering I'm getting a shot I'm much happier with.

I suspect I may have been grinding too fine causing channeling (there were holes in my puck after extraction) as a result my shot was getting over extracted = bitter. A slightly courser grind and my shot starts to pour after about 6-7 seconds after button press (previously taking around 10 seconds, Gaggia classic). My post-shot-puck is dryer (before it was a bit sloppy) and without any holes. I'm running my shot for 20-22 seconds (from button press) and tasting not weighing the result to get the shot I want.

My grinder is an Iberital MC2, to originally dial in the grinder required a lot of wasted beans to get close to the correct fineness but once close a half turn seems to be the difference between a shot that pulls too fast and one that chokes my machine.

Most of the advice I originally found online steered me toward a supper fine grind and a very slow pour, it seems it's easily overdone.

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The problem is that unless your technique is perfect it is quite hard to go for a proper long pour with ultra fine grind (if that's the kind of taste you like), a coarser/normal pour is a lot more forgiving on technique...

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So after much tinkering I'm getting a shot I'm much happier with.

I suspect I may have been grinding too fine causing channeling (there were holes in my puck after extraction) as a result my shot was getting over extracted = bitter. A slightly courser grind and my shot starts to pour after about 6-7 seconds after button press (previously taking around 10 seconds, Gaggia classic). My post-shot-puck is dryer (before it was a bit sloppy) and without any holes. I'm running my shot for 20-22 seconds (from button press) and tasting not weighing the result to get the shot I want.

My grinder is an Iberital MC2, to originally dial in the grinder required a lot of wasted beans to get close to the correct fineness but once close a half turn seems to be the difference between a shot that pulls too fast and one that chokes my machine.

Most of the advice I originally found online steered me toward a supper fine grind and a very slow pour, it seems it's easily overdone.

 

I don't see how you can be killing the shot by taste rather than weight? To taste it, it must have already stopped, whereas the weight is an indicator of when to stop the shot.

 

Time is a very unreliable parameter to judge shots by, many can pull shots of 40-50sec with no over-extraction. The weight of your shot may have some bearing as heavier shots can be pulled in less time...& so, we're back to weighing.

 

I guess what's important is that you're getting something you like, but by just talking about time, no one else can determine what it is that you are doing.

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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When I say I'm tasting the shot I mean I have tried lots of variation on shot time, running the shot for 20-22 seconds so far gives me a cup without too much bitterness, surely it does not matter how much the shot weighs, if it tastes bad, it's bad!

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When I say I'm tasting the shot I mean I have tried lots of variation on shot time, running the shot for 20-22 seconds so far gives me a cup without too much bitterness, surely it does not matter how much the shot weighs, if it tastes bad, it's bad!

 

It doesn't matter how much the shot weighs when the shot tastes good, but all shots at 21sec +/-1sec aren't likely to taste equally good...I could be pulling shots at 10g in 22sec, you could be pulling 80g - these will be fundamentally different. When they taste bad, what do you do about it? There are more ways to make a bad tasting shot than there are to make good one, so narrowing down the variables is a good route. For now, you seem to be in a happy place, which is great & more power to you. Any shot that runs for more than 22sec is not necessarily bitter, there is no 22sec shot rule, nor common datum, so while it may not be important to your enjoyment, it's just not info that anyone who isn't enjoying their coffee can use, without knowing more about what you're doing. But, this isn't a public service channel, so you're not obliged to inform & I'm not trying to rain on your parade, you can just enjoy ...& I can shut up :-)

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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When I say I'm tasting the shot I mean I have tried lots of variation on shot time, running the shot for 20-22 seconds so far gives me a cup without too much bitterness, surely it does not matter how much the shot weighs, if it tastes bad, it's bad!

Weight allows you to communicate with people , to replicate a good shot and adjust a bad one...Yep it can taste bad but it can be under or over extracted , weight can give some indicator of where you may be in that curve. Time on its own does not .

Up to you , when you change beans you may well be back to square one again .....

I write a blog, it's nothing to do with coffee ...

https://rjwinc.wordpress.com

Instagram - rjw_inc

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All comments are good, I'm under no impression that I have cracked it and it has occurred to me that when I change my beans (and I will) and may/will need to re adjust. The primary reason for adding my post was that I was heading down a path that was unlikely to achieve what I wanted and I suspect there may be others on the same path. How long after button press the pour begins and how the puck looks after the shot seem to be a couple of good indicators of how good the grind is and if I'm likely to get a good extraction, hopefully there's some sound logic in that and with a bit of luck will give me a good starting point from where I can start to weigh the shot for consistency. It seems a good cup is a sum of all parts.

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All comments are good, I'm under no impression that I have cracked it and it has occurred to me that when I change my beans (and I will) and may/will need to re adjust. The primary reason for adding my post was that I was heading down a path that was unlikely to achieve what I wanted and I suspect there may be others on the same path. How long after button press the pour begins and how the puck looks after the shot seem to be a couple of good indicators of how good the grind is and if I'm likely to get a good extraction, hopefully there's some sound logic in that and with a bit of luck will give me a good starting point from where I can start to weigh the shot for consistency. It seems a good cup is a sum of all parts.

 

Worry more about how long it takes to get the drink you want after pressing the button, rather than how long it takes before you see coffee...you're only making a small drink from a given weight of grounds, the process is already under way when you see coffee, it's not starting then.

 

If you dose low, your puck will be wet - if you dose high it will be dry. The amount of moisture left in the puck is largely a result of how much standing water is left on it after the 3 way solenoid hoovers off the excess. It's not an indicator of much else.

 

Your username suggests you are a designer? Consider that your shot is made, for it to be made it takes some design?

Edited by MWJB

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Where are you based? Maybe a member local to you could evaluate your shots?

Home Barista Training - contact me to discuss your requirements

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Couple of things that could be holding you back that leap out at me are temprature and grind quality.

 

I don't know how good your current grinder is but aside from finesse the consistency of grind quality and the flavour profile you achieve from a better grinder is night and day. When I stepped up from Smart Grind Pro to a F64 the difference it was literally like a 50% improvement in depth and consistency.

 

It also doesn't appear your machine has a PID...really temp stability again is such a factor that running blind of course means massive inconsistency and a huge impact on taste in the cup.

 

Pressure (as in ability to pre infuse and profile), Temprature, Grind Quality...all things that your local specialty shop have an advantage on you at the moment.

 

But...keep going, it's a fun journey and by improving each factor in turn your shots will exponentially improve I am sure.

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