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IceQubed

Very inconsistent espresso results despite careful measurements

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Posted (edited)

I am using a Gaggia Classic with PID mod, OPV mod, bottomless portafilter, upgraded steam wand and a recent descale. My grinder is an aergrind manual grinder.

I've recorded the shots I've pulled in a spreadsheet ?

Even though I am careful to measure the weight and shot time of each shot, I don't have very repeatable results - they are all over the place. I've managed to dial in the Aergrind to get shots in the right ballpark, though I'm still having trouble. I use a timer to time the shots to 28-32s depending on how it's pouring, then weigh the shot once it's done. I even distribute the coffee in the basket with a toothpick for consistency and lump breakup!

Note that in the spreadsheet where I record the grind setting, the first number before the dot is a complete turn, the second number is the number on the dial past the complete turn, and the third number is 0-9 for the distance between the numbers on the dial. Pretty much this system but with another level of precision.

Ideas I've had:

  • Perhaps some difference is due to the amount of time I'm pre heating the gaggia and basket?
  • Perhaps the fact that I'm using beans that are too fresh means that they'll be all over the place until they mature?
  • Why is my grinder giving me completely different results to the manual for it? The recommended espresso grind is 1.2 but I'm up at 1.8?!
  • Why is a very tiny change in grind setting giving me wildly different results? Maybe the grind is coarse but there's another factor making some shots slow?
  • Maybe I need to soak the dispersion block in puly caff or something?
  • Could my tamping be rubbish? I apply firm pressure with a slight twist and press until the coffee is compressed.

The grinder has some good reviews for being capable of espresso, so I don't think it's the primary cause though it may be a factor.

Any advice is appreciated!

Edited by IceQubed

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Posted (edited)

Your shot weights are all over the place, you need to use scales under the cup, use a wider rimmed cup if you need to wiggle it under the spouts & fit on the scales.

28-32s isn't optimal, good taste at the ratio you brew at (and hit repeatably) is optimal.

You're recording lots of info, which is good, but also record a taste score (say out of 5 or 9), your notes are about speed/ratio, but not about taste.

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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Stop the shot by weight, not time 

Drink 

If taste = good - dint worry about the time 

 

Yes fresh beans will lead to taste and shot time differences , I'd say a minimum of 7 days rest 

Personally I dontuse anything before 14 days but as with alot of things in coffee up to you 

See answers to your questions below 

In summary 

  • Perhaps some difference is due to the amount of time I'm pre heating the gaggia and basket? Possibly but only if one is really cols and one is boiling 
  • Perhaps the fact that I'm using beans that are too fresh means that they'll be all over the place until they mature? Yes see above 
  • Why is my grinder giving me completely different results to the manual for it? The recommended espresso grind is 1.2 but I'm up at 1.8?! That is not important grind is reflective of dose , coffee roast etc....
  • Why is a very tiny change in grind setting giving me wildly different results? Maybe the grind is coarse but there's another factor making some shots slow? Welcome to espresso 
  • Maybe I need to soak the dispersion block in puly caff or something? Cleaning is always good but unless it never been cleaned uniliely but give it a try 
  • Could my tamping be rubbish? I apply firm pressure with a slight twist and press until the coffee is compressed. Tamp flat, get coffee even in basket, dont pull the tamper out too quickly , pressure again is irrelevant 
  • Thanks 1

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

https://rjwinc.wordpress.com

Instagram - rjw_inc

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Thanks for the advice MWJB and Mrboots2u. 

 

I've just ordered a 0.1g micro scale which will hopefully fit on my drip tray - the gaggia classic drip tray is pretty small and I can't fit my normal scales under it. This will allow me to dose by weight instead of time, however I will still have the same shot speed inconsistency issue. Hopefully as the beans get a little older they will calm down. 

 

15 minutes ago, Mrboots2u said:

Why is a very tiny change in grind setting giving me wildly different results? Maybe the grind is coarse but there's another factor making some shots slow?

Welcome to espresso 

? I guess this is my life now, always reaching towards the perfect shot, never quite getting there...

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Don't twist the tamper while pressing, only at the end for a quick polish without pressure 


The peculiarity of espresso beverage is the simultaneous presence of three dispersed phases coexisting within a matrix, namely a concentrated solution of salts, acids, sugars, caffeine and many other hydrophilic substances. These phases are: an emulsion of oil droplets, a suspension of solid particles and an effervescence of gas bubbles, which evolves into a foam.

MildredM's towels, joey24dirt's tamper, MaraXprofitec, Portaspresso Rossa PG Air, Aergrind, IMS baskets, Hario Syphon TC3, Java Maestro dripper, Chemex, French press, Gnali & Zani moka pot, Bonavita kettle & scales, Gene Cafe CBR 101, BWT Bestmax Premium

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1 hour ago, IceQubed said:

I've just ordered a 0.1g micro scale which will hopefully fit on my drip tray - the gaggia classic drip tray is pretty small and I can't fit my normal scales under it. This will allow me to dose by weight instead of time, however I will still have the same shot speed inconsistency issue. 

 

? I guess this is my life now, always reaching towards the perfect shot, never quite getting there...

Cool, the scale will help no end.

Because your shot weight variation is so great (it should be smaller than the time variation, yours is 3 times as large), it's hard to make any conclusions about time, but time consistency is relative, it's not a case of hitting everything to a second. Time can drift a bit & not be a problem if you are controlling grind & dose.

You can't make perfect shots all the time, you won't have perfect coffee all the time. Perfection is not a realistic aim.

Good coffee, more often than not (give yourself a couple of attempts to get a bean ball-park) & not having to wonder whether you are enjoying it, or not, is more realistic.

Say you're scoring out of 9, below 6 should be fairly rare, undrinkable should be like 1:50. 

 


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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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