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And so it begins. A home espresso journey

syngent

Moderator
Idrinkcoffee is good people. I got my grinder from them (fiorenzato f4e nano) as well as my rocket r60v as "open box but new" deals. Saved a buttload. I'm a huge fan of their brazilian coffee beans too; the daterra stuff is absolutely world class and very consistent from them.
Looks like they are changing things up a bit on their coffee. Smaller bags, hopefully the price drops a bit too, but I doubt it. Everything I've had from them has been great though.
 
My own home espresso journey started this past June after spending a week in Italy drinking "real" coffee. And in that vein let me recommend Lavazza Super Crema. They literally serve this stuff in gas stations in Italy, Lavazza is that common. But, it is also amazingly consistent, and cheap. You can get it from Amazon in vacuum packed bags. Yes, you will see complaints about it not being fresh but I found even a months old bag performs damn fine in my super-auto. It takes me back to Italy, and not just the gas stations.
 

syngent

Moderator
My own home espresso journey started this past June after spending a week in Italy drinking "real" coffee. And in that vein let me recommend Lavazza Super Crema. They literally serve this stuff in gas stations in Italy, Lavazza is that common. But, it is also amazingly consistent, and cheap. You can get it from Amazon in vacuum packed bags. Yes, you will see complaints about it not being fresh but I found even a months old bag performs damn fine in my super-auto. It takes me back to Italy, and not just the gas stations.
I got some at Costco. I used a tonne of it while I was initially trying stuff out. I liked it a lot too
 
Wet-shaving wasn't enough of a rabbit hole for you? Welcome to the wonderful world of good coffee.

I've been through this journey some years back as a student, trying to make proper espresso at home with a (modified) espresso machine, big*** coffee shop grinder and fresh coffee. Maybe that's when I discovered my interest for rabbit holes and chasing dragons..

Some beginner tips and experiences that I found very useful might help you too. Personally I'm not into any of the drinks with milk, with the exception of a good macchiatto (not a latte macchiatto, but the real one, single shot of espresso/ristretto with a dash of dense milk foam). Nevertheless a good espresso is at the base of all coffee variations, so best to get that down first.
Mind the gap!

First off, everything starts with good beans. Get freshly roasted beans, no older than a few days. In the EU that costs me 20-25$/kg. Beans should be a few days, to maximum 2 weeks old for a good espresso. Older beans still work well in a fully automatic, but it does not have the potential you have. Trust me, after a few tries you will understand what I mean.
Tip: Buy 1kg at a time and freeze in packages of 250 gr. to extend lifetime. At the start, buy several smaller packages (and freeze them) to try different flavours.
Older beans also still work splendid for stovetop, french press, filter, etc.


Secondly, optimise the grind and extraction, these go hand in hand. Parameters to optimise are grind coarseness and amount of coffee, the result is evaluated in extraction time, wetness of the puck and the balance of acidity and bitterness.
Important: get yourself a handheld alumium tamper. It will cost about 20$ and makes a world of difference.

Aim for 25 mL coffee in 20-25 seconds for a single, starting off with a nice dark and viscous and going blonder towards the end. Shorter extraction results in too much acidity, longer burns the coffee and results in bitterness.
A finer grind results in longer extraction time, and so does increased amount of coffee. It can vary slightly per coffee, but once you dialed it in for your system the adjustments are minimal.

Now, the importance of tamping is to evenly pack the coffee bed for a homogeneous extraction. "Channeling", water finding the path of least resistance, is your enemy here. It results in an imbalanced taste; some parts are overextracted while the majority of the coffee is underextracted.
In your photo the puck is quite wet and uneven, a clear sign of channeling. The puck should come out moist, not wet or with puddles, and the bed should still evenly flat after extraction.

Tip: start with double espresso's. They are generally more forgiving to small variations. A double is 50 mL coffee, but still in 20-25 seconds! Generally it's 7-11 grams for a single shot, 15-20 for a double. But do not waste time with a scale; it's not about exact grams, it's about taste and extraction! Your grinder has a timer, use it. It's a huge help in getting consistent amounts of coffee in your basket.


Godspeed on your journey! It's a fun and tasty one!
 
Ahhhhhh yes the home espresso journey!!!!

I’ve been eye balling a Moka stove top pot. $27 on amazon, I have not pulled the trigger yet, but after doing a lot of research apparently every home in Italy has a stove top espresso maker.

I’ve been a espresso guy, however with my recent coffee hobby and getting really good grounds and getting away from the bottom shelf stuff I’ve noticed the taste is better, it’s stronger, and I can control more of the flavor.

Aren’t these forums great!!!!
 
Ahhhhhh yes the home espresso journey!!!!

I’ve been eye balling a Moka stove top pot. $27 on amazon, I have not pulled the trigger yet, but after doing a lot of research apparently every home in Italy has a stove top espresso maker.

I’ve been a espresso guy, however with my recent coffee hobby and getting really good grounds and getting away from the bottom shelf stuff I’ve noticed the taste is better, it’s stronger, and I can control more of the flavor.

Aren’t these forums great!!!!
There is some debate as to the legitimacy of calling what comes from a Moka pot “espresso”. Many, myself included, get a nice cup but lacking any crema we conclude it’s not really espresso. Having said that, like anything, do what suits you and don’t listen to technical critics including me. Ha ha.
 

syngent

Moderator
My mocha makes a very different cup than my espresso. Both are good and enjoyable though. Since my espresso machine boots up ready to use in 3 seconds it makes a quicker cup and renders the mocha a bit of a novelty, but one I still enjoy
 
I’m not a foam and steamed milk guy for my espressos. I know some guys will make that separate when using the moka pot.

I don’t think they had these new fangled espresso machines back when the original version. So my thought was why not just get and use the original you know.
 

Ad Astra

The Instigator
Ambassador
You absolutely can get crema from a moka pot, but it takes technique ...

Cuban Aunt Method

1. Sugar goes in a small metal pot

2. Watch the moka pot like a hawk! First little dribble of coffee, spill this onto the sugar

3. Whip this sugary paste with a spoon WELL, while the pot bubbles up its Bustelo or Pilon goodness ...

4. Pour into metal pot, you've got Cafe Cubano con crema!


AA
 
That's a great looking set up. I've found the key to the best espresso is in the grinding (and a non-pressurized portafilter, which you've already figured out). Once you have that down (and it sounds like you already do, or very close), you can experiment with different coffees. Roasting darker tends to reduce acidity, which is crucial for espresso, but a too-dark roast can have a burnt flavor. I've found some varieties of coffee are just too acidic for espresso, though fine for other brewing methods.
 

syngent

Moderator
That's a great looking set up. I've found the key to the best espresso is in the grinding (and a non-pressurized portafilter, which you've already figured out). Once you have that down (and it sounds like you already do, or very close), you can experiment with different coffees. Roasting darker tends to reduce acidity, which is crucial for espresso, but a too-dark roast can have a burnt flavor. I've found some varieties of coffee are just too acidic for espresso, though fine for other brewing methods.
Since I couldn't leave well enough alone I messed my brew up lol. The coffee is going blonde to soon, and the puck is sticking to the brew head which it shouldn't even be touching leading me to believe I'm channeling down the sides pushing the puck up into the brew head. So I get to play again. Either I'm tamping to hard or my grounds are to small. Either way it I'll figure it out and have fun doing it
 

Alacrity59

Moderator Emeritus
Mick/Turtle talked about the Espro 30lb Calibrated tamper. This takes the guesswork out of one variable. Find the one that fits your portafilter. (diameter of the portafilter)

Maybe . . . if you are open to try some Lavazza. It gives you an idea of how fine a grind you are after. I actually do like the brand and they add some . . . gasp. . . robusta beans to add to the crema in some of their offerings.
 
A bit further West. Milton. They do great videos about equipment. My current espresso machine is from them and my first grinder as well.

I suspect Evan might have been talking about Espresso Planet not Espresso World but who knows I'm wrong frequently. (my current grinder is from here and french press and moka pot . . . closest to home for me)

I think the roast to custom guy is my original suggestion Dark City Coffee. Even by Canada Post it is here a day or two after roasting.

I've ordered from Green Beanery . . . I think that is where I found my Aeropress. Nothing wrong . . . I should try them again.

Pilot I've yet to try.

Birds and Beans in Etobicoke is pretty nice too. And also nice chocolate.

Wow . . . Canadians do like coffee.
Yes, Espresso Planet, you're right, my memory is not what it used to be, also the roaster in Markham is called "Hatch", the owners name is Alphonso I beleive, you can meet him and chat.
 
Since I couldn't leave well enough alone I messed my brew up lol. The coffee is going blonde to soon, and the puck is sticking to the brew head which it shouldn't even be touching leading me to believe I'm channeling down the sides pushing the puck up into the brew head. So I get to play again. Either I'm tamping to hard or my grounds are to small. Either way it I'll figure it out and have fun doing it
Ha! That's the spirit, keep having fun with it.
 

syngent

Moderator
Mick/Turtle talked about the Espro 30lb Calibrated tamper. This takes the guesswork out of one variable. Find the one that fits your portafilter. (diameter of the portafilter)

Maybe . . . if you are open to try some Lavazza. It gives you an idea of how fine a grind you are after. I actually do like the brand and they add some . . . gasp. . . robusta beans to add to the crema in some of their offerings.
Breville uses an odd 54mm basket, tough time find stuff for it. And I bought a bag of lavazza at Costco last time there. Seemed a better solution than expensive stuff as I was initially playing with grinds and what not
 
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rockviper

Moderator Emeritus
I "think" I understand what you're saying. :tongue_sm
Auto-correct on the phone or simply too much caffeine? :letterk1:
 
Breville uses an odd 54mm basket, tough time find stuff for it. And I bought a bag of lavazza at Costco last time there. Seemed a better solution than expensive stuff as I was initially playing with grinds and what not
You might want to get a distribution tamper tool similar to this...the one with angle sloped edges to level the coffee bed. It helped my subsequent tamps to be more consistent. I find that distribution/tamping to be the most difficult part of espresso brewing.
 
There is some debate as to the legitimacy of calling what comes from a Moka pot “espresso”. Many, myself included, get a nice cup but lacking any crema we conclude it’s not really espresso. Having said that, like anything, do what suits you and don’t listen to technical critics including me. Ha ha.
A Moka pot is not espresso, simple as that ;) It's not just about the crema. At 9-14 bar of pressure, there is a whole new world of oils and flavours extracted from the coffee that result in the distinct espresso. The Moka reaches only 2-3 bars roughly. Still sufficient to give it a different taste profile than normal filter.
I do love my Moka - it's our go-to at home. (And so it is for the majority of Italians. There's a reason there's only one (!) Starbucks in the entire of Italy).


Since I couldn't leave well enough alone I messed my brew up lol. The coffee is going blonde to soon, and the puck is sticking to the brew head which it shouldn't even be touching leading me to believe I'm channeling down the sides pushing the puck up into the brew head. So I get to play again. Either I'm tamping to hard or my grounds are to small. Either way it I'll figure it out and have fun doing it
Mick/Turtle talked about the Espro 30lb Calibrated tamper. This takes the guesswork out of one variable. Find the one that fits your portafilter. (diameter of the portafilter)
You're on your way. The learning curve is steep and rewarding!
My personal opinion: don't waste time on gimmicks like coffee distributors or calibrated tampers. They seem helpful at first but tend to conceil bad technique in the long run.
Get a tamper with a nice handle if you don't have one yet (a Motta for example). 10-15 kg on the tamper is sufficient, just a bit more than the weight of your arm. Maybe measure it once with a scale to get a feel of it. Consistency is more important than the actual weight!
 
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