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Old Jan 23, 2013, 01:55 PM   #1
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[Wiki] Espresso Enthusiasts

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Coffee Beans

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It is flexible. My standard recipe is 40g coffee brewed with 20 oz water, which is a little on the rich side but it's what I prefer. The combinations, though are endless, and not just the recipe; different brewing times, how long you let it bloom, etc. all impact the taste (my standard: 5 oz water, let it bloom for 30 seconds, stir, then add the rest of the water and let it brew for 3 minutes, then start pushing the handle down at 3:30, hopefully finish exactly at 3:50 and then pour at 4:00).
~From Kurwenal

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Old Jan 23, 2013, 01:58 PM   #2
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I've been through 4 different grinders and to be honest the best I found was a simple spice grinder.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 02:01 PM   #3
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I know just the person who should read this thread and help you. I sent him a note to read this thread.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 02:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peace View Post
I've been through 4 different grinders and to be honest the best I found was a simple spice grinder.
Used that one for the last two years and it did its job well. Mind I used only a Bialetti, so with a 'real' machine it very well may be a different story.

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I know just the person who should read this thread and help you. I sent him a note to read this thread.
3....2.....1....

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Old Jan 23, 2013, 02:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by eric/ View Post
I'm looking to get into espresso making and was wanting to get some opinons from those with experience.

I have ~ $500 budget

So from what I've read so far, the #1 thing you need is a good grinder, correct? I was looking at the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder as my first grinder.

I've also received numerous suggestions to purchas the Gaggia Classic for my machine.

I'm really looking to make lattes and specialty drinks like that more than anything else.

Any suggestions?
Hi...I'm the espresso freak sandboxgeneral referred to in his post. The poor man made the mistake of asking for some advice about starting to make espresso at home, and now his life is a living hell with my insane instruction.

YOU"VE BEEN WARNED!!!

OK, the general rule of thumb is to spend about the same amount on the grinder as you do on your espresso machine...up to about $200.

See link for some information:

http://coffeegeek.com/guides/howtobu...ne/getagrinder

I looked at the grinder you suggested and my concern about it is that it only has 16 grind settings. Maybe OK if you are making french press coffee, or even drip coffee, but really not enough fine adjustments for expresso. Ideally you want a "stepless" grinder. That means the grinder control doesn't "click", but moves with infinite adjustment. What I have is (until tomorrow, when I get my new grinder) a grinder with 55 adjustments. It's a Rancilio Rocky grinder, but it's a bit expensive. What you want to do is look for a BURR grinder with as many adjustments as you can afford and you should be spending about $200 or so on your grinder.

In descending order, the most important elements of making espresso is:

the coffee bean
The grinder
the proper tamp
the espresso machine.

So the grinder is the second most important element, and the first most important piece of machinery. The bean, clearly, is the most important element. You can have a $3,000 machine, and a $1,000 grinder, and if you put crappy coffee in, you'll get crappy coffee out...GIGO.

I do not recommend a spice grinder at all. And under NO CIRCUMSTANCES get a grinder with blades...only consider a BURR grinder. Either a flat or conical burr grinder. Blade (spice) grinders are NOT for espresso. Other grinds, perhaps, but not espresso.

As for the machine...Gaggia makes a good entry level machine. I had a Gaggia Baby Class, and it was excellent for the price. Easy to use, pretty forgiving for the beginner, and not too expensive. I don't have experience with the Classic, but when I get done typing this I'll go over and look at the specs. The internal materials on Gaggia machines is pretty good for the price...that's a lot of what you pay for in the machine. Also, you want the machine to put out 12-15 BARS of pressure...which the Gaggia probably has.

OK, I'll stop now, and go look at the specs of the Classic.

I'll...be...back...
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 02:57 PM   #6
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I checked out the Classic...it looks good.

A couple of caveats:

Read the reviews...a lot of information there.

If you are a total newbie, the Gaggia machines, like many others, is a bit fussy. So while you are learning to tamp and adjust the grind, you might have some problems pulling good shots. This is true of any machine, really, since you with be learning two skills at the same time. You will be controlling two variables...the grind and the tamp. Having two variables to juggle is quite difficult. When you are trying to get the proper extraction time for your shots, it's best to only have one variable to control. If the extraction time is off, it's hard to adjust both the tamp and the grind to correct the problem effecting the extraction time.

Having said all that, it certainly can be done. Believe me, if I could do it, so can you. It just really lengthens out the learning curve.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:21 PM   #7
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I've subscribed to the thread because Shrink has a vast knowledge of this stuff and I don't want to miss anything. I'm a newbie of espresso making as of last week.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Peace View Post
I've been through 4 different grinders and to be honest the best I found was a simple spice grinder.
Please accept my apology for dismissing you suggestion in such an off handed manner.

Blade choppers may well be fine for press or grind, but are really not too good for espresso. Espresso requires a very fine grind, and there are two areas where the chopper fails. The uniformity of particle size is crucial. Choppers produce wildly variable particle size, from very fine to (relatively) huge chunks. This disallows proper tamping as it produces "channels" and a very uneven tamp. Since water under pressure takes the route of least resistance, channels allow the water to pass through the puck too quickly, reducing the time the water is in contact with the grinds, leading to under extraction.

Second, since the beans in the hopper are hit by the blades over and over and over...it produces a lot of heat in the grinds...death to the grinds. Heat is the enemy of the grinds, badly effecting the oils, among other things. A burr grinder hits each bean just ONCE, not over and over, minimizing the destructive heat in the grind.

Again, sorry if my comment seemed too dismissive, but blade grinders are really not the best way to grind for espresso.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 04:29 PM   #9
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I'm quite happy with our Kitchenaid burr grinder.
http://www.kitchenaid.com/flash.cmd?...uct/KPCG100OB/
We've had it for five or six years now, no issues. Easy to disassemble and clean. Seems to produce a consitent grind, although we only rarely break out the espresso machine. Mostly drip and press.
It has 15 grind levels - never been an issue for us, since it does as fine or coarse as we need, but obviously not up to Shrink's standards. But it can be manually adjusted - the manual says "With adjustment, the Burr Coffee Mill will easily meet stringent Specialty Coffee Association of America grind-size specifications for espresso (250 micron grind size) or French Press brewing (1500 micron grind size)."
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 04:31 PM   #10
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<snip>

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Old Jan 23, 2013, 04:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elistan View Post
I'm quite happy with our Kitchenaid burr grinder.
http://www.kitchenaid.com/flash.cmd?...uct/KPCG100OB/
We've had it for five or six years now, no issues. Easy to disassemble and clean. Seems to produce a consitent grind, although we only rarely break out the espresso machine. Mostly drip and press.
It has 15 grind levels - never been an issue for us, since it does as fine or coarse as we need, but obviously not up to Shrink's standards. But it can be manually adjusted - the manual says "With adjustment, the Burr Coffee Mill will easily meet stringent Specialty Coffee Association of America grind-size specifications for espresso (250 micron grind size) or French Press brewing (1500 micron grind size)."
First, and most important, whatever works for you is right for you.

As you point out, you mostly use it for coarser grinds, where particle uniformity is less crucial. While it will apparently produce 250 micron particles, that may be an average, but it does not speak to uniformity or variability of particle size. Also, when making very fine adjustments in grind to effect extraction time, 15 adjustments makes big jumps in grind adjustment (fineness or coarseness of grind), not a fine control necessary for adjusting extraction time.

All that said, I had a Kitchenaid, and for my needs at the time, it was fine.


EDIT: I agree completely with AhmedFaisal, about the water, and most especially the last paragraph of his post about the subjectivity of judgement regarding things like wine, cigars, and espresso. There are some issues of mechanics with espresso that are not totally subjective, however.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:00 PM   #12
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I skip the whole grinding part nowadays, can't be bothered with it.

But here we go...

BODUM MILL:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/BODUM-Bistro...8978070&sr=8-4

FROTHER:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cafetiere-Bi...8978011&sr=8-7

MILK FROTHING THERMOMETER:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Andrew-James...8&sr=8-2-fkmr1

ESPRESSO MAKER:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bialetti-Mok...8978005&sr=8-1

BEANS:

http://www.equalexchange.co.uk/produ...Coffee%20Beans

ENJOY!


EDIT: some cheap mineral water from your local store to replace the tap water will also make a difference.

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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrink View Post
Again, sorry if my comment seemed too dismissive, but blade grinders are really not the best way to grind for espresso.
Actually, from one of my Expresso fanatic friends they recommended me this.

http://www.breville.com.au/beverages...e-grinder.html

Its a sub-$500 Burr Grinder and its just... simple. You twist the lid for fine-ness, twist the knob for the amount and press the little button. I keep on telling my parents off because they grind a big lot and leave it sitting there to go stale.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SandboxGeneral View Post
I know just the person who should read this thread and help you. I sent him a note to read this thread.
Quote:
Originally Posted by twietee View Post
Used that one for the last two years and it did its job well. Mind I used only a Bialetti, so with a 'real' machine it very well may be a different story.



3....2.....1....
Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking, too......

Quote:
Originally Posted by SandboxGeneral View Post
I've subscribed to the thread because Shrink has a vast knowledge of this stuff and I don't want to miss anything. I'm a newbie of espresso making as of last week.
Agree entirely. Shrink is an absolutely wonderful source of information on coffee.....sit back and enjoy, listen and learn because this is worth paying very close heed to.....


Quote:
Originally Posted by AhmedFaisal View Post
I am partial to stove top espresso makers from Bialetti. I have gone through every machine there is including in a moment of silliness convincing my gadget obsessed father to buy a Jura, which is the Miele of Espresso Machines. I came back to the old school stove top piece.

.........

As for the milk, some people swear by steamers but I actually use one of these contraptions with a regular pot to make my foamed milk.

All that said, listen this stuff is like wine, cigars or any other high priced hobby/food. Extremely subjective and dependent on your personal taste. So do what feels/tastes right for you and not what others tell you.
I agree with you; Bialetti is wonderful (I have a battered old espresso pot, a much loved and much used gift from my godmother who brought it back from Italy for me nearly 30 years ago). And yes, I, too, use a regular pot to make foamed milk, whenever I choose to make it....

Shrink, it is a pure pleasure to see you on a roll on your favourite topic (which happens to be one of mine, too). A privilege and pleasure to learn from an expert.......

Last edited by SandboxGeneral; Feb 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Clean up of quoted text
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:13 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MorphingDragon View Post
Actually, from one of my Expresso fanatic friends they recommended me this.

http://www.breville.com.au/beverages...e-grinder.html

Its a sub-$500 Burr Grinder and its just... simple. You twist the lid for fine-ness, twist the knob for the amount and press the little button.
Looks good. Breville generally makes very good stuff. Any well made (like Breville) burr grinder is fine. The higher number of adjustments just makes finer!! (Get it...fine...grind...OK, I'll go away now)

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Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking, too......
Shrink, it is a pure pleasure to see you on a roll on your favourite topic (which happens to be one of mine, too). A privilege and pleasure to learn from an expert.......
Thanks for the kind words. If you read some of the espresso oriented forums (I don't, but have seen excerpts), you will know that compared to the REAL experts, I'm a lightweight dilettante.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:39 PM   #16
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Not to hijack eric/'s thread, but with some tips from Shrink, I just completed my first latte and though it was a bit messy, I deemed it a tasty success. My frothing pitcher and thermometer came in yesterday and I got to trying them out today.

Shrink knows what he's talking about!
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:44 PM   #17
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I have a Jura Ena 5: http://www.amazon.com/Jura-Automatic...rds=jura+ena+5 - it's a relatively small bean to cup machine (it's EOL, but you can probably pick it up for about $1000 now) - I bought it because it had a reputation for producing the best espresso of any small(ish) machine. I honestly cannot taste the difference between the espresso my ena makes, and one made on my friend's professional high pressure machine in his coffee shop, using the same beans.

Avoid the "1 click" automatic machines. It might take a bit of practice, and a bit more effort, but you can learn to make your coffee exactly how you like it, rather than having a machine do it for you how it wants to.

If you can stretch your budget to $900-1000, I'd highly recommend the ena 5 (don't go for the more expensive, automatic, ENA machines).
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:45 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by SandboxGeneral View Post
Not to hijack eric/'s thread, but with some tips from Shrink, I just completed my first latte and though it was a bit messy, I deemed it a tasty success. My frothing pitcher and thermometer came in yesterday and I got to trying them out today.

Shrink knows what he's talking about!
I was hoping to get a general espresso thread going anyway.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:47 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SandboxGeneral View Post
Not to hijack eric/'s thread, but with some tips from Shrink, I just completed my first latte and though it was a bit messy, I deemed it a tasty success. My frothing pitcher and thermometer came in yesterday and I got to trying them out today.

Shrink knows what he's talking about!
Congratulations, Mate. Enjoy your delicious drink!!

Don't let the messiness bother you. Espresso, cappucino, etc. are a messy business. Clean up is an essential element of the life of the espresso aficionado .
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:51 PM   #20
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As for the foam, I'll use one of these. Spares me the trouble when batteries are uncharged and no replacement is in sight. Not exactly the model I have, but they work perfectly. If I'd be too lazy or gout-ridden I'd at least get one with a plug.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 06:58 PM   #21
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Congratulations, Mate. Enjoy your delicious drink!!

Don't let the messiness bother you. Espresso, cappucino, etc. are a messy business. Clean up is an essential element of the life of the espresso aficionado .
Nah, I'm not too worried about the mess of it. I figured it came with the territory. Although I was half-torn between enjoying my lattè and cleaning the machine at the same time!
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:37 PM   #22
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Nah, I'm not too worried about the mess of it. I figured it came with the territory. Although I was half-torn between enjoying my lattè and cleaning the machine at the same time!
I suggest you drink it while it's hot.

So what if your kitchen is a little messy...
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:42 PM   #23
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I suggest you drink it while it's hot.

So what if your kitchen is a little messy...
I did. I even preheated the cup with hot water from the machine while I prepared the espresso and milk. It stayed hot until I finished it.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:47 PM   #24
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I did. I even preheated the cup with hot water from the machine while I prepared the espresso and milk. It stayed hot until I finished it.
Ah, you have learned well, Grasshopper.



BTW: This is a very handy little item, especially for those of you who grind coffee...available on Amazon
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 08:31 PM   #25
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Those that just want to dip their toes into the water, so to say, do not have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars. The first 85-90% of the experience is not that expensive. That last few percentages of quality are what costs.

Kind of like a lot of things!

The experts here are of course enthusiasts and the OP did say he would spend $500, so the recommendations are totally understandable and something along the lines of what I might do someday when my cheap gift machine dies. Still, I like the espresso it makes and have learned a lot about the process and what I like.
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