Painful beginnings with grind setting

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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dgasmd

#1: Post by dgasmd »

Well, a couple of weeks ago I ordered a Mini Vivaldi II and a K3 touch grinder to go with it. This is my first real espresso set up, so point of reference for a lot of things, or simply everything, is not something I have. So, when I say I am starting from scratch I mean it literally.

Packages came in about <1 week ago, but they had to sit in the garage unopened as I couldn't find a way to justify to my kids that I get to open my present early while they have to wait for days, which in their minds is an eternity and then some. Got to open them this morning and quickly set everything up according to the instructions attached. For some unknown reason to me, setting the volume for the double took me several tries to get it at about 60 cc. However, the one thing I do remain to get dialed in even after dozens of tries, 1.5 gal of water, and 1+ Lb of coffee beans later is the grind. I keep on going slowly bit by bit trying to get that 25 sec shot at 15-17 grm but I am far from it still. So much that I ran out of coffee beans. Obviously, I am trying this with crappy coffee beans I had here so I don't waste the "good coffee" I ordered with the machine. I am getting to a point that if I dial the grinder to a finer grind, it almost stops coming out of the chute. Before I get to that point though, the grinder takes quite a bit of time and several presses later to spit out 15-17 grms. The machine at this point is running about 6-7 PSI on the pump pressure (if that high) and running the shot in 18-20 sec. On a positive note though, with the naked porta filter I seem to be getting pretty even spread. This in my mind may not mean much of anything at all since the liquid if running through it so quickly it may be masking channeling to begin with. No crema either, which I am attributing to the crappy and extremely old coffee beans I was using to begin with. Also, I have not even tried a single shot yet!!

So, in conclusion after all the playing around:

1. Still cannot get the grind right. Any reference points in the Compak K3 Touch to start the dialing from? Could this be simply due to the ancient beans I was using? I am waiting for a store to open to go get 1 Lb of Folgers or something similar to dial in the grind and nothing else. I couldn't stomach that coffee to drink though.

2. Does the volume of 15-18 grm for a 25-27 sec espresso of about 60 cc sound about right? Suggestions to otherwise?

3. Why is the puck left in the porta filter after pulling a shot having a little bit of free floating water over it?

Of course, it has to be when all stores around me are closed due to Christmas that I need to go to one!!
Keep it simple and keep it enjoyable. It is about coffee, not quantum physics!

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allon

#2: Post by allon »

Are you running the grinder as you adjust it?
LMWDP #331

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dgasmd (original poster)

#3: Post by dgasmd (original poster) »

Yes, I am. It was one of the first things I read on here and the instructions as well.

Also, does the filter basket in the Vivaldi come out of the porta filter? I can't for the life of me get it free, so I did not want to force it. It rotates easily and all 3 (bottomless, single, and double) but it does not come out.

I am sure the answer to all these questions are rather simple. but the lack of point of reference is not helping me :oops: :( :oops:
Keep it simple and keep it enjoyable. It is about coffee, not quantum physics!

jkoll42

#4: Post by jkoll42 »

dgasmd wrote: Obviously, I am trying this with crappy coffee beans I had here so I don't waste the "good coffee" I ordered with the machine. <<snip>>> No crema either, which I am attributing to the crappy and extremely old coffee beans I was using to begin with. Also, I have not even tried a single shot yet!!
I know it sounds like a good idea to not 'waste' good beans to dial it in, but the reason you are pulling so fast is due to the stale beans. Use the good beans, start with a 17 or 18g dose and you will likely be dialed with 2 or 3 shots. Just change one variable at a time - don't change the dose and grind at the same time. Keep the dose the same. You are right about the crema (or lack thereof) to the beans as well. Also a smart move not trying the shot - it would be a face scruncher!

Also, don't worry about a little water on the top of the puck.

jkoll42

#5: Post by jkoll42 »

dgasmd wrote: Also, does the filter basket in the Vivaldi come out of the porta filter? I can't for the life of me get it free, so I did not want to force it. It rotates easily and all 3 (bottomless, single, and double) but it does not come out.
I would assume that you have a ridged basket (there is a little recessed ring on the inside of the basket part way up the side). There is a spring clip that 'hooks' that ring inside so the basket doesn't pop out when you knock the puck out. For the bottomless you should just be able to push it out with a little force from underneath. For the standard PF you may have to use a flat blade screwdriver to carefully pry it out.

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another_jim
Team HB

#6: Post by another_jim »

There is no right grind for stale coffee. Moreover, spending thousands on espresso gear and then "practicing" with stale coffee is ridiculous. Get good coffee; enjoy.

As to setting the grinder; you check by rubbing the coffee between thumb and fingers. You won't be far off the grind is still granular rather than a powder. It should clump slightly when you pinch it
Jim Schulman

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HB
Admin

#7: Post by HB »

dgasmd wrote:However, the one thing I do remain to get dialed in even after dozens of tries... Obviously, I am trying this with crappy coffee beans I had here so I don't waste the "good coffee" I ordered with the machine.
It is hard enough dialing in unfamiliar equipment; you make it much harder using stale coffee since the margin of error on the grind setting/distribution/dose are razor thin.

I'm amazed how often I read of someone who drops a few grand on a new espresso setup and balks at spending $50 for fresh coffee because it would be "wasted." Stale coffee beans are good for (a) practicing dosing and distribution w/o pulling a shot, (b) garbage shots after a chemical backflush / grinder cleaning, and (c) compost for tomato plants. Trying to dial in unfamiliar equipment with stale coffee is a perfect recipe for frustration.
Dan Kehn

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Randy G.

#8: Post by Randy G. »

dgasmd wrote:Obviously, I am trying this with crappy coffee beans I had here so I don't waste the "good coffee" I ordered with the machine.
:roll:

If they gave you a new Ferrari, would you run it on Kerosene until you got use to driving it?

Coffee+water=espresso. Guess which part of that equation you have debacled?
HINT: I will guess that the water is OK... Maybe.
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genecounts
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#9: Post by genecounts »

Please go to the La Spaziale Owners Forum and read Pursuit of the God Shot.

Perhaps your goal of 25 seconds is one contributing factor as well as stale beans. Under ideal circumstances the La Spaz likes 1 to 1.5 oz in 35 seconds. This is controlled strictly by the grinder.
Perhaps it has something to do with the 53mm portafilter.

I do know I tried 17-18gram doses before I took some good advice. Again the portafilter is too small. Had to clean and backflush too frequently. Lately have settled on around 15 to 15.5G in double basket Have to figure headroom considerations.
My La Spaz was perfect out of the box from Chris Coffee last year. They won't let one leave their shop without undergoing doublecheck from factory. And the guys in service are great about answering dumb questions. I know because i ask enough. Ha
gene

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dgasmd (original poster)

#10: Post by dgasmd (original poster) »

Thanks once again for all the helpful replies and answers despite the failed attempt at sarcasm and poorly constructed analogies by some :roll:

I found an open Walgreens, of all places, and was able to get the only bag of "Donkin Donuts" beans they had. I know. Get your Nitro pills and sit down LOL......... In any case, I tried a few grind settings with it and it was certainly much quicker to dial in than the old chit coffee I was using before. Yes, you were all right! I got close enough, so I pulled out the "good beans", and tried those only to find I had to abort the shot half way through due to being way too fine of a grind. Dialed it back some, and after 3-4 adjustments, it is getting pretty darn close. My guess is that a couple of more shots and we are there. Or as close to "there" as I am going to get today. So far, pretty happy. Even these first trial shots are far superior by a few light years than what I am getting locally...........

Gene, thanks for the link. I thought I had saved that forum/link before, but I guess I did not. I will go read now until the caffeine high drops some, which means it is time for my next "grind adjustment".............
Keep it simple and keep it enjoyable. It is about coffee, not quantum physics!