Hi James, I need some help here. I'm using a delonghi retro manual machine. I use a Bodum burr grinder. I set size to max fine for espresso. Each grind for a cup is about 8 grams. I use a stainless steel tamper diameter 3mm smaller than the basket. I usually press down hard to get a good solid tamp. Coffee beans are kept in wine bottles with air extracted out using vino wine pump and stoppers.
I take mostly espresso. Each cup of extraction is around 40mls. The crema is sufficient & very beautiful. Once started, in 7sec liquid starts to flow, by 14 sec I already have 40ml extracted. I stop, avoiding going into 3rd stage, as that will be bitter.
I think the extraction is too rapid, flow is too strong. I watched your video showing start to finish of extraction taking over 30sec. If I do that I'll get a cup 240ml of diluted bitter brew!
My espresso is not bad, but I think if I could slow down the rate of flow get longer duration of 1st and 2nd stage extractions, I may get a more flavourful cup.
I couldn't grind any finer, tamp any harder, couldn't change the basket. What could be wrong? How can I improve?
Any advice from you will be greatly appreciated. I'm trying out my first order from you. Look forward to tasting a great coffee with Bay Beans. Thanks James.
On Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 6:42 James wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to email.
I really enjoy your detail - its a pleasure to read!
I'd say you've figured the grinder is most likely your issue here, it would be good to see a photo of the grinds in your hand and also spread on a white piece of paper.
There are also faults that can show up - a cracked basket base will look fine to the eye, but under pressure can open up a little, increasing flow. Id also like to see a photo of the used coffee puck right after it is extracted and knocked out onto white paper.
Don't worry too much about the tamp pressure, so long as you are consistent with the pressure, that is all that is required. The Italians generally grind finer and tap lightly.
One last thing I can think of is channelling, however that is difficult to determine without a bottomless portafilter. Channelling will result in a faster flow of water through only some of the puck. One way to check for that and attempt to defeat it is in your grinds settlement and tamping technique. Try grinding into a cup, then give it a good shake to loosen and separate all the grinds so there is no clumping, then pour those grinds into the basket. When you tamp, try rolling the tamp around the outside perimeter of the basket in such a way that you will end up with a slightly convex mound of coffee in the basket, then tamp (in the middle, and flat (as you normally would).
Let me know how you get on!
Chief Espresso Officer
Mobile: 0428 555 535
Voicemail callback: 02 8208 3477
[I reply to all emails personally]