Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

For generic information on making espresso alt.coffee, coffee geek, Sweet Maria's web site and many others excel at this tutorial level of information. However, if you've been there and done that but have specific questions and concerns about getting the best espresso on the S1/VII/Mini-VII/Dream/Dream T, post those topics here.
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mbba
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Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by mbba » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:56 pm

Hi,

I am having a hard time making a "drinkable" espresso with my mini vivaldi. I have read many different posts on this forum and have tried many differnt settings on the S1 without any success. Here are some of the things that I have done:

1. Temp range from lowest to highest
2. Tamp from light to about 30 lbs to strong
3. Grind from choking the machine to a nice crema in about 35 sec for 2 oz
4. Catch the espresso in the middle of the pour (just the crema), just the beginning and just the end

I bought the machine from CC, it has the pre-infusion chamber installed and a 4C offset temperature. The pressure on the gauge is anywhere between 7.5 and 9.5 bar, depending on the grind and how hard i tamp.

The lattes are to die for. I make them by setting the grinder fine enough so that i get a double shot in about 35 seconds, at 94C, P is about 8.5-9 bar. When I try the espresso before adding the milk, it is simply undrinkable....and at the opposite spectum of "smooth". It tastes really sour...so sour that it even seems bitter! Anyhow, I have tried playing with the temp, holding everything else constant and eventually it went form just horribly sour to horribly sour with a bitter after taste. The coffee beans are fresh, I use Gimme Coffee "Leftist" espresso blend. The lattes actually taste netter than what Gimme Coffee pours with their Marzocco at their NYC coffee shop. Oh yes, when I split the double shot into three sections (10 sec, 15 sec, 10 sec), the first 10 sec pour is garbage sour, then the crema is decent but still hard to drink, and the last part just feels a bit light...and sour.

Can anyone offer any suggestions as to why a shot that makes such a nice latte tastes really bad without the milk? I do know what a great espresso tastes like and I would love to be able to make one.

Lastly, the grinder that I am using is the Breville adjustable grinder...I know that it is not a good one by any stretch but I thought that since I am able to choke the S1 and then get all the parameters "right", then it can't be the only thing to blam for my shameful espressos.

Here are a few questions that I have for you:
1. Anyone using the Breville Grinder and getting decent espressos?
2. Can you send me some suggestions for coffees and brew temps to try to make a good espresso?
3. are there any settings on the S1 that I should play with besides what I have written in here?

Let me know your thoughts....

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Endo
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by Endo » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:42 pm

Does not compute. A good latte starts with a good espresso.

Chances are you just think your latte is good because it masks the imperfections.

Is your coffee fresh? (Less than 3 weeks old). What Breville grinder do you have?
Endo

LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi w/progressive p/i
HG-one, B.Vario, Quest M3

"It's the coffee, stupid."

Johnlyn
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by Johnlyn » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:13 pm

Sounds like you have a good control over the parameters that you are aware of. and I'll echo Endo, if you like your latte's now, just look out when you nail your espresso.

I keep using these tips from HB as a guide through adjusting dose and grind by taste: http://www.home-barista.com/tips/espres ... 16968.html

you want to know that your distribution is solid as well to avoid any under-extraction and channelling. you may want to talk to one of the barista's to get their tips for that particular coffee as well.

Or... maybe you need to change coffee.

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Endo
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by Endo » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:01 am

If this is your grinder, I have a good idea what your problem is.

http://www.breville.ca/beverages/espres ... inder.html
Endo

LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi w/progressive p/i
HG-one, B.Vario, Quest M3

"It's the coffee, stupid."

mbba
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by mbba » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:05 pm

I will continue playing with the grind, pressure tamp, etc... I agree that a great latte starts with a great espresso and indeed the lattes are very flavorful since the milk masks the sour/bitter taste of the espresso.

As for the grinder that i am using, here is the link to the newer version: http://www.breville.ca/beverages/coffee ... inder.html
My grinder doesnt have the IQ dosing but the rest is the same....it definitely looks like this one.

Thanks, Matt

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Endo
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by Endo » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:12 pm

The Breville Smart Grinder is good enough to make a decent espresso.

What is your dose?
Endo

LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi w/progressive p/i
HG-one, B.Vario, Quest M3

"It's the coffee, stupid."

mbba
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by mbba » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:41 pm

My dose is approximate. I ordered a scale online and I should get it in a couple of days. Got it through dx.com, they have amazing deals on gadgets but the shipping (although free) is really slow. I have been trying to use a dosage as suggested on a video on HB. They were saying that 18g was above the line in the double shot holder and that slightly below the line corresponded to 16g. I've been tamping so that I get just on or a below the ling (approx 16g). Again, the tamp pressure is a rough estimate, probably in the 20-30 lbs range. I have a bottomless portafilter and I have a hard time reproducing the same timing for a double shot but I generally get a nice flow of crema at the center of the portafilter. My initial guess was that the grinder produced an inconsistent grind, but there are also the tamping and amount of coffee variables that vary from shot to shot.
Thanks, mbba

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Endo
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Re: Lattes taste fantastic but the espressos are embarrasing

Post by Endo » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:54 pm

That's the really the big difference between a mid-range grinders and a Titan burr set. The shots on the Titan are amazingly consistent and forgiving. Makes things so much easier.

Couple this with slightly "less than fresh" coffee and a unweighted dose size and tamping technique, and your shot taste will be all over the map.
Endo

LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi w/progressive p/i
HG-one, B.Vario, Quest M3

"It's the coffee, stupid."

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