Hi I have been training as a barista for about 6 months now and I am having some issues with my espresso, I often find that it pours in 23-28 seconds for a double shot from aound about 20g coffee (havent actually weighed my dose but we have 20g baskets) I fill the basket enough so the it is not soggy after the extraction and you can see the inprit from the screw and a slight inprint from the shower screen I cut the shot as soon as I see blonding (usually about 25 seconds) and end up with a reddish caramel coloured crema darker round the edges and no white in the middle...but a lack of flavour or just a horrible taste, beans are always used within 3 weeks of roasting and stored in their bags until they are to be used.

So unless their are issues with the boiler which their shouldn't be we have our machine serviced often I don't understand why this would be and it is rather frustrating any ideas anyone, much appreciated     

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Glad to hear you are maintaining your machine. There are many, many other factors that could be causing you problems though. This is a huge question.

The biggest possible issue? Your coffee. You'll only get out what you put in, and some espresso blends just don't taste very good. Have you had good shots from the espresso you use from other baristas/shops?

Let's also talk grinder. Do you disassemble and clean it regularly? Have you changed the burrs at appropriate intervals? WAY too many shops use filthy grinders with old dull burrs. Rancid coffee oils taste pretty awful.

As far as your espresso machine, do you clean it often? Backflush with espresso detergent nightly? Are your portafilters clean bare metal on the inside?

Lots and lots of other possible technique issues too. Are you practicing good basic fundamentals? Grinding shots to order? Extracting a reasonable volume of espresso? Have you tried varying your dose, grind, finished volume, and extracting time?

Those are some starters to begin to answer a huge question. Hope they help.

To add to Brady's excellent troubleshooting points, I'd back off on the 20 grams. In the past I've experimented with overdosing expecting to pull maximum flavor from each extraction. However that usually isn't the case... the added resistance of a thicker puck can lead to channeling (or improper puck saturation) which causes underextraction that often leads to an unbalanced/bitter/thin shot with virtually no flavor. 

 

 

I agree with Brady about your coffee and grinder.  Here are a couple more things to consider:

Have you ever had good tasting espresso since you've worked at the shop or has it always tasted bitter?

Is your espresso machine dispensing water at the proper temperature? 

Have you tried going for a longer pull like having it blonde around 35seconds without pulling more than 2 shots.

we have 2 machines a cafe machine (La Mazzoco) and a coffee cart (wega) excuse my spelling, shots on the cafe machine are generally better rarely have an issue with them it's mainly the cart, I havent tasted the shots that other baristas pull on that machine but mine are generally not so good, I ensure that I backflush every 15 cups wich is about every half hour. The machine is not connected to the mains water it has a jerry can full of water that is connected to to the machine through a hose. The grinder is a top of the line mazzer one of the automatic ones that doses electronically we brush it out every day take off the hopper and wash it but as far as disassembling it... no I wouldn't even know how to haha. the machine is cleaned with chemical every day but you can't remove the shower screens.            

Brady said:

Glad to hear you are maintaining your machine. There are many, many other factors that could be causing you problems though. This is a huge question.

The biggest possible issue? Your coffee. You'll only get out what you put in, and some espresso blends just don't taste very good. Have you had good shots from the espresso you use from other baristas/shops?

Let's also talk grinder. Do you disassemble and clean it regularly? Have you changed the burrs at appropriate intervals? WAY too many shops use filthy grinders with old dull burrs. Rancid coffee oils taste pretty awful.

As far as your espresso machine, do you clean it often? Backflush with espresso detergent nightly? Are your portafilters clean bare metal on the inside?

Lots and lots of other possible technique issues too. Are you practicing good basic fundamentals? Grinding shots to order? Extracting a reasonable volume of espresso? Have you tried varying your dose, grind, finished volume, and extracting time?

Those are some starters to begin to answer a huge question. Hope they help.

If the baskets are 20 grams, and I dose lower won't that leave to much headspace? also I often find that my shots blond at like 20ml about 18 seconds which indicates the dose is to low...right?   

Shadow said:

To add to Brady's excellent troubleshooting points, I'd back off on the 20 grams. In the past I've experimented with overdosing expecting to pull maximum flavor from each extraction. However that usually isn't the case... the added resistance of a thicker puck can lead to channeling (or improper puck saturation) which causes underextraction that often leads to an unbalanced/bitter/thin shot with virtually no flavor. 

 

 

Wait, back up, the machine on the cart has a water hose going into a can?  And no delivery pump between said can and the machine?  You are going to burn up the pump in the machine.   Fix that.  And like Shadow said, back off on the dose.   

the hose sucks water out of the can yeah, I can't fix it it's not my business im just a grunt haha, also if I dose below the fill line will that not result in shit espresso, like I said my shots already blond rather quickly, they guy who trained me said this means the does is to low.     

Scott said:

Wait, back up, the machine on the cart has a water hose going into a can?  And no delivery pump between said can and the machine?  You are going to burn up the pump in the machine.   Fix that.  And like Shadow said, back off on the dose.   

OK, does the Wega have a brew pressure gauge? If so, what is it reading during an extraction?

 

Yes underdosing will give too much headspace and can possibly FUBAR your extractions. With that being said, if brew temperature, pressure, etc. is off the mark you won't be optimizing the best a coffee has to offer.

 

You said all coffees are used within a decent time frame and are kept in original bags. OK on that, but how long are beans kept in the hopper(s)? Personally I don't like to add more to the hopper than will be used in say 3-4 hrs. then I simply add as needed. I stopped leaving beans in the hopper overnight long ago after finding my extractions to be getting thin and lacking flavor. Fresh is key and the longer coffee is exposed to oxygen the quicker it loses all the good it has to offer.

James, advise your boss that 2 different experienced machine techs have said that this is a bad idea. The replacement pump head for the Wega is $150+, if the motor goes too that'll be another $250 or so. Service call to replace it is probably $100. So you are looking at a $250-$500 problem waiting to happen.

You can buy the correct pump to set it up properly for under $200. FloJet or other (see the other current discussion on "Appia pressure problems" for more info. For the record, I have no interest in selling you any of this.

I'm also a little surprised to hear that you are running 20g baskets in that machine. You sure about that? They ship with something more like a 16-18 gram basket, depending on the year you bought it. I didn't think the stock portafilter would even accept a triple basket. Regardless, any discussion of dose weight without actually having weighed the dose doesn't make much sense.

James Perini said:

the hose sucks water out of the can yeah, I can't fix it it's not my business im just a grunt haha, also if I dose below the fill line will that not result in shit espresso, like I said my shots already blond rather quickly, they guy who trained me said this means the does is to low.     

Scott said:

Wait, back up, the machine on the cart has a water hose going into a can?  And no delivery pump between said can and the machine?  You are going to burn up the pump in the machine.   Fix that.  And like Shadow said, back off on the dose.   

Perhaps I missed this in the discussion thus far, if so I apologize, but have you gotten a temperature reading during a pull? 

we are using about 6kg a day so coffee is never in the hopper for more than about 2 hours, any left overs are put in an airtight container and used for priming/seasoning tomorrow. pressure reads 8-9 BAR  

Shadow said:

OK, does the Wega have a brew pressure gauge? If so, what is it reading during an extraction?

 

Yes underdosing will give too much headspace and can possibly FUBAR your extractions. With that being said, if brew temperature, pressure, etc. is off the mark you won't be optimizing the best a coffee has to offer.

 

You said all coffees are used within a decent time frame and are kept in original bags. OK on that, but how long are beans kept in the hopper(s)? Personally I don't like to add more to the hopper than will be used in say 3-4 hrs. then I simply add as needed. I stopped leaving beans in the hopper overnight long ago after finding my extractions to be getting thin and lacking flavor. Fresh is key and the longer coffee is exposed to oxygen the quicker it loses all the good it has to offer.

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