title: What I Learned on March 30, 2005
Prepare yourself, it’s all about coffee.
- I learned that Chris Coffee has a FAQ Page with detailed instructions on how to take the cover off and adjust my Andreja Premium.
- Brew pressure makes a huge difference in crema production and shot flavor. Ever since I received my machine, I’ve been getting pulls that have amazing texture, but are often bitter or a little too generous with the espresso’s poorer quality dimensions. This unforgiving nature gave me a challenge in getting an accommodating roast, but we noticed on holiday that a properly set machine, while having no comparison in texture, had superior flavor. Lots of research later, I decided that my regular 11-12 bar pressure with a blind filter or with grounds, no matter whether ground coarse enough for a 5-second dump or fine enough for a five-minute drip, was not appropriate. After taking apart the outer shell of the machine, I proceeded to wrestle with the brew pressure valve, which after several full rotations of adjustment brought the group pressure down from 11-12 to 9-10 bar. Of course, this twisted the tubing in the process, so I then had to try to untangle the tubing so things had a nice free flow again. While inside, I brought boiler pressure down from 1.2-1.4 bar to .95-1.15 bar (my deadband range is still at the rough factory setting of .2 bar). After some pulls to zero in the grind size, I was making espresso on two-month-old starbucks espresso that tasted pretty decent. I now am convinced I’m on to something. My evening decaf pull (espresso donkey from Sweet Maria’s) was chocolaty and rich. The crema was not as developed, but I preferred the sweetness and richness of the espresso itself far better. I was expecting a marginal change, but this was a major improvement—makes me wonder why the machine wasn’t dialed in this way to start with. Anyhow, in short, getting everything set to the recommended guidelines (8.5-9 bar, 202 degrees at the dispersion screen during flushed thermosiphon operation, slow recovery time for the boiler and group after full HX flush, 25-32 seconds pull, 2 oz of product, 14g of espresso, tamp with 30 pounds, light 180-360 degree polish at 15-20 pounds, redistribution of grounds prior to tamping to ensure even puck density … you get the idea) makes a huge difference, and I’m pleased thus far with the results. Also, my pucks are now coming out of the portafilter cleanly, not soupy, nor dry, nor adhering to the sides of the portafilter. Who knew moving a nut and turning a screw could do all of this. It continues to astound me how much of an art coffee is, yet how much of a science it has to be.