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Feb 16, 2004
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I use a 3 group La Cimbali at our coffe shop and our espresso shots seem to be pretty good but a little bitter. I have gone from checking the beans, making sure they are in an air tight container to our grind (about the equilivant of very fine sand), to the temperature of water (about 190). Also when I pull a shot of espresso I can look in the small metal pitcher and just almost see the espresso through the crema. Are my problems related? Any sugestions?
Questions to your question

How's it going? I'm going to make this short b/c the last reply was lengthy an the forum timed out before I could submit it. So, I will give a shortened version of a proper shot and then will reply to any more questions. I've been pulling on a Rancilio for about ten years now and believe this to be a good method. First, light roast or European espresso is going to give a much smoother flavor than an American roast espresso. The difference is only in roasting and is about 5 degrees F. Make sure the beans you use are ground for no more than 45 seconds before the shot is pulled. Most expenive machines take about 1 Bar of pressure to properly pull a great shot. Pro baristas generally now concur that best shots are 3/4 to one ounce and are pulled for about twenty-five seconds. Next make sure that your tamper just fits inside the groupo and is very smooth on any part that may touch the ground beans. I believe most people think about 35 pounds of pressure to tamp is sufficient. I judge this by the amount of force my forearm can push down. Leaning on the groupo is way too much pressure. Also, I used to twist the tamp when packing, but have found the best shots are created when only about a quarter or a twist is used. This will create a delicate lattice work for the water to run through (think Plinko from the Price is Right). Using this method, almost every shot I pull is about half creama for at least 15-20 minutes, and have tiger flecks throughout the creama. Hope this helps and please reply if you have any more questions.