Making espresso: no crema. What to do?

void

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Oct 27, 2006
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Hello, dear experts!

I bought a Delonghi BAR 14 espresso machine (http://www.epinions.com/hmgd-Espresso_M ... full_specs) When making an espresso, I follow the instructions provided but I get only black coffee without any crema on top of it. :( As this is a pump machine and as other users report getting good crema with this model, I beleive I do smth wrong.

Could you please give some ideas on possible actions towards a proper espresso with good crema in my case :)

Thanks!
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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How long does it take to make 1.5 oz of liquid? Your grind might not be fine enough...are you grinding the coffee just before you pull the shot? How old is your coffee?
 
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void

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topher said:
How long does it take to make 1.5 oz of liquid? Your grind might not be fine enough...are you grinding the coffee just before you pull the shot? How old is your coffee?

The coffee is bought ~1 month before. I grind it just before. It takes some 15 seconds (not more) to get out the liquid.

Any ideas?
 
My bet would be on the grind. If the coffee is coming out that fast, chances are the grind is too coarse.

For an inexpensive test, the next time you are in a supermarket buy a 1/4 lb of dark roasted beans from one of the bulk bins and grind it on the espresso setting on the in-store grinder. For courtesy to the person after you, set the grinder back on drip when you are done.

You could buy pre-ground espresso means, but then you'd be out 8 to 10 bucks instead of 2 or 3. Your choices.

Try that coffee in your machine. Chances are that you'll get some crema. Compare the grind from the store to that that you've been making with your grinder.

Curious - what kind of grinder do you have?
 
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void

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javahill said:
My bet would be on the grind. If the coffee is coming out that fast, chances are the grind is too coarse.

Thanks all for the responses! I tried to grind for longer time and tamp harder. I got some crema but it had no thickness and lasted for 15 seconds. I will continue to experiment with different kinds of coffee and grinding/tamping.

More ideas are still welcome!
 

topher

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your using a blade grinder arent you. If you are you will not be able to get a nice espresso. You need to use a burr grinder to get a consistant grind and also be able to grind it fine enough.
 
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void

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topher said:
your using a blade grinder arent you.

Yes, indeed, I use blade grinder. Is it really so that one cannot grind coffee properly with blade grinder even if grinding for really long time? :oops:
 

NW JAVA

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You'd be better off using a grocery store grinder. e.g. that huge bunn grinder. It's more consistent and is in fact a burr grinder. Find a grind that works, and learn what size grind produces the best compromised shots. Or e-bay/craigs list for a burr, or conical, grinder. my $.02
 

cindy

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Feb 8, 2005
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tamping does play a part in the quality of the crema, but ive found that if i tamp too tightly, i get alot less crema.

after extraction, what does your "cake" look like?
if it has anything to do with the tamping in your case, it would be indicated in how tight or loose the coffee grinds are after extraction.

but, as the others have said, concentrate on you grind.
but dont go too fine, otherwise you will end up with not much extraction and also, very little crema. ive timed my extractions and they are very seldom under about 23seconds.

i can only agree with the rest of the advice given.
 

psycho supreme

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Jan 6, 2007
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void said:
topher said:
your using a blade grinder arent you.

Yes, indeed, I use blade grinder. Is it really so that one cannot grind coffee properly with blade grinder even if grinding for really long time? :oops:

Hey mate,

a blade grinder produces a VERY inconsistant grind (usually dust around the outside of the mill and coarse near the center). This will cause a huge problem. Believe it or not, you would almost be better of buying a good preground or as someone said earlier, using a grocery store grinder.

That being said, you can probably get a decent grinder for like $80-$150 on ebay or if you look around.

I bought a cheep delonghi 16 setting burr grinder and there is a HUGE difference...

So think of it this way, if you have no crema, then it only gets better!
 

psycho supreme

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Jan 6, 2007
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hey again

also, I would like to put to rest what some of the people above said about tamping.

YOU HAVE A PRESURIZED portafilter basket! Your tamp should be nowhere near 30lbs. With a pressurized basket you only need a fairly mild tamp. (say about 4-7lbs of pressure, then tap the sides to the middle, and then about 7-10lbs).

With a pressurized pf basket the water is forced through anyways, too tight of a tamp will restrict the water flow too much.
 

equus007

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Apr 4, 2006
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Austin, Tx
standards

While we would all love to believe in standards(like the 30lb tamp) the fact of the matter is every machine runs differently and every roast extracts differently. This is why we all need good attentitive baristas.

Honestly I can get good crema at home using a blade grinder if I have to but it takes forever and I have to sift through it to make sure it is the correct fineness. Having said that, if you are going to spend money for a descent machine do yourself a favor and spend the money on a good grinder as well. One of the worst things is waking up to bad coffee off a good machine.
 

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