n00b machines

Gordon

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Jun 3, 2009
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I recently bought myself an espresso maker, it's a OBH nordica's device. Any experience, anyone?
I thought to start off with a cheap machine and then move on to an expensive one, and so far this hasn't brought me anything but headache..
I can make pretty decent espresso with it, but steaming.. well, don't get me started.
Any response would be greatly appreciated. ^^
 

thewilliams1

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Jan 29, 2009
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North Eastern Pennsylvania
I've got a Krup that I bought for like $25 at Sears.. it sucks lol... it pulls a half decent shot but it steams milk well. Then I've got a stove-top espresso maker I bought from Sweet Maria's sale page.. and that little thing rocks! Except for the over-extraction and over-heating thing I'm learning to work around, it really does bring all the flavor of the bean up front.. missing the crema and the "signature espresso machine" vibe... but its really good at producing a cup flavorful espresso. So if I want a rich latte, and i'm not driving for it, I make the espresso on the stove and steam the milk on the krup. If Im killing the espresso w/syrup anyways, I do the whole drink on the krup... it doesnt really matter how good the shot "really" is. (please dont yell or shake your head at me lol .. I blame starbucks for my Caramel late addiction.)

Dont know if that was any help at all, being that it has nothing to do with your post... but I make due on some inexpensive gear.
 
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Gordon

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I'm not that used to a great coffee that much, but I have learned that a espresso shot should fulfill certain expectations. And so far I have managed to brew a shot that is even somewhat good-looking- at-the-same-time-even-tastes-good. I was just wondering about that oddball steaming thingy.. I cannot steam milk as I have seen all around on the internet or cafes I've visited. A thought occured, maybe this machine just doesn't have what it takes to make a cappuccino or a latte with velvety milk. Is this because my machine doesn't have enought power to create needed steam or am I just a n00b at this point or what?
 

thewilliams1

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Jan 29, 2009
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North Eastern Pennsylvania
I've worked as a barista since 1999, so I know my way around a steam wand. How much experience do you have? As I remember, it took me a little bit to get the hang of it. It almost seemed as if, after enough time spent hands-on, the milk learned to achieve the correct consistency if that makes any sense.

Or.. you may infact have a bunk machine and are fighting a lost cause. Again, I'm not using the same machine, so maybe I'm not the best person to pick up this thread and we are both waiting on someone else to weigh in.
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
Do us a favor and post a pic or link for your machine. Otherwise we don't know exactly what you're talking about.

Sounds as if the machine isn't up to par for proper texturing. It takes plenty of strong/dry steam and good technique to properly texture. Most people end up with steamed milk separated by dry foam on top. Proper microfoam should have the consistency/texture of melted ice cream. Nice and velvety with no huge dry bubbles.

I've evolved somewhat over the years. Started out with a steam machine that had little to no steaming power. Then went to a pump machine with a thermocoil heating system that was OK, but the steam was too wet and had no valve to control it, either ON or OFF. Next step was a nice KitchenAid Pro Line machine with a boiler dedicated for steaming. Pretty good too. Then started working at an espresso bar using a LaMarzocco Linea which has massive steam on tap, like being able to do 16 oz. of whole milk in maybe 20 seconds if so desired. Recently acquired an Olympia Cremina lever machine that offers better shots that what I can achieve on the Linea at work and considering the Cremina is designed to be used at home, the steaming power is on par with the Linea with all things being considered/equal. You must have a good machine and grinder as well as fresh beans and decent technique. Otherwise you'll be drinking decent drinks at best, but if you're OK with that then that's all that matters.

BTW, Post a few pics of the machine, your shots and the milk after you've textured it. Later!
 
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Gordon

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shadow745 said:
Sounds as if the machine isn't up to par for proper texturing. It takes plenty of strong/dry steam and good technique to properly texture. Most people end up with steamed milk separated by dry foam on top. Proper microfoam should have the consistency/texture of melted ice cream. Nice and velvety with no huge dry bubbles.

This is what I was trying to say before. I think that my machine just isn't capable of producing enough proper steam. Machine's specs says it can deliver as muchs as 15 bar pressure, yea sure, for about five seconds. Then the steam almost drips out from the steamwand. And you can see from my pics below, that this is excatly what you said that my machine does. It leaves the milk separate from the foam which is sitting on top of the milk itself
IMG_0170.jpg
(sry for a crapy photo, it was taken in a rush.. )

resulting that my milk is mixed with espresso and foam sitting on top of the coffee with milk as such
IMG_0171.jpg
but eitherway, this tastes good, although it doesn't look that much. Considering this to my local cafe and quality of their coffee, its almost the same but mine tastes better ;) I use pretty fat - loaded milk with this one, making it smooth and sweet cappuccino.

About my machine.. so far you know that its a OBH Nordicas and it looks somewhat like this
100416.jpg

This machines specs are roughly; it can deliver 15 bars of pressure, power 800 wats.
I have had this machine now about few months and I cannot still steam my milk so that it looks velvety, smooth, paint-like liquid. I can only make it look like this
IMG_0169.jpg
and even I, as a noob, know that isn't how the milk should look like... Also, hot an' fresh shot of an espresso there made with my machine, now that is even somewhat close to the truth to me (?)
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
That machine looks like the usual type that has a thermoblock for the brewing and steaming. They are OK, but have a few drawbacks. Biggest issues are not giving you consistent brew temperature throughout the pull. They also usually offer very little to no control for the steaming and it's usually pretty wet steam at that.

Probably also has pressurized baskets to enhance crema, but the taste and texture suffers.

That milk is classic from that type of machine. Only so much you can do with it. Don't know if you mentioned it, but what grinder are you using? Later!
 
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Gordon

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shadow745 said:
Only so much you can do with it. Don't know if you mentioned it, but what grinder are you using? Later!

Yea, to be added :D I don't yet own a grinder, I buy my coffee already grinded at my local coffee shop. I'm aware that the taste suffers greatly when coffee is grinded before hand and stored for a while, although I contain my coffee in a airtight container.
I think this is a problem also, that I cannot produce a " great shot " cause the coffee isn't "fresh" enough. (?)
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
Yesh freshness is the number one factor in a great shot, followed by proper grind particle size/consistency, proper brew pressure/temperature, etc. Once those grounds sit for even minutes the freshness starts to fade. The difference between a shot pulled from beans just ground seconds beforehand and a shot pulled from something ground 30 minutes ago or longer is really like night/day. Storage helps somewhat, but nothing can beat fresh ground. This is true for all extraction methods, but much more noticeable for espresso. Later!
 
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