I bought a used VII (actually a Lucca A53). It had some issues so I had a top drawer shop fix it, so it has many new parts at this point. Seems to be working fine but it produces good, not great, shots. I've been involved w/ espresso at home for about 5 years; this is probably my 7th machine and 1st dual-boiler. I use a Ceado E37S. I usually make a cappuccino in the morning and pull a shot in the afternoon.
The problem: I almost always get a thick layer of crema, about 1/2" thick, on top. That part is delicious. But under that, the shot is a little thin. I'm not getting the mouthfeel I want, or the flavor complexity/nuances. It's fine but not inspiring.
A little more detail:
I'm experimenting w/ using 19g at coarser or 17g at finer grind. I tamp hard, b/c I read on BaristaHustle (and was convinced) that once you've gotten the air pockets out, it doesn't matter how hard you tamp, it's not going to make a difference to the puck. I'm at about 200F, 9 bars. I shoot for a 2 oz double in 20-33 seconds, w/ 25-27 being about ideal. Not sure what I'm doing wrong, and I have had great shots on VIIs.
I should add I use fresh beans (espresso blends) from a variety of roasters and Poland Spring water. I'm plumbed into a Flojet. Any pointers will be much appreciated.
For generic information on making espresso alt.coffee, coffee geek, Sweet Maria's web site and many others excel at this tutorial level of information. However, if you've been there and done that but have specific questions and concerns about getting the best espresso on the S1/VII/Mini-VII/Dream/Dream T, post those topics here.
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