Misery with a Mazzer

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Misery with a Mazzer

Postby Darth Vader » Mon Feb 21, 2005 4:38 pm

Hello I am new to this forum and would like to seek your expert advice.

I have been making successful filter and French press coffee for many years and bought my coffee freshly roasted from our local shop – the gas fired roaster was actually in the window! Alas the shop still exists but I guess the roaster must have retired since it has now become a coffee/tea shop selling light food.

Thus started my conversion to real coffee! First the green beans and I tried the dog bowl method of roasting – not very successful as my very old paint stripper wasn’t hot enough, then my Prima popcorn machine with some degree of success although tiny quantities and variability. This spurned me on to buy a ‘proper’ electric roaster (CR-100) that works surprisingly well – and no chaff all over the kitchen!

About 18 months ago I was given some tokens redeemable at Lakeland stores and like an idiot bought a lovely orange Francis X1. This has two baskets one for pods and the other for ground coffee. The pods are OK if individually foil wrapped but they are NOT expresso even though it is 10 times better than the stuff sold at work.

So I turned my attention to the ground coffee baskets one for a single shot - that went straight back into the box but the double shot was pressed into service. My faithful Dualit grinder when turned to its finest setting could provide sufficient ground coffee to fill the double shot basket in around 10 seconds or so. However the crema was cinnamon rather than the beautiful red-brown foam produced by the professionals. Trawling the web I discovered that the extraction was too fast – I get first drops after 4 seconds from pump switch on and 2 ounces in 10 to 15 seconds. Further reading pointed to the grinder.

What a shock! I would need to get a grinder at least up to the ‘Rocky’ standard and the holy grail seemed to be the Mazzer Mini for the home user. Here was serious money! It would cost around 180 UKP for a Rocky or similar and a whopping 380 – 430 UKP for the Mazzer.

This reminded me of a similar trail of exploration that I travelled several years ago with vinyl records and Hi-Fi. It was once thought that you had to spend most of your money on the loudspeaker but this upgrade often yielded a poorer sound. Then a small UK company called Linn brought out what was then a very expensive turntable the Sondek. Linn turned the industry upside down by stating the (now) obvious – that you must spend the most at the front end in the order: turntable, arm, pickup, cartridge, amplifier, loud speaker. The reasoning goes that any detail lost at the front end cannot be replaced no matter how good the rest of the chain.

Espresso is like that and I could see that no matter how good the green bean was and the care taken to nurture it to perfection it could all be lost at the front end. Roasting and the grinder equates to the Hi-Fi front end that presents the details from the roast that is then extracted by correct tamping and pressurised water.

I could see it before my eyes all again and I knew that it would in the long run be cheaper (relatively!) to go straight to the Mazzer Mini. I always grind my coffee freshly as ground coffee loses its aromaticity very quickly and goes stale. So I bit the bullet and bought the Mini E doserless model.

With which I am disappointed.

I know it is me. I am doing something wrong. On the manufacturers setting No 6 I need two presses of the double shot button to fill the basket. However the coffee comes through the X1 faster than with the Dualit. Making the grind finer say 5.4 on the dial means that I have to press the double dose button 11 yes eleven times to fill the basket. Why does such a big machine that has 64mm burrs take so much longer than my baby Dualit?

The manual was pretty basic and there were no installation instructions as such. Perhaps something needs to be unlocked? Unblocked?

Also rather than the grind coming out as a powder there is a tendency to form clumps which doesn’t fare well for channelling through the tamped coffee.

So far I have put around 200 gram of coffee through the machine (I’ve only had it since Saturday) most of which has been thrown away whilst trying to get a suitable grind. Another problem is that the grinding adjustment ring is stiff even with the motor on. This means that fine adjustment is difficult as once sufficient pressure has been put on the ring ‘jumps’ several notches.

Any help, advice, words of comfort/consolation would be very much welcomed and appreciated.

Many thanks for your help in advance,

Darth Vader

May the sauce be on all your chips…………..
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Postby zix » Mon Feb 21, 2005 4:48 pm

all I can say is clumps is not necessarily a problem. I sometimes have that with my minimoka, but they are not tightly packed at all, a knock on the portafilter dispells them. But there are mini E owners on this forum, perhaps one of them would give his/her view...
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Postby Raf » Mon Feb 21, 2005 5:15 pm

First of all, the Mini E is a wonderful machine - I have mine for a year, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It should really be able to deliver what you want, the only difficulty is getting there. Now, if you never dialled in a grinder, it's understandable that you panic a bit at the thought of putting 200 grams through that damned machine and still not having a decent cup. If it can reassure you: it took me at least a kg of beans to get my grind about right. Yep, a kilogram.

Why? Because the 'E' is a bit hard to calibrate. It has two variables: the timer (which roughly equals the amount of coffee) and the fineness of the grind, which influence each other! For a beginner, it's like shooting a moving target from a swinging chair.

The best thing to do is to start with the amount of coffee (the timer). To calibrate the amount of coffee, you need a screwdriver and a kitchen scale. You will notice that there's a plate beneath the funnel, with two pictures: one of one cup, one of two cups. Also, there’s an arrow and a plus and a minus sign.

Now, load the hopper full of beans and hit the double dose on the lid of the funnel. Now weigh the amount of coffee that comes out. You’re aiming for roughly 16 grams for a double shot. If you have less, take your screwdriver, and turn the screw to the ‘plus’ side on the little plate beneath the funnel, until you get the desired 16 grams.

Now, fill your PF basket and try to make a shot.

If it chokes your machine (= it’s blocked), then you need to try to grind a bit coarser. There should be a little sticker on the dial where the factory setting is. For most people, this is a good starting point.

If the coffee shoots through too fast, you need to grind finer. To make it grind finer, you need to turn the adjustment ring counterclockwise. I’m telling you this, because I spent two days in abject misery asking myself why the damn thing wouldn’t grind any finer, while all the time I was turning the ring in the wrong direction – the stickers are a bit dubious if you’re in a hurry and a bit excited about your new toy.

A setting of between five and six seems very high (mine is somewhere around two, I think), but again: check for the arrow that indicates where the factory setting is. Pics will follow in a few minutes!
This week I am eagerly anticipating the first god shots from my La Spaziale machine....

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Postby Raf » Mon Feb 21, 2005 5:23 pm

Sorry, no pics will follow: the battery of my camera is flat! Maybe tomorrow!
This week I am eagerly anticipating the first god shots from my La Spaziale machine....

La Spaziale S1, Vibiemme Domobar (retd), Mazzer Mini Electronic, Behmor 1600 230V
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Re: Misery with a Mazzer

Postby Raf » Mon Feb 21, 2005 5:29 pm

Darth Vader wrote:On the manufacturers setting No 6 I need two presses of the double shot button to fill the basket. However the coffee comes through the X1 faster than with the Dualit. Making the grind finer say 5.4 on the dial means that I have to press the double dose button 11 yes eleven times to fill the basket. Why does such a big machine that has 64mm burrs take so much longer than my baby Dualit?

The manual was pretty basic and there were no installation instructions as such. Perhaps something needs to be unlocked? Unblocked?


In addition to what I've said above: clearly your timer is way off. To increase the grinding time on your double dose, take a screwdriver and turn in the '+' direction (it could take a few turns, because the timing intervals are not very far apart AFAIK).
This week I am eagerly anticipating the first god shots from my La Spaziale machine....

La Spaziale S1, Vibiemme Domobar (retd), Mazzer Mini Electronic, Behmor 1600 230V
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Postby Darth Vader » Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:28 pm

Let me say how much I appreciate this very quick response and support. I can feel the tears beginning to dry already.

On my machine the factory sticker with the coarse and fine arrows is on the number 6 and the machine arrived with this pointing straight at the user above a notch on the front panel. The grinder adjuster has the numbers 0 to 9 stamped on the top and there are 10 raised markers between each number on the edge of the wheel. So 5.4 is 6 little notches to the right (anticlockwise) of the factory setting.

The dose adjustment trimmers. Are you saying that these are vernier controls. That is they can rotate through 360 degrees several times? From the manual I assumed possibly wrongly that there was only + or - 180 degrees which equates to + or - 1 gram - hence my sorrow.

Guess I've got a lot to learn but its nice to feel that I am not struggling alone.

Many thanks for the help so far,

DV
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Postby Raf » Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:51 pm

Here's the pictures of the ring and the funnel lid (the trimmers will follow later, maybe tomorrow)
This week I am eagerly anticipating the first god shots from my La Spaziale machine....

La Spaziale S1, Vibiemme Domobar (retd), Mazzer Mini Electronic, Behmor 1600 230V
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Postby Raf » Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:52 pm

Here you go
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MazzerRing.jpg
MazzerRing.jpg (58.14 KiB) Viewed 4592 times
This week I am eagerly anticipating the first god shots from my La Spaziale machine....

La Spaziale S1, Vibiemme Domobar (retd), Mazzer Mini Electronic, Behmor 1600 230V
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Postby Raf » Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:17 pm

Dunno why Irfanview always changes my pics into black and white. Here's another one of the trimmers. Just turn them as long as needed.
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MazzerTrimmer.JPG
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This week I am eagerly anticipating the first god shots from my La Spaziale machine....

La Spaziale S1, Vibiemme Domobar (retd), Mazzer Mini Electronic, Behmor 1600 230V
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Postby Beanie » Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:40 pm

Hi there.

Here a pic. of my Mini ME. My sticker is in a different spot and I was about 1-2 notches too fine for my Zambica beans. As we all know, we can't use the engraved numbers to compare our grind fineness. We can count our notches from the determined "absolute zero" point. Having now seen Raf's picture, I'm starting to wonder if we can count from the sticker arrow point for new Mini owners to get a headstart range of what might be good? In the pic, mine's about 6.5 notches to the left of the arrow and Raf's is about 4 notches.

Also, when I got my machine a few months ago, I bought 2KG of cheap, play beans, just to get the hang of the Mini ME so that when it comes time to your real/good beans, you'll know which way and how much you have to adjust in 2 or 3 tries instead of 200g of beans.

I adjusted my timer in the beginning when I had the beans in the hopper. But now, I don't use the hopper as I choose when I want which beans, weigh them per shot then dump in the grinder, so I don't bother with timing.

Another thing: when the fineness is adjusted, the timer no longer matches. So quite often, I usually have to press the manual button for a sec or 2 anyway. On top of that, because I brush the top of the grinder & clear the chute per shot, I HAVE to press the manual button anyway.

Hope this helps :)
Attachments
MiniME-020.jpg
Sorry about Flash and bluriness. Set-up is on top of dishwasher which was on at the time.
MiniME-020.jpg (75.3 KiB) Viewed 4565 times
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Postby Beanie » Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:48 pm

Raf wrote:Dunno why Irfanview always changes my pics into black and white. Here's another one of the trimmers. Just turn them as long as needed.


Hi Raf,

If you're using the "Save as" function, double check the "grayscale (please remember)" option is unchecked. Easy to miss.


Cheers,
Marcy
This week, I'm mainly recovering :DAll I've got is my Aerobie AeroPress | 70's Aurora/Brugnetti HX Spring Lever | Mazzer Mini E & SJ (on loan) | Hottop | Nestor Martin (Toto) Gas Roaster | Eva Solo | Moka Pots
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Postby Guest » Tue Feb 22, 2005 5:02 pm

Hi Raf,

Thx for all your help so far. Unfortunately I don't see any pics only your avatar. Perhaps its my security settings?

Many years ago the company I worked for had an EMEA HO in Brussels, I would often spend a week there either in a hotel just off the Grand Plaz or take an apartment with my family.

A beautiful place is the Grand Plaz I remember the Manikin Piss and stroking the mermades back for luck. Best of all were the beer, bars and food. I remember a superb shelfish restaurant Saint Leons I think just off the Grand Plaz where I had this huge cast irob pot of moules au vin Blanc. I still search out those fabulous beers and can get most of them on the web. We also have a local Belgium Rrestaurant but it only has 50 beers and 50 ways to eat moules! Not Saint Leon but better than nothing.

So I've only got another 800 gram to grind before I get a good shot. Thank goodness I was given a free 1Kg bag of Espresso with the Mazzer - perhaps they knew something I didn't?

Or perhaps its the Francis X1? Has anyone else had success with this machine?

Hi, Bean_Believer just seen your post. I don't see ypur pic either - any suggestions why not?

Yes I clean my machine as best as I can and prod out the shute with a kabab skewer than blast with the manual button. I am not too concerned with the timer button just that it would be useful if it can be used. Normally I just fill the PF and level off with a finger. I just want good coffee not precise amounts.

My main concern with a new and expensive toy is that the dialing is stiff so precision is difficult. Also the dial is stamped 0 through 9 but going from 6 to 5 which is only 18 degrees resukts in almost no coffee coming out - doesn't sound right when there is another 90 degrees on the Fine grind scale?

Cheers,

DV
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Postby Beanie » Tue Feb 22, 2005 5:07 pm

While I'm at it, here's my Mini ME mess minimiser contraption made from a plastic water bottle.
Attachments
MiniME-044.jpg
The inside fitting.
MiniME-044.jpg (70.68 KiB) Viewed 4559 times
MiniME-045.jpg
Sits nicely on the edge of the ledge.
MiniME-045.jpg (48.76 KiB) Viewed 4558 times
MiniME-046.jpg
Sorry about the flash again
MiniME-046.jpg (78.68 KiB) Viewed 4560 times
This week, I'm mainly recovering :DAll I've got is my Aerobie AeroPress | 70's Aurora/Brugnetti HX Spring Lever | Mazzer Mini E & SJ (on loan) | Hottop | Nestor Martin (Toto) Gas Roaster | Eva Solo | Moka Pots
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Postby Beanie » Tue Feb 22, 2005 5:09 pm

Another one. No flash this time.
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MiniME-031.jpg
No flash and all ready to go.
MiniME-031.jpg (80.85 KiB) Viewed 4558 times
This week, I'm mainly recovering :DAll I've got is my Aerobie AeroPress | 70's Aurora/Brugnetti HX Spring Lever | Mazzer Mini E & SJ (on loan) | Hottop | Nestor Martin (Toto) Gas Roaster | Eva Solo | Moka Pots
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Postby Guest » Tue Feb 22, 2005 5:13 pm

The sauce is not so strong today and I think I've gone and blown a fuse! I should have said 36 instead of 18 degrees and 180 instead of 90 after number 5!

Cheers,

DV

May the sauce be on all your chips..............
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