Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

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Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby RobFord » Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:54 pm

This is my first post and I'm hoping someone has some advice. I recently bought Ethiosar beans for the first time. I used the usual dose - 18gms - with a 2M grind setting on my Vario. Despite a firm tamp, the shot gushed through the basket producing 55gms of espresso in about 12 seconds. After a few adjustments I finally got a 20 second extraction after grinding at 2A and tamping the basket very hard but it still produced 50gms of watery espresso. At that point and after throwing the previous 5 attempts away, I gave up.

I've never experienced this before with other beans. An 18gm dose at somewhere between setting 2F to 2M (depending on bean/roast) delivers 30 -35gms of espresso in 27 - 30 seconds. I've exchanged emails with Chris on this today and he's sending me another bag of beans that he brewed successfully from (using different kit admittedly) plus a sample of his grind for me to compare with that from my Vario. My grinder has been cleaned and there's nothing wrong with the brew head on my machine - both are OK with other beans, just not the bag of Ethiosar.

The beans were roasted last week and admittedly could do with another couple of days before use but I can't explain what's happened. I will try a grind setting of 1W maybe and see what happens but wouldn't have thought I'd need to grind as finely for an espresso machine. Has anyone else had experience of these beans with a Vario grinder and if so, what grind setting did you find worked OK? :)

Mahlkonig Vario
VST basket
Fracino Piccino
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Re: Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby bruceb » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:36 pm

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Keep grinding finer until you get to a 25-30 sec pour without having to tamp so firmly. Beans can be quite variable. Even the same beans, roasted differently, can require a very different grind. Don't bother comparing them to other beans. I only used a Vario a few times so I don't have enough experience to say anything about the settings.

That said, if the beans really are "off" you will find out with the next batch you get. Very old beans (which you do not have) can require a very fine grind and beans that are only lightly roasted may also be a bit difficult. I would still try to keep grinding finer to get to the proper shot parameters.

Good luck and please let us know how this turns out for you. It would also be great if you could find a bit of time to tell us about your coffee experience and interests. Thanks for joining us.
Three Francesconi (CMA) espresso machines - Rossi, San Marco, LaCimbali, Faema and 2 Mazzer Major grinders- CoffeeTech Maggionlino, Hottop, Alpenröst and HW Precision roasters.
I decided I needed a bit of a change so I roasted some Monsooned Malabar. That was a change!
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Re: Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby CGP » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:16 pm

I hear that Chris fella is a about as unhelpful as they come :wink:
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Re: Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby RobFord » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:19 pm

Thanks for the replies. I think you must be talking about a different 'Chris'? Chris Glover-Price at HasBean Coffee has been really helpful.

After a few email exchanges and some tests of his own, he sent me some replacement beans overnight plus a sample from the same batch that he ground in a Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinder. The sample grind was way finer than anything I've ever attempted on my Vario grinder. He said it had to be fine because his beans had been roasted only 2 hours before he ground them. Not ideal but he was just very keen to help. Anyway he got a decent espresso from his grind. So I dosed up with the sample grind expecting my humble Fracino Piccino to choke on it but instead I got a pretty decent looking and tasting cup of espresso - 18gms, firm tamp, 30 second extraction and 30gms espresso - same as Chris.

I played around with what's left of the original beans this morning and to achieve the same grind as the sample I had to run my Vario at the finest possible setting - 1A !!! - but the Fracino handled it OK.

I'm going to leave the replacement beans for another few days as Chris suggested - he reckons about 6 days is a good rest after roasting and then try again. In theory I should be able to grind a little more coarsely but I reckon I'm still going to be in the 1A - 1F range on the Vario, which is pretty weird territory. Its tempting to suspect the Vario isn't performing properly but its less than a year old, is only used a couple of times per day and has been flushed through with GrindZ.

I've been buying from HasBean for a few months now. I'm very happy with their service and the range of coffees they offer but I've never come across anything like this grind issue with Ethiosar before. I posted because I was curious to know whether anyone else out there had ground Ethiosar in a Vario and what setting they found worked. I'm struggling to understand why any bean should need to be ground so finely it resembles talcum powder and why the machine doesn't choke when doing the shot. If I ground any other bean on the finest possible setting I'd be lucky to get more than a few drips from the Fracino! :?
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Re: Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby RobFord » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:04 pm

OK, I think I have the answer now.

Today we went into a small artisan coffee shop in Exeter - Devon Coffee. Its a frequent haunt because the staff are so friendly and they make the best coffee I've had in a long time. For lesser mortals like myself its a slightly humbling experience watching and tasting what they can achieve with the most expensive La Marzocco. There's a lovely Slovakian girl who usually makes our coffees and she is the most knowledgeable person on the subject I've met. She runs barista courses for wannabees - commercial and keen home users - when she's not pulling delicious shots ... and don't even get me started on understated but perfect latte art!

I took the opportunity to ask her about the problem with Ethiosar and before I could finish the question she said she always finds Nicaraguan beans to be much 'softer' than those from elsewhere and therefore always in need of a seriously fine grind. She wasn't in the least bit surprised that I needed to run my Vario on the finest grind setting but said I may be able to back off a tiny bit once the beans are 7 - 10 days past roasting. She said its routine for them to grind at surprisingly different settings depending on the source of the beans but if confronted by something like Ethiosar she would automatically go for one of the finest settings as a start point.

I don't know if you would agree with her but if you do it would be really helpful if you put a comment to that effect on the website for any future buyers? Once you get it right, it tastes great! :)
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Re: Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby bruceb » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:40 am

I just went back and looked at my log because I had roasted and used some La Bastilla Coffee Estates beans from Nicaragua a few months ago. I didn't note any particular difference in grinding compared to the Brazilian beans I was using at that time. I didn't really care that much for the coffee as it was rather too acidic for my taste in espresso, but the beans seemed rather "normal" in regard to roasting and grinding. I don't have enough experience with Nicaraguan beans otherwise to make a more detailed comment on this.
Three Francesconi (CMA) espresso machines - Rossi, San Marco, LaCimbali, Faema and 2 Mazzer Major grinders- CoffeeTech Maggionlino, Hottop, Alpenröst and HW Precision roasters.
I decided I needed a bit of a change so I roasted some Monsooned Malabar. That was a change!
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Re: Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Ethiosar - Grind Setting

Postby CGP » Sun Aug 09, 2015 1:29 pm

Seems a bit of an odd thing to say that ALL coffee from Nicaragua needs a finer grind vs coffee from anywhere else, according to the internet it's about half the size of the UK (129,494 km² vs 243,610 km²) but that's still a lot of coffee with a lot of variables involved before anything even leaves the country.

But this is interesting and I'd like to know more, what I'm going to do is brew espresso with all our different varietals from Nicaragua next week and see what happens. Here's all the ones we have...

- Caturra
- Catuai
- Red Pacamara
- Yellow Pacamara
- Ethiosar
- Longberry
- Laurina

Might take me a few days (hey I'm busy!) but should be able to get results on them all by the end of the week. Processing methods could also cause variances in how they behave so I'll brew with the washed versions of each as we have washed versions of each varietal except the Laurina which we only have naturally processed. Will try to make sure the coffee is the same age (days after roast), knowing me they'll all be brewed on the day of roast but y'know I've got crazy barista skillz so can (normally) tame the beast that is super fresh coffee :wink: I'll also brew the same varietal + processing method from a few other parts of the world too for a comparison on grind.

Fun fun fun :lol:

Also Rob I'm Chris from Has Bean as in the person you were talking to on email :mrgreen:
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