CoffeeCrew.Com 2014

Espresso tweaks

I had the Gaggia Classic machine in mind when I wrote this, however, many of the tweaks will also apply to any single boiler, pump driven espresso machine. These "tweaks" are little things that put together, can make a significant difference in your shot.

- the espresso machine, portafilter and filter basket should be hot and should be warmed up at least 15 minutes or more.

- for best results, pe-heat your cups or shot glasses with boiling water.

- flush the group with fresh water before you make your shot and wait for the ready light to click off and on a couple of times.

- dry the shower screen before you insert the portafilter with a clean dish towel so that capilliary action doesn't combine all the streams into one.

- overfill the filter basket and level off with a finger. I like to use the crooked finger technique to create a depression in the surface of the grounds. When this is tamped level, it should give you just enough clearance to get your portafilter in the group.

- in order to get a nice dry puck, leave the portafilter in the group for several minutes before removing it ( unless you are making multiple shots ).

- take it easy on the initial purging of your steam wand. The gaggia boiler is powerful but small. About 10 ounces or so is the most amount of milk you can froth before you run out of steam. When the wand starts to scream for mercy, you are running out of steam! You should be able to consistently get the milk/froth temperature to 160F - 165F. Sometimes more.

- always turn off the steam switch and the brew switch before turning off the power switch to prevent arcing and wear on the electrical contacts.

- always flush the group after you have pulled your shot and removed the portafilter. It will help clean out the grounds that are stuck on the showerscreen. It would not hurt to crack open the steam knob and run a bit of hot water through the wand to clear out any residual milk. Your 20 ounce pitcher fits quite nicely on the drip tray and will minimize splashing when you flush out your group.

- it is highly recommended you use an appliance timer so that your machine will be thoroughly warmed up before you get up in the morning. Caution: if you are using a timer, make very certain that only the power switch is left on and that you haven't inadvertantly left on the brew switch in a previous brewing session; ie: your timer switches your machine on in the morning before you get up - you forgot to turn off the pump/brew switch the day before. The pump starts and empties the contents of the reservoir onto your kitchen counter, the pump runs dry and burns itself out! An expensive repair.