How to Taste Coffee



To be honest I am really happy you have different taste preferences. Your passion for the SOs (and being “anti-blend”) inspires me to try new things. All the best wine recommendations I ever had were from people who were passionate about the wine they recommended.

PS I am not trying to convert you (or anyone) to my tastes - just sharing :slight_smile:


Sure … I am hard to convert anyway :slight_smile: … and nothing against that full rich rounded taste … I think its just something like … on one side a taste profile that most people would describe as enjoyable an rich, though I doubt they can pick specific tastes forming it - and on the other extreme side very sharply defined SO, which may not be so easy to love but which, at least for me, allows to extract more infornation from it - or rather from well defined differencesbetween those coffees.
So I can enjoy deep and rich tasting blend, I understand whats attractive about it, but it would be more a relaxation for me, when I am exploring and learning I always do it with SO. :))


:slight_smile: Actually I did do the 200 micron as well - just didn’t mention as I was focused on boulders. Boulders are easier to focus on as they are bigger :slight_smile: (that was supposed to be a joke).

I think my biggest issue is that I have at present is that my (manual) espresso machine is not consistent enough. And probably the biggest contribution to how good the coffee tastes is when I am lucky enough to get a good extraction.

So I really need to wait (probably for about 6+ months) until I can get a Decent DE1+ espresso machine before I can properly compare different roasts and settings etc. Unfortunately!!!

I should probably treat it as an opportunity to develop cupping skills hmmm…


This makes sense.

But I was extrapolating from wine where this is not always the case. So just showing my ignorance about coffee (and happy to learn).


DE1+ … wohoo … great step. I would love to have one too once. But dont be too harsh on your manual espresso machine … I am all manual for some time, and making great espressos :wink:
What is your setup?


+1 to DE+1 in time I’ll also get another lever when I get around to building my espresso set up.

But seriously. cupping. makes. things. easier…


So for Deven maybe a Londinium & DE1+ :sunglasses:

Or a Mirage Idrocompresso?


I have a Baratza Sette 270W, and hand-wind espresso machine (looks more like a grinder) the Rossa HC + a pressure gauge

It makes decent and sometimes great espresso (better than most cafes) but it is a bit inconsistent… And it takes about 15 minutes to make an espresso - so if it doesn’t quite work right it is a pain to make another :slight_smile:


But my friend (the roaster) tried it both ways and blind-tastings showed the pre-roast blend was always at least as good - and probably a little better. (From Memory) It was Scott Rao that said perhaps pre-roast blending allows the flavours to combine better… So perhaps for full-bodied blends where you want the flavours to meld together it can work better.

And I know it seems to defy logic because you’d think roasting separately would work better… Though it is possible my friend was just bad at post roast blending (or he didn’t do the best job of roasting the beans separately).

But I guess it is much like the article with the SEM pictures showing that the higher grit DMT (finer) stones scratch up the knives more than the lowest grit one. And in the end it is the results that are real - not what we think should happen…


lol that beaut looks fantastic, I’ve always been taken by La Pavoni but if you’re buying I would gladly accept :smiley:

+1 for cupping, lol but I feel you, I use a hario hand mill and that thing just needs to go. For a while I used a drill and that was nice but I lost the drill bit :frowning:


It is a beautifully made machine.

I also have a matching “Rosco mini” manual hand grinder (with 38ml conical burrs) and the two together make truly great espresso very consistently. Unfortunately the manual grinder is no longer working properly - the lock rings that set the grind will no longer lock - so the grind changes when you grind (and the resulting ground coffee is unusable for espresso). It seems that the Rosco grinder is perfectly matched with the Rossa.

The grinder problems were the reason that I upgraded to the Sette. However the manual espresso machine is not as happy to work with Sette as it was with the matching Rosco grinder. With the Rosco (manual grinder) it was very forgiving and would consistently produce an excellent espresso with a (moderately) varying range of grind size and varying dose weight. It was very easy to dial in (other than it was difficult, and later impossible, to get the grinder locking rings to lock). Also the manual grinder is slow and requires a lot of work to grind the coffee (getting a longer handle made would help with that).

However (for no apparent reason) the Rossa doesn’t play nearly as nicely with the Sette. I have the Sette set up with two shims (usually only just one is recommended) - and set on the finest possible grind. The Sette appears to produce a more consistent grind - but the Rossa just does not work as well as it did with the manual grinder (even with various different sifting regimes that I tried). Based on memory I think the manual grinder produced more fines (but perhaps less boulders) - but I cannot make a direct comparison as the manual grinder is currently not working.

Using the Sette with the Rossa requires constant tuning of the dose weight (as I cannot grind any finer). And will fail spectacularly if the dose weight is off by a few tenths of a gram (or if the wind outside is blowing in the wrong direction perhaps). And no two shots are identical - sometimes with the exact same dose and tamp (as far as humanly possible) it will produce a great shot then the next time the water will just run through the puck without winding the handle (so sort of like a mini filter coffee). Even the best shots with the Sette (from memory) do not seem to match the average shots I used to get with the manual grinder… If it was a human being I would accuse if of intentionally sabotaging the espresso made with the Sette… go figure…

However using the Sette with a two group commercial single boiler consistently produces excellent shots (the best I ever produced on that particular machine). And it definitely does not need to be set at the finest grind setting (the finest setting totally choked the machine = no water wiould come through the puck). For comparison the shots were consistently better than a much larger mid-range Mazzer (not sure which model - maybe the Major).


If by the La Pavoni you mean the small Europicola model, this one:

Then (from my experience) I would not recommend. A friend had an old one (in perfect condition). And try as I might I could never get it to create shots that matched an average commercial single boiler machine. It always left me disappointed unfortunately. My friend was more used to the little tricks that you can use with this machine and sometimes produced (slightly) better shots (his shots were certainly more consistent) - but still not as good as a commercial machine.

Looks lovely but it is just not (quite) capable of producing good espresso imho… it always left me feeling “that was OK but now I want to go to my favorite cafe”


I have one of those too - and I found that the grind was just not consistent enough for espresso. The burrs are actually pretty good — the issue was too much “bearing wobble”. Though apparently using a drill reduces the wobble and makes for more consistent grinds.

I tried a drill on mine but the drill I had ran too fast and nearly destroyed the grinder :slight_smile:


And here is one of the “mini drip” extractions I was referring to:

The puck was prepared in a very similar to the previous shot yesterday 19.8g of beans before grinding (yesterday it was 20g exactly). Screened out 600 micron boulders and kept the fines (yesterday I also screened out 200 micron fines). Two reasons for keeping the fines today 1) Mostly wanted to see how the fines changed the extraction and the flavour, 2) to compensate for the .2g less beans. Tamping procedure was the same.

Difference in extraction between shots: the one from yesterday required 8+ bar to start, shot today required 0 bar to start. Around 25% of the shots using the Sette are “mini-drip”. The remaining successful shots are quite variable (average quality similar to a low quality commercial espresso machine - but not matching medium quality machine).

Previously when using the manual grinder (before the lock ring “failed”) I had 0% “mini-drips” (1000+ shots?) - and the successful shots were extremely consistent (average quality similar to a high quality commercial espresso machine - but not matching top-end). Obviously after the lock ring started slipping all bets were off…

FYI I tried various sifting experiments with the manual grinder - and everything I tried seemed to reduce the quality of the shots. Which tends to confirm the fact that the Rossa is in some way tuned to match the characteristics of the Rosco grinder.

The machine uses a 58mm La San Marco basket. So I could get an IMS 58mm competition basket (VST do not do 58mm baskets as far as I know).

And the next one was the same (actually worse) first time I ever had two fails in a row - the only thing I can think of is higher humidity 57% today (up from 50% yesterday) - but coffee is hygroscopic so increased humidity usually slows down the extraction

And as they say 3rd times a charm (didn’t sift this one) - so maybe the I will look at increasing the amount of sifted coffee (but that doesn’t explain why the sifted ones I did yesterday worked). So finally a decent shot but not a really great one.

So if anyone has any ideas what I am doing wrong…


Oh G … I will go through one by one :))

Hario (with a drill) - nononooo … please please throw it away … Hario is pretty bad by itself … and this powering does not help so - using it for espresso is a nono …really … i mean REALLY…please… dont … :smiley:

La Pavoni … I almost bought this one … its a beauty, and when it does make an excellent shot its great. But its soo badly overheating that you just cant make several great shots in a row… so … I have bought Gaggia achille and later Rossa Air instead :))

Which brings me to the part about Rossa … I was almost sure you have it @jmuir2009 - thats whay I asked:) And I think there has to be something really wrong in how you use Sette with it (I am suspicious about the very very fine setting you use - if you have Kruve can you make a particle distribution plot of that setting? ). I never had Rosco, but I used multiple hand grinders with it with great results. And extremely consistent results. I used Lido2 for a long time, and now I use Mahlgut MG1 as my main espresso workhorse, and I almost never change the grind … 99% of the time I only tune the dose between 18,5 - 20,5g … 0,1g makes a difference for sure, but never from a great shot to a disaster. I am quite confident with my Rossa Air and what I can achieve with it (though I would not say I could beat DE1+, thats a completely different beast), and excellent repeatibily and stability of the shots is its very strong point. So I would not think that the non Air version would be somewhat worse (though I think you dont have one tool I use sometimes to correct the shot if I use smaller dose that would lead to a gusher - I do watch for the first drop and when it happens in relation to a pressure, doing 0,5bar preinfusion for 10s and then slow rampup to target pressure. first drop should be at 4bar, and it 95% of the time is almost exactly at that point … if it happens sooner …leading to a lower pressure shot or a fast shot, I open the valve and give it a punch with full pressure, of a speed proportinal to how much I want to correct . It compresses the puck and slows down the shot so that I dont have to throw it away. I guess you can not do this with your version) so I guess the problem has to be in how you use Sette and Rossa together. Since I guess Sette should be a reasonably good grinder, it should not be a problem of it either, so I think its the setting.


@jmuir2009 - did you see the shots :smiley: of my shots on youtube? I think even the last one does not look correct to me … and I almost never had anything close to the first pictures. If you can please measure the particle size distribution, I will do the same with my grinder settings and it may direct us to a better setting maybe? I think you Rossa deserves to be making perfect shots again :slight_smile: its my best coffee purchase of all time, I have learn so much thanks to this tool, and its price to performance ratio is just great (though Cafflano might be even better at that price/performance … but nowhere near as capable of great great shots, just good for almost zero price compared to other espresso machines)


One more thing - I cant recall the number well, so you might need to shift it a little up or down … but try this sifting lower sieve 400 micron upper 600 micron … shift up or down up to 100 mrcons but keep 200 micron width. This is said to not be possible (extracting without fines to slow down the shot) but I had gorgous shots this way … very clear … though a bit thinner, less body (due to not overextraction of fines) … but simply straight and sharply defined. and you will also see where you need that band possitioned …

Removing fines at 200microns I think does not do much … you would have to see a plot of your grinder distribution but I think you need to cut higher anyway to remove the bulge of fines there … at 300 at least I would guess … and its way easier to sift at 300+ than 200.


Aaand – how do you tamp please? Because I think what I see could not be effect of the whole puck changing like this, so there needs to be a channel or fractured puck, which I guess can be when quite a fine grind and high tamp force come together. I tamp rather lightly (but I have that Air pressure that can help me later so … it might not be great to tamp as light, but maybe mild tamp, quite longer preinfusion to soak the puck and then faster ramp up to full pressure? not sure if that may help it, but you should not get a drip out bellow 3 bar, if it starts just above zero it means its going somewhere around the puck or through a channel at that fine setting.


Really good info that you have had success with different grinders :blush: Unfortunately I do not have another grinder to test with at present.

According to Ross the Rossa gives better control than the Air - so if anything it should be more reliable. But the air is (perhaps) a little easier to use???

And it was reliable for years with around a 1000 shots with no gushers. And tuning shots key by adjusting the dose exactly as you described (or grind in extreme cases) worked perfectly.

Eventually the basket seal wore out and started leaking so I got a new one which fixed that. And around the same time I had problems with the grinder lock ring and started using the Sette.

And now I can’t get a decent shot any more. And I have the regular gusher problem. All of which happened around the same time as the failed seal and the change of grinder.

What actually seems to happen is the puck “decides” to disperse into the water - which you can see as there is no puck when you empty it. But I cannot identify a reason… (its almost like I shook the machine to disperse the grounds - but I actually just turn it over gently).

And I am (usually) really good at this stuff, like dialing in grinders, and getting the best shots out of different types of espresso machine, etc So it is very strange for me that I don’t have a clue with this issue…


I tamp fairly strongly - but no change from when the Rossa was working properly…

I have tried longer and slower pre-infusion, longer and slower ramps.

Previously I got very similar behavior to what you say nothing till 3 bar or more.

As I said the gushers look like the puck just totally disintegrated - why???