Author Topic: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?  (Read 4118 times)

Offline vindibona1

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Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« on: June 20, 2017, 10:47:16 AM »
For the last few months the shots I've been pulling have been consistently good. I've since been searching for consistently excellent.  My previous recipe involved a starting temp of 217 degrees F and a 4-5 second steam blip. The thing that I'd noticed, but ignored as just being usual and expected is that with the steam blip, the temp on the PID shoots up 10-15 degrees. While I understand that the blip is an attempt to fool the machine and keep the water temperature consistent throughout the pull.  There's something that didn't seem quite right intuitively.

I'd been playing with lowering the temp down to 208F, still with the steam blip.  The taste was different, but I couldn't put my finger on it exactly. So just a bit ago I tried pulling the shot at 208F without the blip to see how the temp would drop during the pull.  Everything else remained the same. 17.5gms, same tamp technique. The time of the shot was 26.5 seconds from on to off.  Again, no steam blip.  

What I noticed was that during the entire shot the temp on the PID only dropped 3 degrees to 205 and after the shot almost immediately went back to 208 within a second or two.  Taste seemed improved. Some, but low acidity (Redbird beans) neither sour nor bitter.

Any thoughts about nixing the steam blip or going back to it?

Offline D4F

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2017, 07:21:47 PM »
The PID controller likely blips itself on and off enough to do its job - keep the temperature of the sensor constant.  The PID works on the water temperature, but indirectly as it is really keeping the sensor at set temperature.

Water in the  boiler, boiler wall and sensor may all have different temperature while brewing. but you are seeing the sensor temperature.  Similarly, the PID temperature will look good very shortly after turning on the machine, well before the 15 minute warm up time for stabilization.  When given time for stabilization, the PID temperature and water temperature are close, the difference being "offset."

The steam blip adds heat to the boiler wall and that heat then transfers to the water at about the time the cold water affects the temperature of the boiler water.  Of course the incoming water has an immediate affect. 

If you have insomnia, or if curious how the PID and steam blip can help  overcome intrashot drop, look at the first 15 pages of the long thread on CoffeeGeek.

But if you can brew without a steam blip and get consistently good brew, skip the blip and the effort.

Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2017, 10:02:02 AM »
So on my second cup of the day I modified my blip procedure and did a 2 second blip on a 208F starting temp. The result was a smoother after-taste, less acidic. Definitely an improvement, modest as it was. But I think it was my best pull to date. I'll have to experiment further. Tomorrow I'll be opening a new bag from the freezer, so that might change things.

Offline D4F

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2017, 11:50:00 AM »
On a second brew if you don't wait at least 5 minutes after the first, there will be retained heat in the boiler and water.  Then you need less blip.

I have a thermocouple on top of the boiler and that temperature takes a full 5 minutes, of a bit more, to return to original stable idle temperature.

Once again the PID sensor in the brew position can be deceiving as the controller will bring the sensor to temperature ahead of the boiler water.

Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 12:14:53 PM »
On a second brew if you don't wait at least 5 minutes after the first, there will be retained heat in the boiler and water.  Then you need less blip.

Once again the PID sensor in the brew position can be deceiving as the controller will bring the sensor to temperature ahead of the boiler water.

In this case it was at least a half hour between shots.  However my routine takes time to make multiple shots anyway. I always weigh my beans first, then dump them in the grinder, then grind, then distribute, then tamp.  Usually takes 4 minutes or longer between shots because the first shot usually isn't for me and there is some "delivery time" involved :).

BTW... The Baratza Sette leaves virtually no residual coffee or beans in the chute, .28 gms as per my latest measurement. Takes all of 5 seconds or less to grind all 17.5 gms of beans. Talk about fast!

Offline JojoS

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 07:22:03 PM »
May I suggest that weighing the dose means weighing the grinder output. It is not the same as weighing the input. For proper and consistent dosing, the weight of the ground coffee that is in the filter basket is important in fine tuning a shot.

Offline D4F

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 07:46:18 PM »
There is ample evidence for doing the steam blip - thermofilter measurements showing less intrashot drop.  I don't think you will be able to prove that the steam blip is not important to measured drop.  That said, taste is most important.  If you don't taste the difference then it is not worth the effort.  However, the thread title is about temperature consistency and that is measured, as opposed to taste.

On the other hand, you can probably get consistency by using the same method each time.  Will that consistency be at the optimal temperature?

Here is what happens without the steam blip
http://www.afonic.org/espresso/TempPerfomanceStudy-Gaggia.pdf
Interesting conclusion about the 18°F temperature drop, but reproducible (consistent).

Search gaggia intrashot (intra-shot) drop before the effort of making a thermofilter :).



« Last Edit: June 21, 2017, 11:06:14 PM by D4F »

Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2017, 12:01:50 PM »
May I suggest that weighing the dose means weighing the grinder output. It is not the same as weighing the input. For proper and consistent dosing, the weight of the ground coffee that is in the filter basket is important in fine tuning a shot.

While in most cases you would be correct, the Sette grinds so efficiently that 17.5 grams in will yield 17.3 gms out. After making 3 doubles this morning, putting in 17.5 gms per double, I subsequently "flushed" the grinder (to respond) of any remaining bean residue and this is all that came out (shown below). Could there be any other conclusion than the grinder is extremely efficient and accurate when beans are pre-weighed?



Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2017, 12:48:02 PM »
There is ample evidence for doing the steam blip - thermofilter measurements showing less intrashot drop.  I don't think you will be able to prove that the steam blip is not important to measured drop.  That said, taste is most important.  If you don't taste the difference then it is not worth the effort.  However, the thread title is about temperature consistency and that is measured, as opposed to taste.

On the other hand, you can probably get consistency by using the same method each time.  Will that consistency be at the optimal temperature?

Here is what happens without the steam blip
http://www.afonic.org/espresso/TempPerfomanceStudy-Gaggia.pdf
Interesting conclusion about the 18°F temperature drop, but reproducible (consistent).

Search gaggia intrashot (intra-shot) drop before the effort of making a thermofilter :).

I had read the documentation some time ago and re-read it moments ago.  I understand the concepts but not quite sure how to apply the information.  I have always practiced extra long warmup times (20 min + ) and if multiple shots a minium of 4 minutes inbetween shots. 

So right now I'm trying to better dial in (fine tune) SV, currently set to 208F and incorporate steam blip. As of this morning I'm using a 3 second blip.  On my next shot I may raise the SV to the recommended 210F.  At this point all my shots for the last two days have been smoother and consistent. The brew time is a tad on the low side (about 22 seconds), but in a relatively consistent range.

So that's the update.  I've learned so much from this forum and keep learning. But the bottom line is that (at least to my taste) I'm getting better shots than any that I've purchased from well reputed coffee shops, both in Chicago and NYC.  I guess that's the idea, no?

Offline JojoS

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2017, 06:55:52 PM »
In all specialty coffee shops that I have been to, weighing of beans before grinding and not weighing the output is when using an EK for pour over brews. This is done after purging the grinder with 3 to 5 beans. Weighing of beans is limited to the resolution of 1 bean whether your scale is 0.1g or 0.01g in incremental weighing. All coffee grinders have some retention even those specifically designed for singe dosing espresso like Kafatek or Versalab and the finer you go the more it will retain. Looks like you grind a bit on the coarse side from the picture you attached.

Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 07:25:30 PM »
 While I understand your point I'm not certain that I fully agree. As far as the courseness  that you may be observing in the picture I can only say that in person the grounds are fluffy almost to the point of being powdery. Perhaps I need to take  some more close-up photographs. However with 17.5 g of coffee give or take a couple tenths my pools run between 22 25 seconds. I could probably stand to grind a little bit finer but I would think that the timing would dictate how fine to go.

Offline JojoS

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2017, 07:59:55 PM »
22-25 seconds for a double if counting from the start of the pump is on the fast side indicative of a coarse grind. What volume in ml. or weight in grams is your output?

Offline D4F

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2017, 11:20:42 PM »
To go along with Jojo's suggestion about grind - Redbird Espresso blend calls for water at 198 - 201°F and a time of 25 - 33 seconds from first drip.  There was a note early on about not being afraid to run a little longer.  The temperature will take a thermofilter, or others experience at setting the PID to obtain about that temperature at the puck.  I am at 212° on the PID SV, with a blip, and adding heat during brew.  I have used a thermofilter.  You have a ways to go on grind, dose, tamp to extend the brew time.  Your dose is probably adequate, though Jojo's suggestions may help, and tamp is least important as long as fairly consistent and reasonable, which leaves grind.

But again, taste is most important and if you are satisfied, then it is easy and reasonable to use your own numbers. 

We, moderators, try to offer tried and true numbers/advice, mostly for those having problems or trying to improve, and for those who read the thread looking for ideas.  It is not meant to be offensive or intrusive.

Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2017, 10:56:11 AM »
In all specialty coffee shops that I have been to, weighing of beans before grinding and not weighing the output is when using an EK for pour over brews. This is done after purging the grinder with 3 to 5 beans. Weighing of beans is limited to the resolution of 1 bean whether your scale is 0.1g or 0.01g in incremental weighing. All coffee grinders have some retention even those specifically designed for singe dosing espresso like Kafatek or Versalab and the finer you go the more it will retain. Looks like you grind a bit on the coarse side from the picture you attached.

Ok... Did the before/after weighing and the results were nearly identical to my "subtractive" method.  There was 0.2 gms difference between the weight measured before putting them in the grinder and that which came out. The Sette grinder is very, very efficient as well as consistent.  As you may know, the design is a radical departure from traditional grinders.  I discovered that somehow I accidentally must have bumped the fine tuning adjustment down a couple notches.  I changed the setting back to where it was and now I'm getting about 26-28 seconds.  Below is a closer shot of the grinds. They actually are finer than they appear in the photo and I have to be careful when distributing as they are fine enough to be compressed prematurely.


Offline vindibona1

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Re: Temp consistency- nixing the steam blip?
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2017, 11:22:57 AM »
To go along with Jojo's suggestion about grind - Redbird Espresso blend calls for water at 198 - 201°F and a time of 25 - 33 seconds from first drip.  There was a note early on about not being afraid to run a little longer.  The temperature will take a thermofilter, or others experience at setting the PID to obtain about that temperature at the puck.  I am at 212° on the PID SV, with a blip, and adding heat during brew.  I have used a thermofilter.  You have a ways to go on grind, dose, tamp to extend the brew time.  Your dose is probably adequate, though Jojo's suggestions may help, and tamp is least important as long as fairly consistent and reasonable, which leaves grind.

But again, taste is most important and if you are satisfied, then it is easy and reasonable to use your own numbers. 

We, moderators, try to offer tried and true numbers/advice, mostly for those having problems or trying to improve, and for those who read the thread looking for ideas.  It is not meant to be offensive or intrusive.

Admittedly, I am not entirely "there" yet... but close.  Honestly, I had an easier time getting good shots with my old Saeco Sirena machine and a cheap Cuisinart grinder (modified).  Now that I know that I can achieve a level of consistency, I'm going to bump the temp to 212 SV, grind a little finer to extend brew time and go with a 3 second steam blip and see what happens. The machine is reheating now.

FWIW, I've ordered one of those adjustable puck tamps. Yeah... I'm thinking about the bottomless PF.

As a side note, the one thing that I've noticed about the Sette is that the fine tune adjustment isn't "tight" and seems to move itself from the vibration of the machine. Once I'm dialed in I'm inclined to secure it with a piece of tape to keep it from moving.

Thanks for the continued advice.

Edit: Pulled shot with 17.5gms, a bit finer.  Brew time from start to finish 35 seconds with 4.5 second start to first drip. Extraction 36mls (weighed).  SV=212F.  3 second steam blip. Results- a bit better with less lingering aftertaste.  I'll use this recipe again tomorrow and see if I can keep it consistent.

BTW- When I first got my PID I started with the SV at 212 and it wasn't nearly as good as now. Beans? Perhaps partly.
  Espresso= 1 part art, 1 part science and 1 part voodoo.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2017, 01:32:38 PM by vindibona1 »

 

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