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jittery and in need of espresso advice

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I am not sure if this is the appropriate board to post my request in regards to making a perfect espresso with crema. My husband and I bought a Gaggia Carella. As I have read, it was quite normal, the first day to panic as we could not get the crema. We called a friend and he told us that probably the store sold us a coffee that was not ground fine enough. He told us to go to Starbucks, get another 1/2 kilo of coffee, have them grind it for an Italian machine, and then mix it with the original stuff (mind you we had no idea what type of grind the original purchase was.

We followed his directions and for a week, following all sorts of espresso googled info, we were making excellent espresso. So this week we go to Starbucks, and buy Arabica beans, had them grind them just as they did the week before, and now we have espresso with no crema, furthermore it takes well over twenty seconds to make a single, more like dripping tiny bits at a time. We have gone from tamping at 20 pounds to applying light pressure, but no change.

Please help.
E.Kolliopoulos

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  1. Since all espresso machines are different, I'd suggest that you call a Gaggia distributor or store and consult with their staff regarding your particular machine. By the way, Gaggia is now owned by Saeco.

    Here are some contact numbers for Gaggia in Greece ( from http://www.gaggia.com/gaggia_nelmondo...

    )

    Eurogat S.A.
    90, 28th Octobriou Street
    546 42 , Thessaloniki
    Ph. +30 2310 865417
    Fax +30 2310 819639
    web site: www.eurogat.eu
    e-mail: info@eurogat.eu

    Athens branch office
    121, Souliou Str.
    173 42, Athens
    Ph. +30 210 9951383
    Fax +30 210 9960415
    web site: www.eurogat.eu
    e-mail: info@eurogat.eu

    By the way, would you mind sharing your mother-in-law with me? Her cooking sure sounds a lot more interesting than my mother-in-law's.

    Good luck with the crema. I have a feeling you might be going a little too fine with the grind.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FlavoursGal

      Dear Flavoursgal,

      Thank you for this information. We bought the Gaggia from a small shop in our neighborhood, and had a tough time deciding between it and the Saeco. We are both cyclists, and one of my favorite teams in cycling was Saeco (Mario Cippolinis team once) but we ultimately went for the smaller Gaggia, it looked better and we have the typical small European kitchen. So now i don't feel so bad knowing I am patronizing the company that supports cycling, the greatest sport on earth (okay, that is debateable in some circles.) Also, our owners manual did not list any Greek branch offices, so we just gave up at that point.

      I would be happy to share my mother in law, but you would need to come to Greece. She is the best cook in our very large family, and I have apprenticed under her for almost ten years now. She is magical because I can never achieve the "softness" of her food. She also makes a great lamb sto fourno (oven baked lamb with lemony potatoes) the best kefthathakia (Greek meatballs) on earth, and a tyropita that is like the fluffiest quiche wrapped in phyllo.

      For the first 9 years I was here only on vacation, getting three or four weeks at a time with her, now I have her all to myself, and one thing I have learned is that the quality of the produce is in some part what makes her food so good. Produce like this was found no where, even farmers markets and even home grown in Oklahoma.

      My Uncle who runs a hydroponic farm once told me it is the intensity of the sun that gives a lot of produce their flavor. The sun is white and intense here, and the rocky soil; well drained and rich in minerals. Anyhoo I digress, but it is my passion.

      And as for you Mizinformation, I would love a burr grinder, but just haven't the room! But I agree, I went too fine I suppose.

      Thank you both,
      Sincerely,
      E.Kolliopoulos

    2. It sounds like you may have gone from a grind that was not fine enough to one that is too fine. Perhaps you can ask your coffee shop to move the grinder a notch or two bigger then mix the new coffee in with what you already have. A shot that comes dripping out of the machine with no crema can't taste good.....

      I don't know what is available in your area, but ultimately you may want to invest in your own burr grinder so you can find the setting that works best for your machine. Good luck!

      1. I think it's going to be very difficult for you to consistently produce really good espreso by purchasing beans and getting them ground by a kid at Starbucks. Every batch of beans is unique, as is every griner. The only way to avoid pulling your hair out is to get yourself a good grinder that you can adjust as necessary. You might also coffeegeek.com if you're looking for a centralized espresso resource. Good luck.

        1. Ok I have had a few machines in my life span .
          How many bars of pressure do you have ? 10 / 15 /20 the more the better the crema
          Always grind beans with your own grinder.
          Follow the service manual you be surprised how many people skip that.
          BTW Gaggia is a real good machine.
          Espresso and Greek coffee are not the same. I would like some one to teach me how to make Greek coffee
          Here are some Italian coffe beans co .
          Kimbo
          Lily
          Lavazza
          Mauro
          Moka d'oro
          Enjoy

          1. Dear Fal,

            We have 15 bars of pressure,

            I live in Greece in an old area and the kitchens are tiny, can't possibly fit another appliance (grinder), not to mention that we sort of like a spartan look, with such small space, as it is I have to unplug my espresso machine if I want to wash clothes, so for now we are unwilling to give up space and aesthetics for something someone else can do for free.

            We have read the service manual, in fact it says to apply 20 lbs of pressure,and I have read on the net that 30 lbs is best, not sure what to do there, i suppose it goes with the grind (?).

            Very good to know Gaggia is a good machine, this was my concern when choosing it over the Saeco.

            I realize espresso and Greek coffee are not the same.

            To make Greek coffee: In a Brika, put one heaping (regular dinner) spoonful of Greek coffee and one spoonful of sugar (this is for Kafe Helleniko METRIO) meaning medium sweetness, this is best to start, as you get the almost chocolat like flavor from the coffee, after you can go with less or more sugar whatever your taste. Add one double espresso cup of water to the brika, DO NOT STIR, put over heat source and once the coffee begins to heat, swirl the coffee a bit, and really you don't stir, it's more like you pull up a spoonful and ladle it back over, maybe three or four times until it is just combined. You wait until the coffee boils up to the top, as if it about to boil over, now it is ready, like espresso, it must have a nice crema on top, and like espresso it takes practice.

            We have served to guests before and did not mention that they are not supposed to drink the grounds, and they actually did and smiled. So be sure to tell guests not to drink the grounds at the bottom.

            Also, is it best to use Italian bean company with this machine? I know we have Lavazza.

            Thanks for the tips,