Friday, March 24, 2017

I sold the Londinium I

Yes, it's true!
Not that I had any complaints at all and I'm sure I will join the Londinium band wagon again at some point.
I bought a second hand La Marzocco GS/3 from 2012. Especially my wife is happy about the forgiving and easy nature of the GS. Once dialed in it performes constantly day after day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Londinium I - Unboxing

It's been a while and time for updating this page has been limited. Enjoying wonderful syrupy espresso's however has not stopped - on the contrary! I'm now enjoying wonderful espresso drinks from my recently acquired LONDINIUM I lever espresso machine.

I have sold the La Marzocco GS/3 the short story being that however fantastic the GS/3 is, I was really missing a more "hands on" feeling. Getting great shots from the GS/3 is just - a bit too easy! So I sold it but without any plans on where to go from there. For a period I was really in to black coffee (still am) an enjoyed lots of different brew methods (Hario filter brew, Aeropress, Chemex, French press etc). I didn't leave espresso brewing entirely as a good friend was good enough to lend me a nice little E61 HX machine - The La Valentina Junior. Really a good and nice looking machine with a small footprint for those interested.

Knowing that I couldn't be without an espresso machine I started looking and by coincidence I saw the pictures of a late 50's Faema Lambro Lever machine for sale in Germany at what I believed to be a reasonable price. It was of course sold before I got to respond and the next one as well. These were fully functional machines but needed a bit of restoration. Not easy to come by and fully restored Faema Lambro's, President's and Urania's cost on the wrong side of Euro 2,500. I love the simplicity and silence of the vintage lever machines but unless you restore one yourself, it simply is not worth the price tag (my opinion).

My Lambro adventure lead me to the Londinium I project in England headed up by Reiss Gunson and his Londinium Espresso company. A truly exiting project of which you can read much more about on:

A long story short: I added a Londinium I to the shopping basket back in July 2013 and received delivery late August 2013.

The L1 came in two boxes - a big one with the machine and second smaller box with the upper part of the group. Veeeery nice packaging - kudos to the Londinium Espresso team!
Enjoy the unboxing pictures which were made with my mobile phone out of sheer impatience!

Ready to go!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Descaling the La Marzocco GS/3

Descaling is not the best thing you can do for your espresso machine and descaling can cause problems with clogged pipes and valves. If you are unsure on how to do this I would recommend sending the machine off to professional services. They would then unmount the boiler(s) and separately descale them with acid.

Always use a good water filter to avoid having to descale in the first place.

Please follow the below procedure at your own risk.

Machine cold and switched off.

1. Start by loosening the expansion valve situated in the right side just above the drip tray. Loosen by turning the brass “pipe” counter clockwise. No need to totally unscrew this.

2. Unscrew the brew head cover and loosen the bleed screw. Now the water should run freely from the brew boiler via the expansion valve into the drip tray.

3. When the brew boiler is drained, tighten the bleed screw and expansion valve again. The expansion valve should not be fastened all the way  -  see 8.
4. Prepare a descaling solution in a bucket consisting of 3 liters of water and 60 grams of biological citric acid. There should be enough to descale both the brew and steam boiler.
5. Unscrew the left panel.
6. A. If you have a your machine connected to your home water supply then remember to shut off the water beforehand. Disconnect the machines inlet hose from from your water filter.
6. B. If you are using the machines integrated water reservoir, unscrew the silicon hose from the pump and attach the stainless steel braided inlet hose that came with the GS/3.

7. Place the inlet hose in the bucket with descaling solution, turn on the machine and activate the pump (Continues brew button)
8. Stop the pump when the descale solution starts flowing from the brew head. Loosen the bleed screw carefully and activate the pump. When the water starts leaking from under the screw head, tighten the bleed screw. While the machine is warming up, the pressure within the brew boiler will increase and this is where the expansion valve must ensure the pressure does not exceed 12 BAR. The expansion valve must therefore be tightened (or loosened) until the pressure gage shows 12 BAR or just below. Turn off the machine again.
9. Drain the steam boiler using the inlet hose (unscrew from pump) or other available hose that fits.
Mount the hose on the drain pipe and open the ball valve to drain the steam boiler. Be careful not to scold yourself and avoid water running into the brain box underneath the steam boiler.

10. Once the steam boiler is drained, shut the ball valve and unscrew the drain hose. The inlet hose is then reattached to the pump (if ever unmounted) and the other end is placed in the bucket with descaler. Turn on the machine. The pump will start auto-filling the steam boiler now using the descale solution. Let the machine warm up as normal and let it descale 60-90 minutes. Optionally run some water/descaler through the steam wand and hot water wand.
11. Now flush the brew and steam boilers using the same procedure as above by draining and flushing the boilers with fresh water 3-4 times. Taste the water from the steam boiler to determine whether it should be flushed further. Taste the water from the brew boiler and continue running water through the brew head until the water no longer tastes sour.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Steam Wand for the GS/3

As mentioned earlier I was most unsatisfied with steaming on the GS/3 with the no-burn wand. Not that it lacks steam power but the steam is wet and you need to purge a lot of water from the wand before steaming and as result I was never able to produce good micro foam. So I went ahead and ordered the newer version "burn-me" wand from the Danish La Marzocco Importer.
The wand or rather all the parts came with the mail today. I had to assemble the wand from different parts which was confusing at first as the LM exploded diagram that comes with the parts, is not precise on how to assemble this in "IKEA style". I also managed to install it in the machine using the Chris Coffee Service assembly video on YouTube:  - Excellent video!!

So, has the steaming improved?  Most certainly, yes!

You still have to purge water from the wand before steaming and whether it's less than before I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that steaming improved instantly and I had the nicest micro foam in my first attempt. It was like night and day!
The improved steaming capability could also be contributed to the 4-hole steam tip which seems a lot better than the stock 3-hole my machine came with.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New baby!

Four years with my beloved ECM Giotto has come to an end. It has been a wonderful journey and the coffee has been great but when I recently had a good offer on the espresso machine of my dreams, I just could not pass. My kitchen counter now stars the much coveted La Marzocco GS/3. The machine is from 2008 (S/N 0315) and the former owner has not been using it a lot. In fact it's still using the original brew head rubber gasket which is still relatively fresh and soft.

First impressions:

So does it brew better espresso than the Giotto? No Sir, it does not. Once you nail it with all the cooling flushing and the works, the Giotto makes excellent shots. The GS/3 just does it much more consistently. It's almost too easy ! Except for one thing; Steaming! The machine has massive steaming capability and you will not run out of steam but I must say I made better micro foam on my Giotto. The milk tastes great but it is near impossible to get bubble free micro foam and believe me, I have tried !! You need to purge quite some water from the wand and the steam is not completely dry. I should mention that my GS/3 is equipped with the no-burn steam wand as the early models and I believe all European GS/3's now ships with the "full-burn" steam wands largely due to the same issues I'm experiencing. I'm going to order the newer version steam wand to improve things on the steam side.
As I was not sure about the exact history of the machine I went ahead and descaled both brew and steam boilers and luckily there were no scale what so ever. Opening the machine in order to descale the steam boiler also allowed me to take a closer look at the internals and I must say that the LM guys really shoe-horned a lot of high end espresso machine technology into a relatively small case. After descaling I removed the water reservoir which is located behind the drip tray and hooked the machine up to the mains water supply (via Brita softening filter) and installed the waste drain.
Build quality is very good except for at couple of things. The drain box itself is good quality and with great capacity but it's loose at sits askew. Later models have tray locking taps under the drain box taking care of that problem. Also I have noticed that the drip tray top (rails) design does not drain too well and water will spill. The craftsmanship of the drip tray is not up to standards with cutting sharp edges and the before mentioned spilling. Again this has been changed on later models.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eliminating the guesswork when flushing a E61 group.

With Eric S temperature Adaptor (or the Danish equivalent "Thebat18 Device") you are essentially eliminating the guesswork of how much to flush in order to achieve the correct brew temperature on an E61 group based espresso machine.

The two preferred methods of flushing E61 group using Eric S Temperature Adaptor are the so-called Flush-and-Wait (Rebound) and Flush-and-Go methods.

For the Flush-and-Wait method you flush the group well below the brew temp then pull the shot when the thermometer is a few degrees Celsius below the brew temperature. The few minutes after the flush will heat the water in the heat exchanger (HX) to over brew temperature. This super-heated water then cools back down to brew temp when it hits the group which is cooler than the desired brew temp. Therefore you should deduct 2 degrees Celsius from the thermometer reading to get the actual brew temp. 
When using the Flush-and-Wait/Rebound method on my Giotto Classic with a boiler pressure of 1.2 Bar I flush until the thermometer shows 86 degrees C, then wait a couple of minutes (time enough to grind, distribute and tamp) until the thermometer reads 92 degrees C and then brew. The temperature should land between 96-96.5 degrees throughout the shot meaning an actual brew temperature between 94-94.5 degrees C.

With the Flush-and-Go method, the group will be a few degrees Celsius hotter than the desired brew temp.  The HX water is cooler than the brew temp and heats back up as it hits the group. Therefore you should add 2 degrees Celsius to the thermometer reading to get the actual brew temp.
A generic example of using of the Flush-and-Go method on my Giotto would be to flush until the thermometer reads 95 degrees C, wait around 8-10 seconds until the thermometer reads 98 degrees C and brew immediately. The temperature should land between 92-92.5 degrees throughout the shot meaning an actual brew temperature between 94-94.5 degrees C.

The Flush-and-Wait method is simpler is because the group temperature is controlled via the flush and is consistent with every shot because you are over-cooling and waiting for the correct brew temp. 

With the Flush-and-Go method the idle group temperature will be different depending on the time between shots. The idle group temp determines the flush length and necessitates a chart to obtain consistent shot temps under any circumstance.

Using the chart which might seem a little cryptic at first, you will find your idle temperature on the left side of the chart (The thermometer reading at idle) and the desired brew temperature in the top of the chart. So to achieve a brew temperature at 93.5 degrees C at an idle temp of 98 degrees C, you should flush until the thermometer reads 95.5 degrees C. Please note that the above temp readings were made on an Izzo Alex HX machine and the final brew temp might be slightly different on your machine. On my Giotto I need to add an extra 1 degree Celsius to the Desired Brew Temperature numbers to get it right.

All credits for the above article goes to Mike Ripple in Michigan, US - a user (AKA Mike01)who made all the above temperature readings on his Izzo Alex.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New grinder and pump upgrade

Wow! Has it really been over a year since my last update! ..and so much has happened with my espresso setup.
It's still the good ole Giotto but I have added an external Rotary pump and motor. The pump and motor went into the lower kitchen kabinet and brewing is now niiice and quiet. No more shouting to overcome the vibration pump noise and no more rattling from the cups and glasses on top of the Giotto.

To get more control of my cooling flush and brew temperature I bought an EricS Thermometer Adaptor for E61 brewgroups. How have I ever coped without it??

But thats not the only change...

You can say there has been a "Major" change in the grinding department as my loyal Mazzer Super Jolly has been exchanged with a Mazzer Major. Not as big an upgrade taste/grind-wise as going from the Isomac Granmacinino to the Mazzer SJ, but the Major delivers just a little bit better and fluffier grinds at record super speed. I have my timer set at 3,5 seconds which gives me 17-18gr of espresso grind in the portafilter. I bought the Major second hand but it was in very good condition and after a change of burrs (these guys are intimidating 83mm) and the usual Mazzer mods (see earlier posts) it was good to go.

Have a look at the updated setup on this video

and check out the (whisper) quiet brewing with the Rotary pump action.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Mazzer Super Jolly modifications

The Mazzer Super Jolly (SJ) is an excellent grinder and if you can fit it into your kitchen, you are good to go for years without the need for upgrading (maybe!!). The SJ produces a better and more consistent grind than the Mazzer Mini E and is often cheaper. In fact the SJ plays well in competition with the large and much more expensive conical grinders. As the Mazzer SJ is the defacto standard espresso grinder in small to medium sized café's, there is a large volume of Super Jolly's around making it possible to get very good second hand deals. If the grinder has not been totally abused (e.g. check if the drive shaft is bent) then just change the burrs and it's as good as new.

However the SJ has a couple of issues which becomes a bit irritating for home-use. The doser doesn't sweep the doser reservoir clean from coffee. Secondly when distributing into the portafilter the doser throws coffee to the left of the portafilter fork often leaving a mess on your kitchen counter, not to mention the waste of coffee. There are well known fixes to these issues and I have applied a couple of these.

Modifications to the Mazzer Super Jolly:

  1. The Short Mazzer Mini Hopper. Using the after-market Mini hopper will take down the height of the SJ to 46 cm which is about the same as the Mazzer Mini.
  2. Replace the standard burrs with Dura-Mill "Duranium" burrs. This will cut down the grinding time for a double (17gr) from 9 seconds to 7!!
  3. The Sweep Modification by Teme. See Espresso Passione by Teme:
  4. The "Elvinator". Mess-free distribution directly into the portafilter:
  5. Photo timer/Dark Room timer to cut grinding after a desired amount of seconds. Further - as my SJ is an Automatic, I have disabled the doser auto switch.
Here a picture of the "Elvinator". Thanks and credits to Elvin.

For the lack of better reference you can see most of my mods in the following video:


Giotto Steam/Water Wand modification

Wow, It's been a long time since last update and a lot has happend since then.

I was newer quite satisfied with the steaming performance on the Giotto Classic and went
through all kinds of tests in order to improve this. I tried descaling and changing the boiler water level but it didn't make much difference. After speaking to fellow coffee freaks I came to the conclusion that the ECM Giotto Classic Steam and Water Valves are simply not cut for the job the machine is able to deliver. After seeing a fellow coffee nerd at the Swedish coffee forum making steam mod using Izzo Alex part, I believed I had the answer.
The Izzo valves lets out more steam and as a bonus you get ball jointed mountings.

So lets get started.

Here you see the Giotto Classic before Waterwand was replaced.

This is the new and complete water wand

A picture of the old valve in place.

The old valve taken out

Replaced with the new valve - Voila!

Here's the final result! Replacing the steam wand is exactly the same operation. You may however need to spend more time adjusting the cobber pipes though.

Here a short video of the steam power after the mod.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

New espresso setup

Having owned a VBM domobar (single boiler) and Isomac Granmacinino grinder, which are both great espresso equipment, I was hit by the famous upgrade fever. It started when I found a second hand ECM Giotto Classic which I got in a quite good deal. After having sold the Isomac grinder I started looking for grinders at eBay. The grinders I bid for were primarily La Cimbali Junior and Mazzer Mini/Super Jolly due to the great reviews at e.g. and I ended up with both a Junior and Super Jolly.

Both are fantastic grinders with each their pro's and cons. I think I'll end up with just the Mazzer SJ as this is the one my wife prefers.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Jagten på det ultimative espresso "shot"

Nøglen til at lave en god espresso er, at forstå de forskellige variable i espressobrygningen. Jo bedre du lærer dit udstyr at kende, jo bedre forstår du de variables betydning.
Men uanset hvad, er udgangspunktet altid FRISK KAFFE!
Som regel starter du med at øve dit stampe-tryk for at få det så præcists og konsistent som muligt. Når det er på plads kan du lege med faktorer som kværninstilling (finhed), pumpetryk og vandtemperatur.

Her følger en generel anbefaling til de forskellige trin i espressobrygningen:

  1. Når espressomaskinen er varmet op, tages filterholderen ud og filteret tørres.
  2. Tænd din kværn
  3. Kvæn kaffe ned i filteret til der en passende top på
  4. Sluk kværnen
  5. Fordel kaffen ligeligt i filteret ved at bruge f.eks Schomer eller Stockfleths teknik
  6. Stamp lige ned i filterkurven med et let tryk
  7. Rotér stamperen uden tryk
  8. (Bank let et par gange på siden af filterholderen for slå løs kaffe ned i filterholderen) EDIT: Er gået af mode!
  9. Stamp så lige ned med minimum 15 kg tryk (øv dig på en badevægt)
  10. Rotér stamperen uden tryk for at polere overfladen
  11. Tør overskydende kaffe at filterkurv og filterholder
  12. Sørg for at espresso maskinen har rette brygtemperatur
  13. Filterholderen sættes i og brygningen startes
  14. Stop brygningen når kaffestrålen lysner. (bør først være efter 20-25 sek)
  15. Smag på din espresso og juster finhedsgraden på kværnen om nødvendigt
  • Hvis brygningen går for hurtigt og kaffen bliver for lys - juster da kværnen til at male finere
  • Hvis brygningen løber for langsomt - juster da kværne til at male grovere
  • Hvis kaffen smager brændt og bitter er temeperaturen for høj. Forudsat at temperaturen er indstillet korrekt på maskinen kan problemet afhjælpes ved at køre lidt bryggevand gennem gruppen uden filterholden i.
  • Hvis kaffen smager surt og flad og har lys crema er temperaturen sandsynligvis for lav.

16. Nyd en dejlig kop espresso!

Jeg nænvte foroven to metoder til at fordele kaffen i filterkurven - Schomer metoden og Stockfleths teknik. For begge metoder gælder at man bruger sin finger til fordele kaffen med let tryk ned i filterkurven.