For those of you taking notes, I use an electric element set to the top level. Lower heat just takes more time. On high setting it takes 7 minutes before espresso starts coming out. Once I am finished I lift the Otto by holding the porta filter handle, and the steam knob and place it on a wooden cutting board to cool. Leave the steam on till the pressure goes down. Don’t remove the portafilter till this stops hissing you will get a portafilter sneeze, and coffee goes everywhere. I did this once. This is shown on the DVD.
I use a thermometer to check the temperature of the steamed milk. The “zone” is supposed to be 70 degrees C, put that can be too hot, and 50 to 60 degrees is fine. You don’t really need once you get the feel of how hot the jug should be. With proper pressure from the correct grind, you can easily stretch the milk to twice its volume in two minutes.
Use a damp cloth to clean the dried milk on the steam wand, nothing abrasive, it will scratch. Wait till the Otto has cooled a bit before you do this. Remove the basket to clean the coffee stain that will collect under it.
You can also descale the Otto using citric acid mixed with water. I would do this monthly if the water is hard to prevent build up.
Last edit: 10 years 6 months ago by mikelomb. Reason: extra information
I made some espresso again today with the Otto using less coffee, down to 8 mm from the top edge once tamped to assess if this made any difference to the quality of the coffee. It did not. It just reduced the quantity. The Otto cut out earlier with less volume. The taste and steam pressure were unaffected.
Once the dark espresso stops dripping there will be light brown foam coming out. There is more of this produced if the pressure is higher. You may not see any of this if the grind is course, and the flow rate to quick. This stuff is not crema, and not desirable. It is very bitter and something to be discarded.
Have been tinkering away for a couple of months now and am very happy with the results I’m getting - finally. Took a while to figure out my Otto’s quirks but I seem to be getting there. It’s quite gratifying when you do start to get results from it, because you’re so actively involved in the process. I like how you don’t just press a button and walk away.
Eamonn - I tried your tip about getting the mug off before losing the crema and it’s worked wonders. Thanks!! In hindsight it seems obvious but I had been leaving it on for the whole thing in the belief that that was how you’re supposed to do it and in an effort to try to maintain the temperature. I don’t think that’s the best way to go, because I lose most of the crema when I do that. Temperature isn’t such an issue now that I’m getting better at the milk. (I never did go crazy and lose the silicon mat – too chicken.)
I now take the mug off and pour it into a glass as soon as the drops are beginning to taper off/get frothy and there’s still plenty of crema. I then turn the heat up slightly and get straight onto the milk. The results are so much better. Steam hasn’t been an issue with me – there always seems to be plenty of it and it takes several minutes to get it all out after I’ve finished. Don’t ask me why - I have absolutely no idea. I haven’t used the supermarket basket at all because I’ve only ever used a fresh (ie not pre-ground) and reasonably fine espresso grind, so I figured it had to be the espresso basket.
I’ve been using my Otto to make one double shot latte per cycle. I haven't measured the volume but it seems about right. Never having had any type of espresso machine before, I had no clue about how to steam the milk and was heavily reliant on the instructional DVD that came with it, plus tips from my friendly local barista. I found the DVD very helpful, especially the thing about how the milk should look like a bit like paint by the time you’ve done it. Have been madly trying to get the ‘paint’ thing happening for weeks and finally got there last weekend. What seems to have made the difference is somehow or other getting a whirlpool happening and only putting the nozzle just under the surface for most of it. I also find it helps to put the milk jug in the freezer (with the milk in it) for a few minutes while the Otto is firing up, so it’s super cold by the time I steam it.
It’s quite amazing what a difference it makes when you haven’t lost most of the crema and the milk texture is right!!! I have never had stovetop coffee of this quality before.
I'm getting consistently good steam now. Using very fine grind and tamper very firmly (to build up pressure).
One thing I have a tendancy to do is try and wait to get as much coffee with crema as I can before pulling away the coffee mug. Sometimes I leave it a fraction too long and the coffee being extracted gets too hot and I lose some crema. I want more coffee...yet the quality suffers. The OTTO dvd showed me how little coffee you need in the glass but I'm greedy and think that looks too small!
I know the solution would be to make a double shot but I don't think my wife would be too happy to wait for the next round!!
When making another cappuccino tonight, there was no steam coming out of the nozzle when I opened the valve. The problem was the small hole in the steam nozzle was blocked with burned milk that had collected in the cone shaped bore. This can not cleaned out with a brush or cloth. I used a sewing needle to pick out the milk, the diameter of which was also the same is the hole. You need bright light, and reading glasses, unless you are near sighted, to do this. The steam pressure returned to a very high level. In hindsight I had noticed that steaming the milk was taking progressively longer, so the hole was gradually closing before in shut off altogether, so this is something that is worth checking from time to time.
Hi mikelomb, you have posted on something that I dealt with myself only this week. Timing!
Although my steam arm did not block up, I did notice a lot of dried milk in the outlet hole. I cleaned it with a wooden tooth-pic, and it is all fine again. Although I hadn't noticed any drop in pressure before cleaning though, I can imagine how this can occur.
While we are talking about cleaning the steam arm, I will say that I have more of an issue cleaning the thread than the outlet hole. Because I have unscrewed the head slightly to re-position the hole, some of the thread is visible. Burnt milk that gets in there is quite difficult to clean. Wiping is not enough I find. Nor is tightening the end. Again, it's back to the tooth-pick to chip away the dried milk.
Agree with you that you only have to check this from time to time.