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lightbulb Learning to drive OTTO

  • allan
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10 years 8 months ago #4123 by allan
Learning to drive OTTO was created by allan
I thought it might be good to start a thread for those people who have got their hands on an OTTO.

There are plenty of variables to play with, and I am keen to hear how others approach their machine. I am happy to start with my humble observations. Please understand my notes are after only four days and 12 or 13 extractions :unsure:

- Using an electric stove, I find I like the extraction on medium heat (4 out of 6), but the milk pressure is better if I go up a notch on the hotplate (to 5 out of 6) as extraction begins.

- I have settled on a 16g dose in the (espresso) basket which I tamp firmly.

- When doing multiple runs, I have found it important to cool the head. I don't start the next run until it has come right down in temperature. It can be a wait though.

- There is a gap between the boiler and the stainless steel outer casing. The boiler is water-tight, but the casing isn't. I freaked out when (during rinsing) I saw water dripping from the base. Then I figured it out... :blush:

Thanks for reading! Looking forward to hearing from others who have more experience than me.

  • PittCoffeeCrew
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10 years 8 months ago #4124 by PittCoffeeCrew
Replied by PittCoffeeCrew on topic Re:Learning to drive OTTO
Sounds like fun, Allan --> 12+ extractions in 4 days = 3/day!

How fine are you grinding?
You are using the large basket, yes?
What's been the taste of the coffee and the texture of milk?
Have you tried accelerating the cool down by running under cold water?

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10 years 8 months ago #4126 by allan
Replied by allan on topic Re:Learning to drive OTTO
Yes, it has been lots of fun. We had visitors over the weekend, so I was able to churn out quite a few coffees. :cheer:

In terms of my grind setting, I am not using the finest grind. I am 2/3 to 3/4 of the way towards the finest setting, and that seems to work fine. I am judging this by the speed of the stream of espresso - I am managing to keep it at a fast drip that is almost a steady stream. I think this is the right balance to strike. A slow drip would indicate to me that I may be choking it up.

I am using the large "espresso" basket. That has been fine so far. I will eventually experiment and try and pull a single shot out of it. I am thinking to drop the dose to 8-10g, tamp firmly and use the "supermarket" basket. My theory is that will maintain the pressure.

I enjoy the taste of the coffee that it produces. I am using the house blend beans from a cafe that I really like (and trust). I am getting close to the taste of an in-cafe coffee, but I am not quite there. Flavour is great, but I find that it can be quite strong if you dose up near 18g or 20g, so that is why I dose at 16g. I prefer it a little milder.

The OTTO is capable of providing great milk texture, although I have only been hitting it one out of every three or four cycles. Aiming the nozzle outwards helped a lot with setting up the "standing wave" during the (first) foaming stage. I am still trying to master the milk "spinning" in the second half of the steaming. I will repeat that you need to wait until the extraction is finished before starting to steam, so that the pressure is right. I actually find that once pressure is achieved the steam arm will start to drip slowly. I think it must be one of the places the machine releases pressure (Craig may correct me on this though).

In fact, this morning I managed to steam three latte's-worth of milk without too much problem. So once you get the machine up to pressure, there is _heaps_ of steam!

I have tried cooling the machine under a small stream of room temperature water. It reduces the wait between cycles considerably. I have not noticed any issues with the second (and third) coffees if you use this method. There is _slight_ residual warmth in the machine when I start again. I am careful to make sure my heating and cycle time always remains the same - and most importantly the head of the machine is as cool as I can get it.

It is amazing to feel the machine as it heats. The base (boiler) gets super hot quite quickly. The head, however, remains cool (ie. no warmth at all) until close to extraction. That tempurature/pressure valve in the neck is an amazing piece of engineering. All the heat and pressure is kept at the bottom until the machine is ready to extract. So this is what I try and make sure happens if I run multiple cycles.

That's about 4 cents worth I think ;) I would be happy to hear from others on their impressions.
  • Alex
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10 years 8 months ago #4131 by Alex
Replied by Alex on topic Re:Learning to drive OTTO
Hi there

Thanks for starting the thread Allan – I’m very interested to hear about the experiences of fellow Otto newbies.

I’ve had my Otto for about three weeks now and I’ve got a great big crush on it. I’m really happy with the coffee now that I seem to have figured out which grind to use. Plus I look at it and I can pretend I’m living in a lovely old Milanese apartment in the 1950s, instead of where I actually do live, which is a boring suburb in Sydney.

I’m new to the world of grinding too, not only Otto. I recently got a Rocky doserless – my first burr grinder. I know they say that Otto needs quite a fine espresso grind but it really seems like Rocky can go above and beyond the call of duty. The first time, I think I choked poor Otto with a grind that was much too fine – about 7 or so.

I now have it at about 12 and it’s much better - the extraction is quicker and steadier, there’s more of it and plenty of crema. The only thing I’ve noticed is that although the coffee tastes great, it’s lukewarm by the time I’ve done the milk. Possibly this says something about my milk frothing skills, but I’m wondering if it’s worth taking the silicon mat off while I do the milk to keep the coffee hot? The reason I haven’t done that is the manual suggests you keep the mat there to stop the coffee burning. I’m using an electric hob, not gas.

Anyway, I’m thinking next time I’ll go crazy and lose the mat during the milk frothing. I’ll report my findings.

Allan, I too was a bit panic-stricken when I saw water dripping from the base of my Otto. It was reassuring to read your post - I hadn't thought of the thing about the gap between the casing and boiler. I noticed it for the first time after I tipped some leftover water into the sink after a cycle. I dried it off with a teatowel but then I noticed a very small amount of water still coming from the bottom. I wonder if the tipping motion caused it somehow? I didn’t notice it before that.

Today I used it without tipping anything out of it and there was no dripping, so maybe that's what caused it.

  • Eamonn
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10 years 7 months ago #4153 by Eamonn
Replied by Eamonn on topic Re:Learning to drive OTTO
Hi guys
I'm wondering how everyone's been going with their Ottos.
I've been playing around with mine for weeks now and I think I've found a grind and tamper method that works for me. I've got my Rocky grinder quite fine at 7 or 8 which seems to be best for me in terms of extraction but I've got to be careful it doesn't get too hot before I lose the crema. I tried it at less fine settings and it extracted too quickly.

I am having problems getting the steam pressure high enough. Interestingly I found the coarser the grind the less steam pressure I get. Correspondingly when I set the grind very fine I was choking the Otto but getting fantastic steam to froth the milk. I guess this is logical. Is it? Do I have to accept a trade off?

I went through a phase recently where I was getting disappointing steam pressure which didn't heat the milk. Then suddenly today I got good steam but the only thing I changed was the coffee beans?? Anyone had this problem and solved it?

The other issue is I'm using gas which has caused Otto to stain at the bottom and look less sexy than it was. I've tried a few times to clean it but nothing so far shifts it.

I've read gas is not a compatible with Otto as electric. Perhaps using electric makes it easier to get temperature right for steaming/extraction also? Has anyone any views on this?

Overall I'm really happy with it especially the coffee - I just need to iron out a few kinks and I'll be set!
  • allan
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10 years 7 months ago #4154 by allan
Replied by allan on topic Re:Learning to drive OTTO
Hi Eamonn, thanks for a really interesting post.

The steam pressure thing is quite a challenge at first I think. There are a couple of factors that you have to work out for yourself - and I think that the perfect combination will probably be different for each person too. I think the factors are (in no particular order): dosage grams, tamp strength, grind, basket choice and (of course) beans.

These guys have found their own combination too.

I am dosing around 14-16g and tamping quite firmly. I grind at about 3/4 or more on the way to the finest setting on my grinder. I use the "espresso" basket mostly.

However, I found something surprising like you with beans. Keeping all the other factors constant I changed from dark to medium roast beans. I got no milk steaming pressure the first time. In fact steam was pouring out the portafilter with the extracted coffee. I switched to the "supermarket" basket and everything was fine. I know beans can change a little as the oils settle after roasting, so I will go back to the "espresso" basket this weekend and try it out again. I am not totally up with my coffee science, so I am interested to hear what others think this indicates.

I use my Otto on electric, and I do turn the heat up after the extraction begins (from 4 to 5 out of 6). My understanding is that the machine needs to be heated gradually, so too fast (I think) confuses the heat and pressure valve. I turn the heat up at the end to make sure that the water keeps heating for the steam. So far so good... :)

Not sure how much heat you are using, but if you are staining the machine my first instinct would be to say that it's a little high. You can also use a heat diffuser (flame tamer) on gas burners to distribute heat more evenly.

Although my extracted coffee is the perfect temperature to drink (I am using the silcone mat) I do find that I want to get the extraction into my coffee cups as quickly as possible. Because, like you, I see the extraction at the end of the is very strong and doesn't have the crema of the early/middle extraction.

Not sure how much I have helped with all of that, I think I have pretty much agreed with all your observations! So you aren't alone with learning how to master the Otto. :cheer:

I am really liking the coffee that I am able to produce, and how involved you get in the whole process.

Keep posting your experiences!
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