I am in Japan and will start to use the Otto next week, its interesting to read your experiences.... Editor: I deleted your avatar because it was too big. Keep avatars to about 90 X 120 pixel. Thank you.
I have been experimenting with different beans in the hope of getting more crema. What I did find is that the darker the bean, the more difficult it is to grind; even with a burr grinder, in this case the Enzo mini macho. This grinder is compact and very noisy. If the caffeine does not wake you up the decibel rating will. This does rather distract from the silent operation of the Otto.
I am not sure if I could even tell the difference between various beans, mixed origin vs single blend, even water treated decalf tastes good. However cheap beans taste cheap, and old beans taste old, so don’t buy in bulk. Despite fresh beans from local rosters, I have to use the supermarket basket to get the Otto to work properly. I still have not been able to extract much in the way of crema like you see on the DVD that came with the Otto.
I tried some filter coffee at the office, and coffee from a Mocha pot at home to compare again. I just poured it down the drain, so the time and ritual of using the Otto is still worth the effort.
Last edit: 9 years 11 months ago by mikelomb. Reason: better comment on crema
The other day I was happily sipping my coffee when I heard a mini explosion from behind me. Coffee was everywhere! It turns out I had left the burner on under the Otto by mistake and not released the steam. Result = impressive explosion. The explosion ripped a piece out of the head seal so I had to get a new one.
I rang Otto and Craig from Otto rang me back personally which impressed me greatly. He explained this can happen when you don't push the group handle fully to 90 degrees. So beware all!
I'm really happy with my coffee and steam pressure at the moment and am getting consistently good results. It still blows me how good this coffee is. It took a good deal of experimenting with grind/tamping. For me a grind of 5 on the Rancilio Rocky in the espresso basket works really well.
A couple of tips Craig passed on to me;
Goal is to get 3 drops per second as per the dvd
If not getting enough steam pressure, turn off, leave a couple of seconds then turn on. (This has worked for me in the past.)
Experiment with coarser grind in supermarket basket. (I didn't get better results with this but it seems to work for a lot of people)
He is bringing out a flame tamer for a gas hob which I'm very interested in as I've found it harder with the gas to control the temperature compared to electric.
Also recent conclusion for me is; don't get too obsessed with crema rather take off mug earlier than you think - only need about 1 inch or 2.5cm in the glasses to get a great taste. Taste more important than crema...
I had some interesting results with the Otto in the last two days. On a recent post I stated there was not much difference between different beans. I am revisiting that.
I choked the Otto yesterday using decaffeinated beans. The beans are hard to grind, clog up the grinder and pack harder in the portafilter. The result is that the maximum pressure that the Otto can deliver, 3 ½ bars, is not enough to get through the coffee puck. Steam leaks out the gasket seal, no coffee comes out at all, and there is no steam out of the nozzle either. Removing the portafilter shows dry coffee grounds. This was using the supermarket basket.
Repeating the process with the espresso basket resulted in too rapid a flow of coffee, and no steam pressure. So the coffee was not packed enough for this basket. This demonstrates the extremes either way. I could have changed to the supermarket basket again and tamped lighter or ground coarser.
I then switched back to the usual caffeinated espresso beans, and double tamped this, using the supermarket basket again. This means filling up with coffee grounds to about 2/3 of what I normally use, tamp down, fill up with another 1/3 and tamp again till it is at the usual level of 5 mm from the top rim of the basket.
The result was for the first time, I got proper crema coming out, just like the DVD presentation, and great steam pressure. So what does this demonstrate?
There must be a continuum of results. On the one end, if the back pressure created from variable of the basket used, bean used, how finely it is ground and tamped is not enough, you end up with coffee and no steam pressure.
If the back pressure is too great you get no coffee at all and no steam. Somewhere in between there is a sweet spot that starts with good espresso and good steam pressure, and progresses to crema, and then to choking altogether with increasing back pressure. The sweet spot zone is probably fairly narrow, and may be difficult to hit consistently.
Another web site who reviewed the Otto commented on this also. It is easier to get consistent crema with a well constructed higher pressure machine, but then you are looking at more serious money, and weight.
Crema is not everything though, as department store cappuccino makers consistently create crema, but the espresso still has a bad taste. To throw more controversy into crema, you can do a search on James Hoffman of the Coffee Collective who stated crema was rubbish and should be skimmed off. But I digress.
Probably the best way of using the Otto is to find the coffee bean mix you like the best, experiment with the grind, basket and tamp pressure until you found the particular sweet spot for those variables, and stick with it.
Last edit: 9 years 11 months ago by mikelomb. Reason: remove direct link address
I have an OTTO in Japan, I have read all the previous posts several times and they have been really helpful in shorts cuts to overcoming problems…..thanks everyone.
I am getting crema almost every time, the times I don’t is because I’m experimenting with grind and tampering.
Milk texturing is now my focus, Japans home-milk is not well suited to texturing, maybe the protein levels are lower, so each day I am buying a new brand to test, the tastes are nice though.
I am finding my puck is wet (top 1/3) and crumbly when I remove it, has any one got a suggestion on the reason or is it important?
I have timed the extractions, 90 seconds from the first drop to 60mls, the drips are about 2 a-second with good crema, using the espresso basket with a medium/fine grind and heated by gas.