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Show us your coffee rig


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#1 slkinsey

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:56 AM

Since the tea people have been posting interesting shots of their wares, I though it would be interesting to see what everyone is using for coffee. Should be an interesting contrast, since I expect coffee brewing setups to be more industrial and high tech whereas tea brewing setups tend to lean artisanal and low tech -- for the fanatics, anyway. The must obvious comparison would be a tricked out espresso machine versus a yixing teapot. This contrast is not universally true, of course. I'm sure there are some high tech tea brewing setups, and some coffee lovers use a simple cone filter. But it seems more or less accurate in a general sort of way.

Speaking of tricked out espresso setups, here is mine. Relatively humble compared to many other machines, but does the trick for me.

Posted Image


On the left is a Rancilio doserless Rocky grinder.

The machine is a Rancilio Silvia hacked with a dual-setpoint Watlow 96 PID controller that regulates both the brewing and steaming temperatures. This was fairly tricky to install, because you have to partially remove the front panel of the machine to gain access to the steam switch (you also have to remove the front and internal splashplates and the top and back panels, but that is not so tricky). Once installed, however, it's been sweet. All I have to do is turn on the steam switch like normal and the PID automatically kicks over to the higher setpoint for steaming. The other material modification I did on the machine is to replace the regular steam tip with a three-hole steam tip.

As it so happens, I have three portafilters. Overkill, I know, but I acquired them at different times. In the machine is a bottomless portafilter with a La Marzocco triple basket inside. That's what I use pretty much all the time. Over on top of the knock box is a regular (with bottom) double spout Rancilio pro portafilter. I got this when I first bought the machine, because it was considerably heavier than the stock portafilter. This was back before people were doing the bottomless portafilter thing. Also on the knock box is the stock portafilter, retrofitted with a single spout. I really never use this for its intended purpose, and keep it mostly fitted with a blank insert for backflushing.

On top are some Miscela D'Oro branded espresso and cappuccino cups. I have cups from a number of different brands, but I like the Miscela D'Oro ones the best because they are the thickest. Especially the espresso cups, which are the thickest I have ever found.

Down on the tray are my tampers. On the right is the Ergo-Packer from Espresso Vivace (aka "old busted") and on the left is my new C-Ripple tamper from Reg Barber (aka "new hotness").

As you can see, the whole thing is on some Metro Shelving, and I store some sheet pans underneath. This is really convenient when it comes to cleanup, because I can just sweep away any coffee grinds and the fall through onto the sheet pan, where they are easily dumped into the sink.


Who's next?
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#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 03:31 PM

Mine looks like Sam's without the cool stuff: basic Rancilio Rocky and Silvia models, two portafilters, two inexpensive tampers.

The machine is a Rancilio Silvia hacked with a dual-setpoint Watlow 96 PID controller that regulates both the brewing and steaming temperatures.  This was fairly tricky to install, because you have to partially remove the front panel of the machine to gain access to the steam switch (you also have to remove the front and internal splashplates and the top and back panels, but that is not so tricky).  Once installed, however, it's been sweet. 

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Did you get it here? Or, more importantly, for about $400? And what does "fairly tricky" mean? What tools and skills did it require?
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#3 slkinsey

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:58 PM

Did you get it here? Or, more importantly, for about $400?

Yea. I could have got something fairly similar for around half the price from Auber, but their kit uses the controller's on-off function to control the steam temperature and for some reason I wanted the PID to control the temperature. There are other reasons for the price difference. First, Auber is selling a kit with a PID that they manufacture themselves, so they're getting a cost savings right there. Also, the PID itself is far less expensive than the PID used in PIDKits implementation (Auber sells their SYL-1512A for 36 bucks; Watlow's Series 96 PID goes for a couple hundred bucks).

Ultimately though... yea, I paid double for a small upgrade in performance over the Auber kit. That's how I roll. :smile:

And what does "fairly tricky" mean? What tools and skills did it require?

I am by no means an electronics expert, and the instructions are very detailed and clear. But there is some fiddly work that has to be done in very tight spaces. Several spade-type connectors need to be disconnected without damaging anything, which was especially tricky on my older machine as the connectors were very firm with a hair-trigger release, the old plastic was a bit brittle, and they were in difficult to reach spots. What makes installing the steam piece tricky is that you have to partially remove the front panel in order to access the steam switch (there is simply no room to get a finger in there while it connected). But there are plenty of wires that are connected, and need to stay connected to the front panel. So you have to be very careful and move the front panel in a very specific way (explained and illustrated in the instructions) in order to access the steam switch. So, it's doable for anyone who is reasonably coordinated and capable of reading and following instructions (which even remind you to save all the screws in a separate bowl). But it's... you know... tricky.

The only tools required are medium tip philips and flathead screwdrivers of reasonable length, a small flathead screwdriver, needlenose pliers and scissors. They also recommend a 7mm deep well socket for tightening the nut that holds down the SSR, but I was able to do it with my long/thin needlenose pliers. If you ask, they'll send you the socket to borrow.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#4 weinoo

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 03:29 PM

Well, it all depends on what kind of mood we're in, and we always start the
day with a good old drip coffee, so here's my setup:

Posted Image
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#5 jsmeeker

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:03 PM

that's taking your coffee pretty seriously!


I notice that both of your grinders appear to be empty. Do you not store your beans there, or are you fresh out??

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#6 scubadoo97

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 09:29 PM

I suspect weinoo's beans are in the air tight mason jars and he grinds on demand. No beans in my hoppers as well.

#7 slkinsey

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 10:16 PM

I roast my own beans on a weekly basis. Never have beans that are more than about 8 days old. So there's not much profit in storing them anywhere other than the hopper.
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#8 weinoo

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:23 AM

I suspect weinoo's beans are in the air tight mason jars and he grinds on demand.  No beans in my hoppers as well.

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That is correct, sir. I buy my beans (mostly) from Intellegentsia, about 3 pounds at a time. I usually "decant" 1/2 lb. each of 2 or 3 varieties, and shrink and freeze the rest, which are used as it becomes necessary. When I'm down to my final pound or so, I reorder. There are actually a few more of those pint-sized Mason jars hidden in the back.

The great thing about Intellegentsia is that they ship on the day they roast (to order), and I receive the beans about 2 days later, so my supply is quite steady. The other great thing about Intellegentsia is that it's about the best coffee I've ever tasted.
Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
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#9 weinoo

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:27 AM

I roast my own beans on a weekly basis.  Never have beans that are more than about 8 days old.  So there's not much profit in storing them anywhere other than the hopper.

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One of the reasons I don't store beans in the hoppers is that I never know what I'm going to feel like drinking...might be Guatemala one day, followed by a specific espresso blend. Perhaps an afternoon Sumatra, or an evening decaf (kidding, there isn't any decaf in the house).
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#10 slkinsey

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:45 AM

That makes perfect sense to me! I have a much smaller burr grinder that I use for non-espresso coffee, and which I load/grind per batch of coffee. For espresso, I have the one blend that I use, and once I have that dialed into the machine, I don't want to fiddle around with readjusting the machine for different blends every other time. I figure I'm using at least a whole hopper's worth of beans before I might move on to a different blend (which I haven't done in around 5 years, being pretty happy with the blend I use now -- Sweet Maria's Espresso Monkey blent supplemented with 10% each of primo robusta and Monsooned Malabar).
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#11 threestars

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 01:23 AM

Well, it all depends on what kind of mood we're in, and we always start the
day with a good old drip coffee, so here's my setup:


Wow. That is such a beautiful setup! I wish I can have that on my kitchen! :D

#12 nickrey

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 05:13 AM

I've been moving a bit between beans and find that I need to adjust my grind to perfect the 30 sec pour. How do those people who swap between beans for individual cups manage this? Do you record the appropriate setting for each bean and adjust your grinder accordingly?

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#13 nickrey

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 05:17 AM

ps. I put this picture on my foodblog but it really belongs here as well.

10 rancilio.jpg

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#14 weinoo

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 06:01 AM

I've been moving a bit between beans and find that I need to adjust my grind to perfect the 30 sec pour. How do those people who swap between beans for individual cups manage this? Do you record the appropriate setting for each bean and adjust your grinder accordingly?

Are you wondering about a pour-over or a 30 second espresso shot? I rarely switch beans for espresso; that is, once I open a package of beans for espresso, I use them all up so the grind stays the same.
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#15 nickrey

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 06:25 AM

Espresso. I see re-reading that both of you use the one grinder and one setting for espresso, which makes sense. For a number of reasons I've been switching between beans for espresso and it is a pain recalibrating the machine each time you change beans.

Edited by nickrey, 13 September 2011 - 06:29 AM.

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#16 weinoo

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 06:41 AM

Espresso. I see re-reading that both of you use the one grinder and one setting for espresso, which makes sense. For a number of reasons I've been switching between beans for espresso and it is a pain recalibrating the machine each time you change beans.

Yes, and I actually grind at what appears to be the same setting as yours.
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#17 slkinsey

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 08:13 AM

For a number of reasons I've been switching between beans for espresso and it is a pain recalibrating the machine each time you change beans.

There is no getting around this. The only solution is to use one kind of beans for a longer period of time before switching.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#18 jeffsf

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:36 AM

Even with one kind of bean, if you are picky about flavor profile and use a grinder that is more revealing than the Rocky, you may find that you change grind as the bean ages from roast, or even as the weather changes during the day.

#19 raybeezbabee

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:22 AM

Can everyone please detail the model names, etc of their equipment and mention whether or not they'd recommend them and why? I can identify a few but not all of these things. Thanks!

#20 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:43 AM

Posted Image

That's it, apart from my kettle. I grind my beans in a mortar and pestle. The Boda itself has no brand name; the beans I buy in bulk from the Loja coffee cooperative at the farmer's market. Nothin' fancy here, folks.
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#21 andiesenji

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 12:03 PM

I have a Senseo which uses coffee pods (like round teabags) and I have been happy with the Dark Roast and with pods I make myself with my Perfect Pod Maker (see post # 67) as I can buy whole beans, roast them to my preference and grind them myself.

and recently I was gifted with a Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa :wub: (post # 90 on same page as the pod maker).
It uses coffee capsules. They are rather expensive.
The Latte Macchiato in a 12 ounce glass and Cappuccino in a 15 ounce mug- drinks are my favorites;
Latte Macchiato finish.JPG Cappuccino finish.JPG

The Dolce Gusto is able to produce a decent espresso because it develops 15 bars of pressure, similar to the Nespresso and the recently introduced CBTL (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) machine, (compared to the Senseo, Keurig, Tassimo, Bunn MyCafe and the "new" Breville BKC700XL, that was introduced, apparently recalled and now again on the market.

I've tried some of the other brewers and I have not found one that functions better to the point that I would buy one.

I had one of the superautomatic espresso machines (Saeco Royal Digital Plus) but gave it away earlier this summer (the reason I was given the Dolce Gusto) and even though it was piped in to the water supply, I was never comfortable using it, it took too much fussing and I never developed the art of correct tamping. I have a lot of skills but that is not one of them! :biggrin:

I will continue to use the Senseo for my regular coffee and I will use the Dolce Gusto for Latte Macciato, Cappuccino & etc.

The capsules for the Dolce Gusto are quite expensive, especially for the milky drinks that require TWO capsules so in a box of 16 capsules you only get 8 drinks.
However, a while back I found a seller on eBay that was offering an assortment of 51 boxes for less than half the regular price (they were not selling individual boxes only the total) so I sprung for it and for $205. I got 51 assorted boxes that would have cost $483.48 if purchased via Amazon.
I can't imagine why someone else didn't snap this up. There were several inquiries if they would sell portions of the batch. My luck!
photo of what's left in the box after shelving a bunch. They are somewhat bulky.
D-G supply.JPG

Edited by andiesenji, 13 September 2011 - 12:08 PM.

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#22 kaszeta

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:25 AM

I use a Kyocera ceramic burr grinder to grind, and a vacuum brewer to brew:

Posted Image

#23 scubadoo97

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:42 AM

I've been moving a bit between beans and find that I need to adjust my grind to perfect the 30 sec pour. How do those people who swap between beans for individual cups manage this? Do you record the appropriate setting for each bean and adjust your grinder accordingly?


The first pull is usually a test and tossed followed by adjustments to the grind setting to accomplish the desired timing. The grind setting also will vary with the same bean day to day so the first pull is always the test. This is assuming you can consistently tamp at the same pressure.

#24 BonVivant

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 12:13 AM

@Weinoo: impressive.

my rig is most simple and i have only one mood when it comes to coffee. very strong espresso, and black. love my Gaggia Classic!

when i go to someone's house i just have water :(

#25 avaserfi

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:22 AM

This thread makes me want to PID my Silvia. My setup, which I don't have any pictures of, is a V1 Silvia I got on Craigslist very cheap and a Cunill Tranquilo grinder. I use this most mornings, but also have an aeropress I will pull out for a more drip styled coffee.
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