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Gaggia go boom. Well, phut-boom...

I thought a coffee would wake me up for the phone interview I didn't want to skip because it took a while to arrange and I can talk without coughing today. We use pods that are like coffee teabags in the Gaggia and they usually work really well. This time I let it heat up for ages, I remembered to run steam through it to prime it when I first turned it on, I got the espresso basket in place first time - but coffee was only coming out of one of the two spouts and just as I was wondering about this there was a phut noise and the pressure blew a hole through the bag, sending coffee plus grounds spurting out across the kitchen. And muggins here was making espresso straight into a mug of microwaved milk for speed, so I got a weak coffee full of grains ;-(

How do I work out if the problem was the coffee bag or the machine without distributing coffee all over again? I'm glad I wasn't still peering into the mug when it went phut but it was still a pain to clean up the spatter, especially as I'd cleaned that whole side of the kitchen when I moved the old microwave (and the new microwave and then the old microwave again).



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
12th Dec, 2007 18:57 (UTC)
Simple. Throw coffee bags away. Buy can of Illy. Use it in portafilter, properly tamped down. About *half* the price of "pods" for one thing...

12th Dec, 2007 19:01 (UTC)
portafilter? whassat? This is a pressure espresso maker and my main aim is to get espresso without having to get grains out of the espresso basket - the Waitrose 'pods' are very like Illy and not that much more expensive and have worked well all these months. i have plenty loose coffee but the mess means I just won't use it - and we're on the first floor so a blocked sink will be a big expense, let alone how much I hate coffee grains all over the place.
12th Dec, 2007 19:52 (UTC)
The portafilter is the bit you put the coffee in - if it's a generic espresso machine and not a pod-only device.

If it's a sensible design, you can just "tap" the used plug of grouts into a bin (compost bin in my case!) but... it only works with properly fine-ground coffee, you can't do it with "ordinary-ground" it won't tamp down fine enough to resist the water pressure.

When the pod machines came out (someone showed us a Sensao) we checked the price (admittedly in France were we buy all our coffee) and the pods were damn nearly twice the price per grem of coffee. So we never went there.

You're right, you don't want to be putting any significan quantity down the sink, though the few grains remaining after you've tapped out into the bill is fine, just run water whilst you wash the filter and keep it running a few seconds so you're sure the grouts are round the bend. :)

12th Dec, 2007 19:57 (UTC)
yes, it's a standard Gaggia - the pods are like teabags, not sealed pots - which are very expensive and do tie you down. I've used it with the bags and naked espresso grind from Whittards and the whole measure/tamp/dump/wash thing takes longer and makes it too messy for me to do coffee often.
12th Dec, 2007 19:04 (UTC)
If you like Illy, try finding a local coffee roaster. Fresh coffee FTW.
12th Dec, 2007 19:10 (UTC)
by portafilter teh intarweb suggests you mean what I call the filter basket; I want to avoid the messiness, inconsistent tamping etc of this as above.
12th Dec, 2007 19:03 (UTC)
How do I work out if the problem was the coffee bag or the machine without distributing coffee all over again?

Make coffee using a normal espresso head rather than a bag?
12th Dec, 2007 19:06 (UTC)
yeah, I don't think I can avoid the risk of explosive decompression - I shall wait a few days till I can face cleaning the kitchen again if it happens and then try both.

turns out the third thing was Simon's crown breaking...
12th Dec, 2007 19:10 (UTC)
Oooh bugger, that's going to be expensive!

And as for the coffee machine, I hope it's the bag and not the machine. And if you _do_ end up using coffee grounds in an espresso head, unload the head into a container rather than washing down the sink, then just rinse away the few that stick. Better for the sink and the water supply. If you've got a friend with roses, roses love coffee grounds, but otherwise they should go out in the solid rubbish.
12th Dec, 2007 19:16 (UTC)
the machine is still under guarantee and I can try descaling it too.

I've gone the whole dump out the grinds route; I find it messy whatever I dump out into and I end up with a ton of cleaning to do and it puts me off making coffee. We have no garden and nowhere to make compost so it has to go in the bin (or down the sink) and it's just one more thing to deal with that I just want to avoid. Apart form today pods have worked really well... the individual wrappers keep the coffee really fresh too.
12th Dec, 2007 19:24 (UTC)
Yeah, I see your reasoning. We've got no way to do compost either (and coffee grounds can't really go in compost in any case, as they're not good for any plant except for roses, bizarrely). I hope you can keep using the pods.

Edited at 2007-12-12 19:25 (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


full steam ahead
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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