Archive for the ‘la san marco leva espresso machine’ Category

Whats Up at Courier

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Courier has more Super pretty things going on. Image three is the glow of shellac thinner burning through our Japanese Hario siphon brewer. Siphoning coffee more frequently, we have permanently staged our quad-beam balance scale to 23.523g for 3 cups (thats just what its at). We weigh before grinding only, for ease. We are still using cloth filters stitched from re-purposed cotton.

Our vintage three group San Marco Leva still dominates our workshop bar. Not only is it a puzzle to pull vivid, clean, defined flavor from the groups, but it also represents a mechanical challenge. We are now toying with the idea of adding flow-jets in-line before each group, along with gauges. We are pulling lovely shots, but still a little muddled and unclear. Under dosing the baskets way below the rim of the PF has been key, and our grinder’s Omron timer has been very helpful.

Alex Geddes has been doing most of the roasting lately, which has been going very well. There is always talk about the roasts, and I think the newest thing we are learning about is doing very small experimental roasts for espresso. This can be difficult since the airflow pattern changes, as well as heat distribution.

R. Kelly month of April is filling up! (coloring that is!). Our friend Kizzy is doing a show April 23rd at Slabtown w/ Sleep and Awol (our latest addition). Alex colored up the month of April Monday, Kelly got a reflective patch under the brim of his hat made from silver vent tape. Kizzy works Bar Fifteen, and we kind of look forward to seeing him on our deliveries. On that note, Produce Row is closing mid-month to re-do their bar. So if you were dreaming about them last night you better meet us there after work. They are going to run some new glycol filled lines for the taps, and we think extend their hard liquor section.

Our Coffee Selection follows in the previous post. Our cell number is located on the main page here.

meanwhile

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

We have been using our San Marco Leva (three group espresso machine in the background) a ton lately.

Dosing coffee below the rim of the portafilter basket appears a must. We appear to be dosing 14.5 grams into the basket for a double espresso. On average we produce ristricted shots at 1.25 oz in volume, where a classic double is 2 oz.

8 seconds for the cavity above puck to fill. 5 seconds for water to travel through the puck. 14 seconds coffee is visible at the spouts, and we release the lever. We are pulling shots at 26 seconds from when the water starts. Incoming line pressure is 45 psi before entering the machine.

Courier keeping holiday spirit, or our vintage three group San Marco Leva

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Weather outside still cold. Mittens, hot drinks, windy bike rides tell us the holidays are still here. The streets were calmer this weekend, but places like Powell’s City of Books were bustling harder than ever. We spotted people traveling more often in groups than in ones and twos. This was most noticeable when looking into cars. People together equals holiday spirit to us.

At Courier we have many exciting side projects keeping us busy in the warmth of the roastery. One of them our La San Marco Spring/Lever two group from 1981. It is now propped on bricks sitting on recycled rubber pads. A stainless steel Synesso drain tray has been temporarily re-purposed to move water from drainbox to sink. We have been grinding and dosing with a Robur 110v grinder, wired with Delta fractional second timer. Last week we adjusted our incoming water line pressure to 25psi. This week we increased line pressure to 40psi, while adjusting the roller cam set screw down. At the peak of the eyelets contact with roller cam, water flow now approximates what we would see at the Half & Half Cafe, or the Little Red Bike Cafe. This is not set exactly and so tomorrow we will measure water volume vs. time.

There is an obvious source of channeling currently, in how we have our group set up. There is a notch at the bottom of every San Marco piston shaft, level at where the screen is held by the retaining clip. Water at pressure wants to go toward this gap, putting more force at the coffee grounds immediately below. Instead of water pressing equally through the puck of grounds locked into the portafilter, more water is pressed through the point of weakness. This part is getting over extracted, so that after all the goodness is pressed out, the awful bitterness is also pressed out. Technique may of course make up for this with the Leva, but why not make it better. Theoretically once the cavity of air above the coffee grounds fills, pressure equalizes between the line and the cavity. The cavity still has its own pressure barrier, the screen.

More positive forces at work this winter include a few new coffee friends serving Courier. Foster Burger opens soon, where Cava once was on 53rd and Foster.  Burgers, Milkshakes, rock and roll! Also Dovetail Baking opens for retail a few weeks into January, 30th and Alberta. Dovetail will be french pressing Courier Coffee all the time!

grouphead screen retainer clips la San Marco

Friday, November 20th, 2009
IMGP4235 by you.
The last two nights I have been roasting samples at home, in my first production roaster, a solid steel drum, pictures here. This means that we have been getting samples of coffee, that we have been cupping samples at our shop, and that decisions are being made about new coffees to purchase.
IMGP4238 by you.

whew, now that we have updated everyone on the exciting news lets talk about these grouphead screen retaining clips for the San Marco Leva. The black clip is a genuine San Marco part, relatively stiff, 2mm thick, ferrous steel. The shiny clip is stainless spring steel, hand made in Portland, Oregon and 1.35mm thick. The stainless clip was made by Arthur Springer, who runs an espresso machine repair business with his wife, Suzy, and we think Arthur is awesome. Arthur works on older CMA machines along with La San Marcos, and he has a great history on many machines in Portland. If we find a commercial machine and want to know more about it we call Arthur. If we need vintage parts we call Arthur. And, well, if you need these retainer springs perhaps you should him too, or better, make them yourself (our number is on our main page).

Our 1981 San Marco Leva has a noticeable stepped groove where the retainer clip should fit. The deeper part of the channel is thinner, but then there is a shallower, wider channel overlapping the other. We think this is because the older machines originally used thinner retainer clips, but then San Marco changed its clip thickness. The current LSM clips are stiff and require a heavy duty set of ring pliers. These new clips rust, and while the tool to insert them is easy, they do not sit in the channel nicely, but rather hold by main force to a thin edge. Basically they do not work well.

IMGP4226 by you.

so, much work.

Three group La San Marco Leva together

Friday, September 25th, 2009

IMGP3168 by you.

The three group is coming along well. Wiring connections were corrected. The autofill works properly. The machine gets to pressure. All three groups have now been rebuilt and are in place. There are a few parts we still have on our list, but these have been identified. Finding the type of electrical wire we want will be a trick. I personally would like the autofill wire to be cloth braided.

IMGP3489 by you.

the fear

Monday, September 14th, 2009

IMGP3831 by you.

Again we lifted the three group La San Marco Leva onto the table. This time very little leaking, but we corrected a seal, and it holds line pressure. Friday Alex installed three new copper washers in the group to boiler nuts. The old asbestos copper crush washers had failed. Generally these washers are one time use only, but sometimes, with copper, it will seal multiple times.

Alex temporarily wired the machine, with the original wiring, dressing exposed areas with electrical tape. After manually filling the boiler half way with water, using the manual fill lever, Alex flipped the power on. The autofill circuit clicked on, filled the boiler a little, then shut off just before filling the entire boiler, a little too much. Then we noticed the heating element work as the machine warmed to not-that-hot-at-all and then stop, pressure gauge rises a fraction. We then decided to fear our electrical work just a little, call it a day, and go ride our bikes.

IMGP3826 by you.

Well, we actually did a massive cupping of coffee batches roasted in September, as well as many other things today. Dylan of LRBC showed up just in time to cup, and get in on our note taking. Today we did something new and broke beans apart pre cupping, taking note on the color, and gradation of color of the roast, this happening just after all the cups had been set out. The differences, I thought, between each batch stark, and all of them I could see room for improvement. The cupping went awesome.

I also had a lovely morning working the coffee bar at the Half& Half Cafe with Kristen. She steamed milk, while I made espresso, and we went over a little technique. Alex and I met up and started our day at the Half and Half Cafe, later meeting back up at the workshop. Still much to do. The table is full of coffee that needs sorting and packaging, and we still have bench tests to run on our newest batch of stainless steel lined airpots.

Our LSM 2 group Leva

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

IMGP3197 by you.

Introducing our La San Marco Leva 2 group, type 80, 1983. We spotted this on 30th and Belmont in 2002. A few owners later and we purchased the machine. Now we use it in our shop.

IMGP3198 by you.

The LSM Leva has the ability to do one thing very well, to provide smooth and stable water flow to the brew groups. No Marzocco, or Synesso, or Slayer can match it. These newer machines definitely are advantageous, but no machine except a lever completely isolates the brew water from the brew line. Isolation means that for the majority of the duration of an espresso being pulled the brew water is completely separated from the water line.

The LSM Leva is a spring/piston lever. When the lever is vertical and the machine at rest, the piston is almost touching the shower screen. Pull the lever down and the piston raises, at the same time compacting two large springs. There is a point at the bottom of the pull where a part of the piston assembly, that has been pulled up, contacts a cam, opening a water valve, letting water into the shaft. The valve opening is controllable by the degree that the lever is pulled down. The valve opening is immediately next to the shaft. When the cavity is filled with water, the lever may be released and the spring exerts pressure on the column of brew water, pushing through the coffee. As soon as the lever is released, pressure on the cam stops and the valve is shut, completely isolating the column of water as it gets pushed through the grounds.

IMGP3175 by you.

The fat tube leading to the back right of the steam boiler, carries cold incoming water into a heat exchanger tube, that hangs in the roof of the steam boiler, up in the steam. You can see where it exits the back left of the boiler and branches out to each group. The group has a cavity that is full of water, waiting at the valve to be let into the shaft. This cavity extends into the steam boiler in a dead end pipe. How efficient this is at keeping the water temperature stable we only have a feeling.

Anyway, this is the machine we use at our shop. We make experimental espresso’s, serve friends, occasionally take it apart and rebuild. When Matt Sperry started he rebuilt this machine. Now Alex is working on our three group, between deliveries and roasting/apprenticing.

Rods and eyelets for our lsm 3group Leva arrive by bike.

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

It is Saturday. I am waiting for Edwin to drop off some rods and eyelets for our three group San Marco Leva. We carefully left these parts with Edwin because at the time we didn’t know how to repair the damage. We still don’t have a way to repair the wear on the eyelets, but we need the rods in hand to continue work. Although it has been on the back burner, we are not giving up on refurbishing our 1980 la San Marco manual espresso machine. All OEM parts are in from Michaelo, and the three group is sitting on the couch just asking for a little attention. Though the rods from the groups are in great condition, the hard, chrome-plated brass eyelets need some tinkering. The question is do we use new OEM eyelets? or do we try to improve the fit in a non standard way? Already we have been talking about making slight changes to the original design, so perhaps we will make some adjustments… Much love Edwin!