Category Archives: Tips – Tech

Ask the Experts: Is Something Wrong with my Odea’s Sensors?

Saeco’s Odea Go and Giro superautomatic espresso machines are a little bit on the tenderhearted side: They have sensitive sensors that are sometimes difficult to interpret.

We commonly receive calls from customers who are being prompted to empty the waste drawer (dregs box and water tray located with the brew group on the right side of the machine) more often than they deem necessary. There are two sensor lights that can indicate this needs to happen:

This light specifically indicates that the dregs drawer needs to be emptied This light indicates any number of issues are present and is not specific — you may need to add beans, add water or empty the dregs drawer

The dregs box that catches used pucks doesn’t use a sensor that measures the volume, rather, it’s based on cup count — around every 10 shots it will indicate that the dregs box needs to be emptied. The waste water area under the brew group, however, is pressure sensitive and will indicate it needs to be emptied once a specific weight has been reached.

If you see the warning light and empty only the dregs box and not the waste water drawer as well, it will reset the dregs box shot count but then indicate (likely shortly thereafter) that the drawer needs to be emptied again because the waste water has reached capacity. And vice versa. Another cause for the frequency may be that the dregs box was removed, emptied and placed back into the machine too quickly or when the machine was off, so that the shot count was not reset.

You can easily keep these overactive lights at bay by thoroughly cleaning the dregs drawer — both the box and the waste water area — each time it indicates it needs to be emptied. Also, making sure you do this when the machine is on is very important. Finally, expect that it’s going to happen about every 10 shots or so — and if you’re drinking 4 – 6 shots a day, you won’t be able to let those little pucks hang out in the dregs drawer longer than a couple of days.

If you’ve misplaced your user manual and want to refresh your memory on how your Odea functions, here are PDF versions of the Giro and Go.

Ascaso Dream UP: Boiler Refill & Temperature Surfing

The most frequent repair issue we see on Ascaso Dream machines (both the older version and the new UP) is a burned out boiler. These machines are single boilers without an automatic boiler refill, so folks often burn out the boiler because they don’t pull enough fresh water into the boiler before trying to steam or brew.

Watch Gail as she walks us through refilling the boiler and temperature surfing on the Dream UP.

Why Does my Rancilio Silvia Have 2 Water Intake Tubes?

A few times per week, a new Rancilio Silvia owner calls in with this question — what the heck is that 2nd tube for? The machine diagram in the user manual hasn’t been updated by Rancilio to show this tube or describe what it’s for, so we recorded this for posterity. Gail shows us the tubes and talks about their functions.

Where to Lubricate the Saeco Superautomatic Brew Groups

It’s a good idea to regularly pull out your Saeco superautomatic’s brew group and spray it down with hot water — we recommend doing this once per week and using water only, no soap. Why? Because the soap is going to break down the lubrication on the brew group and you’ll be re-applying it weekly as opposed to twice a year. Ultimately, you’ll be using more than you need to and we’re just thrifty that way.

Gail shows us where to apply the lubricant on the brew group when it is time for a touch up. A general rule of thumb is that if you can see/feel the lubrication on the group, you’re probably as lubricated as you need to be. When applying, don’t put a large quantity into each area; just apply some to a q-tip and then put a light layer. We often see big globs applied that then mix with coffee grounds to make a rather dangerous cement. In this case, you can have too much of a good thing.

Francis Francis X7 Internals

While working on a Francis Francis in our repair center, we found out it’s awesome little secret: It comes with an internal PID! You can’t adjust it yourself, and some of the newer models like the X7 aren’t designed to be adjusted at all, but it will keep the boiler’s temp within 1 degree of the set temperature — unlike less sophisticated thermostats that have a varying range of about 20 degrees and, thus, require temperature surfing.

Josh and Gail cracked open an X7 to show its guts and glory!

Ascaso Dream UP + Brew Head Upgrade

The Ascaso Dream UP is considered a ‘versatile’ espresso machine, meaning that — like its predecessor — the brew head has been designed for use with both ESE pods and ground coffee. However, the stock brew head definitely favors pods and you don’t get as rich of a shot using grounds as you can off of other machines in this class.

When we did our review recently, we noticed that even though the new UP has a three-way solenoid valve, it didn’t seem to perform that well, leaving really soupy grounds behind. So we decided to experiment with the machine by installing the Brew Head Upgrade kit to see if that improved the performance. It did!

Watch Gail show us the different screens, talk about how they perform and demonstrate a shot. We even spliced in footage from the original review (accompanied by super sessy muzak!) for easy side-by-side comparison.

Ascaso Duo Series Specs

Recently re-engineered, Ascaso’s Duo series is designed to give you a little bit more power than a traditional single boiler at a portion of the cost of a heat exchange or double boiler. With a semi-automatic version or programmable/automatic version available, the Duos feature a brew boiler, thermoblock for steaming and two separate pumps so that you can theoretically brew and steam at the same time.

We have noticed that the steaming function is not as strong as you find on machines that have a steam boiler to back it up, and also that the Duos do not have a PID on the brew boiler, so you still have to temperature surf to be certain of where your temperature is at in the heating cycle. Watch Gail show us the internals of a Duo, temperature surf and pull a couple of comparison shots.

Internals of a Heat Exchanger

A heat exchange boiler is not a traditional double boiler, as it doesn’t maintain totally separate boilers for the brew head and the steam wand. It does, however, have separate water delivery systems, so you can brew and steam with it at the same time — if you want. Some folks prefer not to (either the multi-tasking is a challenge or they are concerned with how it affects the brew temperature), and then the benefit of a heat exchange is that you can switch very quickly between the two functions.

In this video, Josh shows us the internal components of the Quick Mill Vetrano and explains how it all works — a great primer for anyone interested in the tech side of things.

Field Trip: Uesugi USA – Recycling Center

Where do espresso machines and coffee makers go to die? Not in the landfill, if we can help it! At Seattle Coffee Gear, we launched a recycling program last year in an effort to keep as many fully assembled machines from landing in the trash. Many of these are pretty complex — they have circuit boards, electrical wiring and miscellaneous metals that are best kept out of our ground water supply.

Our partner in this venture is Uesugi USA, a Japanese company that (as luck would have it) have a US presence here in the Seattle-area. We pulled Henry into the mix and headed out to their facility to talk about what they do and see how they take these machines apart, break them down to their components and funnel them back into the commodity supply chain as cleanly as possible.