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Discussions > Espresso > blends > Espresso Shots  
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Senior Member

Joined: 5 Jun 2012
Posts: 14
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Oscar
Grinder: MDX
Drip: Hario
Posted Sun Jun 24, 2012, 5:50pm
Subject: Espresso Shots

So i've gone through 4 pounds of espresso beans and heard of different times I would need to match for a perfect espresso shot.  I have the oscar and found that some of the shots that were great were around 18-22 seconds but heard that I should aim for 26-30 secs from coffee shops, any suggestions? Do different espresso machines have different brewing times?
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Senior Member
Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 769
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Olympia Cremina, Various...
Grinder: Mazzer Major, Fiorenzato,...
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Posted Sun Jun 24, 2012, 6:06pm
Subject: Re: Espresso Shots

I only use 25 seconds as a rough guideline.
Some people ignore the time and go by the color and stop the shot when it "blonds"

Many people have suggested, as a way of learning what flavors come at what portion of the pull, that you line up 3 cups and capture the first 10 seconds in the first cup, then slide the second cup under the pour and capture the middle 10 seconds and then the third cup captures the last 10 seconds (or you could use four cups and let the shot run another 10 seconds).  Then you can taste and see which flavors are coming out early in the shot and which flavors are coming later in the shot and decide for yourself how long you want your shot to run for the taste you prefer.

I sometimes run a shot 35-40 seconds and enjoy them - sometimes I may grind too fine or dose a little too high for a particular coffee and it will pour really slowly at first and only really start pouring after 15-20 seconds - sometimes I will stop it and enjoy the really thick concentrated few drops - sometimes I let it run longer and it is usually still tasty. One of the reviews of the new VST baskets discussed that they were finding 35+ second shots were still tasting very good, presumably due to the superior flow through the coffee due to the basket.

It is all personal taste - but in general you start getting more bitters the longer you run - plus after 20-25 seconds you have extracted all of the good flavors you are likely to get, running any longer may get you more caffeine but usually will get you more burnt/bitter tastes.

Some people move their cup out of the way of the first few seconds of a pour and only capture the middle of the pour.

Whatever you decide tastes best to you.
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Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,685
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
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Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 9:45am
Subject: Re: Espresso Shots

I agree with Andy's reply, but would like to offer a couple alternatives on tasting methods to help you decide.

1) run a shot as normal, but without a cup.  Instead, take a small spoon and catch as many tiny samples as you can while the shot is running (catch-taste, catch-taste, catch-taste, etc).  If possible,  keep a stopwatch in your other hand, so that you can shut it off when you hit the end point (oh, yes, you will taste the endpoint, it'll be the one that goes "catch-yuk", rather than "catch-yum").  That way you'll know how long your shot ran at the dose and grind setting you used.  It would be helpful, if you had weighed the dose ahead of time, so you can repeat it.  It may also help to have a graduated shot glass, so you know your shot volumes.  You also should pay attention to the appearance of the shot so you have a visual cue as well.

Once you've gotten the hang of it, you can do the same for slightly finer grind and slightly coarser grind.  Then, move on to tasting whole shots side by side, while varying dose and grind fineness.  After you get things dialed in to the way you like them, you can start playing with temperature and pressure settings...

Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Joined: 13 Feb 2012
Posts: 168
Location: Saint Paul
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 11:49am
Subject: Re: Espresso Shots

Simply agreed w/ the above - use 25 as a starting point, but figure out what you like best. Your taste buds are unique and there is no such thing as the right amount of time. Depends on what you like from the coffee, how finely it's ground, how much volume you get over an amount of time, etc. And that changes bean to bean.

I tend to buy coffee from shops that roast their own, and sometimes I'll chat them up about how much volume / how much time when they brew it. Sometimes they love the question, and get into what they think is perfect and I'll try to duplicate it. Just as a starting point, I always have to play with it even more myself.

I write down notes of what beans I bought and where, what settings I used, how it turned out for time & volume, and what i thought of the taste. Then when I get that bean again I know where to start.

You really have to find your own definition of best.
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