DeanOK Senior Member Joined: 24 Sep 2012 Posts: 649 Location: OK Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B Grinder: Vario W
Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013, 6:08am Subject: Getting the perfect shot by weighing yield
I will start by saying that some of the best advice (for me) to improve shot consistency has come from Coffeenoobie. Thank you Helen! Her advice was to measure the shot yield with a scale.
I now know where I need to be on shot yield. I use 18 grams of coffee and I shoot for between 30 and 32 grams of espresso in about 28 seconds from pump start with Redbird Blue Jag. If I hit this mark, I get a pretty good tasting shot. If I hit close to this yield the taste will vary a bit, but I don't have to pour them down the drain. I have tried all of the methods discussed in the forum such as watching for blonding, and every other tip, and measuring the shot yield works best for me .... but I still do have one issue.
Even though I know where I want to be, I still have a heck of time getting the grind and tamp consistent enough to hit the mark. I can make one shot that is near perfect, turn around 2 minutes later and use the same grind and tamping technique and I get a different flow rate. Sometimes the yield will be over or under by 10 grams.... which is enough to make the shot bad. If the shot is running long, I will watch for blonding and shut the machine off in less that the 28 second "ideal shot time" and I usually get a drinkable shot, but if the shot is short, there is not much of a way to save it.
Is anyone else monitoring their shots this way? Is this kind of variance normal or do I still need to improve my distribution and tamping?
germantownrob Senior Member Joined: 2 Dec 2007 Posts: 2,140 Location: Philadelphia Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Duetto 3, A Dead Oscar Grinder: Vario-W, Preciso w/Esatto,... Drip: Brazen Roaster: Diedrich IR-1, HT B
Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013, 7:49am Subject: Re: Getting the perfect shot by weighing yeild
Equipment can be a cause if something is wrong with it. Vibe pumps can ramp to pressure slightly different but if working fine it shouldn't result in to much variation. The grinder can be acting up, I had one Vario who's motor was failing and would spin at various speeds, this created all sorts of inconsistencies. The Vario-W tends to not over shoot the set weight but will often under dose by .5g, this is enough to make some flow change, I will hit the start button when it finishes grinding, it will blip on for a moment and flash the actual weight before going back to the set weight. I also tare the basket every few grinds.
I have measured plenty of shots, it really helped me get consistent results. I have had many 45sec slow shots that where plenty tasty, especially for milk drinks, fast shots are always thin and watery to me but can still be plenty drinkable, I see time as a reference only.
Shot prep is where I think 90% of all problems come from. The Vario produces very easy to work with grinds, I dump, tap, distribut evenly usually moving any extra gring over the rim to the center, tamp straight down level, and lock and load. While the mantra of tamping being the least important part is kinda BS, tamp out of level there is a problem, tamp with 15lbs and then 20lbs then 30lbs and you can see for yourself flow will change, tamping is only unimportant when you already tamp level and with a consistent pressure. There are times I change tamp pressure, when I switch beans and the grind is to fine I will tamp lighter to try and save the shot, if it is a little coarse I will tamp harder, then make grind adjustments to go back to my routine.
Timing does nothing to tell use what is happening with the shot and volume can be way off with varying amounts of crema. Most of my fresh roast shots are 75-90% crema when first pulled, 2oz can settle out to 1oz +/- a lot. Weighing the yield is a great tool, it doesn't make anything taste any better, that is still up to the operator.
JimOD Senior Member Joined: 24 Jun 2012 Posts: 31 Location: Orange, CA Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Saeco Aroma Non Pressurized Grinder: Baratza Preciso with Esatto Drip: Bunn NHBX-B
Posted Fri Mar 15, 2013, 12:09pm Subject: Re: Getting the perfect shot by weighing yield
I think my espresso machine and grinder could be described as the minimally accepted quality needed to pull a decent espresso. I could not pull consistent tasty shots at all until I began weighing yield. Weighing really allowed me to dial it in, and now my espresso is wonderful. Myself, and friends and family can no longer order espresso at restaurants or starbucks because we now have a sense for what properly prepared espresso should taste like.
So at least for the bottom rung of the beginner equipment, with all the inconsistencies inherent in such equipment, I think measuring yield is absolutely necessary.
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