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Driving me nuts
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Driving me nuts  
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FatBuck
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Joined: 16 Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Fernie BC Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 5:51am
Subject: Driving me nuts
 

Please tell me if I should change my approach.  I have a Bezzera BZ40DE espresso machine which has a volumetric doser.  I have a Mazzer Mini electronic B grinder which has a timed doser.  An Espro tamper set to 30lb. When I dial in this is what I do:

1) set the volume doser on the espresso machine so a double makes 60ml.
2) grind fresh beans (home roasted)
3) weigh out 14.0g into double basket
4) evenly distribute grinds
5) evenly tamp at 30lb, then lightly press and twist off the tamper to polish
6) time the shot and watch for blonding too early
7) adjust grind and repeat steps 2 to 6 until I get 60ml of good espresso
8) adjust grinder time doser to grind 14g

Very repeatable once dialled in.  Dialling in takes a long time and a lot of bad shots.

So I talked to my knowledgeable cousin, who has competed as a barista. He said my goal for 14g is an Italian thing, the North American shops overdose and just cut off the shot as soon as it blonds out.  He said I should expect an overloaded double (~18g) to produce ~1.5oz.

I expect his method would be easier to dial in.  Just fill basket to top, level and tamp.  Not taking weight of dose as a controlled variable, but just adjust grind to get a large enough volume in approximately the right time, as long as it doesn't blond out.

Am I killing myself going nuts trying to dial in with my method?
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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,090
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

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Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 6:29am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with your methods.  I personally do the "North American" method..  A standard double basket once filled, distributed should give you 14g-15g. Some overdose for taste and dialing in a different way.  Say your getting a 20 sec shot with 14g.. Up dosing to say 16 g of coffee will slow the shot.  Really the bottom line is taste so there isn't a "right" method here. If you like your method and it tastes good, stick with it. :)

Here's my method..

  1. Grind for 6 sec for a double
  2. Dose, nutate distribute, tamp twice and twirl the tamper to polish
  3. Lock and pour
  4. Enjoy

I gave up using measurements a long time ago. :)  I found this method for me allowed me to dial in within a few shots.
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,050
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 7:08am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

Dialing in your grinder is just the same process no matter what the dose is. It's just that each and every dose might need a different setting. However, the dose should be constant troughout the dialing-in. So ...

FatBuck Said:

Just fill basket to top, level and tamp.

Posted October 17, 2013 link

... isn't adequately accurate. Your dose will probably vary enough to make a difference in coarseness. Keep weighing your dose, or you'll despair.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,427
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
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Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 7:22am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

Generally speaking, lower doses require a finer grind and higher doses require a more coarse grind. They will (should) create different tastes. From there it is a matter of which you like.

There also is some confusion about what is "blonding." I watch for a lessening viscosity. A lighter-colored flow is not necessarily bad. One that turns to "beige water" is.

 
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FatBuck
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Joined: 16 Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Fernie BC Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 7:38am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

frcn Said:

There also is some confusion about what is "blonding." I watch for a lessening viscosity. A lighter-colored flow is not necessarily bad. One that turns to "beige water" is.

Posted October 17, 2013 link

I've wondered at what point the blonding actually happens.  I see thin light blond in the stream coming out of the portafilter spout after ~10 seconds.  Then near the 20-25 second mark the entire stream is pale, but not clear, still foamy.  If I let it go longer the stream becomes translucent around 30-35 seconds.
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frcn
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frcn
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Posts: 3,427
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Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 8:17am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

Since coffee is all about taste, use a sampling spoon and taste the stream. You can also line up a set of four or five shot glasses and pull five to seven seconds into each in succession. Sample them in reverse order since the heavier early part of the extraction will taint your palate and distort your subjectivity. matching your taste experiment to the visual appearance of the flow will help you decide where to stop the extraction. Also, depending on your taste preferences, the long shot (allowed to go past the "normal" stopping point) may help dilute the taste a little bit which may be more pleasing to you.

 
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
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Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 8:48am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

Usually the sweet part of the shot is at the bottom of the cup, while the middle part is rather bitter, and the crema is on top. That's why one should stir espresso, to get the sweetness to mix with the rest and a balanced taste.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,090
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

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Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 12:37pm
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

NobbyR Said:

Usually the sweet part of the shot is at the bottom of the cup, while the middle part is rather bitter, and the crema is on top. That's why one should stir espresso, to get the sweetness to mix with the rest and a balanced taste.

Posted October 17, 2013 link

Hmm.. Never thought of doing that. :)  To me blonding occurs at about 20 seconds if I'm being very sloppy preping my shot.  The stream will get very light, I'll notice the pour go watery with some small bubbles at the bottom of the stream.
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 8:36am
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

I think starting with the italian guideline is a good thing...then figure out whether you prefer higher dose shots or not...and whether you like a ristretto, normale or lungo at a particular dose...and with a particular bean/blend.

There are some very seasoned members here who use volumetric machines and some even make very good arguments for why they are perhaps a "best" option.  My opinion is they're best suited to cafes, or at the very least, high volume useage.  I think for people who pull a couple/few shots in a session they (in theory, as I've never used one) can be overkill.  Most home users are going to watch the entire shot anyways to look for blonding, thinning, whatever, and then stop the shot just before that happens.  SO, if you've got volumetric dosing on your machine, you'll just be cutting it early or if you're lucky it'll finish at the exact right time.  If you're unlucky, it'll stop before the shot is finished.  Of course, as I said, I haven't used a volumetric machine, so maybe it's less complicated than it seems to get it just right.  I would expect I'd have similar troubles as you in getting it perfect, and then to what...do that for three shots and have to re-adjust my grinder the next day to get the flow just right again for the volumetric dosing to be used as intended?  I suspect that after a while, I'd set the volume to more than I want, so that it never cuts short on me, but always stop it on demand...and maybe when having company over it would work to my benefiot if I had it set just right.

I don't "polish" my shots  I find that a second light tamp polishes just fine, and any stray particles can 1) be ignored, or 2) dumped off the prepared puck by flipping the pf upside down for a second.  Polishing the dry puck places it at risk for fracturing the inside of the puck...thereby promoting channeling.  Tamping the same pressure every time is important, but to me, 30 pounds is arbitrary.  why not 25 or 40?  No reason whatsoever, except that years ago, some baristi got into the habit of doing 30 and publicized it, and everyone fell in line.  I focus more on the feel of the tamp, and I stop when I feel the grounds are compressed into a puck.  If I had to guess, I'd estimate it's about 15-20 pounds pressure.  I used to do 30, so I know what that feels like, and what I do now is definitely lighter.  I used to own an Espro tamper.  I thought of it as a training tamper, but found it was extremely easy to tamp well beyond the click inadvetently.  In fact, I measured my tamp pressure while using it on a bathroom scale and got reading like 50-60 pounds.  Then I worked on it for a while and got it all sorted out to 30# with the Espro tamper...and then eventually ditched it in favor of feleing the puck, instead of a little strain gauge or whatever they use in the thing.  I figured, why shoot for feeling an arbitrary number, when I can just feel the puck changes?  Like eliminating the middle man for better service (the tamp) tailored to my customer (the puck).

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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FatBuck
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Joined: 16 Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Fernie BC Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 10:33pm
Subject: Re: Driving me nuts
 

emradguy Said:

My opinion is they're best suited to cafes, or at the very least, high volume useage.  I think for people who pull a couple/few shots in a session they (in theory, as I've never used one) can be overkill.

Posted October 18, 2013 link

emradguy Said:

I would expect I'd have similar troubles as you in getting it perfect, and then to what...do that for three shots and have to re-adjust my grinder the next day to get the flow just right again for the volumetric dosing to be used as intended

Posted October 18, 2013 link

I think you are spot on.  

You are totally correct, I dial all those things in and it only lasts perfect for a day, then it starts to drift.  So really having a volumetric doser would only work correctly for me if I used it for many many shots in a row.  The advantage at my house is that when all that stuff is dialed in, for the most part, my wife then has similar results as I do.  She doesn't know how to dial any of it in.

I'm OK for not using the volumetric doser now, I am coming to terms with it.  It took me almost 10 years to aquire top end espresso equipment.  I recently got the good stepless grinder.  My last grinder had steps, and I had always thought that was a major factor for why I couldn't dial it in perfectly.  I see that I was just being silly, trying to achieve automation, which obviously isn't easy to do.  If automation and espresso worked well then we would all just have fully automatic machines.  I know that I should be able to do better than those machines with some practice.

For the record, I didn't go out of my way to get the machine with a volumetric doser.  It just happened to be on sale for cheap the day I bought it.  There is a button for manual dose which runs continuous until I press it to stop.  Therefore I can use it similar to non-volumetric doser versions.

Today I received my naked portafilter in the mail.  It has a larger basket so I gave it a triple dose and just pulled the shot until it looked "done" (which is something I need to really figure out).  The best part it tasted pretty good.

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