Problems Grinding Decaf For Espresso

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
User avatar
JB90068
Supporter ♡

#1: Post by JB90068 »

Just bought my first pound of medium roast decaf beans from my favorite local roaster a few days ago. It looks very similar in color and weight to the caffeinated roast that I always buy from them. Based on that, I weighed out 18 gr and single dosed it through my grinder looking for a 1:2 ratio. Not sure why but I changed my grinder a full click finer (one full click = 4 micro clicks) from what I normally have it set for the caffeinated roast. I pulled a 36 gr shot in 16 seconds vs 29 sec normally. My flow control profile was about 1/2 the rate that I normally do. I also noticed a bit of channeling. Seems to me that I may have to go finer by at least one if not closer to two full clicks?

Since I've never worked with decaf, is it normal for it to be ground finer?
Head of lifestyle maintenance.

yertchuk
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by yertchuk »

In my limited experience, you do have to grind finer for decaf. In my case, the Niche setting is 14 for Equator decaf, and anything from 17 to 20 for other medium roast beans

Urnex: 100% dedicated focus on coffee and tea cleaning
Sponsored by Urnex
dsc106

#3: Post by dsc106 »

On my niche I grind about 5-6 notches fiber for decaf. Normal due to the way the decaf process changes the structure of the bean.

cgibsong002

#4: Post by cgibsong002 »

Do you find you're looking for different extraction times on decaf, or simply finer grind but same target timing?

michang5

#5: Post by michang5 »

Thanks to one redditor and a few commenters, I've recently learned that decaf beans in general can be a very different beast from full caff. And even within decaf, the different processing methods will affect your brewing.

I recently switched the decaf beans in the half caff blend I make for my wife. Just 9g of new decaf beans from a different local roastery completely threw off my recipe and machine's pressure, and I've burned through much of it trying to get to my normal 18g/36g in 25-35 seconds with 9 bars.

Following suggestions, I finally dialed in - dose more (19g), stop early (32g) and expect faster pulls (~25 sec).

realdoctor

#6: Post by realdoctor »

Decaf beans vary a great deal. Fresh roasted decafs sometimes require more coarse grind settings than their caffeinated cousins. The reason a lot of decaf requires finer grind settings is that decaf goes stale very, very fast. Once it begins to stale, you need to grind finer and dose more heavily just as you would with any other coffee going stale.

Check the roast date for your beans carefully. You really want decaf roasted within a week if you are buying from a US specialty roaster. If they are 2-3 weeks old, the decaf probably will be beginning to go stale. If you are buying packaged decaf from an Italian roaster, get a relatively recent batch.

When you get decaf home, if you have a quantity larger than 250gm (or 8 oz), immediately rebag it in smaller coffee bags and freeze it. This is especially important with Italian import beans. You can buy bags for home roasters from Sweet Marias or other sources and use them this way. Take coffee out of the bags as you use it and keep the remainder frozen.

I realize that freezing coffee is a subject of contention at H-B. I was converted by buying coffee in person from Vivace in Seattle. I was handed a sealed bag from the freezer. It had not even fully de-gassed before it was frozen; when it thawed it degassed extensively. The quality of the coffee was just as if it had been recently roasted. For the last 15 years, I have been freezing beans (decaf and otherwise) and I swear by it. I would never try to keep decaf unfrozen.

Jim

User avatar
JB90068 (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#7: Post by JB90068 (original poster) »

realdoctor wrote:
I realize that freezing coffee is a subject of contention at H-B. I was converted by buying coffee in person from Vivace in Seattle. I was handed a sealed bag from the freezer. It had not even fully de-gassed before it was frozen; when it thawed it degassed extensively. The quality of the coffee was just as if it had been recently roasted. For the last 15 years, I have been freezing beans (decaf and otherwise) and I swear by it. I would never try to keep decaf unfrozen.

Jim
Thanks Jim for this info, this is helpful. I froze 8 oz of it but haven't used any from the freezer. The rest I dosed out into bean vaults with one way valves. So far so good. I'm finding there is about 1 1/2 stops (15 clicks) finer difference for the decaf setting on my EG-1.

Still experimenting with it though...
Head of lifestyle maintenance.

Decent Espresso: espresso equipment for serious baristas
Sponsored by Decent Espresso
braxtonjens

#8: Post by braxtonjens »

Swp beans have less available solids/ extractable goodness.
Typically I'll pull a slightly shorter shot and I'll have to grind a bit coarser. I like shots from SWP beans a little compact like a "ristretto".

Decaf requires learning, just as the dialing in process for regular.
Spend some time with decaf and you'll start to learn how it works just like dialing in regular beans.
“Coffee is always a good idea”
LMWDP #617