I cant find an answer: Espresso pulls fast, is it because of brew pressure?

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alekostarn

#1: Post by alekostarn »

Hello to everyone,
This is my first time posting on this website.
I would like to think of my self as something above a beginner when it comes to espresso. However i have a question which might just be stupid but i cant seem to find an answer anywhere. I have a very basic and cheap coffee setup which includes a Rohnson R-987 espresso machine and a basic wire coffee distributor. Everything else needed to make espresso like tamp is stock and it came with the machine. I have been using it for over a year now and im very satisfied with the results. However as im learning more about espresso i am starting to see a lot of flaws i am having. I know i should probably get some good accessories like a tamp or even upgrade my machine but i am not able to currently.

Although i have a question which would make me really happy if i get them answered. Coffee extraction. As i have read a lot the coffee extraction time should be around 25-31 seconds and made in about 9 bars of pressure. Well when it comes to my espresso machine i dont even know what the pressure is. I've seen some machines which have like a clock indicator or something but mine doesn't, and that leads to my question. Is it because of the pressure that my espresso shot is being pulled so fast ? On average it only takes around 10 seconds for my double shot if espresso to finish pulling. I mean it doesn't taste bad but im just curious if i could improve it because 10 seconds and like 25 is a big difference.

I might just be saying nonsense because im comparing an 100$ espresso machine to several thousands of $ professional machines. Either way i hope i can get an answer. Thanks in advance.

Marmot

#2: Post by Marmot »

Hey, welcome to this forum!

You did not mention a grinder. Do you grind your coffee or do you use preground coffee?

I don't know your machine but from what I have seen on the internet it seems to be a typical machine for a pressurized portaflter. On these kind of machines the pressure is usually at about 15 bars which is ok for a pressurized portafilter but too high for a normal one.

To really improve your espresso you need a normal unpressurized portafilter, a good coffee grinder and in case of your machine a potentiometer to slow down the pump.

baldheadracing
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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

I think that you will find your answer within this video:
- bigger flat burr makes always better grinding result than smaller one - H. Lee

Nunas
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#4: Post by Nunas »

The specific pressure isn't all that important. Most espresso machines are designed to work at about 9 bar. Some are set higher than this. Some advertise 15 bar, but chances are that they are merely citing the pump pressure, not the brew pressure. On most inexpensive machines, the pressure is set by a non-adjustable valve. On better machines, that valve is adjustable. To make things even more complicated, some machines have a lot of tiny holes in the coffee basket (standard), while others, usually cheaper ones, have only one hole (pressurized). However, none of the above is the main way we regulate the flow of coffee out of the machine.

To regulate the flow of coffee, so that it takes the proper amount of time, we change the grind and/or the dose, not the pressure of the machine. We call this dialing in the grinder. This is why it is often said that an espresso machine should be paired with an "espresso-capable" grinder. Espresso capable, simply put, means that if you set the grind to the finest setting, it will be so fine that no coffee can come out of the machine, or maybe only a few dribbles. This is called choking the machine. To dial in the grinder, if the flow is too fast, simply grind a bit finer until you get the desired amount of espresso out of the machine in the desired amount of time. Once you achieve that, then you can fine tune the taste of the espresso by changing the dose (amount of grinds). If you up the dose, you'll have to grind a tiny bit coarser, and vice versa, to pull the coffee in the desired time.

You will often see written something like "espresso is produced using water at 95 degrees C, at 9 bar of pressure over a 20 to 30-second timeframe." Well, those are just guidelines. You'll also see that there is considerable debate over when to start the time; some say when you pull the lever (or push the switch), while others say it starts from when the espresso begins to come out. Frankly, it does not matter. What does matter, is that you like the result in the cup. So, rather than adhere to any specific constraints, play around with your machine and see what you like and don't like. Change one variable at a time, so you know what's happening.

If you have not already done so, I suggest you have a look at some of these articles How-Tos

DavidB

#5: Post by DavidB »

I agree with what previous posters said. Adjust your flow one one of two ways, by upping your dose (ie using more grounds) or by grinding them finer. Additionally, while most baristas try not to vary their tamping pressure from shot to shot, the plastic tamp that came with your machine probably isn't capable of producing the pressure needed to pack the grounds tightly enough. But this likely doesn't matter at this point because your machine uses a pressurized basket, which means that it creates the pressure needed to brew espresso by forcing hot water through a tiny hole at the bottom of the basket, instead of by relying on resistance from tightly packed grounds.

Take a look at this post of mine from a while back.

How to get good espresso from Cuisinart EM-100

The Cuisinart machine I was using at the time looks pretty similar to yours, and I believe you'd be able to pull a better shot doing something similar to what I did (the part numbers may be off, since I'm not sure if your portafilter is the same diameter as the Cuisinart's). I realize that you aren't able to invest in new equipment at this time, so start by upping your dose and see if that does what you want. Grind finer, or if you are buying pre-ground coffee, then look for a finer grind. If you still aren't satisfied, then a modest investment in a heavy tamp and single walled basket would be the next thing.

alekostarn (original poster)

#6: Post by alekostarn (original poster) »

Sorry for my lack of mentioning equipment. I used to grind my coffee but my coffee grinder broke so I have been left with the only choice to buy pre ground coffee. However I have actually found that there isn't too big of a difference between the coffee I would grind to the coffee I buy pre grounded. There definitely still is a difference but not to the point I'm gonna go out of my way to buy another grinder very soon. I also forgot to mention that I have a non pressurized portafilter and that's why I'm kinda worried about the pressure. If you need any more information feel free to ask me :)

alekostarn (original poster)

#7: Post by alekostarn (original poster) »

Thanks a lot, as of the moment my coffee grinder has broken but I'll try to get my hands on some very finely ground coffee.

GorchT

#8: Post by GorchT »

alekostarn wrote:Sorry for my lack of mentioning equipment. I used to grind my coffee but my coffee grinder broke so I have been left with the only choice to buy pre ground coffee. However I have actually found that there isn't too big of a difference between the coffee I would grind to the coffee I buy pre grounded. There definitely still is a difference but not to the point I'm gonna go out of my way to buy another grinder very soon. I also forgot to mention that I have a non pressurized portafilter and that's why I'm kinda worried about the pressure. If you need any more information feel free to ask me :)
Sorry to ask but: Are you sure that it's non pressurized? So did you buy the portafilter afterwards? Because all cheap espresso machines that I know always have pressurized ones. If it is really non pressurized, there is your problem. You can not get consistent results with preground coffee and a non pressurized basket. The powder is losing CO2 and therefore the resistance of the puck is changing over time and therefore the time is changing(I have to add losing CO2 is not the only thing changing in the powder, oxidation and other processes are also happening). Even with wholebeans and a single dose grinder I have to adjust my grind every two days atleast to be consistent.
I hope it is written understandable and I can help.

JRising

#9: Post by JRising »

alekostarn wrote:There definitely still is a difference but not to the point I'm gonna go out of my way to buy another grinder very soon.
I think you might find it more important to get a decent grinder rather than make any changes to the machine that only has to heat water and pump it.

Getting a pressurized portafilter may make the machine a bit more forgiving of preground coffee, it certainly makes it look better and probably taste better, but that's just changing the symptom, it isn't improving the situation.

alekostarn (original poster)

#10: Post by alekostarn (original poster) »

Yeah I'm 100% sure it's non pressurized. So do you suggest to go back to using my pressurized until I can grind my coffee?