When is a shot actually "blonde"?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by Thatchmo »

I know this sounds stupid or obvious, but after slowly improving my technique, equipment, beans etc....I am still not sure: What constitutes enough blonde to stop the pour? I know when it's all a light blonde yellow, it's too late....It's more a factor of the tiger striping changing it's colors over time...and how long to keep it going while it's still "stripey" but also becoming "blonder"?

A typical pour starts with rich, dark, motor oil like, red brown syrup...then moves to very dark ribbons against a lighter caramel stripe...this can go from around the 8 to 12 second mark all the way to 35 to 45 seconds...But at some point along the way the lighter caramel changes to a more yellow color and the darker striping is now a medium toned caramel color....So it's still striped, not all the way "blonde", but the stripes have gotten "lighter", and the overall color is more blonde...Very often at this point it's 30 to 40 seconds into the pour, with about 1.5 oz of shot in the glass...

Should I continue until all striping is gone? I usually don't, figuring the shot will have better flavor...

I was just curious...when do others consider it time to stop the pour?


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#2: Post by HB »

You tell me:

«missing video»
From When did this espresso extraction go blond?
Dan Kehn

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#3: Post by AndyS »

Thatchmo wrote:What constitutes enough blonde to stop the pour?
Kirk, "enough blondeness" varies with the coffee and with your taste. There's no way anyone can or should tell you what your tastebuds prefer.

If you want visual aids, my original take on the subject is here
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

Thatchmo (original poster)

#4: Post by Thatchmo (original poster) »

Well if I could tell you that, I wouldn't have posted the question would I??? :wink:

I have seen this video, and though it's hard to see the colors exactly I would have guessed a bit before G flashed on the screen....

Do I win???

But seriously folks, I am curious...When would most consider it blonde?

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#5: Post by HB »

As a starting point and assuming you're using a bottomless portafilter, I recommend the end of the "pucker" plus five seconds, which is about the time that the stream transitions from chestnut striping to translucent blonde. In the video above, the pucker ends around "E".
Dan Kehn

Thatchmo (original poster)

#6: Post by Thatchmo (original poster) »


Thanks for the visual aids!!!! :lol:

And the link...I guess I might try testing the later part of the pour in a second glass...just to see what flavors are being produced later in the shot...Maybe blonde #3 can come over and help??


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Team HB

#7: Post by another_jim »

Here's the simplest trick: When the vampire bites, stop.

Watch where the flow enters the crema. It will lighten gradually, but at some point it will show distinct pale spot (the "vampire's bite" if you use a double spout). This is the absolute maximum you want to run the shot.

Heather Perry is one of the best baristas on the planet, and recommends going this far. For most coffees and shot making drills, this level of blonding will produce a slightly dulled shot, and you would be bettr off cutting earlier. But it's very easy to find out when the vampire bites, and work back from there.
Jim Schulman

Thatchmo (original poster)

#8: Post by Thatchmo (original poster) »

Ah!!! The "pucker" so that's what that little pucker is called!!!

I guess that's what denotes the thinning of the pour....


Thatchmo (original poster)

#9: Post by Thatchmo (original poster) »

First the "pucker", now the "Vampire bite"....all this talk about blondes...

Are we still on HB???

Seriously, thanks Dan and Jim for the new info! I shall now look for the "pucker" and the "vampire bite" before I drink the elixir of life!! CUE CREEPY ORGAN MUSIC!!!! :twisted:



#10: Post by Gus »

I am inclined to side with Dan with regards to shortly after the cone puckers. I find that lately I look more at the cone and the flow of the extraction during the pucker than I do the actual color. As the cone puckers the flow seems to speed up and then I cut the shot. Then I smell and taste the shot. If I do not notice anything horribly wrong during the shot and the taste is good I figure I did a good job and smile. If the taste is little off I usually don't make any changes and chalk it up to personal inconsistency and try harder next time. If it's a facemaker I determine if it is a bitter facemaker or a sour facemaker then consider how the shot looked how long it took. I rarely feel like I ruin a shot from too much blonding at the end as much as from intra shot channeling. For instance the color can be good throughout the shot but if the cone does not develop, or collapses prematurely I know it has channeled and it will likely be a stinker no matter what color it is when I cut the shot.


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