How much coffee do you go through when dialing espresso in?

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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#1: Post by csepulv »

From What is wow'ing you?, I saw the following comment:
Balthazar_B wrote:You pretty much need about 1 lb to dial in a new coffee. And if it's a good coffee and you've done it right, you'll go through it and the next pound really fast. :P
I was a little surprised to read this. At let's say 18g a shot, that is 25 shots and that struck me as a lot of shots to go through to dial-in.

At times I wonder if I am spending too little time (and coffee) dialing in a new coffee, so I am wondering, what are people's experiences with the amount of coffee/number of shots you go through to dial-in a new coffee? Does it vary by SO vs. blend, one origin vs. another, change in roasters? Do you have typical ranges or does it vary a lot?

Of course I imagine it will vary by coffee (and of course can by equipment), but I am curious if there are any trends, even if only anecdotal.


#2: Post by cmin »

Just a couple shots, same for friends with way higher end/$$$ equipment then mine. Sure there are those tricky ones that take longer but I've never come close to a lb dialing in. Only coffee I could not get dialed in to my liking was blackcat, went through 5lbs of playing with dose/grind/temps and just wouldn't work, didn't like it at their shops so I guess that blend just isn't for me.

I have two different Indonesian S.Os right now and their pretty close to same settings for each. But both are about two notches tighter on macro vs blend I was using right before.

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#3: Post by Balthazar_B »

I generally go through at least a quarter pound unless I'm very lucky. For one thing, I use different baskets for milk vs. straight espresso, and varying the grind to get things right with them all takes some tweaking. I have an HX machine, so there is temperature surfing to get that variable approximately right. A few of the shots invariably end up in the sink before I'm at an acceptable point. If I used 12 oz packages, I'd be close enough to the end of a bag before I'd have to kick off another round of dialing in with the next coffee in the queue.
- John

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#4: Post by aecletec »

I'm always tweaking something, so; all of it?


#5: Post by brianl »

Usually get good shots after the first one. My grinder rarely needs adjusting, even among different beans, so it's pretty easy.

I am always fine tuning though

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csepulv (original poster)

#6: Post by csepulv (original poster) replying to brianl »

Are you referring to the HG-One or Vario?

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#7: Post by SpromoSapiens »

It varies for me but I tend to "fine tune" continually as well. Even when I've nailed a shot one day, I may tweak something later just for curiosity. Plus as days off roast go by, adjustments might need to be made. "Dialed In" is a moving target AFAIC. As far as just getting it into the zone of a desired volume or weight within a desired time or using a desired dose, just for the sake of a baseline for getting started --- no more than 3 or 4 shots at the most. Kinda depends on how cooperative the Vario is feeling that day. But as for pulling really great shots that I think best balance a representation of the roaster's vision and my tastes --- I've had a few 12oz bags of Four Barrel's Friendo Blendo and frankly never felt like I had it really dialed in. Other blends, meanwhile, might reach the sweet spot in 2.

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#8: Post by Bob_McBob »

I make one or two minor adjustments when I switch to a new bag, but that's about it.

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csepulv (original poster)

#9: Post by csepulv (original poster) »

As I read the various responses, I realize "dialed in" may mean different things to different people. For myself, I've defined "dialing in" as getting to a reasonably balanced/good tasting shot within reasonable shot parameters such as timing, brew ratios, etc.

After that, any tweaks I make I've consider to be part of exploring the coffee and that can be unbounded. For example, I have a few favorite coffees that I continue to experiment with each bag I buy.

I guess the term "dialing in" is so common I've never thought too precisely about exactly what that means. While I define it as a baseline for exploration, i.e. the parameters for the first good shot (as this baseline is somewhat arbitrary), others may consider it to be akin to the optimal they can achieve for a given coffee. Hmmm...Or am I confusing myself and missing that there is a consistent, base definition of "dialed in"?

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#10: Post by Marshall »

One reason I mostly stick to one blend (the other is that I like it a lot).
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