Adjusting final espresso weight

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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#1: Post by HotLava »

Hi all

I'm trying to decrease my final weight of a double espresso. I'm pulling a 1:3.5 ratio. I used 16 grams of coffee and final weight was 56g. Brew time was 30-35 seconds. Coffee is about 2 weeks off of roast. It tastes well balanced. I think I am at as fine of a grind as my machine will handle. I can stop the water early but then I won't have 2 oz. I can use more coffee. Or I can loosen up the grind.

It would seem to me that the more coffee I use the more soluble material will be in the end product. Will this increase or decrease the weight?

I'm new to using brew ratios and weight and must admit it's confusing still after reading up on the forum.


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#2: Post by Nunas »

As you've figured out, the brew ratio is simply the weight of the liquid espresso produced by a given amount of dry coffee. If it's produced under pressure, it's espresso. It is generally accepted that a brew ratio of a normale (regular espresso) is between 1:1 and 1:3. Less coffee than that would be an espresso ristretto and more than that would be an espresso lungo. So, technically, your espressos are lungos. Generally, the more water the more bitter, although there are other variables involved. Notice that none of this has anything to do with the time of the shot or the amount of coffee, which are separate variables. You can get a good discussion going among espresso aficionados by saying this :) Some maintain that the lungo should be produced by pulling the shot over a longer time, as high as 60-seconds. Others maintain that a shot is a shot and regardless of whether it's a ristretto, normale or lungo the time should be about 20 to 30 seconds. Frankly, the bottom line is whether you like it. As for soluble material vs weight, the amount of coffee has little bearing. Most of the shot is water. What you will notice is a difference in viscosity or mouthfeel. The higher the ratio, the thinner the brew and the less mouthfeel. There are some really good articles here on H-B that you should study. Then, mess with each of the variables one at a time until you find what you like.

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#3: Post by Peppersass »

Let's start with this: Why do you want to reduce the weight of the beverage?

The brew ratio is going to affect two things: strength of the coffee and volume in the cup. It sounds like you want to reduce the strength while keeping the volume the same, roughly two ounces. The problem is that measuring volume is tricky with espresso due to the height of the crema. That's why most of us here use weight to measure shots, not volume.

The way to reduce strength is to reduce the brew ratio. The easiest way to do that is to pull the shot longer. That's what they do in Italy to pull Lungo (or shorter for Ristetto.) They adjust the shot time because baristas don't have time to adjust the grind so that the shot time remains at 20-30 seconds. So in Italian cafes (and probably cafes elsewhere), the discussion about how to make a "genuine" Lungo or Ristretto isn't relevant.

Of course, pulling the shot longer will reduce the strength, but will also increase the volume. So the question is, Why don't you want the volume to increase?

If you really must have 2 oz at a reduced strength, you may be able to get close to your target volume by pulling into a small espresso measuring cup like this. What you want to do is reduce the weight of dry coffee while pulling the same volume. The beverage weight will tell you the brew ratio. However, once the crema subsides you may find that the volume is not what you measured initially, and it could be different for a Lungo, Normale or Ristretto. Also, the resulting taste may or may not be what you desire.

Weighing the coffee and the beverage, and tasting the result, is the best way to adjust brew ratio. Volume isn't reliable and it's not particularly important in the scheme of things. I suppose it's true that with more or less volume you would add less or more milk for a cappuccino, but the taste will be more influenced by the strength of the coffee than its volume.

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#4: Post by HotLava »

I just picked up a new machine and was trying to dial it in. There was another variable. I had a new bag of intelligentsia black cat organic for about 4 weeks in my fridge. The 17 gram in 60g out shots with brew time 30 seconds were sour as he'll. The beans did not smell as good and the crema was thin compared to previous bags. Likely beans were old.

Today I opened a bag roasted on 2/4 from a local roaster. I went to a finer grind with 16 grams in 56 grams out. Big difference in mouth feel and balance. My machine definitely was working hard to press out the espresso. It was an ok shot.

I'm thinking on backing off on the grind and trying again. I usually don't care about ratios only if it's a good enjoyable shot with a good crema that lasts more than 2 sips.

I welcome all your advice

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#5: Post by HotLava »

I guess I'm trying to find the formula for the "best shot" my machine is capable of. I brewed beer for many years and part of the process is the fine tuning and obsession for details to try and improve the end product.


#6: Post by cgibsong002 »

Maybe i misread, but just clarifying if not. Don't worry about volume. 2 oz doesn't mean anything. Just go by weight and figure out the ratio you're looking for and adjust the grind based on that. There wouldn't be any point to picking a volume and adjusting weight to match, you'll never get anywhere.

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#7: Post by HotLava »

I think if I upped my dose to 18g and made the grind more coarse, I should be able to extract more at a faster brew time. I'm trying to get to 1:1.5. The difficult part is I usually have one chance per day to get it right be sure if I drink several doubles a day I won't sleep. I try to stick to one a day. :shock:

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#8: Post by MatGreiner »

Forgive me if I'm missing the point, but it looks to me like the OP is presuming that the long ratio (originally 1:3.5) and high shot volume are desirable, which may be a point of misunderstanding.

It would be more common here to grind finer and tighten the ratio. A 16g dose of ground espresso might typically take 25-35 sec to produce 32g of beverage as a 1:2 ratio. Quibbling aside, that's a basic espresso formula. If it goes to 60g+ in 30 seconds, the first step would be to grind more finely so the flow is slowed, thus producing less beverage (~30g) in the same amount of time with the same amount of coffee grounds.

Do pick one dose weight and stick with it until you are in better control of your machine. Anywhere between 16 and 18.5g will be normal enough to get good shots. Higher doses may be better for lighter roasts, but everything is more demanding and finicky in that realm. Better grinder, better pick preparation, temp control, preinfusion, all of that becomes more important to get a decent shot. That makes for a troubled consistency and a difficult learning environment.


#9: Post by Maak »

IMO Aiming for a number is pointless unless you know or have reason to believe that you'll get the flavour profile you want with that.

I mentioned this in another thread but try the trick where you use several cups and catch the pour in 5 second amounts, timed from when the first drop hits the first cup. Of course this assumes a reasonable pour without channeling etc.

You might be surprised what part of the pour you like. I reduced my yield to 28g giving a 1:1.4 ratio.. I would do this experiment every time I change the dose of a recipe.


#10: Post by Rustic39 »

Hmmm, this "trick" is interesting? Would like to hear more details. Suppose the third cup is terrific but the others are off...what then? And how is this useful in adjusting a new coffee?