Asking for a critique

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Arminho

Postby Arminho » Jan 08, 2019, 7:24 pm

Hi guys,

I have a couple of questions and am looking for honest feedback.
Set up: Rocket R58, Nuova Simonelli G60 Grinder, Julius Meinl Cafe Expert Espresso Spezial beans. I dose singles at 8 grams (4sec), and 16 grams(8 sec) for my doubles. Confirmed with a scale. Just started with a semi-auto a few months ago, but I am noticing a couple of things...

1) My pucks are never dry. Should they be?
2) My pucks the majority of the time stick to the screen. I backflush my machine after each session with the blind basket.
3) I always have grounds on the side of the basket after tamping, and usually just use my finger to knock them loose, then re-tamp. Is there a better way? Tapping the portafilter doesn't seem to dislodge them.
4) Once I dial it in to extract between 20-30 seconds, I find my shots being just off, whether bitter or sour. And I have a hard time telling the difference too.

I have posted a few pictures/videos of my crema, my tamping, and overall extraction from afar. Can someone critique and let me know what to start changing? I'm trying to keep my beans consistent. Haven't changed any factory temperature settings on the R58.

Video of entire process found here:

Video of extraction found here:


Pics can be found herehttps://imgur.com/a/dRGJpOV

I'd appreciate any insight.

Armin

shanewiebeftr

Postby shanewiebeftr » Jan 08, 2019, 7:49 pm

Either your fingers are super tough or your portafilter was cold. I can never hold mine close to the basket like that after I take it out of the machine. Leave it in and let your machine warm up for at least 30 mins. You'll get massive heat loss when the water hits a cold pf. Get a cheap scale and measure input and output instead of eyeballing shot volume. Go for 2:1 to start. Maybe grind finer. First drops were pretty quick.

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Chert

Postby Chert » Jan 08, 2019, 8:14 pm

Related to 1)
Lever espresso machines follow the water path with some air through the puck. Pucks are generally nice and dry. This is not the case for pump machines. I don't know if that is a generalization that is true or just true of 4 of the 5 pump machines I have used: 2 Conti, 2 Gaggia. The Olympia Maximatic did have fairly dry pucks.

Bret

Postby Bret » Jan 08, 2019, 8:55 pm

The shot itself seems a bit thin and fast. That could be due to older beans, but assuming you have fresh beans, I would say to grind finer so that the shot pulls thicker and a bit slower. Don't worry if you need to a 40+ second pull to get a good tasting shot.

Assuming fresh beans, the other factor here is likely puck prep. If you can obtain a bottomless portafilter, diagnosing any channeling, level tamp, distribution issues will be easier as you can see it happening. A spouted portafilter hides a lot of things, both good and bad things, and you can't see if you have made an improvement or not.

Aside from my grinder, the three things that most improved my results are (in order of benefit):

    1) bottomless portafilter -- I almost never use a spouted one any more
    2) self-leveling tamper (I use the Kafatek LevTamp)
    3) Londinium WDT distribution tool (none of the other approaches ever worked consistently for me, but this one works every time

I also agree that the best approach is not to measure volume, but to get a simple scale from amazon and pull your shot for specific output weights. This means you'll have a consistent recipe, and you can change that weight target consistently to see the effect on taste. Plus, as your shot gets thicker, more crema, you will still be able to match your recipe (judging volume when crema is thicker is not so easy)

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Jake_G
Team HB

Postby Jake_G » Jan 08, 2019, 9:23 pm

Hey Armin,

Thanks for sharing your process and for your questions!

Here's my honest feedback :P

Arminho wrote:I dose singles at 8 grams (4sec), and 16 grams(8 sec) for my doubles. Confirmed with a scale. Just started with a semi-auto a few months ago, but I am noticing a couple of things...

1) My pucks are never dry. Should they be?
2) My pucks the majority of the time stick to the screen. I backflush my machine after each session with the blind basket.

Ok, 1 and 2 are related to a relatively small double shot dose relative to your basket size. I can see loads of headspace clearance in your prepped basket in the video by how far down below the ridge your tamped puck sits in the basket. Excess headspace makes for wetter pucks and lightweight pucks are more likely to be sucked up against the shower screen when you stop the shot than a heavier puck. Search for the nickel test to set your dose correctly for a given machine/basket combination. That should resolve both of these issues.

Arminho wrote:3) I always have grounds on the side of the basket after tamping, and usually just use my finger to knock them loose, then re-tamp. Is there a better way? Tapping the portafilter doesn't seem to dislodge them.

For this, you either need a larger tamper or you need to employ a "North, South, East, West" tamping technique, or don't worry about it. :wink: I employ the NSEW, technique and follow up with NW, NE, SE, SW to grab all 8 "corners" of the basket. While I don't think it's enough to really worry about, remember that loose grounds above means untamped grounds below... Also, you're putting a LOT of effort into your tamp. It's not hurting anything, but you would get just as good of results just using your fingertips pressing on the head of the tamper rather than pushing your weight straight through your palm. You have better control that way, too. Just press down until the grounds stop compacting and you're good to go. Using your fingertips allows you to gauge how level your tamp is by feeling how the tamper fits into the basket, as well.

Arminho wrote:4) Once I dial it in to extract between 20-30 seconds, I find my shots being just off, whether bitter or sour. And I have a hard time telling the difference too.

Have you weighed your shots? They look like 50-60g pours just from looking at the volume vs the amount of crema in the shot. With your 16g doses, you should be seeing a 30-34g yield. With loads of crema, this can be up to a 2Oz shot, but when the crema is thin, 2Oz gives you a very under-extracted shot and won't taste too grand.

One other thing I noticed in your workflow was a lack of a flush of any kind. While you don't need a big flush with your machine, a brief flush of 2 seconds or so is a good practice to warm the bell of the group and stabilize your brew temperature. As for not knowing bitter or sour, don't feel bad! Once you get shots "behaving" in terms of input/output consistency, raise the temperature, a lot, and try some shots. Taste them. Then lower the temp, also a lot, and taste a few shots there. Heck. Taste many shots at both much hotter temps and much cooler cooler temps. Try and identify which you prefer and why. Then try lots of shots that only take 23 seconds. Lots that take 40. Find out what kind of grind gives you shots that you prefer in terms of flavor.

Cheers!

- Jake

Arminho

Postby Arminho » Jan 08, 2019, 10:52 pm

Thank you for the advice! It sounds like the general consensus is that I am underdosing and possibly underextracting based on comments.
Is my logic correct here? -> I will try to increase dose tomorrow morning to perhaps 18 or 20 grams, and see if I can get a 36-40g yield. If my yield in 25-30 seconds is more than 36-40g, then I'll know I need to grind finer.

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Jake_G
Team HB

Postby Jake_G » replying to Arminho » Jan 08, 2019, 11:16 pm

Yes, but I would recommend in general to stop the shot when it hits the target weight rather than run the shot for a target time. The resulting beverage will be more consistent doing it this way.

Basically, a fast espresso that is 1:2 ratio is more like a slow espresso that is 1:2 ratio than two similarly ground beverages both pulled 30 seconds would be, if that makes sense. Aka, a 23 second and a 37 second 1:2 beverage is still a normale, but pulling the same 23 second shot for 30 seconds is now a lungo shot and will be watery and thin, while the same 37 second shot cut short to 30 seconds is now in ristretto territory. If neither the ristretto nor the lungo are particularly good, you will be lost on what to do since they are fundamentally different beverages.

However, both the long and short normale shots will similar enough that you should be able to identify what it is about each that you do or don't prefer. Good, bad or indifferent, these two beverages will be the same in their essence.

Cheers!

- Jake

Arminho

Postby Arminho » Jan 09, 2019, 8:35 am

Here's an update:

1st attempt this morning with 19g ground yielded 36g, great crema in my white cup but tasted too fruity/sour. Still had a wet puck.
https://i.imgur.com/oCXuuMO.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/ELHNLrt.jpg

This is what my tamping looked like this morning with 19 grams:
https://i.imgur.com/jBd4XSd.jpg

2nd try yielded a dry puck. I had to use two shot glasses because my wife's kitchen scale is too bulky and I had to improvise. Wound up combining the shots into one at the end and had the best tasting shot so far. Slightly fruity but not acidic or bitter IMO. Crema didn't look as good. 19g ground yielded 38g. Video of this pull included:


Dry puck:
https://i.imgur.com/pInBB6W.jpg

Crema:
https://i.imgur.com/TnDbxis.jpg

Let me know your thoughts. I haven't adjusted grind.

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Jake_G
Team HB

Postby Jake_G » Jan 09, 2019, 9:03 am

Was there a difference in your prep between the two shots?

If not, it's possible the difference between the two was simply that the first shot had some stale grinds from yesterday in the chute between the burrs and the funnel. If the taste was ok, no big deal. Issues like this generally are either absorbed into a milk drink, compensated for with an extra gram crammed into the first shot or purging a few grams from the grinder before the morning's first shot. My solution has been single-dosing as the workflow works better for me and the results are super-consistent. The basket prep looks pretty good to me if that were my machine, but I don't know how much headspace your E61 group has. The dry puck post-shot doesn't look like like it has any impression on it at all, so I don't think you've met the limit for your basket yet, but it's hard to tell from looking at a spent puck...

That shot looked to me like it went blond a bit early. My suggestion would be to try 18g and grind finger to get roughly the same shot time, because the flow looks much better. Alternatively, you can leave everything alone and just bump the PID up a few degrees and see if the flavor is more to your liking. I actually prefer the fruity notes and to me a fantastic shot will be sweet, but have lots of body with a quality I can't help but call juicy. These are the shots that leave me with a half-hour finish that reminds me of why I'm such a nut. Comfort blends that are all nuts and chocolate can be enjoyable, too, but I'm usually after that juicy burst of flavor to really be satisfied with a shot. Sometimes I can dial it in, other times, it's just not in the beans. Also, it's not the same as an under-extracted or under-temp sourness that is pretty universally unpleasant. So try a few more shots just like this and see if the fruity thing is your jam, or if you want to dial it away. Either way, it looks like that shot gave you all the good stuff within the first 30 seconds and then just diluted the shot from there. Tighter grind alone would give you a slower shot. Dropping the dose a bit with a tighter grind would likely get you to where in 30 seconds, you have your desired output and the shot is thicker and fuller with more flavor and sweetness.

Cheers!

- Jake

RyanJE

Postby RyanJE » Jan 09, 2019, 9:37 am

Tamp once straight down. Then, dont knock the portafilter at all or twist the tamper while pressing down. A quick twist is ok with just the weight of the tamper if necessary but generally it just adds another variable thats near impossible for a human to repeat.

Also, e61 machines generally need AT LEAST 45 minutes to heat up. Most are done and ready to go by about 50 minutes..
I drink two shots before I drink two shots, then I drink two more....