Can't get espresso ratio - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#11: Post by Jeff »

The "official" Italian standard is or at least once was weight to volume. That's mainly marketing and around Italian-style roasts.

Most people here talk weight to weight. A 1:2 ratio would be 18 g of grinds to 36 g of beverage, or 17:34, ...

Until you're able to get some better beans, are the ones you've got shiny or oily? If so, there may be a lot of bitterness in them from the roasting process.


#12: Post by Quirquincho »

BaristaBro wrote: I'll keep experimenting, e.g. I sometimes see that the coffee is coming from the sides (occasionally running across the PF handle even), but I thank you for the comment on freshness. Even slightly better, but still subpar quality beans resulted in much better shot experience.
Couple of questions for you.

First, when you say you see coffee from the sides, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean that water is dripping from the top of the portafilter, over the basket lip? If so, you might need to replace your group gasket as you're not getting a seal.

Second, how are you choosing your dose? That your basket fits 22g of coffee doesn't necessarily mean that it is an appropriate amount for your basket. Are you seeing a screen or bolt imprint in the puck after brewing? Is it difficult to insert or remove the portafilter? All these could be signs of overfilling the basket and can affect your shot.

BaristaBro (original poster)

#13: Post by BaristaBro (original poster) »

Thank you for your responses! Sorry for the late reply, had a busy weekend and couldn't find the time.

@Jeff the beans don't appear to be shiny or very oily. They're brownish, however I noticed the package says they can be used for lungo's, not espresso and/or other drinks.

@Quirquincho in the naked PF I can see liquid pouring from the basket sides then sticking to the basket and finding it's way to the PF handle and dripping next to the cup (making quite a mess). I've seen videos of other naked PF and see liquid coming from the sides, meeting in the middle and realising a gentle flow in the middle. However, with my distributor and the 22 g dose I haven't seen this problem anymore, it's just a relatively fast flow and bitter taste now.

I have been choosing my dose at random tbh. I don't know what to base it on, other than the general guidelines I find in my coffee book and on this website. I do see the bolt imprint, but not the screen, and I always guessed the previous owner made modifications - it has quite a big bolt fixating the screen. The thing is, if I use less than the 22 g dose, the distributor I use leaves holes, which is also a reason I went to 22 g.


#14: Post by DeGaulle »

First things first: Bin those supermarket beans, no matter what brand.

Get some fresh roasted coffee beans with the date of packaging indicated. With anything over a month post-roast, old flavors will be deteriorating and you will struggle to dial in your brewing parameters.

Then: start with the dose that the basket is rated for, whether it's 14, 16 or 18 grams. If you see an imprint of the shower screen on your spent puck, you have been overdosing. If you leave a little headroom for the water to infuse and soak your ground coffee before the pump has built full extraction pressure, it is for the better.

BaristaBro (original poster)

#15: Post by BaristaBro (original poster) »

@DeGaulle check, drop the beans. I have some locally roasted beans from June 10th in the freezer, hopefully those are a bit better. After that I will buy new packs and consume immediately. One question: how can I find the basket dose? It came with the second-hand machine and I have no idea what basket it is precisely.


#16: Post by SandraF »

You mentioned choosing your dose at "random". If you are trying to adjust your shot parameters, having "random" doses, it will be very difficult to figure out how to improve your shots. Do you have a scale for espresso use?

Try placing 18g of coffee in the basket of the portafilter, prep the puck & place a nickel on top of the puck and lock the portafilter into place. Remove carefully and check to see whether or not the nickel left an indentation on the coffee puck. If so, then that's too much coffee. Use a little less and try again.

Note: a US nickel is 1,95 mm thick.

BaristaBro (original poster)

#17: Post by BaristaBro (original poster) »

@SandraF I meant I chose the 22 g "at random", I did weigh each time (0.1 g accuracy). I put the grounds in and tried to get consistent shot with keeping the dosage, but experimenting with other variables such as tamping, PID temperature and grind setting. However, it never resulted in something I could work with.

I took some time the past days to do some "coin experiments". First with the supermarket beans (felt like a waste just chucking it in the bin): Question: am I using my distributor wrong? Is this behaviour to be expected?

Anyway, my stale supermarket beans are now finished and I have begun experimenting with beans from a local roaster (Man Met Bril, or Man With Glasses). I have opened a package of Los Osos beans from Colombia, region Huila (1,700-2,200 meter), variety Caturra / Typica, washed. They were roasted on the 10th on June and have been in my freezer for one week (didn't open the packaging in between, just transferred them to the freezer because I read somewhere it helps with conservation).

The beans came with a recipe: 18-19 g ground beans, brewn for 30 seconds should result in a 38-40 ml espresso. Considering the above coin experiment I started out with 18 g on the same grind setting (basically 0 on my Rancilio Rocky with doser)
  • ... sp=sharing is the resulting shot, it's very quick (I ended the video a fraction of a second too early, before I stopped the flow). The result (and basically every shot I've pulled with these beans) was very sour (so not bitter like the other beans, but I have to admit: much more interesting flavour-wise)
  • I tried one with 20 g as well, considering the empty basket. I didn't photograph the puck (with or without coin), but I could place the PF in the grouphead without the coin being pressed in the puck. This is already a huge difference, the ground beans seem more compactable. Here's a shot: ... sp=sharing. The extraction time for a 60 ml (so not the 40 like the "recipe" suggests) almost took 30 seconds, so the ratio is coming close. However the resulting espresso is very sour, not bitters and none of the characteristics that are described by the roaster.

And here is where I am at a loss. My grinder can't go any finer, but had already expected to taste more bitters than sours way before the 0 setting (I've read people using 8-10 region on this specific grinder). I tried upping the temperature of my PID (to 102°C / 215.6 F) and that introduces some balance, but can't seem to lose the quite present sours and the temperature seems too high (or am I mistaken?).

Sorry for the long post, but hoping it might help in diagnosing the problems or serve as documentation for any future brewbie.


#18: Post by SandraF »

My understanding is that espresso should be brewed between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Darker beans like the lower end of the range, and light roasted coffees require higher end of the range to extract flavors better.

Good job on using fresher beans. It's a start. It may be that your grinder is not able to grind fine enough for espresso.


#19: Post by Quirquincho »

I want to reiterate earlier comments on the need to recalibrate your grinder. I personally prefer freshly roasted coffee, but even a coffee that is months old should be able to choke your machine if your grinder were grinding fine enough. At this moment, it looks like you simply do not have enough range.

Check this video out on calibrating a Rocky, which should move your "0": ... aintenance

If that does not work, then the burrs might be worn out and need replacing.

Regarding basket capacity, your coin tests seem to suggest that you have an 18gram basket. Keep in mind that a basket that is nominally an 18g-basket will not necessarily fit 18g of every coffee. Some coffees take more space than others, so decide your dose based on the headspace. The bolt and/or screen imprint will be your main guide on that. Can you adjust the depth of your distribution tool? I would be surprised if that is not the case. However, if that's the case, you can use a paperclip to rake your grinds before tamping.

You mentioned that the bolt holding your shower screen looks too big. Have you been able to confirm that it is in line with other Silvias? It might be worth sharing a picture of it with the community to see if people think it looks off or if there are alternatives that will not take so much of the headspace.

BaristaBro (original poster)

#20: Post by BaristaBro (original poster) »

Thank you for your answers! Sorry for my late reply, but I've taken a while to experiment with different things,

So the other batches of better quality beans were even fresher (24th July instead of 10th, which I also put in the freezer on July 14th). I can tell the difference of these beans as well, some shots are even quite tasty.

I've also been contemplating the suitability of the Rancilio Rocky. My Silvia pulled two delicious shots in the store where I bought it, where only the barista, beans and grinder were obvious differentiators (besides ambient factors and water quality). I dare to say that the bean quality should be more or less equal now. Next is the grinder. However, this grinder is marketed to be fine for most home espresso brewers and the burrs were replaced just before I bought it. So I'm not about to give up on it just yet. That just leaves the barista...

I can, apparently, adjust the distributor, thanks for pointing that out for me! I will try that next. Do you have any resources on how to find the correct level?

The bolt is huge and seems to be the stock option: ... _AQD_pEowk, here's mine: ... sp=sharing. However, it can also be this: ... PNJhCByj2E. My bolt is 2 mm easily. So in the coin experiments, even if the coin was pressed into the puck 100% that would still mean 2 mm headspace. And that was at 22 g. Is my basket that big? Am I tamping too hard? Are my assumptions off?

Here's some of the things I tried since last time:
  • I've been incorporating a version of the WDT, using a needle to carefully distribute (didn't have a yoghurt cup, but anyway seems to break up the clumps if I do it meticuously).
  • Trying different tamping, distribution, WDT combinations with the same dosage
  • Trying different dosage with the same first distribution, then WDT and finally tamping
  • Playing with temperature, keeping the rest constant
  • Just filling up the basket, not weighing input, and trying to perfect distribution and tamp
Everything seems to produce consitently bad results, with the exception of an odd good result (in terms of extraction time and resulting volume). I managed one shot that took 33 seconds for 35 ml end result, which tasted amazing. However, I wasn't able to reproduce, even with all variables the same, the next day.

I want to go to my roaster next and buy pre-ground coffee (they will do it on the spot) and see if that helps. If it does: it's definitely the grinder. If it doesn't: I guess I'm bad at pulling shots?