Can't get espresso ratio

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

#1: Post by BaristaBro »

*first ever post, hoping I'm doing this right!*

Hi all! After a week of reading everything relevant I could on HB and not making any progress, I'm daring to ask a question here (hoping I didn't miss a previous post with the exact same question).

My problem is this: I can't get a good espresso ratio. I can either get 25-27 seconds OR I can get 60 ml (or 1:2 gram ratio), but NOT both. I have tried everything I think is in my power (grind setting, temperature and dose), but to no avail. Even on the finest grind setting I can't get anything near that perfect shot, I either end up with 100-200 grams of a coffee-like liquid in 25 seconds, or 40 grams of undefinable filth in around 10 seconds. Three things I now think could be the reason are 1) my tamping is so bad that even my scrutinous process and distributor aren't helping 2) the bean quality is too low (have bought cheap supermarket stuff to train, not wasting expensive beans through my inexperience) 3) the pressure is off (unlikely as the store I bought the machine was able to draw really good espresso from it). Do you have any tips on how to troubleshoot and potentially solve this problem?

My setup:
  • Rancilio Silvia V1 with Auber PID
  • Rancilio Rocky with doser
  • Naked portafilter for doubles
  • Scale with 0.1 g accuracy
  • 58.5 mm distributor
What I have tried
  • Temperature from 88°C to 98°C, with lower temperatures I can get rid of some of the bitters, resulting in water-like shots, the higher end of that temp range results in extremely bitter watery stuff
  • Dosage from 14 g to 25 g, with lower dosage leading to watery shots with little crema and higher dosage to bitter stuff with good layer of light-coloured crema. I also can't use the distributor with anything under 22 gram (is that due to the fine grind?)
  • Grind settings on the Rocky 0, 1, 2, 4, 8 and 10, with only the 0 resulting in something that even comes close to looking like an espresso, but not really
I have been as methodological as I could, weighing everything, trying settings multiple times and comparing looks, feels and taste. It has been quite consistent. Consistently bad. What I don't get is how, even on the zero grind setting, the coffee manages to run through faster than Bolt ran the 100m. I have weighed the beans, I have weighed the ground before putting it in the PF, I have measure volume of the product, I look at the coffee coming out of the naked PF, the puck before and after, the emptied PF and of course taste (which goes from water to extremely bitter water, with no taste nor the oily substancy of a good espresso). Based on what I read here in tutorials and discussions I try different combinations, but nothing yields any significant progress, so I must be interpreting it wrong.

Any help is appreciated and any further documentation could be gathered and supplied here. Many thanks in advance!

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#2: Post by yakster »

Tell us more about the brand and freshness of the coffee. How long after roast are you using the coffee?

Sounds like the most likely culprit.

LMWDP # 272

BaristaBro (original poster)

#3: Post by BaristaBro (original poster) »

It's from a supermarket chain here in The Netherland, Aldi. The brand is Moreno and I think the freshness is none existing.

Would that make such a difference? Would've expected a medium taste but not an inability to draw a proper shot.

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#4: Post by yakster »

It makes all the difference. Read some existing threads regarding fast flowing shots or machines that won't hold pressure. It almost always is because of stale coffee.

LMWDP # 272


#5: Post by Quirquincho »

In my experience, even supermarket coffee should be able to choke your machine at some point if you grind fine enough. Since you're at 0 and working with higher doses, I'm surprised it hasn't happened. It could be that your grinder is not grinding fine enough. There should be a way to adjust/recalibrate your grinder's burrs to go finer (prob described in the manual or google it).

Also, try to settle on a dose and keep constant as you try different settings. Changing too many variables at a time will make it difficult to identify the main culprit of the issues. And, be careful not to overfill the basket.

Good luck!


#6: Post by Nate42 »

You need to see if you can recalibrate your grinder to be able to grind finer. Generally speaking if your flow is too fast finer grind is the answer. Fresher coffee will help.


#7: Post by SandraF »

So let's clarify. You say you can get "60 ml (1:2 ratio)". Does that mean you are putting 30g of coffee into a portafilter basket? Most baskets that I'm aware of wouldn't accept 30g.

For example many people would start with 18g coffee in a "double" basket, and a 1:2 ratio would be 36g liquid in around 25-30 seconds.

Are you doing something else?


#8: Post by jasiano »

I was confused too with the OP target of 60mL.
A double shot basket depending on manufacturer can hold usually anywhere from 15-22g thereabouts. So the max output of espresso at 1:2 ratio is 44g in 25-30secs.

Aim for that, not 60mL. Grind as fine as you can to try and get there, I wouldn't focus on temp just yet as that I believe has less effect on shot volume (more on flavour).

Chances are the Aldi beans are nowhere near fresh enough - they could've been roasted months and months ago. Probably worth getting even some 'cheap' but fresh beans from a local coffee shop that has been roasted a week or 2 ago.

Down Under


#9: Post by jgood »

As has been said -- find a local roaster, or one that can ship to you in a day or two freshly roasted beans. Stale coffee (from the supermarket) is basically unsuitable for espresso. BTW the bag should have the roast date on it. In all likelihood it will be night and day. I would start with a dark roast or a medium/dark roast -- a light roast is more challenging to deal with. Hopefully someone near you on this forum will respond with some suggestions on specific roasters and coffees, but most good espresso cafes also sell whole beans.

BaristaBro (original poster)

#10: Post by BaristaBro (original poster) »

To everyone that replied and thank with me: thank you!

@yakster I will try to find some more posts about fast flows and under-pressure. Hopefully that will lead to even more suggestions.

@Quirquincho @Nate42 I have a Rancilio Rocky with doser. I read somewhere that the burrs have quite a big range of motion and that some tape can help, I will look into that. Because I have managed to find the zero point (where burrs begin to touch), so with the regular setting I can't get any finer.

@SandraF @jasiano on the weight/volume I am also a bit confused to be honoust. I have been reading here about the 2 ounce golden ratio, but we don't have that unit here in Europe and I don't know if that's a volumetric or mass unit. In a book I have it mentions the ratios for ristretto, espresso and lungo are 1:1, 1:2, respectively 1:3. That is the ground coffee to weight of resulting coffee ratio. Considering variations in crema and density that could be somewhere between 45-60ml. So in my post when I mention weights I'm talking about the amound of ground coffee beans I used compared to end weight - minus cup weight.

Considering your comments I purchased (still from supermarket) another brand of coffee beans. I upped the dosage to 22g to compensate for still lower overall freshness. With even more care to distribution and tamping I managed to get at least two decently tasting espresso's. First I focussed on extracting 25 seconds, that was a bit bitter, so I focussed on volumetric (assuming 2 ounce volume = 60 ml) and pulled a shot in 20 seconds. The taste was ok! I've had worse in restaurants.

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.

I love this forum.