Dialing in for complete newbie

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

#1: Post by CoffeeNewbie1212 »

Hey everyone, I am completely new to making espresso. i recently purchased an entry level machine (Sage Barista Touch) and I am looking for some tips to improve my dose to yield ratio. I constantly get too much yield, even though I keep reducing my brewing time and grinding the coffee beans finer. My dose is 17g, current grind level of 7 (1 out of 30; 1 - finest). The brewing time is 22 seconds and the yield is 67g (one cup of 34g and the other 33g).

Note: I am using Diemme Gold beans, unfortunately not as fresh as I want it to be (45 days old).

Thanks in advance!


#2: Post by BodieZoffa »

Personally wouldn't get too caught up in yield as strictly chasing numbers will never trump going by taste, texture, visual appeal. You sorta answered your own question as in the coffee is simply beyond being ideal for espresso. More stale coffees can be decent when used for more forgiving brew methods, but espresso will amplify all aspects of a coffee, good or not so good.

CoffeeNewbie1212 (original poster)

#3: Post by CoffeeNewbie1212 (original poster) »

Do you think the age of the beans has something to do with the high yield?

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#4: Post by Jeff »

Likely some of the problem. Typical "espresso" blends are good in a sealed bag from several days to around two weeks off roast. At around a month they're often getting marginal. When the bag is opened, they tend to get stale in a week or so. Some of the better Italian-style beans can go longer on the shelf, but also age quickly once opened.

You should be able to grind finely enough to "choke" the shot - No or virtually no flow through the puck. If not, the burr generally can be adjusted on the Breville grinders. There are many videos online in how to do that.


#5: Post by pcdawson »

Yes! I would go to a local roaster and buy some beans between 5 - 10 days from roast date. What kind of grinder are you using ?


#6: Post by BaristaBob »

CoffeeNewbie1212 wrote:Do you think the age of the beans has something to do with the high yield?
Oh yes. Personally, unless I have a light roast (which I don't even open for 14 days post roast), going beyond 14 days after roast will require finer grinding for sure. For dark roast, going beyond 14 days sometimes requires a Turkish grind (like flour) just to extract a 25g shot in 20 seconds, in my experience!
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..I've come to drink you once again"

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#7: Post by mrgnomer »

I've found puck prep to be one key variable that makes other variables easier to track. That and grind adjustment/uniformity. Sure, trying to get a fresh tasting extraction from a store bought roast is tough but dark robusta blends mixed and roasted for a long shelf life aren't bad. I like store bought Kimbo and Lavazza for Neopolitain shots and lattes. They pull ok on my lever machine and aren't far off from fresh light and dark roast grind settings, atleast on two grinders I've used. I'm currently using Lavazza Rossa to dial in new SSP burrs.

Next to puck prep grind uniformity is pretty important for dialing in, I think. The tolerances can be as small as micrometers. The burrs need to touch as straight as you can get them. Too much of an angle and the variation from coarse to fine in the grind can effect the extraction. I'm just getting into dry erase marking the burrs and checking how flat both bottom and top are to each other then adjusting anything off more than around 90% with tin foil shims. There's ok videos and forum threads that show how to do it.

Getting into the theory behind good extraction then experimenting helps and can be part of the fun. Some have tried having local cafe/roasters with serious equipment and good baristas grind some of their beans for espresso to see if it makes a difference.
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professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love

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#8: Post by cafeIKE »

Espresso hierarchy:

[Water - poor water affects the taste, not the mechanics]
Coffee - rule of 15s: Green coffee is good for 15 months, Roast coffee is good for 15 days*, Ground coffee is good for 15 minutes
Grinder - if it cannot hold tight tolerances, it's grinding dust and boulders.
Machine - basically a glorified kettle. If it gets water to the right temperature at the right temperature, all else is bling.
You -

You may be able to grind fine enough, but with poor consistency so shot repeatability will be low.
You might try grinding a gram or so, purging the stale remains from the previous shot and discarding it.

* as coffee has gotten lighter, this maybe extended for some lighter coffees by expert roasters. Inexpert roasters light roasts are DTB - Direct to Bin.

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#9: Post by Mat-O-Matic »

Grinding finer will bring your shots closer to expectations. The 22s brew time is on the short side, but Ok. The 1:4 ratio you describe is not typical. It suggests stale coffee, and probably a too-coarse grind.

A ratio is used to establish what type of espresso shot you want. It is your choice. Different beans will taste better at different ratios. It would not be best practice to seek 1:2 every time, for example, unless you only always brew the same beans. With that said, most espresso does taste good in the 1:2 area. Therefore, if a 17g dose works well in your machine, grind finer until you get a total output of 34g in 20-35 seconds. Stop the shot by grams out, not by time or for other reasons.

I wouldn't get too serious about these expectations until you have fresher beans.
LMWDP #716: Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.


#10: Post by robmack »

What I found helpful when I was just learning was to take copious notes about all the settings. Set certain variable as fixed for the time being like dosage, brew ratio, target brew time, water brew temperature and then change only one variable at a time. Eventually, by comparing previous notes and experimentation you'll hone in on the right combinations for your machine and coffee. I brewed tons of really bad gushers but it was all part of the learning curve.
- Robert