Bluenoser wrote:When I bought my newer machine, I bought a bottomless portafilter with it. I don't think I could have gotten coffee dialed in properly without it. This and the cheap scale were the 2 most important pieces for me learning to dial in different beans.
Watching the extraction will tell you if there is channeling and will tell you if your distribution is on track. Lots of vids available on what good extractions look like. At first I got all kinds of bad results, but could see them through what was coming out the bottom. (Lots of spurts at first)
Don't get too hung up on the time. I actually like a slower extraction, So if your beans do well at 1:2, I use 18g in 36 g out and maybe 40 seconds (maybe even 45). So grind a bit finer, taste the output and see if you prefer that taste to the faster extraction. As long as the pour is continuous a slow extraction sometimes seem richer.
One other variable can be an issue.. temperature. Is your brew water close to 200F? Any way to tell? I have an HX machine with PID and was using the manufacturer's recommended setting, but it was wrong in my kitchen. I measured it (maybe somewhat inaccurately) to be about 175-180. I was getting nothing as rich as I thought I should. I then kicked up the PID 5 degrees, and think I'm up to over 195, but more importantly, the taste and feel of the espresso improved significantly. I should experiment more, but since I like the espresso taste, got lazy..
Although I had no previous experience making espresso other than reading/watching a ton, I found it isn't too difficult dialing in stuff once you just get close with all the variables. Likely there is only one variable in your setup that might be off.
Maybe I missed it in a previous post.. do you know the recipe your shop uses? Some might use a ristretto pull?
Thank you for all of this. Unfortunately, though my Mara machine does have PID, I do not have control over it. It is factory set, so basically the PID functions as a more of a tight control temp unit, than a fine tuning device. I have been wondering about the temperature on this machine since when I go to do a cooling flush (after it sits idle for 1hr) I don't get the anticipated flash boil effect. I have considered bypassing the cooling flush all together for a hotter pull.
After all of these attempts at dialing in the coffee, I went through two entire bags, and I'm still not fully satisfied (although, I have improved significantly since you guys started helping). I have decided that, instead of purchasing another bag of these beans, I needed to go with something cheaper (so that I could have enough beans to mess up) and more noobie friendly. I have read a lot about Red Bird Coffee, so I decided to get their espresso blend, and see what I can do with it. Once I become better at dialing in shots, I'll progressively work my way back to this roast. This was a little defeating of a decision, but I also have to be honest with myself and start with something more on my beginner level. There were some good suggestions here in this thread as well which will likely be the next bags that I purchase.