Difficulty Dialing in Espresso

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Jul 31, 2018, 8:29 am

Hey guys,

I have watched all of the videos and read all of the beginner threads. I think I'm doing everything that is suggested, but I have been finding it incredibly difficult to dial in my espresso. I'm not sure where to go. I've been blowing through a LOT of coffee trying to make this thing work. Thoughts?

ojt

Postby ojt » Jul 31, 2018, 9:27 am

Hi,

I think most here would ask this anyway so I'll go ahead and post the questions.

Please tell us a bit more about your equipment, coffee and process / preparation :)

Kind of hard to answer anything without knowing the context. I recently bought my first machine also (Pavoni Professional) so I might have some fresh memories of a (almost) newbie.

EDIT: Also please tell what it is you ARE getting out of your equipment. How does the coffee taste, if anything comes out.
Osku
★ Helpful

emradguy

Postby emradguy » Jul 31, 2018, 11:47 am

What beans are you using, how are they stored, and what date were they roasted on?

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Jul 31, 2018, 3:53 pm

Thank you for your replies. I figured I would leave the original fairly open ended to see where you guys were going as you helped me to narrow down what could be the issue.

Here is the equipment:
Grinder: Gaggia MDF Burr Grinder
Espresso Machine: Lelit Mara
Coffee: Wood Burl Coffee - La Piragua (Columbia) **This is a local roaster here in Dayton, OH**
Scale: Brewrista (0.1g)

Note on the Coffee:
The local coffee shop here uses this as the espresso for their lattes. Probably some of the best lattes I've tasted, so I bought the beans in hopes to imitate it. This is on the fruitier side as far as coffee goes.

Process:
1- Espresso machine is on for around 1 hr
2- Cooling purge for 1-2seconds
3- Grind / measure coffee
4- tamp the side of the portafilter a few times/tamp
5- Pull shot
6- taste test
7- if latte, froth and pour milk

Last attempted recipe:
19g of coffee
Setting #5 on grinder
30 seconds from turning on the pump
47g of coffee pulled (I was expecting a lot less given prior attempts)

Known issue: I realized that my tamping pressures were inconsistent. I'm keeping an eye on that now.

Coffee results:
- I have not been able to predict weight that will come out when I keep everything else the same but just change the coffee input by 0.5g. I believe this is due to inconsistencies in my tamping pressures.
- No matter what I've done, even when I got the 2-1 ratio in 25 seconds, the coffee has had a thin and crunchy(??) crema. Also, it has been unbalanced in how acidic it has tasted.
- No matter what I've done, the flavor is always overpowered when I add the milk.

Thank you for your willingness to read through all of this. I really would like to know where to go from here. I'm wondering if, perhaps, I need to find a more forgiving bean to start with - since I'm very much a beginner.

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Jul 31, 2018, 3:55 pm

Also, I just purchased the beans 2 days ago. The sticker says "FLAME 07/24." So I'm assuming that's when it was roasted? I placed about 6 oz in the grinder and have kept the rest in the original bag in a cabinet in my kitchen.

ojt

Postby ojt » Jul 31, 2018, 4:16 pm

Alright, I may not be able to help much but let's try and throw a few ideas.

correarc1 wrote:4- tamp the side of the portafilter a few times/tamp


I tried this, and it only resulted in problems, at least for me. What happened, and what has been suggested on this forum before, is I think it broke the side wall adhesion or something of sorts, resulting in water escaping from there. What I do now is RDT, grind, slight shake of the portafilter (I mean very slight), WDT, nutation with the tamper, tamp, polish. Been getting much more consistent results.

correarc1 wrote:Coffee results:
- I have not been able to predict weight that will come out when I keep everything else the same but just change the coffee input by 0.5g. I believe this is due to inconsistencies in my tamping pressures.
- No matter what I've done, even when I got the 2-1 ratio in 25 seconds, the coffee has had a thin and crunchy(??) crema. Also, it has been unbalanced in how acidic it has tasted.
- No matter what I've done, the flavor is always overpowered when I add the milk.


I'm no expert by any means, but this sound to me like something I get when the machine / group is not hot enough, and also sounds like you might want to grind finer. Just try to go hotter, and grind so fine that you will choke the machine. If you get the machine choked, just go slightly more coarse until you hit the sweet spot.

Ok, that's it, just a couple of ideas :) I hope someone wiser will chime in.
Osku

*sigh*

Postby *sigh* » Jul 31, 2018, 4:19 pm

19g in 47g out in 30s, It's weak and acidic.

Sounds like the coffee is under extracted. Have you tried tightening up the grind? I'd shoot for a basic 2:1 to start, to 19g in 38g out in around the same time now.

If you can get the shot to run a little more slowly then the next thing to do would be to try and raise the brew temperature. It sounds like a lighter roast from how you describe it, so hotter temps and a fine grind is going to be required. Age of the coffee sounds pretty good, I've found most light roasts need at least a week of rest time, so you should be there.

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Jul 31, 2018, 4:59 pm

Here is where I am with my last pull...
18.2 g of coffee
grinder at setting #4 (One finer than last time)
pulled 22.5g of espresso
in 35seconds

I did change my tamping methods as per most of what was suggested above.

the taste was significantly less acidic, but also less strong? perhaps I'm confusing acidity with strength? The crema is still dissipating a bit fast... it is a little thin looking. Also, I am not sure that I have the option to control the temperature in my version of the machine. I do have PID, but it is factory set.

I'm going to try it one more time but with 17.5g of coffee. Also, I'm not going to flush it in hopes of a higher temp to see what happens.

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Jul 31, 2018, 5:10 pm

Update: 17.5g yielded 16.2g in 35s under the same settings. I thought I had temped the exact same way, so I'm not sure why this happened. I'm going to try 17.5g again as that seems off to me.

I'm sorry if I'm giving too much information, but I really want to figure out where I'm going wrong.

correarc1

Postby correarc1 » Jul 31, 2018, 5:30 pm

update #2: I got just about the same results when I tried 17.5g again. So, it was not a fluke. I'm not sure what to try next.