Difficulty obtaining normal brew ratios

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
kohlerk08

#1: Post by kohlerk08 »

I've always had difficulty getting normal ratios despite getting about 2 oz coffee out in 25-30 seconds. I've recently upgraded my set up thinking that would help me but I'm having the same problem. I can't seem to get a ratio less than 1:3.

Currently using a Niche Zero with a Breville Dual Boiler 920. I'm using the double shot basket with 19g of ground coffee (a light-medium roast recently, but I've had similar issues with other beans too). The beans I use are always within a month of roasting, usually 2 weeks. First drop usually comes out around 10seconds, and it hits 9-10 bars consistently after that. By the time its at 25 seconds my shot already weighs like >50g.

When I've tried to adjust to a finer grind I just end up with a very small shot volume, so I started thinking maybe my shots just aren't achieving the right amount of crema?

It ends up tasting fine when I incorporate it into a latte, but by itself it seems pretty bitter to me. Any help would be appreciated!

Kevin

MatGreiner
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#2: Post by MatGreiner »

Switch to a medium (or medium dark if you like it) bean until you start to get the shots you want consistently. They are less demanding on equipment and technique.
The long-ish dwell time followed by fast brew suggests channeling. Longer preinfusion and WDT could help. A coarser grind also might help. Sometimes grinds are so fine they channel easily and behave almost as if the grind is too coarse.
There's a lot of brewing advice specific to BDBs here and elsewhere.
You might also drop your dose. Larger doses, like your 19g, normally slow the flow, but lower doses can be easier to prep, and more forgiving of technique. If you have the right basket for it (what basket are you using?) a 16g dose or even lower might lend flexibility.
If you can get to 1:2 in 25-45 seconds, that would suggest good brew control to me.
LMWDP #716: Jeez, kids! Don't swing on that!

kohlerk08 (original poster)

#3: Post by kohlerk08 (original poster) »

Appreciate all the info.

I'm using the 58mm basket that came with the BDB. I have a 55mm crema tamper distribution combo tool from my previous set up but don't have anything except the standard tamp that came with the BDB to fit my 58mm basket now.

I'll definitely try cutting the dose to 18 or 17g, I was just afraid that putting even less grind into the basket would make it come out faster and contribute to the increased output even more.

MatGreiner
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#4: Post by MatGreiner »

It might. Lower doses usually make for faster extractions. But since you're getting fast extractions with a high dose, it's most likely that the fast extraction is due to coarse grind and/or channeling.
channeling, in turn, might be caused by a very fine grind (b/c it requires precise prep).
A lower dose, medium coffee, normal grind in a stock basket will all help you find success. Sticking with one coffee that you like might also help. Acclimate to your equipment and get puck prep practice for a month or two.
Light roasts and third wave espresso developments are not beginner skills: they put higher demands on both technique and equipment.
LMWDP #716: Jeez, kids! Don't swing on that!

skink91

#5: Post by skink91 »

Having a similar issue myself. Using a Rocky grinder at lowest setting expecting to be able to choke the machine (Silvia) so I can get a baseline on how fine to grind normally, but still pulling 50+g shot in like 16 seconds using a 18g dose in a 22g VST basket (after about a one second preinfusion). And know the beans are only a week and a half post-roast so not stale. Am using a WDT and putting a screen on top to make sure that screw doesn't dig into the top of the puck, etc.

I am a beginner, so unsure how to proceed. Sorry if jumping in on this inappropriately.

MatGreiner
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#6: Post by MatGreiner »

It is possible that your grind is way too fine - this would most likely show through the symptoms associated with channeling, which can be identified using a bottomless portafilter and looking at the used coffee puck before knocking it out. A coarser grind and better puck prep are first recommendations.

It is possible your grind is too coarse. With a Rocky it is useful to run the grinder while empty, and try finer and finer settings until you hear the grinding burrs begin to chirp. Look up Rocky Zero Point for more info. The zero point gets your finest grinder setting, so you'll know to use a coarser setting than that.

Grinds should feel finer than sand or most salt. It should look powdery like flour, but not feel that fine. It should still feel a little gritty.
LMWDP #716: Jeez, kids! Don't swing on that!

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cafeIKE
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#7: Post by cafeIKE »

kohlerk08 wrote:When I've tried to adjust to a finer grind I just end up with a very small shot volume, so I started thinking maybe my shots just aren't achieving the right amount of crema?
Try a fine grind [12-15 on my Niche] and adjust the dose down in ¼g increments until you get the desired brew ratio. Then adjust grind and weight for taste. See Espresso 101: How to Adjust Dose and Grind Setting by Taste and Mano Lite: A Short Guide to Dialing in Espresso SOs and Blends

FWIW, I use a 0.01g scale and try to hit my dose ±0.05g by swapping a big for smaller or vice versa bean on a puffed Niche.

skink91

#8: Post by skink91 »

MatGreiner wrote:It is possible that your grind is way too fine - this would most likely show through the symptoms associated with channeling, which can be identified using a bottomless portafilter and looking at the used coffee puck before knocking it out. A coarser grind and better puck prep are first recommendations.

It is possible your grind is too coarse. With a Rocky it is useful to run the grinder while empty, and try finer and finer settings until you hear the grinding burrs begin to chirp. Look up Rocky Zero Point for more info. The zero point gets your finest grinder setting, so you'll know to use a coarser setting than that.

Grinds should feel finer than sand or most salt. It should look powdery like flour, but not feel that fine. It should still feel a little gritty.
I was grinding at one step above the 'chirp'. This has been the closest I have been able to get to an okay shot, and have been using this setting for the last several days.

This morning I tried a couple shots dialing back 3 settings coarser and even at the 4-5 setpoint, the shot weight (from an 18g puck) hits 50g in 16 seconds. I have tried to be immaculate in my prep: weighing 18g, WDT, one knock afterward, and an even firm tamp but not too hard. Also, using a puck screen seems to make no difference to the shot... other than making the puck appear less wet.

Is it possible that my (brand new) grinder has crap burrs?

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cafeIKE
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#9: Post by cafeIKE »

Assuming Rocky is your new grinder, it's PDG. Many here started with one.

What does the coffee feel like?
Generally, a quick way to check grinds is to pinch them between your fingers and feel how granular they are:

Turkish: a powder, like flour.
Espresso: very fine grained, like 10x sugar
Drip (fine grind): like fine sand
Medium Grind (vacuum pots, fast French Press, and cupping): a tad finer than table salt
Coarse (for slow french press): between table and kosher salt.

You can try measuring and aligning the burrs if you can't get espresso fineness.

An "18g" dose is not sacrosanct. Some coffees require a deeper puck, as in a 'bigger' basket. My last coffee was ≈17.7g in a double basket ground on about '15'. Current coffee is ≈20.7g in a triple ground on '12'. Both give about 33g in ≈25s.

skink91

#10: Post by skink91 »

Gauging the differences between the espresso and drip granularities you mentioned by feel is unfortunately grayish for me... but it feels like that general vicinity.

Because my machine is a Rancilio Silvia, it has a big screw attaching the shower filter to the brew head... so i have to use a bigger basket just to make sure that screw doesn't mess up the top of the puck (seems like an odd design choice for something that has been made the same for so long?). Could this also be adding to my woes? I have tried it with and without a puck screen, and while the puck looks more dry and uniform afterwards when I use the screen... the time taken for the shot is essentially the same (i.e. way too fast)