The espresso 'wiggling' as indicator for shot taste?

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

#1: Post by fuzzy_panda »

Hey guys, over the last couple months using my BDB I've noticed that while the espresso extraction always starts off with a nice steady stream, it starts to 'wiggle' as, I'm guessing, the puck breaks down. The earlier the wiggle, the more astringent and less tasty it is. SO for example if its starts wiggling by 20 secs into my extraction, even if I hit my target of 1:2 ratio at 28 secs, the shot tastes a bit weird. However if it doesn't wiggle until 25 secs, then it tastes amazing and perfectly balanced.

I've recently done a latte art workshop and found that on their Eagle One with a commercial grinder, that wiggling doesn't happen at all during the entire shot (they were shooting for 29 secs). Those coffees tasted the sweetest and nicest of any shots I've ever pulled. Anyone know the science behind this? Also do you think sometimes if the wiggle starts too early, that I'd better just stop the shot extraction earlier to save it?

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#2: Post by Jeff »

I'm not sure what you mean by "wiggling", but if it is related to the viscosity of the stream (honey, higher viscosity, water, lower), then it is probably a good observation. Especially with well-roasted coffees, extracting until "blonding" is often discussed. Basically, there's nothing much left to come out of the coffee so the stream thins and goes to pale and translucent. With some darker roasts, going "too far" can extract flavors that can tip the balance to overly bitter, or even charred or burnt.

Here are some posts that might give you some insight on that.

When did this espresso extraction go blond? [video quiz]

Newbie: Flow color vs weight to stop extraction


#3: Post by bonjing »

I get it often too and just toss it up to channeling. I'm probably wrong though.

I think by the wiggle he means the stream is no longer centered and dances around the bottom of the portafilter although maintaining one flow.


#4: Post by exidrion »

When did this espresso extraction go blond? [video quiz]

This is the first time I've ever read about the whole cone collapsing thing. It makes sense but most of the current conventional wisdom is about blonding and transparency.


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#5: Post by yakster »

I remember reading that you can watch the arc of the espresso leaving a spouted portafilter to gage when the shot is finished, reminds me of this wiggling topic a bit. I haven't found the original reference, but as the viscosity of the shot changes the appearance of the espresso exiting the spout appears to droop IIRC.

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