Extremely Educated/Highly Inexperienced

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

#1: Post by treybinkley »

My espresso setup is almost fully complete. Advice for pulling your first shots/where to start your espresso journey?

For context I am pretty experienced in coffee, rather experienced in pour over, and run my own roasting company. But I have never pulled a shot of espresso. I have watched all of lance hedrick's and james hoffman's videos and read several books on it. Now I am left with tons and tons of info and no idea where to start.

For context I am very experienced with pour over's ranging from conicals to flat bottoms, and generally I prefer more modern fruit forward coffees.

My espresso setup will be:

Breville Dual Boiler with slayer mod
Acaia Lunar
Normcore tamper and wdt
Naked portafilter
Vst basket

Any advice in where to start and how to begin learning the hands on side of espresso making?

Any and all tips would be appreciated, I know this forum is generally a very knowledgeable bunch of folks!

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#2: Post by bostonbuzz »

I'll let someone else post the HB links to how to pull an espresso.

The biggest thing you can do is print out a graph of what to do to fix an espresso shot.

I.e. Too bitter --> extract less.
Too sour --> extract more.

Extract less by 1) keep everything the same, just stop the shot earlier, 2) grind coarser

There are many versions of this, but stick to what is tried and true. I find that most baskets/machines prefer a certain dose and this is the last variable I will change and only slightly.

The second most important thing is that you need to be consistent before you beat yourself up and chase things. You should be able to pull a shot that outputs, say 40g in 30s three times in a row within a couple grams and seconds. If you can do this, you have achieved enough consistency that you should be able to dial in any coffee using the basic extract more/less framework. Otherwise it will be sour and bitter and ... woops there goes 2lbs of beans, haha.

Advanced stuff:
You can pull a balanced and nice shot often in 20s and in 45s with the same coffee/grinder, etc (hopefully/eventually!). I find that the acids really come out in the shorter shot times, and the longer the shot the more it tastes a bit chocolatey. So if you like fruity single origin like a natural Ethiopian try a shorter than recommended shot time and a big shot, like 40g in 20s.
LMWDP #353

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BaristaBoy E61

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Welcome to HB Trey

Weigh, measure, time and keep a log - but just jump in with gusto and both feet & have fun!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"


#4: Post by iyayy »

since beans density differs, maybe starting with 18g can be too much or too little for the basket.

i came from filter my first issue is not being able to fill 18g in flair pro2 basket (its rated 20-22].. even 17g was overspilling and im dumbfounded until i realized bean density can differ a lot.

i'd suggest these steps instead.
1. flll ur basket with ur beans until its level. i find this usually hits close to correct amount for the basket eith bdb.
2. with df64 and stock, maybe ur starting point would maybe l be 18 from chrip. grind and weight the output, not input
to make my life easier i'd usually remove some grounds to round the numbers, and use this as starting dose. if u have the breville dosing guide piece metal thingy, u can use that after tamping to gauge if u actually overfill or underfill ur basket. try to be within 1~2mm of that but not more and u'll be fine, too much gaps and u'll tend to get channeling, unless ur puck prep skill is very good. adds / remove beans accordingly.
3. decide your yield, and try pull a shot to hit that target.

from here on its already try and error and tasting.
pull a shot with scale and weight ur output.
ignore the 1cup / 2 cup button, manually start and stop ur shot.
if shot chokes, u can cheat this by opening the hot water (since urs is slayered) to drop pressure to 2 bar or around it until it start to flow, then ramp it again. however if this happens u'd likely overexract, and may want to stop the shot earlier, but at least u get some coffee.

i'd suggest trying straight shot and get good cup first.
one thing unlike filter is that one settings affect a lot of result (shot time, flow rate behavior, yield, taste) so stick to only adjusting grind size first, since this gives the least difference in shot behavior.
once u r consistent within 1-2g or secs, then u can add more changes and tune it further from there.

good luck.


#5: Post by Jonk »

I'd suggest to start with fresh, medium to medium light roasts and 1:2-3 shots. If you want to start pulling very light filter roasts eventually you'll make things a lot easier with SSP cast or especially MP burrs in the DF64.

treybinkley (original poster)

#6: Post by treybinkley (original poster) »

Thank you all for the valuable input. Once I get my last few parts I will note all of this and begin dialing in. Seems as though it's just filter brewing with a few more steps and each variable has higher consequence. I'm pretty familiar with the under/over extraction tasting stuff so that will at least be easy. But thanks everyone for all your wisdom it's greatly appreciated!!

And yes I am looking into some of the ssp burrs for the df64! Currently running the ssp mp in my gen 1 fellow ode with incredible results.


#7: Post by guiny »

If you have the lunar, get the smart espresso profiler app (free).

https://www.naked-portafilter.com/smart ... -profiler/

It's the most useful tool that I use. Rather than just timing your shot, you can follow the progress of your shot.


#8: Post by BKH »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote:Welcome to HB Trey

Weigh, measure, time and keep a log - but just jump in with gusto and both feet & have fun!

Also, once you have a reference shot I would be brave and make very extreme changes to temp, ratio, dose and grind. This can help make the taste differences more pronounced to learn the effects. It might not make the best shots...

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#9: Post by jrcdzn »

I DOVE in. no Youtube, no reference other than going to many 3rd wave shops and falling in love with the machines and watching the process, and then one day the dangerous thought: "How hard could it be?"

Things I wish I had known:
1. Youtube is a great resource - you have that covered.
2. Logging your shots, or rather, keeping track of repeatable variables.
3. The god shot is a myth
4. Stir every espresso
5. The salami shot is your friend when dialing in blends
6. WDT is a cheap investment in the scheme of things - you are covered
7. Crema is not an indication of good taste

Things I did do right:
1. Drink EVERY shot; even the bad ones will teach you something. Seriously, drink the whole thing! pain is temporary.
2. Commit to the process; it's a journey.
2. Start with a blend that you have had somewhere else that you think is well done; use that as your guide. Go back to the place you had it occasionally. Ask the barista for tips. For me, it was a year (possibly years) with Stumptown Hair Bender.
3. Trust your taste and preferences chase that in your drink, not the god shot.
4. As you begin to understand which variables you can control, begin experimenting with other blends and the rest of the variables.

10 years later, I make a decent drink on most days, and every once in a while, someone will ask me, "you ever consider doing this full-time?"... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

At the end of the day, I am not pulling 40-100 shots a day, so I put my expectations in check. I want to make the best drink I can make and share it with friends and family it's a journey.

Welcome to the espresso club, and good luck on your Journey!

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Team HB

#10: Post by Jeff »

Though I enjoy medium-light and lighter roasts, they're comparatively hard to dial in. A classic "espresso" blend from a reputable US/Canadian roaster is a walk in the park by comparison. I'd suggest starting there to widen the sweet spot. Once you're comfortable with the basics, then you can challenge yourself with SO or lighter roasts.