Finally pulled my first good shot ... after almost throwing it away due to being an absolute failure on paper

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

#1: Post by Esphir »

Got frustrated after for weeks now only getting awful and undrinkable shots after another, so I've tried something completely new this time. Basically something made just for fun.

I increased my typical dose from 13g/14g to 15g (since my 51mm puck makes this sort of stuff quite difficult) and ground it a bit coarser for the beginning and prayed that at least something to learn from comes out.

In the end, I needed to stop the machine after 48g in 23-24 sec (3 sec pre-infusion included). From just looking at the numbers, really one of my worst testing results. On top of that with an quite under extracted, dry puck, with even some channeling (I believe). So I was not very far away from throwing it down the drain and calling it a day with yet another failed result.

The strange part about it, the taste was absolutely amazing with some incredible crema on top.
Perfect "coffe bitterness" with an beautiful touch of chocolate aroma. Literally exactly what I was looking for/hoping to achieve the entire time.


Can maybe someone here tell me what was going on, since it seriously doesn't make ANY sense to me or maybe even tell me what to do to tweak the recipe to make me reproduce it (maybe in an a better/opimal way)?

Milligan

#2: Post by Milligan »

Bigger ratio, more bitter. If the shots were sour at the normal 1:2 then extending it would give balance. All depends on the coffee. Sounds like you were using a light/medium roast there.

Esphir (original poster)

#3: Post by Esphir (original poster) »

Milligan wrote:Sounds like you were using a light/medium roast there.
Exactly.
Finally went directly to a coffee roastery for my first time ever, to get some good quallity and fresh beans, and the roast is in fact quite light. You can almost see the color as a mix between cocoa- and coffee powder.

After nearly wasting over the half of it (and let's not count all the other packages of beans before this one -.-) with horrible shots, I finally pulled the good one I've described in my post.
It's just that EVERYTHING that I've heard of, if it's the 1:2/1:2,5 ratio or the 25-35 sec brewing rule, it breakes everything by a mile, yet it was the first actualy drinkable and enjoyable one.

Like almost every other shot, where I've aimed for the normal "Espresso making rules", it always was awful, no matter how much I've tried to solve and fix the errors the next time I've tried pulled one, to finally get to the goal of an good shot.

Quester

#4: Post by Quester »

Esphir wrote:It's just that EVERYTHING that I've heard of, if it's the 1:2/1:2,5 ratio or the 25-35 sec brewing rule, it breakes everything by a mile, yet it was the first actualy drinkable and enjoyable one.
There are so many factors. Time is the one I pay the least attention to. Especially with a machine that's highly adjustable and can profile.

For example, I pull turbo shots in the 15-17 second range. And I pull some shots that are 60+ seconds with a long pre-infusion. I adjust things like temperature, shot ratio, pressure, for taste and let time be whatever it ends up being.

If you really did have dry spots in the puck after pulling the shot, that's a problem. So I'm curious what made you like that shot better? Maybe because it wasn't as strong?

Milligan

#5: Post by Milligan »

Esphir wrote:Exactly.
Finally went directly to a coffee roastery for my first time ever, to get some good quallity and fresh beans, and the roast is in fact quite light. You can almost see the color as a mix between cocoa- and coffee powder.

After nearly wasting over the half of it (and let's not count all the other packages of beans before this one -.-) with horrible shots, I finally pulled the good one I've described in my post.
It's just that EVERYTHING that I've heard of, if it's the 1:2/1:2,5 ratio or the 25-35 sec brewing rule, it breakes everything by a mile, yet it was the first actualy drinkable and enjoyable one.

Like almost every other shot, where I've aimed for the normal "Espresso making rules", it always was awful, no matter how much I've tried to solve and fix the errors the next time I've tried pulled one, to finally get to the goal of an good shot.
A normale at 2:1 is generally good for traditional espresso. Go lighter and you've got to go 1:2.5+. Go darker and you get into ristrettos. It is unfortunate that the 2:1 is so pushed around the internet as the place to be. Most specialty coffee is medium/light to light these days so they need a longer ratio. The biggest rule of thumb is longer ratio if the shot tastes sour and shorter ratio if the shot tastes harsh/bitter. Timing can matter too, but I've found ratio is the biggest factor (as long as you aren't choking or gushing.) Once you find the ratio then get your timing within 25-35s depending on taste. Further dial in with temp after. You'll get the hang of your equipment and be able to get close just looking at the roast, process, and origin as you learn. Once you get that down then there are still more ways to enjoy a shot out there, but try not to do too much at once.

Quester makes a good point too. Some coffees need weird parameters. I have shots go into the 45-50s range and taste great there.

Good luck!

Esphir (original poster)

#6: Post by Esphir (original poster) »

Quester wrote:So I'm curious what made you like that shot better? Maybe because it wasn't as strong?
In my oppinion, when thinking back, it had (for me as a beginner in this field) a normal Espresso strengh.

Stronger and more compact than a normal coffee, but not as watery and mild like an Cafe Crema (or at least not the ones I know), with an okay - good body, which was not too overwhelming but also didn't really left an dry finnish with it, like those bad shots kinda do.

I mean it had an tiny little bit of an burnt side taste due to the possible channeling, but it wasn't really noticable if you weren't focusing much on it.
On top of that, the advertised chocolate note was *finally* noticable.


I'm sorry if I'm not the best at describing things/details. With like only ~1 month of beeing into it, still pretty new to this stuff/craft ^^"

Esphir (original poster)

#7: Post by Esphir (original poster) »

Milligan wrote:A normale at 2:1 is generally good for traditional espresso. Go lighter and you've got to go 1:2.5+. Go darker and you get into ristrettos. It is unfortunate that the 2:1 is so pushed around the internet as the place to be. Most specialty coffee is medium/light to light these days so they need a longer ratio. The biggest rule of thumb is longer ratio if the shot tastes sour and shorter ratio if the shot tastes harsh/bitter. Timing can matter too, but I've found ratio is the biggest factor (as long as you aren't choking or gushing.) Once you find the ratio then get your timing within 25-35s depending on taste. Further dial in with temp after.

Huh, that's interesting. Thank you so much for all the information, as well as for quite the reassurance.

Definitelly trying tomorrow to get the time up/right this time, while also hoping to get one without the channeling, since I'll doubt that the upper mentioned shot could've lasted much longer in there, due to *almost* starting to develop a little bit of an burnt kinda touch.
So probably grinding a bit coarser and doing some Salami shots here and there while trying to stay at the 15g, since everything under that *never* worked out, no matter of how many tries and change ups I gave at this mark, while following all the tips and guides out there in hope to finally "fix" it.


Unfortunatelly, I'm not having the best machine right now, since I've bought mine when I was just starting to get in coffee making and thaught "Oh, this one isn't that expensive and even on sale for under 100€! I mean, it creates pressure and hot water, what else does I/it need". Little did I knew back than, what of an Rabbidhole this is going to be -.-
Because of that, a lot of controll and fine adjustment features (like temperature) are unavalible to me right now.

But funnily enough, finally getting an somewhat enjoyable shot really pumped me up for looking into upgrading. I mean at least to one with an PID (like Lelit their machines which have kinda caught my eye when looking at their price-performance).

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mrgnomer

#8: Post by mrgnomer »

Your puck prep was good. Even distribution, even tamp makes for a good extraction in my experience. Bigger dose is a forgiveness improvement especially if your dose size gives you a showescreen tamp on an entry level machine.

You will find the rabbit hole getting much deeper if you upgrade to a commercial, prosumer machine and a commercial stepless grinder. The extraction quality and consistency can be quite the improvement.
Kirk
LMWDP #116
professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love