Good taste, good crema, AND volume?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by espressonewb »

Morning All,

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been seeing a steady incline in not only the quality of my shots, but also the consistency. I'm sure I'm far from being great, but again, progress is what I'm aiming for.

This morning, my first shot was one of my better one's, with a really nice taste and some nice rich crema, but it fell short on volume, as I stopped the machine when I saw it begin to blonde. This seems to be a pattern whereas I trade volume for quality or quality for volume. I currently am using 17-18 grams of coffee, Alterra Espresso Blend.

Any troubleshooting ideas? Need I updose, coarser grind, deeper tamp? Or...

Frankly, I'm not quite sure what else to try...

Cheers and happy that is.


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#2: Post by HB »

espressonewb wrote:This seems to be a pattern whereas I trade volume for quality or quality for volume... Frankly, I'm not quite sure what else to try.
Two thoughts come to mind: What is the brewing ratio of the "good" espressos? And if they're good, why does it trouble you that the volume is less? Maybe you simply prefer espressos with a lower brew ratio; there's no crime in that.
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espressonewb (original poster)

#3: Post by espressonewb (original poster) »

Morning Dan,

Standby, I'm going to have to give your 'brewing ratio' some thought and attention to adequately answer your question. Those are a lot of new ways to look at espresso that I'm not quite used to yet.

To answer your second 'statement' as to why not accept that I like shorter pulls, well, maybe you're right, but I guess I always thought that if I used 17-18 grams of coffee, I ought be able to get close to 2 oz. out of it and have it be good? I just figured that I was doing something wrong...

I'll try to figure out where my 'good' shots lie in table and get back to you...



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#4: Post by malachi »

It it tastes good to you - it is good.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin


#5: Post by Thatchmo »

I know what you are going through! When I first really got serious about home made espresso, I too was quite troubled with my lack of getting a real 2 oz when I made a double. I tried everything, changing beans, grind settings, tamp pressures, etc...and learned from experience and from very experienced members here on HB, that it's better to have one ounce of great tasting espresso than two ounces of dreck...and I realized the obvious...I make and drink homemade espresso for the amazing flavor and texture, not for the belly filling factor!

So relax a little, 2oz is only a guide, and it's really for commercial establishments to charge more for worse tasting espresso! (Not all of them, but most of them!) I really think that's why its so hard to find a great tasting double out in the real world...It's not always the optimum pull.

FWIW...most of my "doubles" I usually stop at 1 to 1.75 oz , at the first signs of blonding...about 85% of the time, the other 15% are either shorter or longer, mostly rejects...

So don't beat yourself's about quality, not quantity, right!

Just my .002 cents!


espressonewb (original poster)

#6: Post by espressonewb (original poster) »


You know something you're very right, the both of you...

I liken it to wine or cigars (the other two of my ocd addictions)...People ask me all the time what the best wine/cigar absolute impossible question for me to answer. To me, if you hand me a bottle of Penfold's Grange and/or a Punch Gran Cru #2 Maduro...I could die thereafter a very happy man. However, some extremely well versed folks in the same subject think I'm out of my mind. To each their own, and this is no different I'm learning.

The crux of my questioning was that I thought I was doing something terribly wrong, I guess I'm not, and that is good to know...really good!

I still want to spend some time with Dan's question though, if for nothing else to learn something new about this little 'hobby' of mine...

By the way, if any of you found a way to stay 'caffeine sober' after 6 or more shots a day, please let me know! :) The one draw back to experimenting and testing and further testing and tasting is now I can't sleep...:)

Thanks again to all,


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#7: Post by malachi »

espressonewb wrote:By the way, if any of you found a way to stay 'caffeine sober' after 6 or more shots a day, please let me know!
Drink lots of water.
Eat a banana or two.

Drink beer.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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#8: Post by cannonfodder »

The machine, grinder, coffee, age of coffee, humidity, and a dozen other variables will play into how much volume you get. I rarely go over 1.75 ounces for a double but I am usually around 14-16 grams depending on the coffee. You could also be getting some channeling but that usually produces a bitter and harsh espresso. If you have a bottomless portafilter, try doing a video and post it. If there is something going on we may be able to pick it out.

But in the end, dont get to concerned about the shot volume.

I only get the caffeine jitters if I knock down 5 or 6 shots in an hour now a days. Haven't tried the banana, but water and beer (or other high proof spirit) works well to calm the nerves. You just have to balance the stimulants with depressants to keep equilibrium.
Dave Stephens

espressonewb (original poster)

#9: Post by espressonewb (original poster) »

Hello Gentlemen,

Sweet, now I have an actual reason to have my evening cocktail/s...Not as if I ever really needed one, but at least now I have an additional excuse to tell the wife!

"Honey, all the guys on the barista site say I just need to drink a bit more...They are afterall the experts, right?" Her, "Uh-huh"...

Yeah, that won't pass muster, but I'll certainly give it a sound college try...:)



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#10: Post by Psyd »

espressonewb wrote:To me, if you hand me... ...a Punch Gran Cru #2 Maduro...I could die thereafter a very happy man.
By the way, if any of you found a way to stay 'caffeine sober' after 6 or more shots a day, please let me know! :)
First, the best cigar is the one to hand. Never look down your nose at a two dollar (in the pricier places) at Art Fuente's curly-heads. Yah, they're rolled by novitiates, and occasionally one comes up plugged, but out on the golf course they almost make up for the fact that there's no coffee out there!
As for the caffeine problem, find a roaster with an exceptional decaf. They tend to be a somewhat lesser quality cup than their caffeinated cousins, but (almost) all of the experimentation that you do with a decaf blend will translate to successes with your caffeinated blends of similar heritage. That, and those late-night urges get satisfied as well.
If you're just in it for the caffeine, the pills are much easier and cheaper. If you're in it for the taste, find a favorite decaf.
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