Grind adjustment when using more creative extraction techniques

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spearfish25
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#1: Post by spearfish25 »

Apologies if this seems like basic stuff but after a bunch of reading, watching, etc it's a topic that's still a bit nebulous for me. Maybe it's obvious and just let me know if it is.

I've been making espresso for years and understand the balance of grind fineness, dose, extraction time and output volume/weight. I generally do this the 'old' way using an 18g dose and 36g yield in 24-30 seconds. Sometimes I deviate with a ristretto for various blends using a 1:1 ratio. All good.

My confusion starts when using more 'exotic' or creative extractions with pressure profiling. Many of these approaches clearly throw extraction time out the window (perhaps logging it for consistency of subsequent extractions) since reducing pressure/flow appears to prolong extraction time when targeting a specific output volume.

How is one determining their grind fineness for advanced profile extractions?
Do you dial in your grind for a 'traditional' extraction and then move to pressure profiled extractions while keeping the grind unchanged?
Say you try a pressure profiled extraction but don't like the result. What do you adjust first? Do you change your profiling, adjust your grind, or alter your extraction ratio?

Hoping there's a bit more clear approach to this and for me that question starts with how I should be adjusting my grind for the more advanced extraction techniques.
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Alex
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another_jim
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#2: Post by another_jim »

Funnt you should ask ... I've just been blind tasting different grind settings using long preinfison, and lever style profile shots on the Bianca. I was completely floored to discover that the differences more or less vanshed. Fine grind, coarse grind, using various conical grinders, the shots all tasted pretty much the same.

This is very different from using a non-profiling machine with a short dwell time. There coarser grinds extract less than finer grinds, so are punchier tasting, with more prominent acids and bright-bitters, and less warm middle and roasty flavors (and less body unless you do an underextracted risttretto, like a Seattle shot from the early aughts).

My guess is if you do a long 15 to 20 second preinfusion, at 2 to 3 bar, you'll get high extractions and mellower flavors regardless of the grind setting. With some grinders, particularly flats, if the fines start reducing sharply at coarser espresso grinds, you may even get better clarity in a still mellow tasting shot by using coarser grinds and prolonged preinfusions.
Jim Schulman

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RapidCoffee
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#3: Post by RapidCoffee »

spearfish25 wrote:My confusion starts when using more 'exotic' or creative extractions with pressure profiling. Many of these approaches clearly throw extraction time out the window (perhaps logging it for consistency of subsequent extractions) since reducing pressure/flow appears to prolong extraction time when targeting a specific output volume.

How is one determining their grind fineness for advanced profile extractions?
Do you dial in your grind for a 'traditional' extraction and then move to pressure profiled extractions while keeping the grind unchanged?
Say you try a pressure profiled extraction but don't like the result. What do you adjust first? Do you change your profiling, adjust your grind, or alter your extraction ratio?
Interesting topic, still much to learn. One thing seems pretty well established: preinfusion at low flow rates results in reduced puck resistance, and faster flow during the subsequent steps. So you'll probably dial in a finer grind for prolonged PI and/or extended soaks. This is useful for light roasts, which are harder to extract, and thus benefit from a finer grind.

I'm sure everyone has their own guidelines, but I typically start with normale extraction parameters: recommended basket dose, WAG at grind, 1:2 brew ratio, brew temperature based on roast level (dark->lower, light->higher), spring lever (declining pressure) profile, aim for 30-35s extraction time... and work from there.
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another_jim
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#4: Post by another_jim »

I'm still in the middle of working on this; so I have some new results.

The identical taste was doing fine grind/low dose and coarse grind/high dose wth long preinfusions. I'm getting the classic difference of lighter, less extracted shots for the coarser grinds by using the same dose, the same preinfuison time, and a lot faster flow (close to a turboshot, I guess).

So with a profiling machine, you can do grind and dose independently, and see what gives.
Jim Schulman

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Jeff
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#5: Post by Jeff »

At the time, those pesky pump machines and their nine-bar profiles were "creative extraction techniques". Lever machines long had some kind of infusion and soak (some slow, some "slam the puck"), then a comparatively low peak pressure that declined during the shot.

Getting back to profiles that aren't common pump-machine profiles, I find the following to be helpful in guessing what to do next. Yep, guessing. Sometimes I'm right, other times I scratch my head, even with nine-bar flat machines.

- Your coffee choice will dictate what you can get in the cup that you might like. There is no magic to fix stuff you just don't like at all. Try it as "filter" or save it for burr seasoning if that doesn't cut it either.

- Learning sour vs. bitter vs. astringent is critical, as is understanding that they can come together in a single cup

- Increasing extraction can sometimes reduce sourness, up to a point

- A "well balanced" shot can sometimes enhance the impression of sweetness

- Decreasing extraction can sometimes reduce bitterness, again up to a point

- Increasing extraction can include, grinding finer, longer ratio (more water, less grinds, or both), higher flow rate, higher temperature, longer soak

- Long soaks (more than a few seconds), especially at moderate pressure, are believed by some to enhance the more generic coffee flavors, such as chocolate and nuts. I guess Slayer-style shots are an example of this.

- Dramatically different baskets can change the character of the shot. As an example, many people find that a highly tapered basket produces a more enjoyable shot of classic espresso than second- or third-generation baskets.

- Astringency can come from a range of sources. Some grinders seem to have an edge when trying to push the extraction "too hard". I don't have any good, general ideas on this that apply across a range of grinders.

Sometimes you have to cross an un-tasty range when changing shot styles significantly. The "quality surface" of espresso isn't always one that you can easily roll down to the best point. Sometimes you need to climb a hill before discovering another valley.