Help! Inconsistent shots, same variables.

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

#1: Post by A_Generic_Name »

Lelit Elizabeth with a Mignon Oro XL grinder. Same bean (local dark roast ~7 days from roast). I am using the stock 14-18g basket. Weighing out 16.3-16.5g ground into a dosing cup. Putting portafilter on top of the cup. Flipping to transfer dose. Funnel on and WDT. Tamping with a normcore tamper with the 30lb spring. 6 second pre-infusion (factory default #2 program). WDT and tamping using as close to the same technique as I can get between shots. I clean and dry the basket and screen between shots.

4 shots have given me time range of 26-35 second for 33g of espresso (+/- .5g)

Both machines are new with about 1lb run through the grinder trying to dial this thing in.

The only thing left I can think of is my scale is crap, which admittedly I did cheap out on and go for the $15 Amazon option. Before I drop $250 on a Lunar scale, does anyone have any ideas/suggestions?



#2: Post by crwper »

I have a fairly similar setup (Gaggia Classic Pro with PID and OPV mods, Eurekea Mignon Specialita, Normcore tamper, cheap scale) and generally if I don't change anything between shots, I'll be about ±1 second on shot time.

I've got this scale: ... 017LUWCAW/

It's got some small issues, but nothing that affects the consistency of my shots much. So, without knowing much about your specific scale, I don't think it would be the first thing I'd look at--even if it's not very accurate, it's very likely reasonably consistent, and that's what you need.

Can you describe your WDT technique? I start with the WDT tool all the way down, do small circles sort of like a spirograph, moving around the perimeter of the basket, and slowly raising the tool until I'm just skimming the surface. Takes about 10 seconds and gives a very consistent puck.
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#3: Post by Pressino »

A_Generic_Name wrote:4 shots have given me time range of 26-35 second for 33g of espresso (+/- .5g)
Your scale would have to be egregiously inconsistent to be responsible for your shot extraction, as the previous post says, there must be another reason for your experience. The most likely reason, provided your puck preparation is consistent and you are using the same beans within 24-48 hours, is some variability in your grinding. New unseasoned burrs should not cause that kind of shot-to-shot variability. How about retention? Even a couple of grams of stale coffee left in the grinder between shots could cause the kind of variability, since the staler coffee will generally extract quicker.

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#4: Post by HB »

A_Generic_Name wrote:Crosspost:
Two members have already replied so I'll leave this thread alone, but for future reference, please refer to Why is cross-posting strongly discouraged? Thanks.
A_Generic_Name wrote:...does anyone have any ideas/suggestions?
Apart from not cross-posting? :lol: How does the espresso taste? A new grinder can cause variations in shot time, but before looking for causes, I'd want to (a) confirm the initial beading of a bottomless pour looks even, and (b) the taste of the faster one indicates channeling [i.e., blander, sour, blonding early].
Dan Kehn

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#5: Post by martuney »

Well, my first thought is that is quite a range of difference in timing, and even less than perfect puck prep wouldn't really account for that, so something is off, so what strikes me as off in your description is a basket ranging from 14 to 18 grams. Generally speaking, at least for precision baskets, is you can up or down dose about a gram; say an 18g basket, for example, you would have a range from 17 to 19 grams. So, I'd recommend, keeping everything else the same, try changing your recipe itself. Just for test purposes, lets first change it to 18g dose, with a 1:2 ratio and a target output of 36g and mark the time hoping to get between 25 and 30 seconds. This is a basic recipe I always recommend when having difficulty dialing in. Once you're dialed in (hitting your target yield at a consistent time) then you can adjust some of your other variables for taste. I'd also recommend, as I believe someone else mentioned, purging between shots - particularly if you change either beans, or grind settings, or if it's been more than a few minutes between shots.
A separate thought, it is true that some darker roasts can have a higher volume to weight, and if you are unsure of the optimum dose for your basket, one method would be to tare your basket empty, then fill your basket with ground coffee and use a straight edge to gently level it off, without tamping and weigh the basket.
Let me know how you make out!


#6: Post by Milligan »

Curious of the sequence of times. If you are getting off timing on the first one and then the rest are somewhat close then you need to purge the grinder and brush out before your first dose. Usually a few grams will do it. I've forgotten to purge before (well more than I'd like to admit in my morning stupor) and the first shot is off. Something else to consider is warm up time. The manual on these are typically a bit optimistic. Most machines need around 30 mins of warm up before making back-to-back consistent shots. Keep in mind, temp instability won't swing the shot time 10s but a compound of not purging, inadequate warm up, and perhaps some puck prep issues could certainly cause that.

Don't sweat it, you'll get it dialed in. Keep good notes and continue messing around.

I'll also agree that I highly doubt it is the scale. Those amazon jewelry scales are pretty good.