How do you pull a single espresso? - Page 4

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

#31: Post by da gino »

stefano65 wrote:I'm sorry must be because I'm from Italy
but I don't get it why people have such an hard time and disregards of singles shots
I personally rather pull 2 singles 30 seconds apart from each other then a double
dunno must be in my blood
I agree, between learning to drink espresso in Italy and owning a lever, I got used to singles instead of doubles. Perhaps because of that I'd rather have 4 singles in a day than 2 doubles. Having said that I never could pull a great double on the Pavoni and I've only just started pulling shots on a pump machine, so I may find that doubles just taste so much better on a pump than singles that I convert. I doubt it though because I want to drink espresso more often not less and that means smaller shots.


#32: Post by EspressoForge »

I find I like pulling singles because it allows for more experimentation without caffeine comatose setting in. Then again I can vastly vary the dose in my 49mm Pavoni from a 10g single (tough to lock in) all the way down to a 6g single pretty easily, though I'm sure I could go lower. A regular double for me is about 10g it seems, but because of the basket geometry and the way everything extracts I find the 10g single much more pleasing.

Could just be a lever thing...but it's starting to look like maybe not.

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JmanEspresso (original poster)

#33: Post by JmanEspresso (original poster) »

Hey Rob, Thanks for the encouragement! But not to worry, so long as coffee is grown on this planet, I will seek it out, geek it out, drive myself mad because of it, but most of all, enjoy it. Been like that since I was 6. :)

So, my last post noted that I didnt have any "single-shot-worthy" coffees left until my SweetMarias order gets here. Well, I was re-organizing my wine cooler turned green bean storage, and realized I had a lot of "end-bag" stuffs. Some great coffee's, but not enough quantity to roast, too good to be blended, and SM is out of the crop. Well, I didnt want to waste them. Im a big fan of SO brazils, and Im not biased to the processing like I am with ethiopians or Centrals. I had a brazil bourbon, pulp natural, and only about 3/4c in the bag. I dont like to have so little coffee, because with that amount, you only get like MAYBE 3 "test" shots to see how you want to pull it. Anyway, I roasted it to a city++. No 2C in the roaster, but I think i heard a pop or two when I poured it in the cooling bed. I roasted it yesterday morning, very early, it was about 5am. So, today I dove into it at about 1ish.

Since I Didnt have a lot, I stuck to the same method I did with the Birbissa. LM single basket, very fine grind, only fill the mini basket, and I dosed 9grams. The only tamping I did was to level the coffee, bathroom scale registered a single pound. Brazils can get ashy at higher temps, but since I had so little coffee, I just pulled a bunch of shots all over the place.

6 shots total for the "test".
2 shots at 202F
2 shots a bit cooler at 199F*
2 shots at 205F
-Pulled all of them normale-ish. 1oz +/- .15oz.. They were all pretty much an ounce.

I was NOT expecting what I got. The first two shots I pulled were cooler, 199F. Both of these shots were awesome in their own right. Not one iota of classic brazil bittersweetness.. Instead, the shot was as thick, rich, and SMOOOOTH. Aromatics reminded me of autumn(if that makes sense). If it wasnt for the apperance of crema, you could have told me it was sipping chocolate, because the taste was the creamiest milk chocolate I ever tasted in my life, and Ive worked for a CMPC. Really awesome shot, albeit monotoned. Still, fantastic in its own right.

I almost didnt want to pull the next two shots at 202F, for fear of ashy carbony flavors. But i did, because why not. I was almost as surprised as the first two! Without ANY change in dose or technique what-so-ever, the shot transformed itself completely. Still very thick and very smooth, but much more complex. The aroma in the cup was sweet, kinda herbal, almost tea-like. Jasmine was JUMPING at me. The taste re-iterated the aroma. Sweet jasmine, yet also some herbal flavors,, ever so slighty reminding me of a really good lintong. All that melted into a darker, richer chocolate, almost like bakers chocolate, but not as bittersweet. The second shot like this was the same, but I didnt notice the chocolate until the aftertaste. If I had another pound+ of this coffee, this is where and how I would pull it. No citrus, but floral, yet with darker herbal flavors, and superb, slighlty bittersweet chocolate. Very very good shot.

So, after those four shots, I was confident that this coffee performed well. I wasnt worried about losing the flavors at the higher temp. Same dose/prep. The aroma was strong, and very dark toned and herbal. It wasn't woody like lintong/herbal flavors can be, but it still reminded me of sumatra. The flowery stuff was gone. Taste was a different story. Not sweet, and not complex. Very bittersweet, but tolerable. DARK chocolate, something on the order of a 85%+ cocoa content bar. I like that, but all that went away with the finish/aftertaste. It was harsh and bitter, almost biting. Every tasted vanilla extract straight off a spoon? Thats what I thought of. This was not a good shot, but had it not been the last of the series, I would have known/expected that. Its not fruity or acidic, but because of the flavors of the first four shots, I was optimistic. Nope.. This is NOT where I would pull this coffee.

So.. While I didnt have nearly as much coffee to play around with, and no notes from when I roasted a larger batch(I roasted this for brewing when I got it), I was still able to get some great tasting shots. Going on what Jim said earlier about changing our methods so there is no brewing only coffees, this is a great example..This is a coffee I never would have used for espresso, either as a base, or a SO. But, because of the single basket, it was really good.

What surprised me the most, was HOW MUCH the shot changed with the temperature. when it comes to doubles and triples, I dont see THAT much change from temp.. Only from dose changes of more then a gram. but these where all the same dose. There is SO MUCH we dont know about espresso.. I LOVE IT!

So it seems the single basket, maybe because there is not a lot of coffee, responds drastically to any change in technique. Whether it be dose, grind/tamp, temperature, or even HOW you fill the basket. The LM single basket is quickly turning into the most dynamic 10 dollars I ever spent, and it is seeing much more use then I ever thought it would. Imagine If I had a lever machine? If I did, I dont think I could ever say, for sure, that I had a certain coffee "dialed in" on the single basket. They change so much regardless of what it is YOU change.

So, I wont say Im out of single worthy coffees, because who knows anymore what will work in the single. but heres what I am sure of.

The La Marzocco single basket is the one to use.
Grinding very fine and barely tamping seems to work best
Only filling the inner/mini basket

Other then that, I have no other constants I can think of.

I probably wont be working with the single basket until m new coffee gets here.. Ive got a Brazil/Sumatra blend roasted, which I want to use the triple basket for, as i do still love those ristretto-choco bombs too. but, on the coming order, there is either 1lb or 2lbs of an El Salv Pacamara, which I have been itching to try in the single basket. I also splurged for some Kona, but thats going in the vacpot.. Sorry, its my 1st pound of kona this year and Ive been looking forward to it for a while.

P.S. You know whats funny? When I first got my Anita, lots of people told me to stick the single basket in the junk drawer. I know Im using the LM single, but still.. imagine if we all just got rid of it? Something to sip on..

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JmanEspresso (original poster)

#34: Post by JmanEspresso (original poster) »

IMAWriter wrote:It is :lol:
But we're learning.
Like I said, seems easier on a lever.

You're probably right about that. What got me interested in singles was reading about you lever-heads using the single basket quite often. But, everytime I tried to use my E-61 single basket, it was a disaster. So, the smaller diameter Im sure helps out, because using the LM single, I only fill the mini basket, which is 40ish mm's.

Ive been meaning to order some swift baskets and see the difference it makes. Holes are bigger on the swift, so the grind will change too, but, while Ive never used one, Id bet good money it is as easy to pull a single using a swift basket as it is pulling a double using your prefered basket, once you get it all dialed in.

Plus, Lever machines produce different shots then pump machines does when it comes to doubles also. Ive always wanted a lever in the back of my mind, but I probably wont get one until way down the road... To much electronic gadgets i want!


#35: Post by IMAWriter »

J...way to go!
As I said, I was never very good with the single basket on Anita, otherwise great shots. In fact, when JonR10 (my coffee bro-tha purchased a group deal on Synesso triple baskets (he distributed, bless him) my triples sucked as well. The Synesso made all the difference.
Same now with the Elektra MCAL single basket I use with my Cremina. about 1.5mm diameter larger, different slope to the sides, whatever, but I am LOVING my singles, and somehow I'm getting fine pours with much more consistency.
Wait till you try some SO Yemen roasted just to a couple of snaps of 2nd. Talk about a flovor explosion. Gotta wait at least 3-4 days though. But worth it.
LMWDP #187


#36: Post by smillions »

This thread reminded me that I had yet to try my single basket, so I gave it a try. I dialed the grinder down (and lucked out first try), used an 8g dose. I know everyone disses the cheap plastic tamper that comes with most machines, but that is what I'm using; I used the narrow end to do a light tamp in the centre of the basket and then used wide end to do a slightly heaver tamp on the rest. Pulled three (out of three tries) nice singles using that technique.

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JmanEspresso (original poster)

#37: Post by JmanEspresso (original poster) »

Hey Rob.. I agree with the singles on Anita. I have both of the E-61 single baskets, 6 and 7gr baskets.. But they arent in my little container with the rest of my baskets. I dont use them because I cannot, for thelife of me, get a good shot out of them. I just cant see how to do it using those baskets.

But once I got the LM single.. That all changed. I bought it after reading a post Mark Prince made over on CG, about it being the best single basket out there. So, I found one for a couple bucks, and tried it out. Im very glad I did.

As far as SO yemens go.. I have tried them.. and they are easily one of my favorite coffee varietal. The Sana'ani was awesome, I went through 6lbs of that and then SM ran out. Ive got 2lbs of the Harisi, and it also is very good, though I find it more sensitive to roasts that are anything past like one or two snaps of second. Ive also got some ismali on the way, which I am very excited for. Ive got a half pound of sana'ani sealed up in the wine cooler, Its only about a month and half old, and while I dont want to wait TOO long to roast it, I wanna hang onto it.. that was some GREAT Yemen. however,, I wasnt too crazy about it out of the single basket. I never used the sana'ani, but the Harisi I tried with the single, and all I got was a lot of spice, I missed any dirty fruit or chocolate I usually associate with Yemens. However, out of the triple basket, its amazing. The Harisi I really like in between 1C and 2C, anywhere from 1min to 2:30min after 1C, its like an explosion of dark stone fruit and bittersweet chocolate.. Awesome awesome shot.


#38: Post by IMAWriter »

I'm trying to pony up some $$ to order some of the Ismaeli fro SM's.
As usual, I waiting for some payment for services rendered.
LMWDP #187

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JmanEspresso (original poster)

#39: Post by JmanEspresso (original poster) »

Im hoping that the Ismali will be as good as the other two Yemens.

If you still have some Harisi, give it a try as a melange. I roasted 3 batches, City++, FullCity, FullCity+.

Since everyones idea of roast levels are different, for this it goes something like this..

City++- Stopped in the window between 1C and 2C, no more then 120secs out of 1C
FullCity-Just about to start 2C, a snap or two at most.
FullCity+-A little bit into 2C, but not rolling yet

Blend em, rest em, pull em. I have found that this particular Yemen doesnt NEED as much rest as the Sana'ani, which I would let rest a minimum of 7 days, sometimes 9 or 10. The Harisi is good at 5 days, BUT, it is good up until 14-15 days. Ive yet to see any coffee be as good as yemens are at two weeks. I just threw out about 40grs of Basaltic bourbon today, which was at 18 days.. Very boring and thin. Yemen that long? Maybe STARTING to die, but still very rich, thick and full of dirty fruit.

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JmanEspresso (original poster)

#40: Post by JmanEspresso (original poster) »

Not much in the way of interesting updates yet... The single basket has been dormant for a little while.. I just received 2 bags each of aficionado and rustico from CC, but I also got my green order.

Once I get a chance to roast up some coffee, Ill be trying single shots with some El Salv Pacamara, Ethiopian Idido Misty Valley, and some Ugandan Bugisu. Might also put some sulawesi and a new brazil through to see what happens as well. And Rob, I got the new Yemen Ismali, so Ill give it a go once I get it roasted. I currently have 3 yemens(Sana, Harisi, Ismali)... Yemen-blend?

Id wager the misty Valley will be pretty good, and Im hoping with a light(er) roast for the Bugisu Ill get some nice fruit in the single.

And, as I promised, the Kona will be going no where near the espresso machine :P But luckily, even if nothing is good out of the single.. Ive got some awesome coffees to play with, along with 4lbs left of Brazil Ipanema tree-dried.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

P.S. Hopefully when I get paid this week Ill be putting an order through for both single/double Swift baskets, so that we can take a look at the differences they make for single shots.