How do you pull a single espresso?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
User avatar
JmanEspresso

#1: Post by JmanEspresso »

Hey,

I have been confused on how to "properly" pull a single shot using the LM single basket. The confusion is how you fill and tamp the single basket. I have found two video's which both use a different technique...

"Standard"
Now, anytime I pull a shot using my sinlge basket, I have done it like in the first video. but, after watching the second video, I am wondering if i am doing it "wrong". The shots taste good, yes. The puck is'nt really a puck, more an absolute mess. So, which is correct? Or better yet, which way do YOU dose the single basket. I know the first video doesnt use a LM style single, but you can still see the huge difference in technique. (Funnily enough I was watching these videos trying to find some more info on the BZ07..and this came up)

Im quite curious about how people do it..Thanks!

User avatar
Arpi

#2: Post by Arpi »

Hi Jman!

I am a big fan of the single basket shot. Actually, my whole espresso world revolves around it jeje

So far I've been having very good luck with the sifter distribution technique (not trying to advertise it). See couple threads bellow. My minimum for the single LM basket is 8 grams. With my current blend, I usually dose about 8 to 9 grams. Flavor changes fast at that dose level. The mess is normal for tapered baskets and low dose.

Cheers

User avatar
JmanEspresso

#3: Post by JmanEspresso »

OH I agree.. Big fan of the single.. Well..I became one once I got a LM single basket.. Before that, I could NEVER pull a good single shot using the standard E-61 single.

The thing I like most about it, is HOW the flavor changes so much with such a small change in dose. I should note, that the majority of shots pulled using the single basket are SO shots.. Namely DP Ethiopian, Kenyan, Costa rican.. Stuff that is very fruity and on the brighter side. Using these SO's in a double, or even the triple, renders a shot that is VERY acidic, and not enjoyable, to me. Using the LM single, the floral aromatics are there in full force, and the fruit is not overbearing. Most blends, like the "popular" ones.. Black Cat, Belle, Toscano etc etc.. Dont really do to well in the single basket, rather as a ristretto from the double basket.

Ive been workin on a couple pounds of Organic Ethiopian Birbissa, home roast, taken to either just before, or a crack or two after second crack. Its amazing as a single shot, and works equally well as a small (4-5oz) americano. Shame on me for only buying 5lbs.. I would love another 20 to work with, but, hey..

However.. HOW do you dose the basket.. Do you only put coffee in the depression where the holes are, or do you fill the basket like you would a double(up to the line..ish), and use a 58mm tamper to tamp?

User avatar
Arpi

#4: Post by Arpi »

You'll probably get advice from different people and they all will be different. Each will probably work better depending on circumstances.

I can only speak for my way of doing it which is not very popular btw because it takes time. My personal way to prepare the basket is by weight. If the weight is too low I get thin coffee (it has a thin shiny crema). If it is too much weight, I get a cloud that covers the good stuff and it is unpleasant for me (depends on blends). After a few tries I identify the right spot of density. Then I fine tune the flavor with temperature.

The 'sifter distribution' works like snow. All grounds lay with the same pressure into a mountain. All you need is a medium mesh colander, a funnel and a brush. The funnel I bought it locally at Homedepot, the colander at Walmart.

If you have good hands and hold the funnel steady, and just move the brush in circles with the other hand, you'll craft a perfect mountain 100% of the time. No need to touch it, just tamp.

Cheers

User avatar
JmanEspresso

#5: Post by JmanEspresso »

I used to use the sifter method when I had the delonghi and i was using my PeDe. In the beginning, with the PeDe, it was very consistent for about 99% of the dose, but there was some slightly larger chunks.. after a while, it went away and the PeDe turned into the best 80 bucks I ever spent.


What you said about different people having different technique is too true.. I guess I will just continue doing it how I have been.. like the "Standard" video up above. The shots DO taste good, so i guess it doesnt matter??

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#6: Post by another_jim »

The big tamper used on the first video probably indicates that the basket was being over filled to at least 9 to 10 grams; while the second shows the "nominal" 7 to 8 gram dose being used in the LM single basket. The dosing technique the second person uses seems wasteful, but he's pulling a traditional single. The first person is doing DIY singles based on US practice.

If you are using one of the usual good US espresso blends, I have a hard time imagining that the second, classical technique will work, since they are best at 18 to 20 grams in double baskets. If you are using a bright African or Central SO, it would be equally hard for me to imagine a good shot from the first technique, since one would usually use a lower dose, close to classical 14 grams, in the double basket.

So my guess is that if you want to do singles for the full range of coffees, you'll need to be able to prep them at both higher and lower doses. I believe this is harder for singles than for doubles. The baskets are much more conical and may require a different tamper size for each dose.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
JmanEspresso

#7: Post by JmanEspresso »

So, if I wanted to make a "traditional" single, using the LM single basket, I would need a tamper that is the diameter of the impression, not a 58mm.. Am i understanding that correctly? I too thought the method in the second video was more wasteful then I care to be.. But Im sure I could use the basket in that manner and not waste nearly as much coffee.. I just dont have a tamper that size.. Smallest I have is a 51-ish.

But, as for what coffee's I use the single basket for.. Mainly Ethiopian SO, but some costa rican and kenyan's have been tasty as well. I do also pull them at around 14-15gr in a double basket as well. But as for the popular blends, like black cat, belle and such.. I dont use the single basket for them.. Those are dosed at a minimum 17grs, and up to 24-25. I agree, that is where they truly excel.

I really had no idea that was how you used a single basket, traditionally. Before I saw these videos and questioned it, anytime I used a single basket, I used it in the same manner I would use a double.. It would be updosed, but only at about 10grs.. But that would still put the coffee, when tamped, just under the retaining springs ridge. Ill have to find myself a tiny tamper and try out this new-to-me method.

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#8: Post by another_jim »

The tampers mounted on dosers, around 55m and extremely curved, will tamp most single baskets, but have problems with the LM single. I believe LM's standard tamper is two sided, double and single. The mini-basket in the LM single needs around 47 to 48mm
Jim Schulman

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#9: Post by cannonfodder »

I detailed the process I use to dial in a single basket on the VBM Domobar Super bench article. I find the dose to be very critical with a single.

«missing video»
Dave Stephens

User avatar
JmanEspresso

#10: Post by JmanEspresso »

Hey Dave,

I remember reading something about single shots in that review.. Thank you for the link. i have to agree with you that the dose in a single basket has a great effect on the shot..

But, I notice, in that review you were using the basket which came with the VBM.. makes sense, because you are reviewing that machine.. but, I have never had any luck with any single basket but a LM. Ive got two E-61 singles, a 6gr and 7gr, a Gaggia Single, and the LM. Even using the technique in video one, filling to the ridge and tamping with a 58, the LM gives me some great shots. The E-61's, for me, are the most unruly, and they have been forever banished to the task of "Tamper Holder".

Im going to be ordering my long awaited custom reg this week, and now, because of this discussion, i will be ordering two bases and a handle. a 47mm base, a 58mm us curve base, and a handle. SWEET.

Soo, yesterday morning, sunday, I had four single shots of Ethiopian Birbissa.. Its a shame SM is out of that bean.. It makes an awesome americano, and an even better single shot. Doses for all four shots were 10.5grs, which was JUST enough so the convex tamper didnt bottom out on the basket. I also tried my 50-50 blend(brazil/sumatra) from the single.. It wasnt bad, but no where near the flavors that emerge from a double basket. The single basket opened up a whole new chapter of espresso for me and anita, and its awesome.

Here's a thought, though... I wonder how the texture and mouthfeel of the shots will change(or not) when just filling the inner-mini basket. I want to guess they will all be thicker in general, but Ill have to wait and find out.. Any thoughts?