How to maintain consistent flow rate throughout extraction? - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Hiruma (original poster)

#11: Post by Hiruma (original poster) »

Thank you, Peppersass!

I read into flow control and certainly felt that it was far beyond my current capabilities. I think I will go with your recommendation and save that until I can pull proper shots.

I also never thought about how baskets could be better for certain roasts since my assumption was that "precision baskets are just better". This is great info and I will certainly try using the stock Gaggia basket next time.

In case anyone is reading along and/or is experiencing a similar issue, I stopped using the 58.4 mm distribution tool and focused on good WDT + level tamping instead, and I'm already seeing improvements!

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happycat

#12: Post by happycat »

First I'll say something a bit annoying.

Fresh coffee makes a difference.

Then I'll say something weird.

You might be grinding too fine with inconsistent distribution / grind of the coffee.

What I mean is to compensate for poor distribution and channeling, you grind too fine. The problems are still in the puck but the finer grind masks the problem by slowing down the symptoms.

The answer can be less fine grind but more even better & distribution. Also the Sette has both micro and macro adjustment. They don't work together in the way I would expect. For instance, you can have a coarser macro + finer micro, or a finer macro + coarser micro. For instance, you could back off on the macro adjust and tighten up the micro adjust.

Preinfusion can compensate, too.

On the classic there is a trick for preinfusing.... open steam knob at start of shot to divert some pressured water out the steam arm, and then close it up. The idea is to hydrate the puck with some lower pressure water so it swells up before you hit with full pressure.

If your Settle is 18 months or older, it might get louder if the plastic gears are misaligned and chattering. Might cause some issues like loose screws between the gearbox and motor.

Also you seem to be grinding so fine on your macro setting that I wonder if you need to add shims. Or maybe just go back to my original point.

For me, the Sette is an imperfect grinder but solved all my issues. Hope you figure it out.
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Hiruma (original poster)

#13: Post by Hiruma (original poster) »

Thanks for your input, happycat!
Fresh coffee makes a difference.
I shall look for only the freshest beans after I'm through with this current bag.
You might be grinding too fine with inconsistent distribution / grind of the coffee.
I had been wondering why the settings I use on my Sette 270 seem far more on the "fine" side than others I've seen using the machine. It could certainly be that I am grinding finer than needed to hide my poor distribution. Seems like there is much experimenting to be done - maybe I will just go through this not-so-fresh bag of beans to test out grind setting differences and maybe even pre-infusion as well.

Appreciate all the advice!

DamianWarS
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#14: Post by DamianWarS »

Hiruma wrote:Hello everyone,

I am hoping for some advice on what I should adjust to stop the flow rate from starting off slow and then increasingly significantly around 15-20 seconds into a double shot. I can try to get pictures later on if they might help. For reference, I just started learning about espresso!

My prep process before pulling a shot
I am using a Gaggia Classic Pro with medium roast beans (approx. 2-3 weeks after roasting) ground with a Sette 270 at settings that are quite fine (3-4). I changed the spring on the Gaggia to reduce brew pressure to 9 bars, warm the machine up for at least 20 minutes before using it, and follow temperature surfing guides to try to get the temperature as hot as possible (turning on the steam button before brewing). I dose directly into the bottomless portafilter with a funnel, use a 0.4 mm acupuncture needle for WDT, level with a Motta 58.4 mm distribution tool and then tamp with a 58.4 mm tamper calibrated to around 30 pounds.

The sad result
The first 5-6 seconds seem fine as I can see coffee slowly covering the bottom of the basket quite evenly. The flow begins and everything looks "right" (based on those neat extraction videos on youtube) until around 15-20 seconds where the stream turns into a grossly wide upside-down triangle that sometimes even contains bubbles. The flow at this rate is completely beige/blonde. The result this morning was 17g in, 34g out in 32 seconds and the taste was sour/astringent and overall unpleasant. I didn't see any holes or cracks in the puck afterwards.

What I have tried
I've tried grinder coarser, but that just makes the significant increase in flow start earlier. I've tried grinder finer as well, but that just delays the inevitable. I've tried skipping WDT since I thought I might be creating holes in the puck, but the result is channeling all over the place. Overall, it seems that no matter what I try, the espresso I pull always has some unpleasant acidity and the flow rate is almost never consistent.

If you have any pointers on what I should start adjusting to resolve this issue, please let me know! Thanks in advance for your time and advice!
the Lance Hedrick's video as already suggested has great tips to get the most out of an unmodded Gaggia Classic Pro. Generally speaking if your shot's sour then you need to extract more. I wouldn't worry about the 2:1 ratio in a 30-second window. if the shot is sour then you need to troubleshoot it based on the shot not based on ratios or times. You could pull the shot longer which would extract more (and increase the ratio), you could grind finer which may keep a 2:1 ratio but the shot time will be longer. the poor man's preinfusion (as Hedrick's calls it) is a great way to get preinfusion which should increase your extraction and/or allow you to grind finer. the temp surfing the way Hedrick's shows is also a great way to optimize the temp. his method of turning on the steam boiler for 5 seconds is a way to get the temp as hot as you can. generally speaking, hotter temps means extracting more but there is a trade-off at too hot of temp where burnt bitter tastes start extracting quicker. Hedrick's routine has a lot of steps in it, and he screws up himself @26:00 in the video. (He misses waiting for the unit to heat back up). That's the problem with multistep routines like that, they are easy to mess up and you may never even catch it and wonder why the shot is off. So if you're going to dive into Hedrick's routine expect a bit of a learning curve before you master it, once you've figured it out muscle memory takes over and you'll do the steps without thinking about it but that may take a couple of weeks if you're only pulling a shot every day.

Hiruma (original poster)

#15: Post by Hiruma (original poster) »

Thanks for the input, DamianWarS!
So if you're going to dive into Hedrick's routine expect a bit of a learning curve before you master it, once you've figured it out muscle memory takes over and you'll do the steps without thinking about it but that may take a couple of weeks if you're only pulling a shot every day.
I watched Lance Hedrick's video and took notes on things I can incorporate into my workflow and... I immediately ended up doing what I always do. You're absolutely right about the learning curve! I already turn on the steam before pulling a shot and will need more practice until I am consistent with my workflow.

Also working to remove/reduce the number of variables by picking up a self-leveling tamper and a Levercraft WDT tool. Hope I can start making better espresso in the near future!

DamianWarS
Supporter ♡

#16: Post by DamianWarS »

Hiruma wrote:Thanks for the input, DamianWarS!


I watched Lance Hedrick's video and took notes on things I can incorporate into my workflow and... I immediately ended up doing what I always do. You're absolutely right about the learning curve! I already turn on the steam before pulling a shot and will need more practice until I am consistent with my workflow.

Also working to remove/reduce the number of variables by picking up a self-leveling tamper and a Levercraft WDT tool. Hope I can start making better espresso in the near future!
Hedrick is an HB member and seems to have just joined so maybe he will add his comments. He has a style that's more of a single take with not a lot of edits in his videos that comes across to me as more personable and less scripted so some mistakes happen that don't get edited out. I like the style and I wouldn't want him to change it but he shows how easy it is to mess up this routine and like I said at about 26:00 he misses a step to heat up the boiler again and I'm not even sure if he catches it but he does get a little confused (probably wondering why the light wasn't on). The routine might be able to squeeze out the best results but tends to be a bit counter-intuitive with turning switches on and off that are designed to just stay in one setting. I have a Decent so I just set up a profile and push a button, if I got one of Gaggia it would probably take a while to break out my habits and I would mess up all the time. I would probably make a checklist to ensure steps aren't skipped and probably do things like counting out loud to make it harder to skip steps and eventually it would set in as routine. I would definitely keep an eye on Hedrick's videos for when he posts the mod version as you might want to mod it yourself.