Is 2:3 brew ratio the new normale?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
User avatar
RapidCoffee
Team HB

#1: Post by RapidCoffee »

Andy Schecter began posting his thoughts on brew ratios almost five years ago, and widespread acceptance in the coffee community finally seems assured. I have been a big fan of brew ratios from the start. But for some time, I have noted that my preferred brew ratio for espresso beverages is closer to 2:3 (grinds weight:extracted liquid weight) than 1:2. This is true across a wide range of coffees and doses.

According to Andy's brew ratio chart, 1:2 (50%) is a normale brew ratio, and 2:3 (67%) falls in the lower end of the ristretto range. I consider my extractions to be normales, not ristrettos. I adjust grind and dose for a 25-30 second pour time, stop the extraction by visual cues (blonding and cone shape using a bottomless portafilter). These extractions do not have the thick goopy drip-drip-drip characteristics that I associate with ristretto pours, which start around a 3:4 brew ratio (75%).

It's possible that this is a consequence of my gear. The Spaziale S1V1 has a 53mm basket with the geometry of a small triple. My doses are typically around 15g, with extractions of 40-50ml volume and 20-24g beverage weight. It is rare that my extractions run below 60% brew ratio before blonding. Note also that the S1V1 has a rotary pump with no preinfusion, so pressure ramp up is fast, and dwell time is about half that of an E61 (only 3-4 seconds).

But looking at the posts of other Team Home-Barista members during espresso testing, I see similar brew ratio preferences. So I'm curious: what do others find? Are most people pulling normales in the 40-60% brew ratio range? Or is it time to consider revising Andy's original brew ratio categories?
John

Ian_G

#2: Post by Ian_G »

RapidCoffee wrote:My doses are typically around 15g, with extractions of 40-50ml volume and 20-24g beverage weight.
I'm clearly missing something here because 40-50 ml of water weighs 40-50 grams and 20-24g water occupies 20-24 ml by volume.

User avatar
Bob_McBob

#3: Post by Bob_McBob » replying to Ian_G »

...which would be a good observation if we were pulling shots of water, not fluffy foamy CO2-saturated espresso.

I consider 2:3 about right, and not especially ristretto-ish. My usual starting brew ratio with any coffee is about 18g to 28g extracted.
Chris

Ian_G

#4: Post by Ian_G »

That explains it.

User avatar
Marshall

#5: Post by Marshall »

This weekend I'm using Terroir's Daterra blend. I find different things to enjoy from 65% (26g out of 17g of grounds) to 112% (17g out of 19g of grounds). By the way, this is the first time I have ever weighed shots. I occasionally weigh grounds for timer setting purposes.
Marshall
Los Angeles

Marc

#6: Post by Marc »

It's my usual preference too. I like the balance of it and the complexity of flavors that you get.

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#7: Post by another_jim »

RapidCoffee wrote:I have noted that my preferred brew ratio for espresso beverages is closer to 2:3 (grinds weight:extracted liquid weight) than 1:2. This is true across a wide range of coffees and doses ... It is rare that my extractions run below 60% brew ratio before blonding ... Or is it time to consider revising Andy's original brew ratio categories?
I've gone in the opposite direction over the years, and am doing mostly 50% or even less. My major goal is to retain the flavors of the brewed coffee or even add to them, with balance and heft secondary. My observation on doing these is that a 25 second shot at this ratio tends to pour gushy, and I prefer around 30 seconds. With these, there is distinct blonding in the last few seconds. But despite being a long time advocate of cutting shots when they blonde, for brighter espresso, a slow pour with blonding at the end often works best.

First person I saw do this was Heather Perry at the USBC judges calibration session. When others joked about it, she explained the idea.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
AndyS

#8: Post by AndyS »

RapidCoffee wrote:is it time to consider revising Andy's original brew ratio categories?
Thanks, John. As you know, in those early posts on the espresso brew ratio concept, I asked for feedback on the proposed "ristretto-normale-lungo" categories. Only a few people chimed in, presumably because (1) the categories are rather arbitrary and (2) it's the actual percentages, not the names, that people find useful.

Sure the categories could be revised, but who besides you and I would even notice? :)
RapidCoffee wrote:My doses are typically around 15g, with extractions of 40-50ml volume and 20-24g beverage weight. It is rare that my extractions run below 60% brew ratio before blonding.
My experience is similar for many coffees, although I've tried to make the point that there is rarely a distinct "blonding point." Rather I see a progression towards increasing "blondness." Also, that often a coffee will need some of the blondness in order to taste good.
Marshall wrote:This weekend I'm using Terroir's Daterra blend. I find different things to enjoy from 65% (26g out of 17g of grounds) to 112% (17g out of 19g of grounds).
That is interesting. Your 65% shots would be typical of many modern espresso shops, while the 112% shots seem to be of a little bit older style that is still pulled with great success in many places. Your observation perhaps suggests the existence of a "double hump," which has been postulated but never (AFAIK) fully explored.
Marshall wrote:By the way, this is the first time I have ever weighed shots.
Welcome to the 21st century, Marshall. ;)
another_jim wrote: am doing mostly 50% or even less. My major goal is to retain the flavors of the brewed coffee or even add to them, with balance and heft secondary. My observation on doing these is that a 25 second shot at this ratio tends to pour gushy, and I prefer around 30 seconds. With these, there is distinct blonding in the last few seconds. But despite being a long time advocate of cutting shots when they blonde, for brighter espresso, a slow pour with blonding at the end often works best.


I agree. When using what Ken calls the "Marquee Blends" (ie, Black Cat, Hair Bender and numerous others), ~60% usually gets me in the sweet spot. But for many lighter roasts, which appear to be more resistant to extraction, I am doing what you are doing: pulling a 50% (or lower) ratio shot that runs pretty slow. These may break the rules, while tasting great.

FWIW, when Vince visited the La Marzocco factory, they were routinely pulling what I would call lungos at ~33% brew ratios and ~23% extraction yields.
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

User avatar
Peppersass
Supporter ❤

#9: Post by Peppersass »

Great discussion! It's taken a long time to figure out what ratios I like best, and my results are similar to John's, Jim's and others.

With lighter roasts at low doses, like 14g-15g of a typical Terrior Ethiopian SO, I prefer a 50% ratio in 30-32 seconds. The time may not match others because I've put a motor cutoff switch in my GS/3 so I can do line-pressure preinfusion. The preinfusion for the above-cited SO runs about 7 seconds, so if I follow Chris Tacy's standard it's 30-32 second, but if I follow Jim Schulman's standard it's 26.5-28.5 seconds (one-half the dwell time plus time after the drops appear.)

I'm not sure whether I like lower ratios for lighter roasts or lower doses, or both. Maybe they go hand in hand anyway.

With somewhat darker roasts, updosing with a 67% ratio often hits the mark. With the bigger, in-your-face blends, large doses and something closer to a ristretto flow rate and volume often appeals to me the most.

Recently I bought a couple of non-espresso roast Ethiopian SOs from Stumptown. The said they had tried them as espresso and they were delicious. For one, Duromina, they recommended an 18.5g dose, 2 ounces volume, 22 seconds (definitely a brisk flow.) I tried my usual Ethiopian SO recipe as above, and the result was quite flat and not well balanced. Then I tried Stumptown's recipe (no preinfusion) and liked it a lot -- a little more intense than I'm used to, maybe with more roast flavors than origin flavors, but lots of flavor and nicely balanced. At 2 ounces, the dose weight came out to 28g, which yields 66%. I suspect this has more to do with the roast level, which is darker than Terroir's, than the origin.