Is it possible to troubleshoot espresso using the rule of thirds?

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greenbean11

#1: Post by greenbean11 »

I used advice given from a previous post, and over the last few days things have improved and I've been pulling what visually look like quite good shots but taste wise something is still not right. I've been drinking them as cappuccinos but today I had some more time so I decided to taste a few shots. Something is off and after a few shots I couldn't quite decide if I was confusing bitter with sour and vice versa. I decided to re visit the rule of thirds, pulled and divided a shot into three shot glasses accordingly, and let the thirds cool a couple of minutes before tasting.

The first third - tasted absolutely horrendous. It was thick and intense and borderline upset my stomach. Sipped it twice and the second time I had to spit the liquid into the sink

Middle third - Tasted ok, not all that sweet but palatable.

Last third - More thin and slightly watery but still tasted quite good, and not noticeably bitter.

So my question is, based off of the first third tasting absolutely awful, and the last third still tasting quite good, is it possible to troubleshoot where I am going wrong if visually and the shot looks good and it's within normal parameters? Would the fact that the last third is not overly bitter indicate a temperature problem?

The last few days I've been pulling 19g in 40g out in 30 seconds

Thanks for any help!

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happycat

#2: Post by happycat »

If the watery end tastes good, sounds like overdosing

Reduce dose, adjust grind
LMWDP #603

greenbean11 (original poster)

#3: Post by greenbean11 (original poster) »

Ah ok, interesting. I will try that tomorrow. Any thoughts on temperature?

I also did the nickel test with this current roast and there was no indentation with a 19g dose so I was actually thinking of upping the dose which I will no longer do. I'm guessing that test has little relevance given the flavour profile I am getting?

I've been at the espresso game for a while but always so much to learn!

BillBurrGrinder

#4: Post by BillBurrGrinder » replying to greenbean11 »

The end of the shot is not bitter. This indicates that you might want to grind finer and pull a little longer. Or...instead of pulling a 1:1.5 try pulling a 1:2 either of these methods should help balance the shot.

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happycat

#5: Post by happycat »

greenbean11 wrote:Ah ok, interesting. I will try that tomorrow. Any thoughts on temperature?

I also did the nickel test with this current roast and there was no indentation with a 19g dose so I was actually thinking of upping the dose which I will no longer do. I'm guessing that test has little relevance given the flavour profile I am getting?

I've been at the espresso game for a while but always so much to learn!
My logic:

Sounds like amplified flavours because there is enough coffee left to extract at the end of the shot to taste good. You could probably teat this better by making an americano out of it to see if dilution makes it taste better. Dilution might also help isolate if it is bitter, sour or just too strong.
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nuketopia

#6: Post by nuketopia »

Well, what temperature and time are you running?

At 19g in and 40g, you might try increasing the brew temperature (or grinding finer to run longer) to increase the extraction until it does begin to taste a little bitter.

The first third was likely quite acidic, sour and dense, no?

That the last wasn't bitter kind of points in the direction of under-extraction.

Sometimes, dosing down is better in order to get a particular coffee and grind and beverage output and ratio to come together. My goto basket most of the time is the 17g Strada (aka, 18g VST). You'll need to pick the right basket to match with the dose. You want some headspace, not too much, not too little.

The general idea is to improve extraction with the parameter being adjusted, until it gets overextracted, then back it off. Then go poke around with something else. Overall, get a high extraction yield, with good flavors and the desired density.

There are exceptions to this rule of thumb. Blue Bottle Hayes Valley comes to mind, which is much more flavorful when pulled quite short at a 1.1:1 ratio. This coffee gives it up early and fast.

Others, like some of the ones I've been exposed to via the LaMarzocco subscription will pull for very long shots, yet still be quite delicious, seemingly never running out of dissolvable solids.

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another_jim
Team HB

#7: Post by another_jim »

Yep, underextracted. Grind finer and dose lower.
Jim Schulman

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jwCrema

#8: Post by jwCrema » replying to another_jim »

I followed the rule of only changing one thing at a time for a lot longer than I should have. I'd change the grind, but never fully comprehended the necessity of doing the second clause: "and dose lower".

Jim's sticky Espresso 101: How to Adjust Dose and Grind Setting by Taste on this forum, spells out what the dose change might be for your grinder:

It helps to understand your grinder. Typically, a 1.5 gram change in dose for doubles will require the same offset to the grind setting to keep the flow the same, regardless of the overall dose being used (the offset is basket dependent). My personal experience is that changes of about 1.5 grams dose creates the tweak from blah to right or from too much to right. I also find that a grind change that would compensate for about a 0.75 gram dose change has the effect of moving the flow from normal to fast, or from normal to slow.

Redbird is a dark Italian roast, and it can be really bold. After the idea of dosing lower sunk in, I found serious smoothness with 2g less in the basket.

mathof

#9: Post by mathof »

I follow Matt Perger's method of keeping the dose consistent while changing, first, brew ratio and, second, grind - always looking for higher extraction. Works for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BT7-yOUMDM

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slipchuck

#10: Post by slipchuck »

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