Measuring shot timing

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by pdxjohnny »

Hello all,
My little scale died so I've been looking for a replacement and started to think about how to properly time an espresso shot. Barista Hustle mentions this:
Time is the last component of our 3-ingredient espresso recipe. It's measured in seconds, starting when the pump starts, and ending when the pump stops. Time is the least important variable in any espresso recipe, but it can still make or break an espresso. ... cipes-time

I realize a lot of machines measure timing automatically by starting the timer when the pump is activated. I have considered the Acaia Lunar as a replacement, however it measures from the first drip in the cup, which obviously creates a differential between pump activation and drip to cup. I guess question is, do Acaia Lunar owners just time differently? Or do you account for the difference in start time by shooting for a shorter shot time? Or do you not even care? :mrgreen:

So, should I splurge for the Acaia Lunar or go with a Brewista? Or something else? Thanks :)

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#2: Post by MNate »

Seems most people here time for the first drip (or the second drip). I think that makes it easier for us to compare to each other because various machines have different preinfusion times and what not. But I imagine as long as you are consistent with yourself it shouldn't matter much. As they say, it's the least important variable.

I have this cheap scale that others have recommended and am pretty happy with it.
American Weigh Scales AWS-600-BLK Digital Personal Nutrition Scale, Pocket Size, Black
Feel free to splurge though and get what you think is most fun!


#3: Post by sprin001 »

If you're without a scale, you might try time as a rough estimate but I have found blonding to be a better measure. Once you find the blonde point you can set your time to that:)


#4: Post by mcspresso »

I have the Acaia scale and a PID DB machine w/ integral shot timer. I usually just go by the Acaia time/weight, but will glance up at the shot timer on the PID when the Acaia records the first drip (or two), and starts the clock ticking.
When I am dialed in on grind, I find that there are 3-4 seconds between the start of the pump and when the Acaia starts recording. At this point however, it doesn't matter which time I use because I am focusing in on taste and a consistent extraction through the bottomless portafilter.


#5: Post by Nik » replying to mcspresso »

My experience is exactly the same....3-4 seconds showing on scale when the first drop hits the cup. I only use the timer on the scale.


#6: Post by roopaksuri »

On Acaia Lunar, you have an Auto Start Mode with Triangle and Square. Check Page 24 of Acaia Lunar Manual ... 2067942324

In this mode, you place the cup on the scale, it auto-tares the cup and starts the count. As soon as it tares the cup, you can activate the pump. So you start counting when the pump is on.
The scale however keeps counting even after you turn the pump off, until the coffee stops dripping. This gives an error of 2-3 seconds. You can lift the cup as soon as you turn the pump off, to stop the count (a negative weight on scale stops the count).

I tried this for a month with my Linea Mini. However I could still see there was inaccurate count.
So I added a Luminaire Shot Timer to my Linea Mini. Now the count is very precise, just like espresso machines with in-built timers.

I have made a video to compare the Luminaire Shot Timer vs Acaia Lunar -
As you can see, acaia lunar isnt really that precise for time counts. I just use it now for weighing, which it is excellent at.

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#7: Post by Nunas »

I have an espresso scale that times and weighs. Frankly, most of the time I just count the seconds. I've become quite accurate.

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#8: Post by brianl »

the extraction starts when water hits the coffee IMO. I use the lunar scale with the auto tare to start. I just use it as a baseline to adjust further.

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#9: Post by biketo »

Like roopaksuri I use the triangle square mode and then watch the shot timer on my machine's PID for the time to first drop which for me is about nine seconds, then I turn off the pump at 34 grams to get ~36 grams total. That time to first drop is pretty key.


#10: Post by Bret »

I think it matters most that you are consistent in the method. I use the shot timer on my machine. If I pre infuse for 20 sec and then run a 32 sec shot, I write down 20PIF+32S. If not pre infusing, I just write the time down. When I cared about time to first drip, I would write it down too. I found fairly quickly that it didn't change much, and switching to a bottomless PF caused 'first drip' to not mean much. Now I just write down the initial peak pressure, time and weight.

For me, I've found that preinfusion doesn't do much for the more traditional roasts I use, so I seldom use it. But all the 'rules' about counting half the pre infusion time seem silly to me. I use a simple scale that works great for my purposes.