Newbie: Flow color vs weight to stop extraction - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
jpender

#21: Post by jpender »

You just know the shot is wrong if it's still dark and sticky when you stop the pull. But the term "translucence" is a misnomer. The liquid is already translucent. What's happening is that it's becoming lighter, thinner, more transmissive -- aka blonding. But the cutoff point is a subjective, seat-of-the-pants thing. And maybe that's just the way it has to be. It's an art.

The problem with using weight (or time) as the stopping point is that it assumes you already know what the weight/time should be. Once dialed in maybe you can do that, assuming your shots are consistent.

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RapidCoffee
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#22: Post by RapidCoffee »

jpender wrote:You just know the shot is wrong if it's still dark and sticky when you stop the pull. But the term "translucence" is a misnomer. The liquid is already translucent. What's happening is that it's becoming lighter, thinner, more transmissive -- aka blonding. But the cutoff point is a subjective, seat-of-the-pants thing. And maybe that's just the way it has to be. It's an art.
Agreed. My extractions do not turn clear or even translucent, but do become lighter (blond/straw colored) and thinner as the extraction progresses.

But overall, Jim has summarized dialing in very well:
For a given basket and dose, adjust grind to hit desired brew ratio (e.g., 1:2) at desired extraction time (e.g., 30s).
Ideally, blonding occurs at this point. If not, adjust dose/grind and repeat.

Another of Jim's gems:
There's a point where the stream is... whitening the crema where it enters.
In my experience, this is a good guide to a fully completed extraction: when the last few drops mark the surface of the shot with lighter crema.

Edit: here's a pic to illustrate. I let this extraction run 10% longer than my usual 1:2 brew ratio (15g->33g instead of 30g), to ensure that crema lightening would be visible.
John

dak

#23: Post by dak »

another_jim wrote: The point is real simple ... if the shot is not clear by the time you get to whatever benchmark you are looking for, it will always taste better if you wait for it clear. If the shot is flowing clear before you hit your benchmark, it will usually be a denser, more espresso-like version of what you would get at your benchmark. Heather Perry of Klatch roasting, two times US barista champ, taught me this long ago, maybe fifteen years or so, when most people, including me, were stopping shots a lot darker. I've never since that time had a coffee that was better tasting when it wasn't flowing clear, or that improved when pulling it longer. It's just about the most invariable rule I know.
What are your thoughts on Ristrettos? I know from pulling some medium / medium-dark roast ristrettos (Vivace Dolce / Hayes Valley) that the shot tastes best (sweetest, least bitter) at around a 1:1 ratio. I can say there is hardly any blonding by the time the 19g in / 19g out is finished in about 35". I sometimes feel bad stopping the shot so short because it looks like there is still a ton of coffee extraction left to happen, but from experimenting (1;1, 1:1.25, 1:1.5, 1:2), the taste (I realize this is subjective) is definitely better with the tight 1:1 ratio.

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another_jim
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#24: Post by another_jim »

To put it mildly, I'm not a fan of Vivace Dolce. If that's what you're going for; my thoughts don't apply.
Jim Schulman

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Peppersass
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#25: Post by Peppersass »

dak wrote:What are your thoughts on Ristrettos?
Let taste be the judge. Sounds like your Ristrettos taste good to you, so if you're stopping them before the blonding point I'd stick with that.

It's not surprising that Ristrettos cut before blonding work with darker roasts. Past a certain point of extraction, darker roasts can produce bitter, roasty and/or ashy flavors, in which case you may not want to extract them to the blonding point. In the days when darker espresso roasts were the default, baristas would grind coarse, over-stuff the basket and pull short Ristrettos, deliberately under-extracting the shot. The sour and bitter flavors tended to balance each other at that level of extraction.

Such roasts fell out of favor with specialty coffee aficionados because they obliterated delicate origin flavors with smokey, roasty flavors. Some, particularly those raised on Charbucks-style coffee with milk and heaps of added sugar/syrup, perceive those flavors as "chocolatey", and shy away from lighter roasted coffees, often complaining that they're too acidic (complaints about "grassy" taste are likely due to under-developed roasts by over-zealous light roasters.) I like chocolate as much as the next person, but it should come from the bean, not the roast.

I bought Vivace Dolce a few times back when I was a newbie and got some decent shots from it, but eventually fell in love with fruity, floral, complex single-origin coffees and blends, roasted in the light to medium-light range. Those coffees typically work best when fully extracted. Good short shots are possible, but require some work.

jpender

#26: Post by jpender »

Peppersass wrote:Past a certain point of extraction, darker roasts can produce bitter, roasty and/or ashy flavors, in which case you may not want to extract them to the blonding point.
What about medium roasts? Should one pull up a bit short of extracting everything for those as well?

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Jeff
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#27: Post by Jeff »

I heard an interesting claim that something like 80% of specialty coffee has notable roast defects. These are flavors that don't "belong" in coffee, like cardboard, baked, ashy, grassy, and the like. As a result, a good barista will have to "bend the rules" to get as much of the desirable flavors out of the coffee without too many of the undesirable ones. Cutting a shot short of "full" extraction is one of many ways, as hinted in the immediately preceding posts.

To do that, you need understand where you are with what you've got at a known benchmark.

Full extraction lets you know what you're working with, before making decisions on bending the rules.

dak

#28: Post by dak »

Peppersass wrote:Let taste be the judge. Sounds like your Ristrettos taste good to you, so if you're stopping them before the blonding point I'd stick with that.

It's not surprising that Ristrettos cut before blonding work with darker roasts. Past a certain point of extraction, darker roasts can produce bitter, roasty and/or ashy flavors, in which case you may not want to extract them to the blonding point. In the days when darker espresso roasts were the default, baristas would grind coarse, over-stuff the basket and pull short Ristrettos, deliberately under-extracting the shot. The sour and bitter flavors tended to balance each other at that level of extraction.

Such roasts fell out of favor with specialty coffee aficionados because they obliterated delicate origin flavors with smokey, roasty flavors. Some, particularly those raised on Charbucks-style coffee with milk and heaps of added sugar/syrup, perceive those flavors as "chocolatey", and shy away from lighter roasted coffees, often complaining that they're too acidic (complaints about "grassy" taste are likely due to under-developed roasts by over-zealous light roasters.) I like chocolate as much as the next person, but it should come from the bean, not the roast.

I bought Vivace Dolce a few times back when I was a newbie and got some decent shots from it, but eventually fell in love with fruity, floral, complex single-origin coffees and blends, roasted in the light to medium-light range. Those coffees typically work best when fully extracted. Good short shots are possible, but require some work.
Thanks for the response peppersass.

Funny enough I've always hated Charbucks style coffees. When I was new with espresso I first gravitated to the lighter roast fruity floral single origin coffees and I have loved exploring the full range of flavors from various origins. I still love those coffees and enjoy them usually longer, from 1.5:1 up through about 4:1. I agree with letting taste preference drive ratio. But lately I've been exploring more medium dark roasts and really enjoy some of the sweet, syrupy shots I've made with a few of the these coffees

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Peppersass
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#29: Post by Peppersass »

jpender wrote:What about medium roasts? Should one pull up a bit short of extracting everything for those as well?
No rule of thumb on that -- it depends on the coffee. I don't mean that to be a glib answer. In my experience, some medium roasts over-extract if pulled too long, and are best pulled a Normale or slightly Ristretto, while others seem to work best at Normale or Lungo brew ratios.

The simple explanation is that the term "medium roast" seems to be broadly interpreted in the specialty coffee industry, and there's probably some truth to that. But I think it's more complicated. For example, I've tasted and measured considerable variation in extraction from roasts that measure close to the same "medium" color level on my Tonino meter.

I think extraction characteristics are likely a function of the specific bean and/or roast profile. Obviously, different beans can extract quite differently, even when roasted with the same profile to the same roast color. And with the same bean, different RoR curves can can achieve the same color level, but the time in each phase may be quite different and the extractions may be quite quite different.

It's more of a given that a dark roast is likely to over-extract and a light roast is not likely to over-extract. I think the way to deal with medium roasts is to to pull a fully extracted shot, and if it tastes bitter, ashy, etc., try grinding coarser, pulling shorter, lowering temperature, etc.

flyboy320

#30: Post by flyboy320 »

So if I'm currently timing my shot and stop at say a 1:2 (16g in, 32g out) and it takes 35 seconds, but it's no where close to turning "clear" as another_jim says, how do you get it blond earlier? The last shot I pulled I waited till it turned clear, and it took about 50 seconds and weighed 60g. So to get it to turn clear/blond earlier, do I updose & grind coarser or use a lower dose and grind finer (currently using a 18g VST and can only dose to 17g max or else the grounds contacts the screen when inserting the portafilter)?