No cone and early blonding?

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

#1: Post by dusangield »

(Apologies if this was already discussed, but I cannot really find the same issue documented)

As a beginner home barista (eight months into the game, without one tasty shot yet :) ) I wanted to learn recognizing when blonding happens in my shot. So I have checked When did this espresso extraction go blond? [video quiz].

And now I recognized that I don't even have a cone, or more accurately my cone looks like the collapsed cone on the reference video.
Does the lack of a proper cone indicate extraction issues, and is there an obvious reason why that might happen?

Do you agree that blonding starts roughly at 27 seconds which is about 20 seconds into the shot? (Which is probably early blonding along with no proper cone)

Beans: 18.1gr 4 weeks old Peru
Grinder: 1zpresso k-plus (setting 29)
Machine: Sage Oracle Touch
Basket: IMS nano 18/20
Puck prep: WDT, OCD style distributor, no separate tamping (which equates to a light tamp IMO)

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Team HB

#2: Post by Jeff »

Here are some guesses:

Four-week old beans -- Are they a light roast or a more typical medium or medium-dark roast? Hw long have they been open? (A roll-top bag counts as "open" from the day they were roasted.) Though I'll hold sealed, top-quality beans that are lightly roasted for that long, I haven't had much luck with medium or darker beans for that long. This may be the cause (though I'd suggest changing your prep, at least until you're reliably getting good shots).

I just got a 1Zpresso K and have only a half-dozen shots on it. I'm pulling a Luna Kenyan at 2.9 and getting reasonably high flow rate. I am guessing that 2.9, at least for that coffee and my machine and basket, is perhaps a bit coarser than one would use for a typical 1:2 ratio, 25-30 second shot.

That the center of the basket fills first suggests to me that it might be either or both a reasonably coarse grind or too light of a tamp. I'd suggest leveling with the WDT tool, omitting the OCD-style tool, and using a firm, square-to-basket tamp. I'd suggest that even with fresh beans.

dusangield (original poster)

#3: Post by dusangield (original poster) »

Thank you very much Jeff!

It's a medium roast, was properly sealed until 4 days ago, and since I opened I keep it in the freezer. I will definitely try with fresher beans soon, and with the suggested puck prep changes.

(I missed to mention earlier that the flow rate was 55gr in 33 seconds, so that parameter was roughly in the ballpark I think. Normally I do 1:2 shots, I let this run for so long only for the sake of the test)

I have a bag of the same bean roasted on the 13th July. Is that rested enough to use it for testing now, or too fresh yet?

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Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

It is probably a bit "young" yet. (It's the 24th, so that's 11 days.) Maybe 7-10 days for medium-dark and maybe a few more for medium. There's no agreed numbers that I know of. Some light-style roasters will make suggestions for holding time for brew and espresso, which may be different from each other.

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BaristaBoy E61

#5: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Welcome to HB Gabor

I suspect it might be the beans but also they might not be ground fine enough.

What pressure is your pump set at?
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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Kaffee Bitte

#6: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

One section was definitely blinding early. The whole pour was similar to what I have seen with beans heading down the trough to blah. That doesn't mean they are dead and useless. Just grind finer if the beans are past peak, take them finer each day til they are done. There is a point though that finer grind won't help. That's the point to turbo instead (recommend only turbo for light and medium roasts when they are way post peak, not a fan of darker turbos personally).

Puck prep wise wdt doesn't need to take much time. If you are ocd about perfection you probably are over prepping. I mostly just wdt to break the clumps and even it out then a quick leveling tamp.

channeling can sometimes be the fault of the tamper too. Does your tamper fit loosely in the basket? Leave some untamed remainder on the sides above your level bed? I had this happening for quite a while until I bought a tamper that fit snug up to the sides. A convex tamper that fits snug might help.

Edit. Just noticed you are using a leveler to tamp. I have worked in shops where they switched to a leveling tool instead of tampers and they didn't last long before the tamper was back sitting next to the leveler. In my experience most levelers don't tamp at all. What they really do is compress about the top half of the puck and leave the lower parts largely as they were when ground. In shops they are mostly using them to speed distribution (and to keep the baristas fingers from doing the work).
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110

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#7: Post by Pressino »

Jeff wrote:Here are some guesses:


That the center of the basket fills first suggests to me that it might be either or both a reasonably coarse grind or too light of a tamp. I'd suggest leveling with the WDT tool, omitting the OCD-style tool, and using a firm, square-to-basket tamp. I'd suggest that even with fresh beans.
Jeff's comment is spot on...ideally the extraction should begin at the periphery of the basket and move centripetally to the center where the "cone" forms. That your extraction begins in the center indicates a problem with coffee prep (starting with the grind and puck prep). Qualities of the coffee itself (variety, roast level, age since roast, etc.) are definitely important in the cup and to some degree affect extraction behavior, but given the info you provided the issues apparent in your video are almost certainly related to coffee prep.

I also noted a small "spritzer" at about 8 o'clock at the end of the extraction, which indicates the presence of channeling.

dusangield (original poster)

#8: Post by dusangield (original poster) »

Thank you very much for the all the responses, I appreciate that!

Unfortunately I have no information about the exact pressure. The Orace Touch doesn't have a pressure gauge. It has OPV, but I was not able to find reliable documentation about the parameters of the OPV.

To provide hard tamping as suggested by Jeff, I have set my palm tamper to a depth where it doesn't sit on the edge of the basket, so the tamping force is not limited by that. IMO that should work like a regular tamper in that configuration. (I don't have a regular tamper yet. I am thinking about buying a force tamper. But my thinking is that if I cannot make one proper shot at least once in a while with my current equipment, than I cannot really justify any further investments into espresso. I hope my current equipment is capable to at least create a not great but drinkable coffee at least once to prove me the point :)

Today I have tested the fresh Peru(13 days old). Only did WDT (no OCD style distro) then a hard tamp with the over-set palm tamper. K-Plus set to 27. It was 18.0g in/36.6g out in 27 seconds.
I think visually the shot was far from ok, no spritzing, but lots of signs of uneven flow as far as I can tell. And no recognizable cone. (Usually my shots look much more even(although I think I have never seen a cone yet in the 8 month I am trying to create espressos), I am not sure what has caused the dramatic visual ugliness with this shot. Probably not the lack of OCD style distribution. Maybe just too fresh coffee?)

(tastewise it was bitter only, nothing else, but at this point my aim is to recognize(and produce with my setup) the cone, the collapse of the cone and the blonding. I gave up on taste for now.)

Unfortunately this fresh bean was only a sample bag which ran out after 3 shots(which was needed to get the brew time into the 25-30sec ballpark), now I only have these 1 month old beans available which appears to be not fit for further experiments. As soon as post delivers my next bag of fresh beans I will come back and entertain you further with ugly shots :)

dusangield (original poster)

#9: Post by dusangield (original poster) »

I have received a bag of (relatively) fresh beans, roasted on 5th July. Dialed it in with 18g in 38g out in 29 sec. This is how it looks like.
I still cannot recognize such a cone and its collapse like on the reference video. However at 28secs the shape of the cone changes, but the whole process is quite different compared to the reference video... At around 25 secs its color starts to lighten, I am not sure if that's the blonding we should look for?

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#10: Post by Pressino »

The extraction still shows first at the center rather than the periphery of the filter basket. I'm pretty sure that is due to your coffee prep. The most likely culprit is the grind itself. I suggest going finer until it comes out right. Go finer in a large step at first, ideally just to the point your machine chokes, and then back off a click or two in steps until you see the extraction begin in the periphery. Not much has been said about the importance of peripheral versus center first extraction, but it is an important diagnostic clue to note while you dial-in your grind.