Recommended brew ratio for flat whites/cappuccinos

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#1: Post by jmcgov »

I bought a Breville Dual Boiler and a DF64 grinder about 3 months ago. My wife and I prefer to drink Flat Whites or Cappucinos. We use 10 ounce cups. My single basket dose is ~12g and my double is ~18g.

If I use one of the popular espresso recipe ratios (1:2 or 1:2.5), then it seems like it isn't enough coffee for a 10 ounce cup and requires that I add a lot of steamed milk to fill the cup.

So I started experimenting by pulling a 1:2 or 1:2.5 shot, but then adding hot water to increase the volume before then adding the steamed milk.

Then I tried pulling shots with much longer ratios (e.g. 1:4 or 1:5), which produces more coffee and requires less milk.

But I have not really been able to taste much or any difference in the three approaches above. Honestly, all three approaches taste great to me. My theory is that I'm adding so much steamed milk in all three scenarios that the nuanced differences in how I extracted the coffee just don't matter and are overwhelmed by the milk taste.

I am very happy with the quality/taste of our coffees, so I'm not complaining. But I would like your expert advice on the best ratio/approach for milky drinks like Flat Whites and Cappucinos.

Thank you much.

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#2: Post by Jeff »

With a coffee that is reasonably free of greens and roasting defects and isn't dominated by roast flavors, increasing the ratio past "optimal" mainly waters it down and doesn't draw out overwhelming levels of unpleasant flavors.

I may be in the minority, but I'd pull the shot so that it tastes good and balanced to you, as a shot. Then you can add what tastes good to you, hot water, milk, or a mix.

Some people like more bitterness and/or acidity in their espresso for a cappuccino or latte to "cut through the milk". If I were catering to those tastes, I'd probably do it with choice of coffee and roast, rather than by adjusting the extraction significantly.

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#3: Post by spressomon »

10 oz cup is a...latte.

Drop down to 170-200ml / 5.5-6.5oz cup and you'll find what you're looking for.
No Espresso = Depresso

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#4: Post by Nunas »

There's no "standard" for the various milk-based coffee drinks derived from espresso. Here's my take on it. A Cappuccino, uses the least amount of milk to espresso ratio. A cap' for us is a double shot with highly foamed milk added to take it up to about 6-ounces. To foam the milk, pull it up (expand it) to about double the volume. There are two variations as we make them, a standard cap and a dry cap'. For the latter, let the milk sit for a short time, during which it separates somewhat. The liquid milk is poured in first, the jug is then swirled, and the dry foam poured atop, holding the jug close to the coffee. If you want a bigger cappuccino, you have to use more coffee to avoid it becoming too dilute. The flavour should be intense, and the mouth feel viscous. A latte has a greater amount of milk, making it a drink of up to about ten ounces. It has only a little floating foam, so the milk should be pulled to a lesser degree (about half the volume increase of a cap') and poured immediately in two passes. Most of it is poured from a bit of height, so that it mixes with the coffee. The remainder is we pour carefully atop to create patterns. Obviously, the flavour is less intense with a creamy texture. Our flat whites are similar to lattes, again using microfoam. However, there is no floating foam. To accomplish this, we pull the milk up by only about a third and pour it in immediately. Sometimes, we vigorously stir the milk in the jug to ensure that it does not float. It should have a velvety mouth feel. We never add any water. EDIT: I forgot to mention that I almost always brew 1:2 (grounds:coffee) by weight.


#5: Post by klee11mtl »

For me, this is the beauty of doing home espresso and why it is better than what you get at the coffee shop. It is customized to your personal preferences. I would say keep experimenting; let the ratios, recipes, and cup volumes guide you but not limit you. Each coffee will have a unique flavor and will interact differently with milk.

I do 9g singles and 18g doubles. Very generally speaking, I usually end up with 1:1.75 to 1:2 for darker roasts and 1:2 to 1:3 for lighter roasts. With the espresso dialed-in I typically start with 4oz milk for a single and 8 oz for a double and then adjust up or down on subsequent drinks until I find my sweet spot for that coffee. My wife prefers more milk so I add about 0.5 to 1.0 oz more for her drinks. I have gone as low as 2.5 oz of milk and as high as 6 for a single.

The best drink is the one that tastes good for you.

jmcgov (original poster)

#6: Post by jmcgov (original poster) »

You're right: 10 oz is a latte. My issue is that ideally I want a bit more coffee flavor, and a bit less milky flavor, but in a large 10 oz cup. If I just made a 6 oz Flat White/cappuccino, then it's not enough liquid for me and I'd find myself making four cups every morning to be satisfied.

I suppose I could buy a triple basket and try that approach to getting more coffee volume. But for now I guess I'll experiment with a double basket and a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio, and maybe not fill the cup up all the way with milk, and see how that tastes.

Thank you to all the respondents for your input. I appreciate it.

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#7: Post by Jeff »

jmcgov wrote:I want a bit more coffee flavor, and a bit less milky flavor, but in a large 10 oz cup.
Pour three (or four) shots from a double basket for the two of you.

(I haven't used a coffee that works well in a "triple" basket in years. 20 g is about the upper limit for me, even for classic roasts.)

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#8: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

spressomon wrote:10 oz cup is a...latte.

Drop down to 170-200ml / 5.5-6.5oz cup and you'll find what you're looking for.
+1 to this

I pull 18g shots at an espresso ratio of about 2-to-1 in a 5-½ cup for a flat white.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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#9: Post by Nunas »

In my opinion, using lungos (high ratio shots) will not achieve what you're looking for. If you want more volume, you have to respect the grinds/coffee ratio (1:2 is typical) and the coffee to milk ratio (again, 1:2 is typical for a cappuccino). Your idea of using a triple basket is good; I sometimes do that on the weekends, using 25 to 27 g of grinds to pull 75 to 80 g of coffee (about three ounces). At a 1:2 coffee to milk ratio, that's about nine ounces...close enough to your ten ounces that you could pull slightly longer shots or use a tiny bit more milk to get there. Or, you can go for the big buzz and pull two doppios (about 70 g of coffee) into a big mug and dump in ~140 g of textured milk.

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#10: Post by iploya »

I've heard some people say a ristretto (<1:2) punches through well for a cappuccino.

I use NotNeutral LINO Double Cap (6 oz.). I like the size but an 18:30 ristretto has a pretty strong flavor. The next size up I think is Lino Small Latte (8 oz), and a 30g ristretto tastes a little more correct to me -- not too strong, not too weak. It might be a good size for you to try.