A Strange Form of Extraction Time

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
User avatar
vanboom

#1: Post by vanboom »

Heather Perry recommends in one of her interviews that you take a spoon and taste the espresso at various stages of the extraction process. I have done this a few times now and it has me thinking about a strange form of extraction time.

There are a lot of variables to manage when extracting espresso but at the heart of it all is the desire to consistently produce great tasting espresso. From that a lot of recommendations are derived: 25s shots, distribution techniques, preinfusion, etc. Let's put all of that aside for the moment and consider the components of FLAVOR as the only variables...like a recipe for a mixed drink.

Consider this recipe for espresso:
  • 1. the black stuff that comes out of the spout at 0-7s into the extraction
    2. the dark brown crema that emits shortly after ingredient 1
    3. the lighter crema that emits after ingredient 2
    4. the blonde liquid that pours well into the extraction process after most of the solids have already been extracted.
You can taste each of these ingredients separately. Cool. So now how much of each do we want in our shot? This question really leads us to the decision where the extraction should end, unless you want to get into dump starts, etc.

Instead of thinking of extraction time as the rule, think about the taste of ingredient 4 and what it does to your overall shot flavor. Then stop extracting when you see ingredient 4 no matter what has elapsed on the clock. Cross check with the clock to make sure you are in the ballpark (we still need a good grinder setting), but once you have your grinder dialed in, set the clock aside. Do your extractions by eye and I think you will develop a more intuitive sense of how to controll the ingredients in your espresso recipe.

Happy Holidays,
vanboom

User avatar
HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB »

vanboom wrote:Instead of thinking of extraction time as the rule, think about the taste of ingredient 4 and what it does to your overall shot flavor.
I haven't timed an extraction in who-knows-how-long. Cutting off the extraction by color works well (i.e., when the striping ceases and the flow becomes pale/semi-translucent, stop the pump). Another trick that works well, if you're using a bottomless portafilter, is stopping the extraction soon after the flow "puckers" (see When did this espresso extraction go blond? video quiz).

BTW, a related tool is Andy's espresso cupping device. I ordered it, he delivered it, I've yet to use it.

Image
Photo courtesy of Mark Prince / flickr
Dan Kehn

zin1953

#3: Post by zin1953 »

vanboom wrote: . . . stop extracting when you see ingredient 4 no matter what has elapsed on the clock.
Isn't that what most people do -- stop the pull when it goes blonde? I've always thought of the "25 second shot" as an approximation . . . the blonding occurs sometime between 20-30 seconds, and when you see it, you stop the shot.

I have an Elektra T1. That's an automatic (that is, a volumetrically controlled) machine.
Image
The first six buttons are programmable to dispense various volumes of liquid. The far right button is a simple on/off switch. Even though I've programmed the buttons, I still keep my eye on the shot itself, and stop it manually as soon as it starts to go blonde . . .

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

User avatar
Marshall

#4: Post by Marshall »

vanboom wrote:Instead of thinking of extraction time as the rule, think about the taste of ingredient 4 and what it does to your overall shot flavor. Then stop extracting when you see ingredient 4 no matter what has elapsed on the clock.
Those of us who have used the Schectermatic (pictured above) have found that the late-pour liquid isn't unpleasant, just insipid. It mainly dilutes what came before it. So, cutoff times are pretty flexible. You really have to be dawdling to do serious damage to the drink.
Marshall
Los Angeles

User avatar
hbuchtel

#5: Post by hbuchtel »

I like the idea of looking at the different phases of the extraction as different ingredients. How about using the device pictured above to divide up the shot and then mixing different proportions to create a final drink? Ok, pretty silly... :D

Regards, Henry
LMWDP #53

Peaberry

#6: Post by Peaberry »

I train a lot of Baristas on a regular basis, and I have adopted the phrase:

"Don't get so stuck on the numbers!"

25 seconds is fine for some coffees and blends some of the time in some dose quantities, but not for others with others in others.

There are some blends and SOs that benefit from an extended extraction, needing that blond streak at the end to cut or dilute or tempter some component of the flavor profile. But you try walking into a room full of professional Baristas and telling them to let it blond out a little longer. It can get pretty sketchy. I have found that coffees that do not lend themselves to ristrettos usually do well with a little blonding.

So yes, I agree that a shot should be stopped according to flavor. However I don't think that you can say that stopping at or before the blonding is necessarily congruent with the best flavor.
Press On,
Peaberry

zin1953

#7: Post by zin1953 »

Peaberry wrote:I train a lot of Baristas on a regular basis, and I have adopted the phrase: "Don't get so stuck on the numbers!"
Same with winemaking . . .
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

jpreiser

#8: Post by jpreiser »

Or the beer homebrewing mantra: Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew.