Timing of extraction

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by chilly22 »

I have a question which may be splitting hairs, but when timing an extraction do you start once you turn the machine on? or once the flow starts? I have read conflicting recommendations. I tend to think it would be when you start the machine. I am doing this and getting about 2-2.5 oz in 28 sec. the shot looks and tastes pretty good in my opinion.
The reason I ask is that it takes 5-6 sec for the drip to start for me, so I may be off a bit if starting it once the flow starts.

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#2: Post by HB »

For the tl;dr crowd, timing starts when you start the pump. For more previous discussions, try some of the site's forum search tips. For example:
The majority agree the timing starts when the water first makes contact with the coffee, i.e., when the pump starts. Some espresso machines have extended preinfusion times that may last 8-10 seconds (e.g., E61 with vibratory pump like the Quickmill Anita), others bead almost immediately (e.g., no preinfusion with rotary pump like the Elektra A3/T1). For those with long dwell times, Jim Schulman suggested the convention that timings be reported as half the dwell time before beading. That's as good as any convention, since it's really pointless to worry about 24 seconds versus 26 seconds.
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#3: Post by Peppersass »

I agree that it's best to measure shot time starting from when the motor is turned on. That's the way most baristas do it, so if you're trying to follow a recipe from someone else you should use the most common method for measuring shot time.

But you should use the recommended time only as a rough guideline -- i.e., you won't necessarily get the best taste by pulling for exactly the number of seconds someone else recommends (even the so-called Italian standard of 25 seconds.) Time isn't the best way to determine when to cut the shot. It's better to use the shot ratio (dose weight / shot weight) and the color/consistency of the stream to decide when to cut the shot.

I'm not saying shot time is useless. If you're not familiar with what an acceptable flow rate looks like, then shot time can be a helpful guide. Generally you want to set the dose and grind so that the end of the shot (target brew ratio, color, consistency) occurs somewhere in the 25-35 second range, give or take. You know the shot's a gusher if it the target shot weight and ending color/consistency occur at, say, the 15 second mark, and you know it's way too tight if those marks are reached in over a minute (assuming normal pre-infusion at a 9-BAR constant pressure profile.)

So, measure shot time from when you turn the motor on and use it as a rough guideline for how long the shot should run. But don't use time to decide when to cut the shot.