Watery shot, weak crema even ground fine

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
aferrick
Posts: 5
Joined: 6 months ago

#1: Post by aferrick »

I've been having this issue for a little while now, and I've tried a number of things to try and fix it but I have been unsuccessful. My setup is a DF64 with stock burrs or SSP Cast (I've switched off between the two in trying to correct this issue, but I always align the burrs) paired with a VBM Domobar Super v4. Water temp 207, pressure 9 bar (I've tried between 6.5-9), WDT, with and without bottom paper filter, with puck screen. My water is just Brita filtered tap.

You can see the issue here and here, warning these are not the best videography. I can get my ratios in the right range, 2:1 timing in 30ish seconds but I'll usually go longer because they're lighter roasted beans. No matter what I do I can't get my shots to "look good" or be "creamy and viscous." Something like this guy's video where the whole portafilter is consistent and "full", the shot looks shiny and doesn't break down quickly.

I can grind fine enough to choke the machine or coarse enough to turbo, but none of it tastes good or has good mouthfeel. This has been the case over several bags of beans of different origins and vendors.

Let me know what you guys think, I'm happy to give more clarification or try any suggestions.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6593
Joined: 19 years ago

#2: Post by Jeff »

Hard to be specific without knowing what you're pulling.

What roaster and beans are you using? How long ago were they roasted?

What is your blind-basket pressure?

aferrick (original poster)
Posts: 5
Joined: 6 months ago

#3: Post by aferrick (original poster) »

Primarily ordering from Cookie's Caffe, but I had the same issue ordering from Fellow's site (Little Waves, Onyx, Isle and Metric). Beans were roasted 30 July, but it's been the same even pulling shots the day I got them (02 Aug). Blind basket pressure is 9 bar, I use that to set my OPV, assuming you mean a regular blind basket and not a blind portafilter pressure gauge.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6593
Joined: 19 years ago

#4: Post by Jeff »

It sounds like you're pulling "filter roast" coffees. If so, you will never get Insta-worthy shots the way someone pulling medium-dark, potentially robusta-laden blends will. There will be little crema.

To my eye, there was a significant dead spot that developed on the first shot. Perhaps coincidently, it was the same region that filled in a bit slower at the start. What sort of prep are you using now? Which burr set were you using? How much coffee have you run through them so far?

My first guesses are that your prep can be improved, you're grinding so fine that you're channeling, and you're extracting longer than you need.

Capuchin Monk
Posts: 1192
Joined: 14 years ago

#5: Post by Capuchin Monk »

aferrick wrote:You can see the issue here and here, warning these are not the best videography. I can get my ratios in the right range, 2:1 timing in 30ish seconds but I'll usually go longer because they're lighter roasted beans. No matter what I do I can't get my shots to "look good" or be "creamy and viscous." Something like this guy's video where the whole portafilter is consistent and "full", the shot looks shiny and doesn't break down quickly.
What that guy did was pre-infusion (lever half way up, then all the way up) while yours appear to be 9 bar start to finish. That may or may not be the difference however, what I've noticed over months of using better WTD tool is the consistency and even extraction when the coffee grounds are better distributed. Seen here :arrow: Etsy Rotating Distribution Tool

As for the crema, bean type and age (how long ago roasted) typically affect it.

aferrick (original poster)
Posts: 5
Joined: 6 months ago

#6: Post by aferrick (original poster) »

Jeff wrote:It sounds like you're pulling "filter roast" coffees. If so, you will never get Insta-worthy shots the way someone pulling medium-dark, potentially robusta-laden blends will. There will be little crema.

To my eye, there was a significant dead spot that developed on the first shot. Perhaps coincidently, it was the same region that filled in a bit slower at the start. What sort of prep are you using now? Which burr set were you using? How much coffee have you run through them so far?

My first guesses are that your prep can be improved, you're grinding so fine that you're channeling, and you're extracting longer than you need.
Could be, I can try some darker roasted beans next round to see if that improves anything. I'm not particularly concerned with the crema as-is, but the quality of the shot. I know good-looking and good-tasting shots aren't one and the same, but the overall lack of body and consistency through the bottom of the portafilter is concerning to me.

My current prep is: Grind into catch cup, put into portafilter, WDT using 0.35mm needles starting deep then gradually going up and making sure at the top that it looks flat or an even distribution of the amount of coffee, one tap, tamp with one that sits flat/flush on the basket.

Grinding too fine is a possibility, but when I grind coarser it's obviously running too fast and the shots are even thinner. 3:1 for light roasts I don't think is longer than needed, but even if I was doing 2:1 the body is severely lacking as evidenced by the stream in the video.

aferrick (original poster)
Posts: 5
Joined: 6 months ago

#7: Post by aferrick (original poster) »

Capuchin Monk wrote:What that guy did was pre-infusion (lever half way up, then all the way up) while yours appear to be 9 bar start to finish. That may or may not be the difference however, what I've noticed over months of using better WTD tool is the consistency and even extraction when the coffee grounds are better distributed. Seen here :arrow: Etsy Rotating Distribution Tool

As for the crema, bean type and age (how long ago roasted) typically affect it.
Sure but I've seen plenty of shot videos without pre-infusion where the evenness, consistency, and texture of the shot profile is of the same type as that video.

The WDT I use is a fine one and very common. It should help, certainly, but worse distribution still gives a better looking shot than what I have. The pictures in your link are what I'm aiming for -- there's like a full "layer" over the bottom of the basket with an even stream.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6593
Joined: 19 years ago

#8: Post by Jeff »

Quick aside, describing what's on Reddit (or Instagram or Facebook or ...) helps people follow your words rather than distracting them by linking them out to other sites.

The JKim/AppaMakes tool is a good one. I use one myself.

I'm not sure how much espresso experience you have. Have you had good luck with your gear using a contemporary, medium or medium-dark espresso blend? If not, I would start there. Learning how to make espresso with filter-roast coffee is sort of like trying to learn how to drive in a Formula One car. Not only is it very sensitive, but everything you read about classic Drivers Ed doesn't really apply.

Capuchin Monk
Posts: 1192
Joined: 14 years ago

#9: Post by Capuchin Monk »

aferrick wrote:The pictures in your link are what I'm aiming for -- there's like a full "layer" over the bottom of the basket with an even stream.
Beans I use are never more than 2 weeks old from roast date because I do my own roasting at home so the freshly roasted beans maybe something you want to try. Also espresso specific blend may help. I've had extractions with not much crema from old beans (store bought) before and it tasted old too. :cry:

User avatar
mrgnomer
Posts: 949
Joined: 18 years ago

#10: Post by mrgnomer »

There's a lot more light roasting and roast curves targeted for pour over extraction. I like the single origin roasts of an artisan roaster near me. They roast light. No matter what I do I don't get a lot of crema and the pours especially for some of their pour over roasts, are like turbos. Fast with symmetrical blank areas. They taste really good, though.

Then there's the shower screen and basket. Going IMS for the showerscreen and VST for the baskets gave me really fast, thin looking extractions especially with light roasts. They taste really good, though.

Classic long maillard reaction roasts are still out there but I get the impression from artisan roasters they may be old school with the third wave. I find third wave roasters target 'specialty' single origins and roast them light to retain their natural flavour characteristics and avoid roasting in flavour. Those roasts extract differently and are the kind of roasts when I started were advised against using for espresso. Back then French roast with about 4 days rest was the norm, volume dose, Stockfleth move leveling, tamp, pull, pray.

So much more precision has developed with equipment, tools, techniques that the quality and consistency of extractions have really improved. It's possible, I think, to pull just about anything well. The third wave non classic roasts just pull in ways that are not typically classic.
Kirk
LMWDP #116
professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love