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How to make the perfect coffee for Newbies

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  • How to make the perfect coffee for Newbies

    Hi Guys

    I thought I would post my success on how to brew espresso at home.
    I have spent the last year and a half trying to find the best way to make coffee at home.
    I read a few common myths and talked to many industry professionals.

    The most common way I tried to make an espresso was identify what size basket you have. Say a 18 gram basket. Then you put that through your machine untill your grind is fine or course enough to produce 30 ml of espresso in 30 secs.
    This is wrong.
    Then industry professionals told me I need to brew according to ratios.
    So say you put 18 grams of coffee through your machine then you need to brew in a 1.1 -2.5 ratio weight out.
    So lets say I choose a 2:1 ratio. For my machine I would weigh 18 grams of coffee and attempt to get 36 grams of coffee out in grams not mills. I found that to do this it can take half to a kg of coffee before you can work this ratio out.
    The simplest method ive found is. Weigh your coffee grounds at your basket size so for me 18 grams coffee for a 18 gram basket.
    Leave your grind setting alone on your grinder for now. Purge your machine through your portafilter for about 10 secs. Then dry the basket really well.
    Dose your 18 grams of coffee into your basket and run it through your machine.
    Don't weigh or measure your shot simply time it to see its not going under 20secs and not over 35 secs.
    Pay close attention as the shot pours out. You should see a very dark black shot come out, going to a ritch dark brown. The spout streams should look quite thin not to thick. As soon as you see the shot go to a yellow color stop the shot.

    Have a look at your shot. If the shot is a golden yellow color it has not been extracted quite long enough. If it has dark blackish lines through it or mottling it has been over extracted. If it is a dark redish or caramel color with flecks of coffee in it that means you have the perfect grind setting for your machine.

    For this method to correct an under extraction. Make your grind setting finer by 1 grind adjustment and repeat untill at the desired taste.

    To correct over extraction make your grind setting courser by 1 setting and repeat till the desired taste is achieved.

    This is nothing new that other people haven't done before but this is the most reliable method I have found and doesnt involve wasting lots of coffee.

    Any comments appreciated.

  • #2
    10 second purge seems like overkill to me? Also weighing your dose in then ignoring dose out makes no sense you're controlling 1 variable then ignoring the other by using time as your only guide.


    • #3
      Every machine is different hense the 10 second purge, you can't go wrong. Do it for 3-5 if your boiler is low capacity.
      If you saw in my post I said you can control weight in weight out if you like but that is just to hard and time consuming. Its all relative anyway.
      If you follow the guide and simply use the color of the shot as when you are to stop then you will get a good result.
      If you really want to you could taste-mmm delicious, so this means your happy. Weigh this shot and work out what the brew ratio was. So for an 18 gram basket thats 1.8 grams of coffee out per gram of coffee grinds in. So lets say you weighed your shot and it weighed 41.4 grams. This means your mmm delicious brew ratio was 2.3:1 weight out vs weight in.
      Now if you come back and do not do anything but my method again stop your shot taste and you get mmm delicious again. Re weigh your shot and if it is 2.3:1 or very close to then you have now found your brew ratio aswell. Yay!
      But the result is the same as my method anyway, delicious coffee with the least effort.


      • #4
        Yeah that all sounds fairly familiar. I've been on a similar journey for over 6 years now, but using a variety of machines and grinders so there's always been something new to learn. I've brought my technique back to something similar following plenty of experimenting and researching. I always weigh my beans when just making coffee for myself, but I rarely weigh the end result now as I make judgements based on flavour which to me is much more important than hitting a ratio target.
        The 10sec purge will be very much machine specific so it won't apply to everyone. You certainly don't do it on a PIDed Silvia or a top level dual boiler for example. On my little HX machine a group head flush is a necessary evil due to how hot it runs, but for that same reason I never flush through the PF unless I'm trying to accelerate heat up first thing in the morning.


        • #5
          Too much science for me.

          I have no idea how heavy the coffee going into the basket is.

          I grind and then lightly tamp. Start timing the shot when I start the pump and finish when the shot starts to blonde.
          I aim for about 60ml from a double but sometimes get 50ml or more. If I get less than 50ml I'll try again with a coarser grind. If I get more than 60 then a finer grind.
          I don't care how much as long as it tastes good.

          I eyeball 100 shots and then do a calibration shot into a shotglass measurements to check myself.

          You're making it sound way harder than what it needs to be.


          • #6
            Originally posted by trentski View Post
            Too much science for me.

            You're making it sound way harder than what it needs to be.
            Amen to that.


            • #7
              I dose about yay much into the portafilter, tamp "quite hard", lock it in, start tapping my foot around once per second as I watch the shot, lose count of how many times I've tapped, stop the shot as it blonds, have a sniff and add milk for my partner. If it didn't look quite right I have a little fiddle with the grinder and repeat the process for my long or short black, usually the next shot is at least "pretty good" or "bloody ripper"


              • #8
                Can't say I like seeing black at the beginning of my shot... usually means I have side channeling. Browny-red from the get go is what i'm looking for.


                • #9
                  How to make the perfect coffee for Newbies

                  Originally posted by Yelta View Post
                  Amen to that.

                  The weighing approach sounds like something from the American anoraks over on Homebarista.

                  I have never weighed the grounds or the shot.

                  Just using the good old mk1 eyeball and tastebuds here

                  Dose the grounds into the double portafilter and pack.

                  Then pull a 50-60 ml double shot in around 30 seconds from a double basket.

                  Watch the colour of the stream.

                  Enjoy the results.

                  This ratio stuff from Homebarista has led to an unfortunate trend towards pulling 'constipated' shots.

                  These are the vicinity of 25 ml total output from a double that ends up tasting like asphalt. Totally constipated. Let it flow. Within reason.


                  • #10
                    I'm not in the slightest bit embarrassed to say that I weigh the grinds, and the brewed coffee. But I do this simply as a form of feedback. It simply cannot hurt (and it takes me a total of about 1.5 seconds of additional time). Weighing the brewed coffee is particularly useful, as I use a number of different cups, some of which are much easier to judge volume in than others.


                    • #11
                      I weigh grinds for both pour over and espresso, I also pull ristrettos. Works for me and my guests.


                      • #12
                        I don't weigh everytime (except aeropress and drip) but mainly to check my grind is ok, and if I change beans in the hopper. Small adjustments in dose or grind can make a big difference in the cup!


                        • #13
                          I weigh my dose to ensure consistency, but beyond that it's all eye. If I'm having a Picollo, I prefer the shot to run shorter to keep it rich and not bitter. If it's a larger drink I allow it to run a little longer.


                          • #14
                            If I dose anything more than 13 g in my 14 g basket, locking in is hard and the tamp gets disturbed. 12.5 g is perfect. Same sort of thing with the 18 g basket. I consider basket sizes as nominal only.


                            • #15

                              I've got a question. I've been using my single basket so far and I think I've found the right dose and have been able to extract nice espresso. Today, I tried using my double basket, and I didn't adjust my grinder setting.

                              I was a bit surprised that the flow rate of coffee coming from the portafilter was way too fast. Any idea why did this happen? I suspect the following:

                              1. I tamped too lightly.

                              2. I incorrectly dosed my coffee. But I think I got the dosing correct.

                              3. I ground my coffee beans too coarse. Bear in mind, however, that the same grind setting was fine when I made a single espresso.

                              Any idea? Thanks.