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Thread: Pressure profiling

  1. #1
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    Pressure profiling

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Ok guys first post here so be gentle.

    I have just started a new job in a brand new cafe with a brand New synesso hydra gen 2.
    This thing is luxurious. It's like someone handed me the keys to a Bentley and just said 'have fun'.
    Anyway after a week of just loving using this beastie, I have started playing with pressure profiling, just pure experimentation, that never ending search for a better cup. So far I have had some aweful results and some unbelievable results.
    What I am asking of you guys is for any advice, hints, tips, profiles, settings to try. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    I've been working on a Strada since the start of the year. With so many variable at your fingertips it is a minefield over and above basic espresso extraction, results can be hard to quantify. With that said, I have learnt more about espresso in the last 4 months then I had in the last 4 years.

    Some things that seem to be working for us.

    Full puck saturation pre-infusion, you'll need a naked portafilter, pre-infuse until coffee beads on the bottom of the basket. 3-4 bar pressure seems about right otherwise it takes too long, I'm finding about 6-8 seconds. This will have a big effect on the grind you use allowing a much finer grind and helping to increase your extraction. This is also the part of the shot that gives you enhanced body over non-profiled machines.

    Higher pressures bring out more brightness, Lower pressures dig into the coffee a bit more sometimes finding good things sometimes not so good and sometimes both. I haven't found much benefit brewing outside of 9.5 to 8 bar range.

    In regard to ramping up/ramping down or intra shot curves I still haven't really formed any conclusions. I don't think mimicking a lever style tail of is what you want to do.

    Levers have a temperature profile that the pressure roughly matches. Slower flow/lower pressure increases extration, as you have a temperature profile that is extremely flat, any decline in pressure should be moderated. I'm not convinced declining presssure/increased contact time is something you want at the end of a shot when its mainly bitters left in the puck.

    If you are going to have a pressure ramp down my feeling is that at ought to be fairly subtle, ie occur within a 1.5 bar range and its purpose is to moderate the way flow normally increases though a shot.

    Planning on running some tests in the next couple of weeks to really get on top of those things. I want to set up a test where Ill find a flat pressure that works best for the coffee. Ill then see if I can find a reducing profile that tastes better.

    Every action has an opposite reaction that you'll need to compensate for. If the espresso is already dialled in and tasting good, any adjustments you make with pressure will need to be offset with something else, be it grind, extraction time, or temperature, thats where it gets really tricky to manage without wasting too much coffee and or burning out your taste buds.

    Good luck. Look forward to hearing your results.
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    Senior Member Bosco_Lever's Avatar
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    One of the old guys (mid 60's) who lives at the end of my street, has a Bentley. I have seen him hand the keys to his latest acquisition (a pretty lady half his age), and am positive he said "have fun". I am also positive there would be strings attached.
    Not sure about your situation though.

    Anyway, when it comes to pressure profiling, I use coffee roasted to at least second crack ( or on the cusp), pull down my lever and wait 6-10 seconds. The exact pre-infusion time is dependent upon many factors (freshness of the coffee, barometric pressure, country of origin, roast profile, phase of the moon..... but more importantly, whether or not I get distracted by the blonde sunbathing across the river). I raise the lever and let it do its magic, the old fashioned way. My simple, non luxurious lever, produces damn good coffee, so my "never ending search" finished a long time ago. The aim is to learn how to use your tool properly. There are many secret "lever pulls" and techniques, but you have to be a member of the "coffeemasons" before the dark arts are revealed.

    As to your toy, the variables start with your coffee. Talk to your roaster.
    If the beans are new wave, lightly tanned; and your goal is to produce espresso around the citrus flavour wheel, then you will have to use those mega deep baskets and overdose like crazy. With the gen 2 you should be able to extract a 5ml ristretto that hits the spot.

    Using an expensive "designer" machine to replicate "pressure profiles" on lever machines that are half the price, and more reliable, does not make sense to me.
    If you have to constantly change settings, profiles, push two buttons while standing on one leg etc,etc to produce one cup of coffee, you will send the establishment broke. Get help from your roaster, they should know their product. The goal is to produce lots of cups of good coffee quickly, so the owner can actually earn some money. Unless your situation is like my example above.............

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    Good coffee quickly is exactly what I have set up, and refined. And exactly the reason why I have waited before experimenting with this sucker. I have set up a second grinder and isolate one group when I play. I'm using the 4 stage system with stage 1 @4 bar, stage 2@ 7, stage 3 @9, and a ramp down @ 7.
    I'm playing with the timing of of these stages, keeping dosage and temperature level to remove some of the variables.
    And yeah, I have the freedom to change the flavour and style of our espresso as I desire.

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    I kind of agree with most things bosco_lever says except for this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bosco_Lever View Post
    If the beans are new wave, lightly tanned; and your goal is to produce espresso around the citrus flavour wheel, then you will have to use those mega deep baskets and overdose like crazy. With the gen 2 you should be able to extract a 5ml ristretto that hits the spot.
    James Hoffman talks about it here. A love/hate relationship with espresso « jimseven

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    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Pressure profiling

    I find lowering the end shot pressure down to around 7.5 bar to give a more consistent espresso. Ie less likely to blonde early due to an average dose and/or distribution. On our hydra i have the ramp down set to the last 7% of the shot. Its not enough to really effect the flavour.

    I also have a 7 second preinfusion at 7 seconds and a ramp up to 7bar for a further 3 seconds (though i dont really believe thats necessary) then full pressure. Preinfusion helps with consistency as well but i notice a decrease in body.

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    Hi potentifig,

    I'm also looking into getting a Hydra 2. Was curious what pressure profiles have you experimented on and what are the results. I'm looking more into getting a good cup of coffee consistently so might opt for the volumetric one which should be more consistent if the dry grind coffee is consistent. What are your thoughts??

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    Something you may find interesting, potentialfig, from David Schomer's recent review of the NS Aurelia:

    "My interest is in the coffee but they have packed in plenty of the latest modern advances, with the notable exception of pressure profiling. Good job Simonelli, they ignore the latest gimmick in machine design because they actually know how to make this coffee. ( Stable pressure throughout the brewing cycle will give you the best flavor profile. Changing pressure during the extraction is like changing the temperature and will reduce flavor intensity…the two factors are intimately intertwined)."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaneus View Post
    I also have a 7 second preinfusion at 7 seconds and a ramp up to 7bar for a further 3 seconds (though i dont really believe thats necessary) then full pressure. Preinfusion helps with consistency as well but i notice a decrease in body.
    Interesting that we are finding different things, just goes to show how complicated it can all get. I know I need to experiment more with pre-infusion so I can quantify better the exact effect in the cup.

    Are you readjusting for the faster flow, ie grinding finer to get the same final brew weight in the same time?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Re: Pressure profiling

    Yes, generally around the 25s mark for a 48ml double. 93.5 degrees c, 20g dose, coffee roasted a degree before 2nd crack. Ive experimented several times now and had the same decrease in body every time. Not sure if ive tried other coffees though (probably not)

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    Quote Originally Posted by simonko View Post
    Something you may find interesting, potentialfig, from David Schomer's recent review of the NS Aurelia:
    I guess it depends on whether you think stable pressure or stable flow are more important. We know that you can get awesome but different espresso from a Multiboiler a Lever and an E61, all have unique pressure/temperature profiles.

    Multiboiler = flat pressure/flat temperature,

    Lever = declining temp/pressure,

    E61=flat pressure/slightly declining temperature.

    All three have slightly different pre-infusions too.

    "Best" flavour profile, imo is subjective and its within a subjective realm of correctly extracted espresso that pressure profiling occurs. It ought allow us to make subjective choices about what we prefer and how we want our customers to experience the coffee. For me, I'm looking for what tastes yummiest (in my mind) with lots of sweetness and body. Others might be chasing clarity of flavors and origin differentiation. Those two different approaches are both valid but will result in different tasting although objectively correct extracted espresso.

    If it's about intensity than perhaps one would have a different pressure profile for when your serving with milk compared to serving straight espresso.

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Here's a question; can you get effective preinfusion on a basic vib-pump machine by switching it on then turning it off for x seconds as soon as you start to see beading on the bottom of the basket then turning it back on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hyperwave View Post
    Hi potentifig,

    I'm also looking into getting a Hydra 2. Was curious what pressure profiles have you experimented on and what are the results. I'm looking more into getting a good cup of coffee consistently so might opt for the volumetric one which should be more consistent if the dry grind coffee is consistent. What are your thoughts??
    Volumetric machines help with consistency tremendously and can do everything the paddle version can do. The paddle really is only useful for one off pressure profiles. for instance you want to see what an extended preinfusion tastes like you can do that straight up on the paddle. for the volumetric buttons you have to program it. I'm assuming this is for a cafe setting? I find the paddle way way more useful for dialing in coffees, but use the two other volumetric groups during the day, using the paddle for single origins and the like.

    The other big plus to the hydra or any other machine similar to it, is the fact that its got three pumps and three brew groups. Its comforting knowing that if something fails you can probably still make coffees all day.

    @dragunov: Sort of but not really. When i had a silvia i used to do quick half second bursts on and off again for a few seconds. It helps saturate the puck slower and is technically a preinfusion, but it's not as gentle as a 3bar 'real' preinfusion.
    The other downside is as soon as you deactivate the pump the solenoid valve releases and sucks out the preinfusion water. think of how backfulshing works and imagine that with coffee you're trying to brew. I can't really remember if my fake preinfusion tasted any better or worse, so you'll have to do some experimenting yourself.

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Oh, of course, I forgot about the 3way valve... Might rig up a pump bypass switch for testing... Vib pumps ramp up pressure over a period of a fair few seconds though (from what I've measured on my machine), don't they? So it should be fairly gentle.

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    Thanks for the thoughts guys. with so many variables it seems there are infinite ways to skin this cat.
    Ok, now I have a computer in front of me and not a mobile phone I can give a little more detail.

    I'm running a 3x volumetric machine, would have loved a paddle, but the machine was ordered before I found this place (and yes the owner would have got a 2x volumetric, 1x paddle if I asked). I am running a relatively sweet blend from 5 senses which I am dosing at 23g for a 9bar extraction to get enough body to push nicely through milk. I have a three grinder setup for (at the moment) just one blend and decaf. Primary is an auto Robur, with a auto kony(?) as my play time grinder.

    When I am experimenting I isolate one group and dial in my second grinder, its a good luxury to have because I don't have to worry about feeding the customers random stuff. I am trying to leave dose and temp constant to remove some variables. And for the sake of repeatability everything is weighed and recorded.

    So far I have found that introducing a ramp down to 7 bar for the last 5-7 seconds of extraction seems to, as far as flavour is concerned balance out some of the inconsistencies that the automatic dosers on the mazzers have, giving me a broader range of extraction times that still taste awesome.

    Will keep everyone posted as I keep going.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Zaneus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by potentialfig View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts guys. with so many variables it seems there are infinite ways to skin this cat.
    Ok, now I have a computer in front of me and not a mobile phone I can give a little more detail.

    I'm running a 3x volumetric machine, would have loved a paddle, but the machine was ordered before I found this place (and yes the owner would have got a 2x volumetric, 1x paddle if I asked). I am running a relatively sweet blend from 5 senses which I am dosing at 23g for a 9bar extraction to get enough body to push nicely through milk. I have a three grinder setup for (at the moment) just one blend and decaf. Primary is an auto Robur, with a auto kony(?) as my play time grinder.

    When I am experimenting I isolate one group and dial in my second grinder, its a good luxury to have because I don't have to worry about feeding the customers random stuff. I am trying to leave dose and temp constant to remove some variables. And for the sake of repeatability everything is weighed and recorded.

    So far I have found that introducing a ramp down to 7 bar for the last 5-7 seconds of extraction seems to, as far as flavour is concerned balance out some of the inconsistencies that the automatic dosers on the mazzers have, giving me a broader range of extraction times that still taste awesome.

    Will keep everyone posted as I keep going.
    Ive had similar experiences with the end of brew ramp down stage. Also we started out with a very similar setup from five senses. Two roburs and a kony, 3 group hydra (paddle, vol, vol) and a custom houseblend. We've since started roasting our own coffee, but i still notice the same thing in regards to that ramp down. It tends to remove inconsistencies between each coffee i make and coffees other baristas make. Too long and it can start to lose a bit of intensity. If i push that ramp down to 5-7 seconds i notice a bit of unpleasant acidity starting to shine through. I'm not saying my method is correct as there are a bunch of other factors, but my sweet spot has been to ramp down after 92% of the shot is complete.

    Its useful for 'saving' a shot of espresso too, if you're using a paddle. If you can see that the shot is going to blonde early for whatever reason, you can ramp the pressure down for the last 7-10 seconds and still have a drinkable shot of espresso. Its still better to just sink it and prepare another though, heh.

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    Re: Pressure profiling

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Oh, of course, I forgot about the 3way valve... Might rig up a pump bypass switch for testing... Vib pumps ramp up pressure over a period of a fair few seconds though (from what I've measured on my machine), don't they? So it should be fairly gentle.
    The BES820 has a 'preinfusion phase', where it cycles a few times before pausing, and then going to full flow. If you hit the brew button again, just before this phase ends, and then once again quickly, you can repeat this phase again without the machine purging. It will purge if you're too slow turning it back on. :thumbdown:

    Results in the cup are not definitive

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    ...........Results in the cup are not definitive
    And totally irrelevant once the espresso base is turned into a milk drink which is what the majority of clients buy, especially in takeaway sized containers which are also a high proportion of what the clients buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaneus View Post
    I also have a 7 second preinfusion at 7 seconds and a ramp up to 7bar for a further 3 seconds (though i dont really believe thats necessary) then full pressure. Preinfusion helps with consistency as well but i notice a decrease in body.
    Tried this, 7 second preinfusion and 3 second ramp up. Set the ramp down to 95%. Crema so thick it can barely escape the basket. delicious full flavoured through milk, a little acidic black. Amazing. Just amazing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by potentialfig View Post
    Tried this, 7 second preinfusion and 3 second ramp up. Set the ramp down to 95%. Crema so thick it can barely escape the basket. delicious full flavoured through milk, a little acidic black. Amazing. Just amazing.
    I'm not too familier with Hydra's what effect does 95% ramp down have on the pressure profile/curve?

    Any theories on what it's doing to the coffee to make it taste like this?

  21. #21
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    you can set the ramp down to happen after a certain amount of the shot has been brewed. So he's dropping his pump pressure to (what i assume?) is 7bar after 95% of the shot has brewed. So it's only really dropping down for the last two or three seconds.



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