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Thread: Ristretto- by time or flow rate?

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    Ristretto- by time or flow rate?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi CSer's, just a little query that's been going around in my head for a while; is it "better" to pull a ristretto by keeping flow rate the same but reducing extraction time, or by keeping time the same but reducing flow rate? Both will obviously work, but I suspect there'll be a difference in the end result, and I'm curious as to which is the prescribed method, and why.

    Cheers, Steve :-)

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    Ristretto means "restricted", so you reduce the flow rate and so the required extraction time is usually longer. Another (and I think better) way is to define by extraction ratios as suggested by Andy Schecter. Google "Brewing Ratios for Espresso" for details.

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    That is one method Pete, but there are other ways....
    The more common way ( the way that 90% of cafe's will prepare it) is to simply restrict the time of the shot by pulling the cup after 15ml or so has run from a normal espresso .

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    Re "prescribed" methods / any of....

    Seeing as how most brewistas in this here country still want to put their own slant on all things coffee (they have rights you know, and any form of standardisation will be resisted), I think you will find a plethora of methods although as far as busy cafes are concerned you will find that most would just cut the volume short.

    Its all good, as long as the end result on your palate is good.

    And as one very experience coffee roaster once said to me when I asked him a question......"...you try..." (then do what you think is best for you).

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    So as you can see, as with most things in coffee, there are many opinions and practices, and as TOK points out, generally accepted "prescribed" methods are pretty rare. (However, people who run training courses will disagree with that too!) Its nice to sit with other coffee lovers and discuss these things. It also fun to try and trace the origins of the terms currently in use. My memory is rubbish and my coffee library is packed as I'm moving, so I'm afraid I can't add to the discussion in that way.

    I try to avoid answers that include "as long as it tastes good to you" because that doesn't help much if you're looking for a particular outcome (in terms of taste etc) when trying to learn to make espresso. I like the espresso brew ratio method because it lets me compare (as much as possible) what I do with what someone else is doing. Its not perfect (other things that are not so easy to measure have an effect), but the information required for brew ratios is easy for anyone to measure and makes a great starting point.
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    Having tried a few interpretations of what a Ristretto is (mostly reading what various experienced people have written here on CS), I have settled on the classic version of restricting the flow rate for a double shot (by tightening the grind) so that I end up with 30-40ml of rich golden nectar in ~30Sec... It's about all I do these days and for me, seems to taste better...

    Mal.

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    Thanks for the replies folks; sort of confirms my suspicions that it can be done either way, with Cafe's often choosing the short time option whilst home baristas perhaps choosing to restrict flow rate. Mal, your technique is pretty much exactly what I use! Thanks again for all the input; got the machine warming up as we speak! ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    That is one method Pete, but there are other ways....
    The more common way ( the way that 90% of cafe's will prepare it) is to simply restrict the time of the shot by pulling the cup after 15ml or so has run from a normal espresso .
    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Having tried a few interpretations of what a Ristretto is (mostly reading what various experienced people have written here on CS), I have settled on the classic version of restricting the flow rate for a double shot (by tightening the grind) so that I end up with 30-40ml of rich golden nectar in ~30Sec... It's about all I do these days and for me, seems to taste better...
    I believe it's a matter of the intersection of taste and practicality.

    Simply cutting the shot short with no change in grind is easy and practical in the cafe setting. It can give a shot with a nice heavy, oily texture, although the flavor tends to be a little tart and rough.

    Tightening the grind and increasing the shot time is impractical in most cafes, but when done well it can provide a heavy-bodied shot with a smoother taste balance. Tighter grind (higher extraction) + restricted volume (lower extraction) = a more normal taste balance (hopefully).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Having tried a few interpretations of what a Ristretto is (mostly reading what various experienced people have written here on CS), I have settled on the classic version of restricting the flow rate for a double shot (by tightening the grind) so that I end up with 30-40ml of rich golden nectar in ~30Sec... It's about all I do these days and for me, seems to taste better...

    Mal.
    Mal, do you combine a lower group pressure setting (8.5bar suggested from another thread) with a slightly finer grind to achieve the restricted shot? Or do you tighten the grind only @ 9bar to achieve a 30-40mL double?

    I've been able to achieve a reasonable double ristretto from a 14-18g double basket (30-40mL), but am very hit and miss with the 18-22g "triple" basket (aiming for 45-60mL in 30sec). I am thinking that slightly reducing the OPV pressure may help with the larger basket by not having to grind too fine (and running out of range on the grinder) in an attempt to restrict the shot.

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    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Having tried a few interpretations of what a Ristretto is (mostly reading what various experienced people have written here on CS), I have settled on the classic version of restricting the flow rate for a double shot (by tightening the grind) so that I end up with 30-40ml of rich golden nectar in ~30Sec... It's about all I do these days and for me, seems to taste better...

    Mal.
    I havent done this for a while Mal (because I rarely use the single) but if memory serves correct this is where the deep commercial conical single filter actually has a use.

    If you use this filter, you don't need to readjust the grind from the setting used with the double filter. It (the single) holds 2/3 of the weight of grinds that the corresponding commercial double filter holds, it will brew and flow noticeably more slowly for the same grind setting, and you just dose it up and tamp with the usual care to make your ristretto. Adjust the volume of liquid accordingly to get a comparable character in the cup (to that made with the double) and it also has the benefit of not quite filling you up with a double dose of caffeine (if you were using the double).

    Just a thought, and it is very convenient in that the grinder can be left alone....but it has been a while. Might need to revisit.

    This would present a good alternative for use in cafes where you dont really want to muck around with the grind during a run of regular coffees, just to do someone's ristretto.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    Just a thought, and it is very convenient in that the grinder can be left alone....but it has been a while. Might need to revisit.
    Hmmm, very interesting. Might have to check that out myself...

    Mal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fredhoon View Post
    Mal, do you combine a lower group pressure setting (8.5bar suggested from another thread) with a slightly finer grind to achieve the restricted shot? Or do you tighten the grind only @ 9bar to achieve a 30-40mL double?
    G'day mate...

    No, I don't play around with the Brew Pressure at all - I probably check it about once per year these days and so long as it remains within the ballpark of 8.5-9.0Bar, I leave it alone.

    Not really talking about a significant change in grinder setting though, to achieve this. In the case of my Mazzer, probably only a half a graduation or so. If we have friends and/or relos over, I tend to use full espresso shots as mostly they prefer milk coffees so switching back to a Ristretto doesn't require much of a change.

    What sort of a grinder are you using at the moment?

    Mal.

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    Interesting thread - thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    What sort of a grinder are you using at the moment?

    Mal.
    I have a 2nd hand Compak K6, grinding ristretto at the end of the adjustment range just before the burrs start to "chirp". I am hoping replacing the burrs will give me a bit more room to play with (although to my untrained eye they don't look and feel too worn).

    I theorise that the relationship between brew pressure and restriction (grind particle size), would mean lower pressure = less restrictive grind for the same shot time/volume and possibly a wider range between espresso and ristretto grinds.

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    Excellent grinder Fred...

    The burrs tend to go blunt right down at the narrowest point at the bottom and can be a bit hard to check for sharpness. If you're finding that you need to almost touch the burrs to get the fineness you need, then they are most likely quite worn. You won't believe the difference a new set of burrs will do for quality in the cup...

    Mal.
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Just a little afterthought.

    This morning I made myself a ristretto using the method I described in post #10 (using deep single filter and no adjustment to grind). It produced an excellent little number that I drained right down to the very last drop....
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