Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to 'dial in' (or sight-in) your Espresso Machine to Perfection

Here are the secrets on how to get your espresso machine to maximum production.

An espresso machine is like a person, no two people (even twins) are completely identical.  Each has it's own characteristics and of course likes and dislikes; when you throw in the co-existence of a grinder, it's like a married couple who need to learn each other before they can truly live in harmony.

The purpose of this article is to help you determine the "sweet spot" to get your machines to make the perfect shot of espresso.

There are some key factors that you need to monitor in order to be able to pin point your optimal combination.  They are:

  • *Dose (usually best between 14grams to 19grams)
  • Time of brew - How long it takes to get to 1 - 1.5 fluid oz's (usually best at 25 seconds - plus or minus 3 seconds)
  • Volume - (how much fluid oz pour out at the aim of the 25 second pour)
  • *Grind setting - (how coarse or fine is the bean being ground)
  • Taste - some people like their coffee dry, other's like it when it tastes like caramel and other's like that bitter aftertaste (you're on your own with this one)
(*These are the factors you can adjust to pin point your sweet spot)

Just to be consistent, it's recommended to keep Volume and Time of Brew constant.  Let's keep the Volume at just over 1 fl oz (32grams) and let's keep the brew time at 25 seconds.  The two factors to adjust will be the Dose (how much grounds you place into the brew basket) and the grind setting (fineness of the grind).

Now here's the trick.  You need to change those two adjusting factors until you get that espresso shot at a 25 second pour with a volume of 32grams and a great taste to your pallet (or your customer's pallet).

Here's a some quick notes that we went through that helped us pin point our machine (Expobar Brewtus Rotary Pump Single Group espresso machine) and our grinder (Commercial Grade Ditting).

Dose/Time/Volume/Taste/Grind Setting
Attempt 1 - 17.0grams / 25seconds / 43.5grams / watery / 4
Attempt 2 - 17.0grams / 25seconds / 42grams / still watery / 4 - tried with a harder tamp
Attempt 3 - 17.2grams / 25seconds / 28.5grams / burnt and bitter / 2.0
Attempt 4 - 18.5grams / 25seconds / 32grams / caramel peanut astringent dry / 2.75
Attempt 5 - 15.5grams / 25seconds / 32grams / syrupy berry-notes / 2.75
Attempt 6 - 16grams / 22seconds / 32grams / okay / 2.75
Attempt 7 - 16grams / 28seconds / 32grams / cocoa bitter-aftertaste / 2.75

We decided our optimal settings were found in attempt #5 (grind setting at 2.75 with a dose of 15.5grams.