Sometimes in your Espresso Pack you might come across a coffee or two that are slightly different than what you're used to (don’t worry though, we can promise you they are delicious!).

Dialing in coffees can sometimes be difficult, and sometimes it may feel wasteful as you try to get your perfect shot. We’re here to provide some guidance on dialing in your coffee to help you find what tastes best for your palate. 

What are the variables of espresso?

People have different philosophies on how they approach a coffee: they may look at variables such as dose & ratio, time, bar pressure while the shot is being pulled, and freshness of the coffee. Here at The Roasters Pack, we like to think that it’s fantastic if you have your own way of dialing in your shot, and we’re not here to judge how you enjoy your coffee - we’re just here to share some tips on things to consider!

How do I start dialing in? 

If you don’t already have a standard ratio with time parameters, we’d recommend starting here.

People prefer different ratios for espresso: some prefer an espresso closer to a 1:2 ratio (meaning if your portafilter basket is at 18g, you are looking at a 36g shot of espresso), and some closer to a 1:3 (going by the previous example, 18g of coffee to 54g of espresso output).

Some people also enjoy a faster extraction, sometimes between 24 and 30 seconds, and some prefer a longer one, say 30-38 seconds. Brewing the same coffee at these two “opposite ends” of the range is usually a great place to start. For example, if you brew Coffee A at 18g in, 36g out, at 26-28 seconds, and coffee B at 18g in, 54g out, at 26-28 seconds, you will likely have a preferred
one and taste the difference. You can also test flavour by grinding finer on both, to achieve the same ratios but both at 32-35 seconds.

Balancing your espresso 

Try to take note of the balance of acidity and sweetness, and notice how other aspects of the coffee change when you change variables. Does it get more or less viscous? Does it become sweeter? More acidic? More bitter? With more
practice and ongoing comparative tasting, you will certainly find that you’ll begin to notice more subtle and minute changes in flavour over time. Once you’ve found a good base recipe to start at, it will then be easier to fine-tune what you like. All these observations will help you refine and streamline the dialing in process.

How does Harken Coffee do it?

We did mean it when we said we don’t judge how you brew or like your coffee. Harken is a perfect example here: if you didn’t know, Eldric Stuart of Harken Coffee pulls 120-second espresso shots. 120 seconds!

They believe that lighter roasts require more resting time (over 2 weeks) and more contact time with water to extract desirable flavours, and compensate for theoretical over-extraction with other variables. If you’re curious, they grind finer with a shorter ratio, with 22.5g of coffee in an 18g basket, with 34g of espresso brewed in 120 seconds, at 9 bars, with 93.6°C water. The result is a viscous espresso with oil droplets on the surface (with minimal crema if any), tasting very sweet and silky.

At the end of the day, even though we may be able to guide you to pull great espresso shots, you should use any approach or recipe that tastes good to you.

Coffee should be both fun and personal, and as long as it tastes good, you’re doing great!


August 10, 2022 — Zara Snitman

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