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As home espresso machines are getting more popular and more accessible we wanted to make sure you could be making drinks just like we do in the cafe! There are a few variables to factor in so we will give you how we personally pull shots in our cafe and some ways to adjust your recipe to fit the machine you have.
Alright so now that we have the recipe let’s look at what all of these things mean.
Dose is the amount of dry ground coffee we start with, in our cafes we weigh every dose before we pull the shot to make sure we have as much consistency as possible. We start by putting our portafilter on a scale and zeroing it out then grinding the coffee into the portafilter then putting it back on the scale to check the weight of the ground coffee.
Yield is the amount of liquid espresso that comes out of the portafilter, in other words, this is your shot of espresso. On some machines there is space to put a scale on the drip tray and weigh the shot as it is being pulled, other machines don’t have the space and you will just have to eyeball it and weigh the shot at the end to see how close you got. A little bit of variance in shot yield is not the end of the world but you will be able to taste the difference between a shot that yields 40g vs a shot that yields 42g.
Time is the amount of time it takes to pull the shot from the moment you start it to the moment you stop it. The contact time between hot water and coffee plays a big role in how a coffee will taste, especially so in espresso, not enough time and your coffee will taste sour and weak, too much time and your coffee will taste bitter and much too strong.
Side Note: Time is the only variable you can’t adjust in a straightforward way. If your shot is pulling in less than 25 seconds you will have to make the grind setting more fine, the smaller particles block the flow of water and increase the contact time. If your shot is pulling in more than 30 seconds you will have to make the grind setting more coarse, this allows the water to flow more freely through the coffee and will decrease the contact time.
If you have a machine that can’t quite handle the dose we use (most breville machines don’t have portafilters big enough for the dose we use) you will have to be a bit more flexible and use a little more math! In coffee we use brew ratios often called recipes to create consistency. For our espresso we generally use a ratio generally in the 1:2-1:2.2 range. This means for every 1 gram of coffee in your dose you would want 2-2.2g of espresso yield (liquid espresso) so for us that's 18.5:40. Your recipe may look more like…
It’s all going to depend on how much coffee your portafilter recommends you put in it. The only thing that should stay the same when brewing with different doses is the time. Keeping the time in the 25-30 second range will help with consistency as you try to dial in your dose or yield.
Making good espresso is all about trial and error so remember these are just good places to start, at the end of the day you should be making espresso that tastes best to you so follow your palette wherever it takes you!