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Dialing in the Perfect Espresso - Grind Size - Home Brewing Guide

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Dialing in the Perfect Espresso - Grind Size - Home Brewing Guide

Are you tired of inconsistent espresso shots that are either too sour or too bitter? If so, you're not alone. We've encountered countless espresso enthusiasts who share the same struggle. But fear not! In this blog post, we'll be sharing a straightforward approach to dialling in your espresso, ensuring that every shot is consistently delicious, regardless of your level of expertise.

Espresso enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes, from those who simply crave a hassle-free morning pick-me-up to hobbyists eager to delve deep into the art of espresso making. Regardless of which category you fall into, the pursuit of consistency is universal. After all, there's something truly magical about starting your day with a perfectly brewed cup of espresso that tantalizes the senses and sets the tone for what lies ahead.

So, let's dive into the first step of our "Dialing It In" series: adjusting the grind size for easy flavour optimization -

The first thing that we will discuss is easy flavour adjustment using grind size. When it comes to selecting beans for espresso, medium to dark-roasted beans that are five to thirty days post-roast are ideal for achieving that perfect balance of flavour and ease of extraction. While light-roasted beans can also produce an exceptional espresso, they tend to be denser and more complex, making them trickier to grind and extract. So, opt for freshly roasted beans whenever possible to elevate your espresso experience.

Now, onto the grind adjustment process.

The Grind Adjustment Process

We'll use an 18g dose of freshly ground coffee to produce a 36g shot in 28 seconds after turning on the pump; we'll call this 18/36/28. Once we reach 18/36/28, we will taste the espresso and make grind adjustments to achieve a pleasing flavour. The 28-second shot time may change, but the 18g dose and 36g shot will remain constant.

Stir and taste every shot (Yes, always stir); this helps develop your flavour adjustment skills.

Shot Time Exercise

  1. Weigh 18g of ground coffee into your filter basket, level the grounds in your filter basket using gentle tapping on the side of your portafilter, tamp firm and level, and then pull a 36g shot.
  2. If the shot takes longer than 28 seconds, adjust the grind “finer” to slow it down until you reach a 36g shot in 28 seconds. Adjust in small increments until you hit the 28-second target shot time.
  3. If the shot takes less than 28 seconds to reach 36g shot weight, adjust the grind “finer” in small increments until you hit the 28-second target shot time.

When adjusting the grind, opt for small increments to avoid overshooting the mark. Aim for that sweet spot where subtle adjustments make a significant difference in flavour. Once we hit our target shot time of 18/36/28, we'll shift our focus to flavour, disregarding shot time as a primary reference.

Now, let's address the Goldilocks question: Is the 28-second shot just right, too sour, or too bitter?

Just right? We have stumbled on the magic recipe. Enjoy it!

Too sour? Grind finer—Adjust the grind slightly finer in small increments. Adjusting finer will expose more surface area of the grounds and slow down the shot. Pull a shot, and repeat this step until you have a harmonious flavour balance.

Too bitter? Grind coarser - Adjust the grind slightly coarser in small increments. Adjusting coarser will expose less of the ground surface area and also speed up the shot. Pull a shot, and repeat this step until you enjoy a less bitter and more balanced harmonious flavour.

Remember, this process may need to be repeated for each new bag of coffee, as variations in beans can affect extraction. With practice, you'll become adept at making flavour adjustments in no time.

In our next installment of this series, we'll explore texture - or "mouthfeel" - and how it contributes to the overall espresso experience. Stay tuned for more espresso mastery tips!

With these simple steps, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of dialling in your perfect shot of espresso. Happy brewing!

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