Dialing in your Espresso!

The phrase “dialling in” is used to describe the process of making espresso taste as delicious as possible. It involves extracting the right amount of soluble flavour from the coffee using the right amount of water. The four parameters that impact the flavour of your coffee are the water, dose, yield and brew time. Our advice when dialling in, is to only change one of the parameters each time, so you can keep track of what is affecting the espresso flavour. You will need scales to dial in your espresso.

The Water: The mineral content in the water in your espresso machine has a large affect on the extraction. We’ll cover this in more detail in the future, but keep in mind that you are dialing in your espresso to suit your circumstances, including your water. (Our water is filtered rainwater, with minerals added).

The Dose: The dose is the amount of ground coffee that you place in your portafilter basket measured in grams.  The dose and brew time create what is referred to as the yield (the wet weight of the extracted espresso). The dose and the yield should be increased in proportion in order to maintain a reasonable ratio of coffee to water. Once your dose is decided upon (eg. 20g), we suggest you do not change it through the rest of the process – keeping it fixed will make the brew time and yield easier to control.

The Yield: The yield is the wet weight of the espresso that has been extracted. The higher the yield, the more water that has passed through the coffee resulting in a higher extraction level. The higher the yield, the less concentrated the espresso will be. We recommend a ratio of 1:2 coffee to water. Less water means your espresso will be more concentrated however more water may allow some of the more delicate flavours to emerge. So weigh your 20g of ground coffee into the portafilter basket, extract the espresso, and weigh the espresso shot that you have just produced. If it is significantly more or less than 40g, consider adjusting the amount of water coming from the espresso machine.

The Brew Time: The length of time it takes the coffee to extract is called the brew time. You alter the brew time by altering the grind size. We suggest this is the last variable that you focus on through the process. Espresso shots that are extracted in less time will often be more acidic and less body, while espresso shots that are extracted for longer are often sweeter and more bitter. If your shot is extracting too quickly then you should consider a finer grind that will result in a more balanced flavour. A coarser grind will result in a shorter brew time. We suggest always use small increments when changing your grind. The right brew time is the one that makes your coffee taste best! You might aim to extract in 25 seconds to start with, then try a longer or shorter brew time to compare the flavour.

Once all your parameters are locked in its time to taste your coffee. You should look to balance the acidic, sweet and bitter flavours in the coffee to allow the more delicate notes to emerge.

A few troubleshooting considerations: If your espresso has sour or salty notes, a lack of sweetness, and short finish on the tongue then it is more than likely being under-extraction. Either increase the yield or use a finer grind.Bitter, dryness and a hollow finish means your coffee may be over-extracted so decrease your yield or use a coarse ground coffee. What you are aiming for is sweetness, refreshing acidity levels, cleanliness and a lasting finish.

Taste your espresso both black and with milk, as milk can alter the flavour of your espresso. If you have questions about dialing-in your Stash coffee please email us at nina@stashcoffee.com.au.

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