At what point do you start the timer when timing your shots??

Here at the BV roastery, we've been working a lot on our espresso, both the roast and the actual shot, and we just realized that we've all been timing our shots differently.  Most of us start the timer when the espresso actually starts dropping in to the cups, but one of our baristas insists that you're supposed to start the timer the second you press the button to pull the shot.  What do you guys do?  Does anyone know what you're supposed to do???

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I would start it when you press the button. That is when the pump engages and will give you a consistant "go" point. You will also be able to gleen info on your tamp technique based on how fast or slow the espresso starts to drip from the puck. This adds a few seconds to a your timing range but I think it's the only reliable method. The timing of the first drips of espresso is pretty arbitrary based on a number of factors.
The timer starts when you start the pull, or at the point where the button gets pushed. The timer ends when the shot begins to blonde, get thing and watery, and/or starts to 'tornado'.
wait... chris... so you don't include the time that the shot blondes out? so if I'm pulling 25s all day but the last six seconds are blonde... im really pulling 19s?

Chris said:
The timer starts when you start the pull, or at the point where the button gets pushed. The timer ends when the shot begins to blonde, get thing and watery, and/or starts to 'tornado'.
joshua wagner said:
wait... chris... so you don't include the time that the shot blondes out? so if I'm pulling 25s all day but the last six seconds are blonde... im really pulling 19s?

Well, you're pulling a 19 sec shot and then adding six seconds of sour and eew.
Get out a half dozen shot glasses, ans start your pull. Every four or five seconds, put the next (pre-warmed) shot glass under the spouts. Taste each shot-glass, and tell me what you think of the stuff that's post-blonde.
My machine conveniently has a count-up timer that starts with the shot. I find that to be easiest. Honestly, it doesn't matter too much which you do as long as everyone at the shop is doing the same thing.

If you have a bottomless portafilter, try to also record when the shot starts dropping from the bottom of the basket. This information may become especially useful if you start playing with preinfusion/pressure profiling. Get people used to reporting shot times as a paired double. I've been pulling my shots at 2/21.
The important thing is that you have a relative base-line of reference. Depending on grinder adjustment and shot style and dose amount, the first drops may appear at second 3, or 5, or 8, or whenever. So the first drop is not going to be a good indicator across the board. Most importantly, I believe, is that the water is in contact with the coffee from the moment the pump is activated. This means the extraction has begun before you see the coffee, and we are timing the extraction, after all. That is the best reason to count from the button push.

I keep track of a number of indicators, each telling me something about the speed of flow through the coffee, body the espresso will have on the palate, total volume the shot should or will contain, etc. It should be noted that an extremely even extraction usually does not suddenly become blond, but constantly lightens in color. So how do you know when to stop? There are some coffees that benefit from letting in some blonding, so I also don't draw a hard and fast rule that all shots must end at or before blonding.

Things I time-
With spouts:
-0 at pump activation
-time of first droplets
-time that droplets turn into a continuous stream (noting thickness of the stream too)
-noting the relation between shot volume with estimated time of blonding

With a naked portafilter:
-0 at pump activation
-time of the appearance of drops on the bottom of the basket
-time of the first droplet letting go of the basket
-time that all dripping points on the bottom of the basket combine into one central column

Something else to consider is that different machines will pre-infuse, slow infuse, or have none of the above. This will affect how long it takes for the first drop to show. If you were to use the same coffee, grinder and setting, and dose, you will wait longer on an Aurelia than you will on a Linea.

If you work backwards from the taste buds, first pull many types of shots till you find one that tastes the way you want it to. Then make a note of all the time indicators. That will give you something almost like a blue print when combined with coffee dose and shot volume. Using this information you will be able to get to that same or similar taste profile by adjusting till you see all those indicators hit their mark.

You cant just tell someone to pull a 27 second shot of such and such a blend and expect them to have the same taste experience that you had. 27 seconds till what? 2oz? 1.5oz? Tight thin stream? Drippy then thin? Drippy till 12 seconds, or 15? 17 gram dose and 27 seconds to 1.75oz? 19 gram dose ad 27 seconds to 1.25oz? Anyway, you see how just keeping track of one thing is not very helpful at all.
The second that you press the button.
Chris said:
joshua wagner said:
wait... chris... so you don't include the time that the shot blondes out? so if I'm pulling 25s all day but the last six seconds are blonde... im really pulling 19s?

Well, you're pulling a 19 sec shot and then adding six seconds of sour and eew.
Get out a half dozen shot glasses, ans start your pull. Every four or five seconds, put the next (pre-warmed) shot glass under the spouts. Taste each shot-glass, and tell me what you think of the stuff that's post-blonde.

Chris, your first post read like you stopped timing when it blonded, regardless of when you stopped your extraction. This isn't a discussion about when to stop your extraction, it is about when to start timing.

I agree with what Phil said. It is definitely worth noting that the LM machines start counting when you push the button.
Unless (as I recently discovered reading the friggin' manual I down loaded) you enable automatic preinfusion on your Linea AV, then it'll be very similar in timing. (All but the oldest Linea AV brains have auto-preinfusion capability.) Funny thing is, it's almost identical to way we'd been manually pre-infusing.

Phil Proteau said:
If you were to use the same coffee, grinder and setting, and dose, you will wait longer on an Aurelia than you will on a Linea.

Since it was just two of us working here we kept it simple and pushed both the timer and the group button at the same time. By now no doubt someone has mentioned, the key here is everyone doing the same thing.
The extraction time starts when U put a porta-filter with coffee in to a group of a machine.
It is very important to push the button immediately cause coffee inside the group started to extract because of the high temperature of it and it burns (not extract) if the watcher is not going through it.

So immediate insert and brewing (push the button) and the extraction is started (the clock is ticking ;) ) and U can start time the extraction time. Between pushing the button and coffee dripping in to a glass shot - it is a pre infusion/pre extraction time about which is written above :) That’s what I know about it :)
The idea of starting the shot time from when flow begins is useless to ludicrous. For instance you can easily crank the grind down way fine and have nothing flow for over a minute. I guarantee if you start your shot time then it will not be close to an ideal shot! Not saying you can't pull a drinkable 2 minute from starting the pump shot. Recently changed SO's in one of the grinders thoroughly cleaning it between bean swap outs. First test shot grind by feel I knew was way too fine but what the hay, locked and pulled anyway. First visible drops forming bottom of nekkid PF a hair over a minute, don't recall if a full decent cone ever even developed, stopped the ubber risretto of maybe 3/4oz from double load at 2min. Yeah it was drinkable, muddled flavors as hell but drinkable.

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