So I work at Dunn Bros. Coffee in MPLS, MN.

I'm hoping you can help me troubleshoot our espresso or give me ideas that might help to make it taste better.

we use a blend of roughly 80% Colombia 20% Sumatra
I've heard that our coffee ranges in the upper 80's in terms of score.

We roast all of our coffee in house in an older San Franciscan
we usually use our espresso 2-3 days after roast.
the roast is relatively light. brought just into second crack, until the first sign of oil is encountered. then it's dropped. Dunn Bros. calls this a Vienna Roast.

Dunn Bros. Coffee espresso standards that I usually am required to follow:
we have La Cimbali Machines
double baskets in portafiliters that don't have downspouts but aren't bottomless. just one spout.
16g pulled to 2 ounces ranging between 18-23 seconds.

the espresso, in my opinion is very light (color) lots of crema (up to 1.5 ounces in a 2 once shot.)

in terms of flavor, it varies pretty regularly.

it's usually very acidic. almost astringent. it's difficult to drink two ounces of it. I had espresso at the SCAA show last year, from intelligentsia, Alterra and a few others. they were all very pleasant and very balanced and easily cuppable.

I'm wondering what I can alter behind the bar that will make me able to drink our espresso.

thanks for your help!

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**Revising an error in my advice on line number 5)

Change 2 ounces of water to 2 and one half ounces of water.
John Kijote said:
Alun, what is the benefit of letting the coffee rest for several days after roasting? What happens in those 5 days?
What differences would I find between drinking it the same day and drinking it after 5 days? Do you let it rest in an air-tight container or in a paper bag, or what? Thanks.

(This is the way I understand it. If anyone has a different or better understanding, please chime in with additions.)

Its about off-gassing. CO2 dissolved in solution makes an acid, and so has a sharp taste. Consider think the difference in taste between flat beer and bubbly - that's due partly to the changing pH as the CO2 dissipates. If the CO2 hasn't had time to dissipate to appropriate levels in the beans prior to extraction, too much ends up in the finished espresso creating the coarse bubbles and sharp flavor. Not as big of a problem for other (low-pressure) brew methods, where it dissipates as bloom. But a potentially big problem in super-concentrated espresso.

So let it rest, sampling at various points, to find the point that it starts to taste good. What you are looking for is a balance between too young and too old, when staling takes over. For us that's about the 5-10 day mark with a little leeway on either end. Getting there has just meant adjusting our minimum stock level so that we never drop below a 3-5 day supply.

At the same time you want to avoid oxidation, so those one-way valve bags that roasters use or even a tub with a couple of small holes punched in the lid would probably be best. Let CO2 out but not oxygen in.

Good luck, please post back with observations.
Good points Brady! Good discussion everyone.

I would like to add my opinions-- In addition to allowing carbon dioxide to degas from the bean, resting the blend allows the marrying of flavor components found in each single origin coffee. The blend takes on a definite flavor tone after normal resting. This means that you should be able to indentify the flavor profile for that particualr blend, in the cup.

On one way release valve packaging-When carbon dioxide leaves the bean, it takes some flavor with it. Yes, one way valves slow the staling process, but with the valve, age alone will allow eventual staling.
keith said:
our drinks are set up to use the shots we have
a 2oz. and a 3oz.
both pulled in the same double basket portafilters with 16g

eek! 3oz, so a triple+ out of 16g in 20ish seconds????
keith said:

our machine apparently does not have a preinfusion setup, so the first signs come out pretty quick, 1+ second.
measured from the press of the button the 2 ounce shot should be between 18-23 seconds, though I like to draw it closer to that 23, if not a bit over.

sometime try adjusting your grinder to a finer grind, remember to mark where it was set so you can put it back.
even without preinfusion it should take a few seconds for the water to find its way through a good dense puck, that alone tells you the grind is too course (that and 18s doubles).

let us know when you try pulling that ~1.5oz in 30s

194F is an awefully low brew temp for a light roast, one would expect 200+, but in your environment these types of standards are much more difficult to change. On that note, something you should consider is that in your pursuit for a better tasting espresso you will be affecting the already established Dunn Bros. house taste. That's something which may or may not interest them, even in the name of science.
So, I've adjusted the grind setting so that the 2oz. pull comes in 20-25 seconds which I feel is pretty reasonable. we've also aged the espresso to 7 days.

it seems to be quite significantly less acidic. The body has actually perked up and balances with the rest of the cup which is super nice, I guess I would attribute that to the grind setting.

the 3oz. pulls are coming in around 35-37 seconds.
which is terribly long and I hate it, but that's what we got.

another thing I've noticed is that our espresso seems to blonde really early, like 10-15 seconds in. I'm just wondering if this is normal, or if there is something I can change to adjust this?

I've tried upping the dosage, and that has helped, but sometimes it just ends up not pouring at all, which worries me.
is it true that if I adjust the grind to a more coarse setting I can up the dosage?
say 18-20g

thanks again
Sounds like progress. Glad you've been able to make some improvements.

Are you pretty happy with the taste of the double? I can't believe you have to pull 3oz from a 16g basket... uggghh.

I certainly understand that you are working within constraints... which can be tough. Maybe you can work uo two scenarios - "best possible within current boundaries for good results" and "proposed small changes to the standard to give you great results". You prob. won't get to implement the larger changes, but you never know.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

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