I know, I know, how horribly newb of me right?

I just need a brush-up and I'm not afraid to ask you brilliant baristas for help. Pictures of videos would be a plus :)

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Which answer do you want?

You could say the shot is finished when it hits 30ml...

You could say the shot is finished when you've judged it by certain colour changes (Often there will be a few very distinct colour changes - from dark brown to medium = rist, from medium to light with a slight "sucking in" or wavering of the pour = espresso)...


You could say the shot is finished when it weighs a certain amount determined by brew ratios...


I think the best answer is to explore - taste all your shots, find the length that suits, try it in milk and without... But find a method for your shop and make sure its followed by all.


Brew ratios are the big thing now... do a google search and you'll find a wealth of information.

i just need to know color wise. with our different espresso blends one shot might take 35-40 seconds and be about .5 oz each when its done.


for me i think color is the easiest way to tell.

Okay, watch your shots - keep an eye on the pour and the rough volume of them too. The first major colour change will usually be around the 10-15ml mark, and then there will be another around maybe 23-27ml... At about the same time, or a bit after, this second one the pour will start to look like it's struggling - it'll flicker or look like its sucking inwards... You don't want this - if it looks like it's struggling, it probably is.


All this will depend a bit on how fresh your coffee is and how high you dose. 


Also, these notes are from a double spouted portafilter - the flickering probably won't happen in the same way on a naked handle.


These are very rough guidelines, you'll need to play around and train yourself to see the hints clearly. 


Do you know what to look for in taste?? Like... sour/bitter? Why?


Sorry I can't provide video! I currently live in a city devoid of any good coffee (soon to be changing when my 2-group Idrocompresso arrives and I get the specialty scene kicked in the balls here!)


yep! i sure know taste! unfortunately a lot of our business is drive through so we have to move quickly. so helpful thakns again

Well..   this may sound dumb to some of you here, but I have an internal clock.  I count in my head to about 20 (while counting I am preparing cup, and milk, ect.) I know my machine and know that in about 20 seconds things are still going good.  Then I abandon the count and just watch the pour. I know about how much espresso I should have in my cup, and I make sure I stop extraction before I can see any light though the stream of coffee.  I don't like my pulls to run clear at all.  

This is of course applies to only standard double non-ristretto, and I use a double spout portafilter.

Ya, I agree with tasting being the true messure. You should dial in a shot recipe at the beginning of your shift, and then continually taste your shots threw out your shift to make sure they are meeting your standards. Let the color, volume, cone size etc be a guide, and not the final say.


That said, I find shape of the cone to be a better indicator than others(that is if your using a bottomless portafilter). The cone will stop growing at a point, then the second it starts getting smaller stop the shot. This works with the coffee im currently working with, and may be completely different with your coffee. Do you guys bottomless portafilters? or spouted?

My system for rapidly dialing in: mass of coffee, mass of extraction, grind, time, and taste.


Use an accurate scale (0.1g) to know exactly how much coffee you're starting with.


Know what your target extracted weight is (ie liquid espresso).  I like to brew directly onto a scale, because volume is really distracting with espresso--different freshness levels affecting crema.


Adjust your grind until you can consistently achieve your target shot weight somewhere in that 20-30 window.


Taste the results.


Go back and adjust until you're happy.  Note the color, speed of extraction, visual appearance of the dosed basket & final shot.  Then lose the scale & start pulling for customers.


I've found that, if I'm very certain that my dose is accurate to within, say, less than half a gram variance, then I can pull pretty consistent shots within a 3-5 second range.  Obviously I'm always trying to narrow that down, but this works pretty well.


Hope that helps.

As I said - there are many different answers! Matthew's comment on things being machine specific couldn't be more true! Not just cut off times - the look of a shot will change, when the shot starts showing - every machine behaves differently.


And you've said in another thread you're getting a Strada! Bloody hell! I don't know if anything I've said, or even anyone else here has said, will accurately apply to a Strada! You could change the profile so slightly between two shots, and despite both looking brilliant and looking almost the same, one shot might be absolutely awful and the other might achieve godshothood! It's a very different beasty, and you'll probably want to smash it in frustration! I've had a few goes on one and found them more annoying than fun!


Really, taste everything and watch everything. You'll have to mentally note the appearance of every shot and how it matches up with the taste.


A fun little experiment you can try is -

step 1 - get 6 (or 8... the number doesn't really matter all that much) clear shot glasses.

step 2 - start the extraction and place one of the shot glasses under the spout.

step 3 - every 5 seconds (or 5ml... up to you how you want to measure), swap the glass for a new one.

You will now have 6 shot glasses lined up in front of you, running from rich dark brown with lots of crema, through to pale watery yellow.

step 4 - taste each one. 

With this little experiment you will get a better understanding of the taste of a shot and what happens throughout the extraction. Taste the laste shot, or last couple of shots and you'll understand the longer a shot pours the more undesirable elements make their way into the cup.



Brandi, we run drive-through too. Let's assume your grind is benchmarked and your machine kept calibrated for temp, volume and pressure. We aim for a 27-30+ second delivering two one once shots.

my problem is our machine stops the shots automatically(ick) BUT its running too long so i'm having to watch every shot and try to figure out just how much water the machine really is trying to pump through the espresso


most machines are hella easy to reprogram. figure out what you want, then set it there.


what machine do you have? 40 seconds seems a bit long for half an ounce. if you're going for speed, you should be able to get a great 2oz shot in 25-30 seconds.




Brandi Heath said:

my problem is our machine stops the shots automatically(ick) BUT its running too long so i'm having to watch every shot and try to figure out just how much water the machine really is trying to pump through the espresso


40 seconds isnt our norm. thats just for our single origins that are just a lil different :)


we have a nuova simonelli. i checked the users manual and they said there isn't a way to program the sides differently. one of our groupheads pulls great shots, the other runs long. not sure how to compensate them.


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