Shot Timing: From "on" or from moment of first drops?

I can't get a satisfactory (or at least consistent) answer on this point, so this can be a sort of survey. When you guys/gals time your 'spro extractions, do you start your timer when you press the button (or pull the lever or whatever), or when you see the very first drops come out? I ask because it seems that, from machine to machine, it takes a differing amount of time for water flow to begin after the button/switch/whatever is activated. On my old Astoria Argenta, drops would start appearing about 1-1.5 seconds after I began brewing, but on the Aurelia (which has a "preinfusion") it seems to take more like 2-4, depending on the day and dose. 

 

Let me know how you count, and why.

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Good question, and I get it a lot. When I time, I start from the button push and my reasoning is the coffee is being exposed to brew temp water, hence extracting. I'm sure many responses will wax on volume, color, blonding, and timing being only one aspect...of course those are right, but I hear you on this timing thing.

You are not timing process.  You are timing dwell time.  Dwell time begins in the instant that water and coffee come into contact.  Start your timer accordingly. 

Not to be at all clever or sarcastic, but to time the duration of the extraction, I time the duration of the extraction.

 

This means that I start the timer when I push the button, which pretty closely corresponds to the time that water first hits the coffee bed. This also means that I stop the timer the moment stuff stops going into the cup.

 

There's lots of room for debate on whether or not this is "correct" or "best", but I suspect that few would argue that this approach is the easiest to do and leaves the least room for interpretation... which is important when communicating among staff at shift change.

 

This approach also levels the field between bottomless and spouted portafilters. How do you assess beading on a spouted pf? How do you translate drops from spouts to a bottomless?

 

FWIW, this approach also corresponds to the duration that any machine equipped with a timer will kick out. This approach also is the one that USBC/WBC tech judges use to verify shot time consistency.

 

I understand the point about steady-pressure vs. pre-infused or otherwise pressure-profiled extractions. However, given that those are radically different extractions anyway, I'm not so sure that trying to make things apples-to-apples between different machines is terribly useful. If anything, seeing the differences in beading and total extraction times seems like a pretty good way to communicate the differences between these extractions.

Yep agreed, start the timer the second the water touches the coffee bed. i could see how pre infusion might add confusion about when to start counting. But regardless of brew method, i always start the timer when the water touchs the coffee.

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

Interesting that you point this out.  I've purchased a LM GB5 for my new shop and in practice sessions we utilize the built-in timer religiously.  The manual paddle activates the timer automatically once activated and shuts itself off when deactivated.  It seems pretty logical to go this route. 

 

Without a cross-section of a machine to see the moment of water/coffee contact it appears this would be the most logical timing method.


Brady said:

Not to be at all clever or sarcastic, but to time the duration of the extraction, I time the duration of the extraction.

 

This means that I start the timer when I push the button, which pretty closely corresponds to the time that water first hits the coffee bed. This also means that I stop the timer the moment stuff stops going into the cup.

 

There's lots of room for debate on whether or not this is "correct" or "best", but I suspect that few would argue that this approach is the easiest to do and leaves the least room for interpretation... which is important when communicating among staff at shift change.

 

This approach also levels the field between bottomless and spouted portafilters. How do you assess beading on a spouted pf? How do you translate drops from spouts to a bottomless?

 

FWIW, this approach also corresponds to the duration that any machine equipped with a timer will kick out. This approach also is the one that USBC/WBC tech judges use to verify shot time consistency.

 

I understand the point about steady-pressure vs. pre-infused or otherwise pressure-profiled extractions. However, given that those are radically different extractions anyway, I'm not so sure that trying to make things apples-to-apples between different machines is terribly useful. If anything, seeing the differences in beading and total extraction times seems like a pretty good way to communicate the differences between these extractions.

Though there is something to what you've said, this is not true on all machines. To the original poster's point, the time before first drops appear will vary according to preinfusion or pressure ramp up.

Steve Tavelli said:

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

Not to mention dose and head space.

Brady said:
Though there is something to what you've said, this is not true on all machines. To the original poster's point, the time before first drops appear will vary according to preinfusion or pressure ramp up.

Steve Tavelli said:

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

Never the less, the time before the coffee starts dripping is what I'm most interested when it's rush. It's much faster to stop the extraction if it falls outside the deviation of 5-7s instead of waiting for 19s' or 35s' to realize it's all ruined. 

Jason Haeger said:
Not to mention dose and head space.

Brady said:
Though there is something to what you've said, this is not true on all machines. To the original poster's point, the time before first drops appear will vary according to preinfusion or pressure ramp up.

Steve Tavelli said:

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

I didn't say that time for first drops wasn't relevant data... it is.  I'm (we're?) just saying that the 5-7 second window that you know as normal on your machine is not necessarily the target that someone running a different machine or dose needs to shoot for.


Joona Suominen said:

Never the less, the time before the coffee starts dripping is what I'm most interested when it's rush. It's much faster to stop the extraction if it falls outside the deviation of 5-7s instead of waiting for 19s' or 35s' to realize it's all ruined. 

Jason Haeger said:
Not to mention dose and head space.

Brady said:
Though there is something to what you've said, this is not true on all machines. To the original poster's point, the time before first drops appear will vary according to preinfusion or pressure ramp up.

Steve Tavelli said:

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

Here's the thing.  My home E-61 style group doesn't start to drip until 9-11s, but the dwell time begins immediately.  You would assume that a good shot were simply impossible if you stopped it at 5-7s assuming it were choked.  

A barista knows his/her tools.  Tools aren't consistent, but measurements of dwell time can (and should) be.  The drip time is symptomatic of too many variables other than dwell time to make that a universal consideration when communicating dwell time.  Wouldn't you agree?


Joona Suominen said:

Never the less, the time before the coffee starts dripping is what I'm most interested when it's rush. It's much faster to stop the extraction if it falls outside the deviation of 5-7s instead of waiting for 19s' or 35s' to realize it's all ruined. 

Jason Haeger said:
Not to mention dose and head space.

Brady said:
Though there is something to what you've said, this is not true on all machines. To the original poster's point, the time before first drops appear will vary according to preinfusion or pressure ramp up.

Steve Tavelli said:

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

The 5-7 seconds here is just an example time. It does happen to be the interval range I'm expecting at work. At home it's 10ish sec's (e61 here too ;)).

 

I might have left it a little bit unclear in me earlier post.

 

 

 

Jason Haeger said:

Here's the thing.  My home E-61 style group doesn't start to drip until 9-11s, but the dwell time begins immediately.  You would assume that a good shot were simply impossible if you stopped it at 5-7s assuming it were choked.  

A barista knows his/her tools.  Tools aren't consistent, but measurements of dwell time can (and should) be.  The drip time is symptomatic of too many variables other than dwell time to make that a universal consideration when communicating dwell time.  Wouldn't you agree?


Joona Suominen said:

Never the less, the time before the coffee starts dripping is what I'm most interested when it's rush. It's much faster to stop the extraction if it falls outside the deviation of 5-7s instead of waiting for 19s' or 35s' to realize it's all ruined. 

Jason Haeger said:
Not to mention dose and head space.

Brady said:
Though there is something to what you've said, this is not true on all machines. To the original poster's point, the time before first drops appear will vary according to preinfusion or pressure ramp up.

Steve Tavelli said:

As I understand it, When you press the button you are suppose to start the time at the same time. The shot should not begin to extract for 5-7 seconds. If the shot begins to drip befor 5-7 seconds then you may need to adjust your grinder to a finer setting.

 

Steve

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