DIALLING IN ESPRESSO
Dialling in, what is it and why is it so important?
Dialling-in is the term used to describe the process of controlling the variables in your espresso-based drinks to get the very best out of the coffee you are brewing. Dialling in allows for accuracy and consistency and is extremely important for baristas in a professional setting as it allows for the perfect espresso to be produced over and over again. On a basic level, it is finding the right grind setting, dosage weight and extraction time for each coffee. Dialling in at home is just as important but can be more difficult to replicate. We have outlined some tips below for you to dial in quickly and minimise waste.
How to Dial-in at home
Three variables impact the flavour of your coffee, Dry Dose, Wet Yield and Extraction Time, only one parameter should be tweaked at any one time so that you are able to recognise which changes were successful.
Dry Dose: This is the weight of ground coffee that initially goes into the portafilter. A larger dose allows you to brew more espresso, small doses brews less.
Wet Yield: This is the amount of espresso that is extracted into your cup. The higher the yield the more water has passed through the coffee resulting in a higher extraction level and a lower concentrate level. The lower the yield, the less water passes through the coffee resulting in a higher concentrate level and a lower extraction.
Extraction Time:The amount of time it takes for the coffee to brew. Our go to recicipe for all our coffees is usually a 1:2 ratio, meaning for every gram of coffee you should expect two grams of liquid out using the recipe below:
18g (Dry Dose) - 36g (Wet Yield) - 25 - 30s (Extraction time)
With the brew ratio above set it is now time to adjust your grind settings in order to hit the desired brewing time of 25-30 secs. Modifying the grind setting effectively changes the speed of your shots. If your shots are running too fast you should try and grind your coffee finer. If the shots are running too slow increase the grind coarseness. Always make slight adjustments in order to fine-tune the settings as small changes can have dramatic effects on flavour.
Now it's time to taste. If it tastes sour and thin UNDER EXTRACTION has occurred. If Bitter and dry then OVER EXTRACTION has taken place. This can all be fixed by tweaking the parameters. A coarser grind means less contact between coffee and water leading to a lower level of extraction.A finer grind means that there is more contact between coffee and water leading the higher extraction.
Sour and Sharp flavours are evidence of an under extracted espresso. To fix this, grind a little finer which will increase the extraction time and should balance the espresso.
If bitter and dry flavours are evident try a coarser grind setting until these unpleasant flavours fade. The coarser the grind the shorter the extraction time.
Try not to worry too much if you’re overall brewing time changes slightly with these adjustments. Adjust and taste until you are happy with the result.
Other factors to look out for:
Distribution of ground coffee in portafilter: Even distribution of the coffee grounds in the portafilter will increase the chances of an even extraction. To have a consistent puck means that the water will flow evenly through the coffee resulting in a uniform extraction. If the puck is uneven with areas of weak and dense coffee channelling will occur resulting in a very inconsistent shot.
Channeling: To improve the quality of your espresso, it's important to ensure that the water flows evenly through the coffee puck. Channeling, where the water finds a narrow path through the puck, can lead to an uneven extraction and undesirable flavors becoming more prominent. To prevent this, make sure you have great distribution of the coffee grounds.
Brew TemperatureWhen brewing espresso, it's important to pay attention to the temperature of your machine. Depending on your preferences and the type of coffee you're using, you may want to adjust the temperature to ensure the best possible flavors. For optimum brewing, aim for a temperature between 90-96 degrees. However, it's important to adjust other variables such as grind size, dose, and espresso volume before making any changes to your machine's temperature. If you do decide to experiment with the temperature, make adjustments in small increments for the best results. As a starting point, set your machine to 90-92°C for dark roasts, 93-94°C for medium roasts, and 95-96°C for light roasts.