More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

elusive espresso... theorize, philosophize!

More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Rob Larson on Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:05 pm

I've been experimenting with this lately, and i've been getting better results by using more coffee with a coarser grind. Any thoughts on this??? I'm a roaster so I know little on the barista side. Input?

Rob :shock:
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby phaelon56 on Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:33 pm

Can you be more specific? It helps to know what size basket you're using (single, double or triple)... whether you are updosing or underdosing (or neither) and if you are tamping very lightly, with great pressure or not tamping at all.
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby nick on Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:28 pm

There are brewing standards for brewed coffee, but with espresso, outside of the INEI Italian standards, everything's fairly relative. "Coarser grind" or "less coffee" beg the questions, "Coarser than what? Less coffee than what?"

The only real advice that I'd personally feel good giving you is this: there is such a thing as "balance" in taste. The more towards under-extraction you go, either by cutting the shot earlier, using more coffee and grinding coarser, using bigger baskets, cooler water temperature, etc., it will effect the flavors a certain way. Usually you'll find more viscosity and more sweetness. What you lose is clarity of flavors and "balance."

Dosing-up is, generally speaking, pushing the extraction towards under-extracted. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but I (and I know many others) prefer to seek more balance when it comes to espresso flavor. Squeezing 1/2-an-oz of super-thick, sweet coffee liquor out of 24 grams of coffee might result in an explosion of flavors, but aesthetically it's completely unbalanced, lacking clarity of flavors... and practically speaking, it's a heck of a lot easier to pull off consistently than a properly-pulled, super-balanced 2-oz-from-18-grams double.
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby JavaJ on Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:22 am

nick wrote:Dosing-up is, generally speaking, pushing the extraction towards under-extracted. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but I (and I know many others) prefer to seek more balance when it comes to espresso flavor. Squeezing 1/2-an-oz of super-thick, sweet coffee liquor out of 24 grams of coffee might result in an explosion of flavors, but aesthetically it's completely unbalanced, lacking clarity of flavors... and practically speaking, it's a heck of a lot easier to pull off consistently than a properly-pulled, super-balanced 2-oz-from-18-grams double.


I never thought I would say this Nick, but I agree with you completely!

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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby phaelon56 on Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:53 am

nick wrote:Squeezing 1/2-an-oz of super-thick, sweet coffee liquor out of 24 grams of coffee might result in an explosion of flavors, but aesthetically it's completely unbalanced, lacking clarity of flavors... and practically speaking, it's a heck of a lot easier to pull off consistently than a properly-pulled, super-balanced 2-oz-from-18-grams double.


Not to mention the reality of commerce. If I can consistently pull a well balanced tasty 1.5 to 2 oz shot that stands up well on its own or in a short milk drink from 18 grams of coffee vs. a much-tougher-to-get-consistent-results .5 to .75 oz ristretto from 21 to 24 grams of coffee... guess which one will find a place on the menu in my cafe? (if I had one). Multiply 3 to 4 grams of coffee X a few hundred shots per day.... factor in the consistency issue (which is crucial in good service delivery)... and it's easy to see the benefit of "standard" shots.

Don' get me wrong - I've been in many places that pull those extra thicky syrupy and intense ristretto shots and enjoyed them immensely - but when they're not done right the benefits are absent. At home I try out a triple basket with 21 or so grams periodically but after a week or so of using it find myself going back to the double basket with 18 grams and about 1.75 oz of goodness in the cup.
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Jason Haeger on Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:48 pm

JavaJ wrote:
nick wrote:Dosing-up is, generally speaking, pushing the extraction towards under-extracted. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but I (and I know many others) prefer to seek more balance when it comes to espresso flavor. Squeezing 1/2-an-oz of super-thick, sweet coffee liquor out of 24 grams of coffee might result in an explosion of flavors, but aesthetically it's completely unbalanced, lacking clarity of flavors... and practically speaking, it's a heck of a lot easier to pull off consistently than a properly-pulled, super-balanced 2-oz-from-18-grams double.


I never thought I would say this Nick, but I agree with you completely!

That makes two of us. Wow. :D
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Matthew P. Williams on Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:59 pm

nick wrote:Squeezing 1/2-an-oz of super-thick, sweet coffee liquor out of 24 grams of coffee might result in an explosion of flavors, but aesthetically it's completely unbalanced, lacking clarity of flavors... and practically speaking, it's a heck of a lot easier to pull off consistently than a properly-pulled, super-balanced 2-oz-from-18-grams double.


There's a time and a place for both of of these, boys...
Mmm, juicy. Tastes like juice. Bean juice.
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Ryan Willbur on Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:38 pm

How old is your coffee? The more gas in the coffee, the less coffee I like to use, as to allow more room for expansion between the top of the puck and the screen.
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby nick on Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:51 pm

Ryan Willbur wrote:How old is your coffee? The more gas in the coffee, the less coffee I like to use, as to allow more room for expansion between the top of the puck and the screen.

I don't understand this at all. More room for expansion? When does the coffee expand?
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Eton on Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:09 am

u know what he means... =P lol
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby nick on Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:45 pm

Eton wrote:u know what he means... =P lol

No, I don't.

What Ryan wrote assumes a bunch of things. Just so I'm clear, I ain't trying to be snarky here... and I will say that I disagree with a couple of the premises here, but I don't really disagree with his solution. His premises:
1) There's a correlation between days-off-roast and amount of gas in the coffee. I agree with that.
2) The coffee expands between the top of the puck and the screen. I disagree. 9 bar of water pressure is compressing the coffee far too much for expansion during the brew.
3) The more gas there is, the more room you should allow for expansion. I disagree (cuz of #2)

The coffee has an opportunity to expand after the pump is cut off, but that's not relevant.

Now though it's still somewhat theory-based, this makes more sense to me:
1) There's a correlation between days-off-roast and amount of gas in the coffee.
2) The more gas in the coffee, the more gas will be released when the coffee comes in contact with the brew water.
3) The out-gassing during brewing reduces (somewhat) actual extraction.
4) Therefore, when grind finer and dose down to increase particle surface area and therefore increase the extraction rate to compensate for more gas in fresher coffee.

There's definitely more to dealing with "too fresh" coffee than that, such as increased quantities of aqueous acid solutions related to CO2 and other gasses, but that's a whole different thang.

Anyway, THAT'S what I meant by "I don't understand 'expansion'." Again, I don't disagree with Ryan's method of mitigating the "freshness problem." I just disagree with his explanation of why. :P
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Ryan Willbur on Sun Nov 30, 2008 4:58 am

So, my reasoning and theory for why I like to down-dose when the coffee is fresh doesn't make sense. However, my reasoning for using less coffee has mostly to do with taste...

My experience in our bar with fresh coffee... and I mean, too fresh coffee, is simply that it carries with it a somewhat 'green' taste. It's evident both in the brewed coffees we dial in and taste on our Clovers, as well as in our espresso.

On the Clover, my experience has been that the fresher the coffee and the higher the gas content, the larger the dose and the coarser the grind the less of that 'green', too fresh taste you will get.

With espresso, it's been the opposite. Somehow the less coffee in the basket, the finer the grind, the less of that 'green' taste there is.

That's my side, and if there is anyone who can explain any of it, I'd love to hear a scientific reasoning for it.
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Instaurator on Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:59 pm

i've been getting better results by using more coffee with a coarser grind
I agree I've often had a better result with a coarser grind too. I think (as usual with espresso) there are a number of things going in to affect the end taste. A coarser grind will disperse more evenly, more easily.
So, my reasoning and theory for why I like to down-dose when the coffee is fresh doesn't make sense. However, my reasoning for using less coffee has mostly to do with taste...My experience in our bar with fresh coffee... and I mean, too fresh coffee, is simply that it carries with it a somewhat 'green' taste.
We have experimented with Scott Callaghan's dosing tools (http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1191679696) which enable you to precisely dose coffee according to volatility. There is an amazing kaleidoscope of flavors that emerge with dosing the same coffee 30 different repeatable ways. So it's not just a matter of up-dosing or down dosing but dosing to get the best out of any coffee on a given day. The issue of CO2 volatility comes into play too which really begs the question of 'freshness'. Too many people seal their beans in a bag without removing oxygen which means the coffee is not fresh even 3 or 4 days after roasting. If you can seal the beans in an oxygen free environment at a stable room temperature for a 2-3 weeks you can get a much better espresso than one that is more volatile and exposed to oxygen. I agree with this:
There's a time and a place for both of of these, boys...
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Tim Taylor on Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:11 am

nick wrote:Squeezing 1/2-an-oz of super-thick, sweet coffee liquor out of 24 grams of coffee might result in an explosion of flavors, but aesthetically it's completely unbalanced, lacking clarity of flavors... and practically speaking, it's a heck of a lot easier to pull off consistently than a properly-pulled, super-balanced 2-oz-from-18-grams double.


Have you done any experimenting with measuring the weight in grams of the pulled shot? For training purposes we're measuring virtually everything we do with a gram scale. I'm looking for the ideal ratio of what your dry weight of the puck to the weight of the pulled shot is. Any thoughts?

Thanks
{ Tim Taylor }
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Re: More coffee, coarser grind VS less coffee, finer grind....

Postby Rob Larson on Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:59 am

Just as I suspected; flooded with interesting responses. Thanks everyone for your input, it has been very helpful.

Rob
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