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Confused about espresso extraction


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I have the Sage Oracle for the past year and I have tried to read everything I can on this form and other web sites in order to get the best from it.

To be honest the amount of technical info regarding espresso extraction now has me completely confused.

I have taken the basic info from Phil McKnight’s youtube video regarding dialling in the grind and I simply cannot get the same results IE espresso leaving the portafilter between 9 & 14 seconds and producing 30ml of espresso in 25 seconds. In that video it says that simply adjusting the grind to achieve these parameters will produce a good espresso.

I have tried several freshly roasted beans from 2 different local roasters and I find that my espresso always leaves the filter between 6 to 8 secs and if I leave it to run the full 25 secs I end up with about 60 - 70 mls or more in the cup.

Adjusting to a finer grind does have some effect on the amount extracted but not the time that the espresso leaves the filter, I’m not sure whether this is important. I can also never get to anywhere near the 30ml suggested.

At the moment I am mainly trying to master Flat white and Latte drinks and from what I’ve read I should be extracting a ristretto for flat white at a 1:1 ratio and espresso for latte at 1:2 ratio. The grind and tamp into the double basket of my portafilter is consistently 21g. So given the above ratios I would be aiming for an extraction into the cup of about 21ml and 42ml respectively. I use a scale under the cup and I use the 1 cup button; I always have to stop the extraction manually well before the 25sec to achieve the above measurements. At the moment my grind is set at 11.

So, if I can ask a couple of simple questions to clear my mind a bit please.

What are the 1 and 2 cup buttons for? The timing for the 2 cup is only 5 secs more than the 1 cup. When would you use one over the other?

Assuming that my beans are fresh (which they always are) how do I achieve the above ratios on my machine given that most information that I have read says that the extraction should take 20 to 30 secs? I guess I shouldn’t have to keep stopping the extraction manually when I reach the required amount in the cup.

Like I said, now completely confused and any guidance would be much appreciated and I apologise for what is probably basic to most.

 

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What does the coffee taste like?

What kind of roast are you using?

Sounds like you may have some channelling going on there. 

I recall with the Sage grinder that at a certain point it didn’t matter how much finer you went it wouldn’t make any difference and most of the time it made it worse. Light roasts and decaf were hardest to handle.

 

GS3 MP, Ceado E92 and E37s, Feldgrind. Niche.

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OK.  Advice often starts with ‘use grind to control how long your shot takes’ but for most people starting out, this advice misses a crucial step.

The first step is to build your puck so that it is the same depth and density at every point in the basket (distribution).

The second factor is to make sure that you don’t put too much coffee in your basket (dose).

Distribution, if done right, makes sure that your espresso extracts at the same speed every time without gushing or spraying.  This is because water passes evenly through every part of the puck rather than finding a quick route through a thin part of the puck (channeling).

If your distribution is done well every time, then you can control speed of extraction with the grinder.  If not, the route the water finds through the puck dictates how fast the shot proceeds or not.

My guess is that your distribution is inconsistent (everyone starts with this problem by the way) so sometimes your shot gushes, so you tighten the grind for the next one but distribute better and so the next shot chokes the machine be Ayse there’s no easy fast channel for the water to take.

Putting too much coffee in the portafilter can also cause both choking and channeling rather confusingly.  (Choking if it’s just too much fine coffee for the pump, and channelling if the puck hits the shower screen when it gets saturated.)  you have to know your machines preferred dose.

So, put some hard yards into getting your distribution working.  Set the grinder to something fairly relaxed then build four pucks that extract at the same speed.  That will mean (1) exactly the same weight of coffee in each dose and (2) good distribution.  Then you can use the grind to control speed.

Let us know how you get on.

Edited by Obnic
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It think one of the issues is the Oracle is a dose, grind and tamp machine. Not sure about the dose adjustability but I think it’s hard wired to 21g?

Edited by lake_m
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GS3 MP, Ceado E92 and E37s, Feldgrind. Niche.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

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Assuming that my beans are fresh (which they always are) how do I achieve the above ratios on my machine given that most information that I have read says that the extraction should take 20 to 30 secs? I guess I shouldn’t have to keep stopping the extraction manually when I reach the required amount in the cup.
 


I’ve owned a Sage Oracle and it did a good job given the automated aspects such as the auto tamp and the auto milk.

The machine is limited by the built in grinder which won’t get the best from the machine ever, however, it should easily be able to achieve what you are trying for.

Are you using the freshly roasted beans straight away or allowing them to sit for a few days or more from the roasting date? If you don’t let them sit for a suitable amount of time you are fighting a loosing battle in my experience in regards consistency of pour.

The tamper pressure can be adjusted, it may be worth playing with that if you’ve not done so already.

Where are you based, there may be someone close by that will be happy to help you with the set up, if you bought it new have you used the white glove service, they would show you how to set it up?

Persevere, it’s a great machine when you’ve mastered it.




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7 hours ago, lake_m said:

What does the coffee taste like?

What kind of roast are you using?

Sounds like you may have some channelling going on there. 

I recall with the Sage grinder that at a certain point it didn’t matter how much finer you went it wouldn’t make any difference and most of the time it made it worse. Light roasts and decaf were hardest to handle.

 

To be honest the coffee tastes fine although I'm no connoisseur and I could just carry on doing what I'm doing but if there is a better extraction to be had then I would like to master that.

The coffee is a medium roast and it has usually been roasted about 5 days prior.

Is it possible to tell if there is channelling?

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7 hours ago, Obnic said:

OK.  Advice often starts with ‘use grind to control how long your shot takes’ but for most people starting out, this advice misses a crucial step.

The first step is to build your puck so that it is the same depth and density at every point in the basket (distribution).

The second factor is to make sure that you don’t put too much coffee in your basket (dose).

Distribution, if done right, makes sure that your espresso extracts at the same speed every time without gushing or spraying.  This is because water passes evenly through every part of the puck rather than finding a quick route through a thin part of the puck (channeling).

If your distribution is done well every time, then you can control speed of extraction with the grinder.  If not, the route the water finds through the puck dictates how fast the shot proceeds or not.

My guess is that your distribution is inconsistent (everyone starts with this problem by the way) so sometimes your shot gushes, so you tighten the grind for the next one but distribute better and so the next shot chokes the machine be Ayse there’s no easy fast channel for the water to take.

Putting too much coffee in the portafilter can also cause both choking and channeling rather confusingly.  (Choking if it’s just too much fine coffee for the pump, and channelling if the puck hits the shower screen when it gets saturated.)  you have to know your machines preferred dose.

So, put some hard yards into getting your distribution working.  Set the grinder to something fairly relaxed then build four pucks that extract at the same speed.  That will mean (1) exactly the same weight of coffee in each dose and (2) good distribution.  Then you can use the grind to control speed.

Let us know how you get on.

Thanks for that.

The dose and tamp are all automatic and all I can say is that it is consistently 21g and it appears evenly and smoothly tamped in the basket.

Sorry to appear dim but, can you explain 'Set the grinder to something fairly relaxed then build four pucks that extract at the same speed'

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6 hours ago, GerryM said:

 


I’ve owned a Sage Oracle and it did a good job given the automated aspects such as the auto tamp and the auto milk.

The machine is limited by the built in grinder which won’t get the best from the machine ever, however, it should easily be able to achieve what you are trying for.

Are you using the freshly roasted beans straight away or allowing them to sit for a few days or more from the roasting date? If you don’t let them sit for a suitable amount of time you are fighting a loosing battle in my experience in regards consistency of pour.

The tamper pressure can be adjusted, it may be worth playing with that if you’ve not done so already.

Where are you based, there may be someone close by that will be happy to help you with the set up, if you bought it new have you used the white glove service, they would show you how to set it up?

Persevere, it’s a great machine when you’ve mastered it.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

When I buy the beans they have usually been roasted about 5 days prior and I use them from then to about 21 days although at 21 days I am usually usung the last of them.

I haven't adjusted anthing from standard on the machine and really wouldn't know what pressure to try to achieve.

I am in Highlands Scotland so a bit far from most; I did have the white glove service but it was mostly aimed at cleaning the machine rather than anything else.

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1 hour ago, johnbuck said:

Thanks for that.

The dose and tamp are all automatic and all I can say is that it is consistently 21g and it appears evenly and smoothly tamped in the basket.

Sorry to appear dim but, can you explain 'Set the grinder to something fairly relaxed then build four pucks that extract at the same speed'

Hmm. OK.

What I meant was: set the grinder looser than you have it now.  Then work on building your pucks.

I would predict that as your puck build gets better (more even), the extraction will take longer because water will pass through the whole puck rather than channels.  I was suggesting you loosen the grind so you avoid choking the shot.

I guess the decision you need to make us whether to dose and distribute manually or continue to rely on the auto-prep.

I don’t think I could ever trust a machine to deliver the same dose every time, or to distribute it evenly in the PF.  

One can weigh and adjust all one likes but if one’s distribution is off, everything behaves and extracts inconsistently.  It’s the first skill on which all others build.

To help you decide, maybe auto-prepare three shots without changing anything and time how long each takes to deliver 42g.  If the times vary significantly then you know the machine can’t prep a dose consistently.

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But the oracle builds the puck for you, you put the PF into what looks like a second group head and tap it to the side, it grinds, fills the PF, tamps and polishes.. So the only thing you can change on this is the grind.. I'm actually quite glad I went for the Barista Touch as after getting used to it, half the fun is weighing the grind, filling the PF and tamping it all down to get a great looking and tasting* coffee.. :)

 

*I've decided I actually don't like a straight espresso, but my lattes taste better than any I've had in a coffee shop (except maybe workshop coffee on holborn viaduct but that's only because my latte is usually accompanied by a kouign-amman which is a match made in heaven! :) )

Edited by AndyB2
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12 hours ago, Obnic said:

Hmm. OK.

What I meant was: set the grinder looser than you have it now.  Then work on building your pucks.

I would predict that as your puck build gets better (more even), the extraction will take longer because water will pass through the whole puck rather than channels.  I was suggesting you loosen the grind so you avoid choking the shot.

I guess the decision you need to make us whether to dose and distribute manually or continue to rely on the auto-prep.

I don’t think I could ever trust a machine to deliver the same dose every time, or to distribute it evenly in the PF.  

One can weigh and adjust all one likes but if one’s distribution is off, everything behaves and extracts inconsistently.  It’s the first skill on which all others build.

To help you decide, maybe auto-prepare three shots without changing anything and time how long each takes to deliver 42g.  If the times vary significantly then you know the machine can’t prep a dose consistently.

Ok got it now, I'll give it a go when I'm back home next week, thanks.

I appreciate that a stand alone grinder and manual tamping and polishing would give much better control although I have to say that given the cost of this machine I expect it to do a resonable job in this respect. If there are discrepencies after doing as you suggest; I will contact sage with that info to see if they can suggest some adjustment.

Thanks again

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32 minutes ago, johnbuck said:

Ok got it now, I'll give it a go when I'm back home next week, thanks.

I appreciate that a stand alone grinder and manual tamping and polishing would give much better control although I have to say that given the cost of this machine I expect it to do a resonable job in this respect. If there are discrepencies after doing as you suggest; I will contact sage with that info to see if they can suggest some adjustment.

Thanks again

Yeah.  One would hope so but I suspect the truth is that your interest and aspiration is probably quite a jump up from the target Oracle user.  They will probably say it’s down to the bean you use. 

Different beans behave differently.  if you’re going to carry on auto-building with the fixed 21g dose, I think you’ll need to search for your Goldilocks bean.

A light roast will usually grind more cleanly (less clumping) but generally requires finer grinding to extract well (a struggle for the built in grinder). 

A darker roast will often be more prone to clumping but will extract at a looser grind (can auto-distribute more reliably). But, longer roasted beans tend to produce a bigger dose for a given weight than lighter roasted ones so some darker roasts will physically overdose the basket at 21g.

These are all variables you learn to work with if you dose and distribute manually.

My sense is that the oracle is probably set up for a medium-dark roast bean (ie not too fine a grind) with resistance coming from a highish dose (21g) rather than particle size.  A pleasant taste will most likely therefore result from a shorter brew ratio (eg 38g from 21g dose).

Those that have spent more time with the machine will know best.  I’ve only used it in a holiday apartment setting. 

Edited by Obnic
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