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Preinfusion and timings


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Hi,

I am just after some advice regarding preinfusion and timings. I ordered some "red brick" espresso beans from Square Mile and am finding them bland and just not particularly pleasant. I have a La Pavoni Professional which I normally get really good results from and for a 15g dose with a1:2 ration I aim for a 10 second preinfus (or until I see the first drips of coffee) followed by 30 seconds of 9 bar max pull and aim to get 30g in the cup ( I use a Mazzer grinder).  I am aware that temp is a consideration but I don't have any temperature strips on my machine, but it is always fine with other coffees.

I have always been a bit confused about the preinfusion and whether you take this into account with your timings or is this separate. I have read quite a bit and there seems to be quite conflicting advise. I know its all about the taste at the end of the day but I am just not getting it right with this new coffee. I have really good results with North Star and Origin coffee and thought I had cracked it but now feel back to square one with "square mile"! Even their decaff beans I am finding disappointing compared to others I have tried. (Just to add, the coffee looks lovely with a really nice crema but is just really underwhelming).

Any advice would be really appreciated.

 

 

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well, I have ordered the Red Brick for the second time few weeks ago, drinking it just now and I have to say I'm dissapointed. The first time wasn't great but it was few years ago, so I gave it a try again. It could be my grinder, waiting very impatiently for the Niche, it could be my taste buds just not agreeing. I think I will try again with my new setup, but for now it just doesn't work. Not as espresso, not in milk, americano just about, but nothing I would want to drink by choice.

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If you see drips, then your shot is already underway. Preinfusion can be counted into total shot time, but don't aim for a time, either way.

Follow the changes you see from adjusting grind.

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1 hour ago, MWJB said:

If you see drips, then your shot is already underway. Preinfusion can be counted into total shot time, but don't aim for a time, either way.

Follow the changes you see from adjusting grind.

Can you expand on that...if a roaster recommends a brew ratio and time say 28-32 secs for 2:1, you’d presumably have to be somewhere in that ball park and then play with the grind as a variable. 

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1 minute ago, NigelO said:

Can you expand on that...if a roaster recommends a brew ratio and time say 28-32 secs for 2:1, you’d presumably have to be somewhere in that ball park and then play with the grind as a variable. 

Neither of these are very useful recommendations.

2:1 is just a ratio (suggestive of cup strength at a given range of extraction, it doesn't guarantee that extraction, could be pretty much anything), not an indicator of likely notes or balance in the cup. But, if this is the ratio you normally enjoy & works for you then use it. It's not specific to any roaster, unless maybe you are brewing a light roast, or less soluble bean then you might want to brew to a longer ratio.

Time will vary from bean to bean, vary by dose & basket. You can have tasty brews at less than 28s and over 32s. 4s span isn't very realistic. +/-3s might be fine with the same bean, grind setting & ratio.

Don't play, make methodical adjustments that you know will work. So, if your shot takes an inordinate amount of time (compared to usual, for you) & tastes dirty/flat/silty, keep grinding gradually coarser until it tastes good, then further coarser to see if there is anything beyond that...if you're sure you're past the peak, tighten up to last tasty setting.

Likewise, if your 1:2 shot gushes out in 10-15s, go finer, until it tastes good, then finer still until taste drops off again, coarsen up to last tasty setting.

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39 minutes ago, MWJB said:

Neither of these are very useful recommendations.

2:1 is just a ratio (suggestive of cup strength at a given range of extraction, it doesn't guarantee that extraction, could be pretty much anything), not an indicator of likely notes or balance in the cup. But, if this is the ratio you normally enjoy & works for you then use it. It's not specific to any roaster, unless maybe you are brewing a light roast, or less soluble bean then you might want to brew to a longer ratio.

Time will vary from bean to bean, vary by dose & basket. You can have tasty brews at less than 28s and over 32s. 4s span isn't very realistic. +/-3s might be fine with the same bean, grind setting & ratio.

Don't play, make methodical adjustments that you know will work. So, if your shot takes an inordinate amount of time (compared to usual, for you) & tastes dirty/flat/silty, keep grinding gradually coarser until it tastes good, then further coarser to see if there is anything beyond that...if you're sure you're past the peak, tighten up to last tasty setting.

Likewise, if your 1:2 shot gushes out in 10-15s, go finer, until it tastes good, then finer still until taste drops off again, coarsen up to last tasty setting.

Thanks for your helpful considerations. 1:2 coffee/water is only a suggested starting point. It is useful to have some idea of timing so that it can be a fixed parameter so that one variable can be adjusted at a time. As long as the timing has the same starting point, with or without pi, ref OP, then as you say, taste is king.

 

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The trouble is how many beans do you waste trying to get this "perfect shot". If I do pull a not so good one I still drink it as a latte . If I do make adjustments for the following day then I would find comparing them to a previous days shot really difficult. I suppose you need to have them lined up and pull one after the other to make proper comparisons but by the time I had done that I probably would have wasted half a bag of beans and do have to do this with each new bag of coffee because I like to chop and change, Oh Dear!

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7 minutes ago, NigelO said:

Thanks for your helpful considerations. 1:2 coffee/water is only a suggested starting point. It is useful to have some idea of timing so that it can be a fixed parameter so that one variable can be adjusted at a time. As long as the timing has the same starting point, with or without pi, ref OP, then as you say, taste is king.

 

Ratio is the fixed parameter. Time is not an input, it is a byproduct of loosely related inputs that ideally lead to a tasty shot.

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3 hours ago, Irisco said:

Oh that's useful to know. I only ordered it because its one of the coffees that seems to be mentioned quite a bit on this forum and is recommended. Thanks for your comment.

 

I enjoy red brick on a regular basis , needs two weeks rest at least 

Try it yourself and enjoy 

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38 minutes ago, Irisco said:

The trouble is how many beans do you waste trying to get this "perfect shot". If I do pull a not so good one I still drink it as a latte . If I do make adjustments for the following day then I would find comparing them to a previous days shot really difficult. I suppose you need to have them lined up and pull one after the other to make proper comparisons but by the time I had done that I probably would have wasted half a bag of beans and do have to do this with each new bag of coffee because I like to chop and change, Oh Dear!

You should be in the ball-park(a reasonable drink, maybe with room for a little fine tuning) within 5 shots, ideally 3.

They don't have to compare to tiny increments to the previous day's shots. They only need to compare to your preference on the day you drink them. Keep a note of scores, vs grind setting & overall liking, no need to get too complicated at this stage. There will be some natural variation, so if you get a 8/9 then a 7/9 the next, go again with the same parameters to see if the trend is to lower scores before adjusting.

Don't get into a frenzy. If you make 1 shot a day, just remake those that are really undrinkable. Drink the ones you might not see as ideal, quantify what it is you don't like.

If you burn through a bag of beans at 1:2, over a range of grind settings & have nothing to show by the end of it...you are probably trying to make something that can't be made. Go for a longer ratio & give the water more chance to extract the coffee more fully.

Edited by MWJB
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Thanks,  really useful advice. I do find pulling shots become more intuitive with experience , I just thought I was finally getting the hang of it until I tried the Red Brick , maybe one mans meat is another mans poison and I just don't like it very much.

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5 hours ago, Irisco said:

I am just after some advice regarding preinfusion and timings. I ordered some "red brick" espresso beans from Square Mile and am finding them bland and just not particularly pleasant. I have a La Pavoni Professional which I normally get really good results from and for a 15g dose with a1:2 ration I aim for a 10 second preinfus (or until I see the first drips of coffee) followed by 30 seconds of 9 bar max pull and aim to get 30g in the cup ( I use a Mazzer grinder). ... I have always been a bit confused about the preinfusion and whether you take this into account with your timings or is this separate. 

 

 

I think timings are more important for a pump machine than a lever. As the pressure drops steadily during a lever shot, you can't generalise about time and pressure in the same way. Flow rate certainly matters, but you can see that as the shot develops and adjust the grind accordingly. I count preinfusion time until the lever is released (after a drop or two) and then my Acaia scale automatically counts weight and time from the landing of the first drops in the cup. This information is useful to me when I'm dealing in a shot, but such measurements are so machine and grinder specific that I wouldn't think of comparing them to whatever is on the bag. 

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I tried using red brick twice over the last 6 months. Each time thinking I'd built up the skill to get a tasty shot after getting decent shots with other beans. Using a la pavoni pro too, but was never able to get great results. Slowly getting better at pulling shots so might try red brick again soon.
I've stopped adjusting my shot based on time, and mainly adjust grind based on taste. Still takes me a lot longer than most to dial in shots, but getting quicker.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

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