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Is it time to disregard the 'normal' time window for a 1:2 extraction ratio?


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I just made my morning flat white and although the grind size was correct, I clearly tamped way too hard as the extraction time was 1:02 when I was aiming for 36g (for an 18g dose) so was extracted at over 2x the normal time that is usually between 25-30 seconds.
 
Now the strange thing was that this was one of the tastiest flat whites I’ve had for a long time, and especially one that is made at home.
 
This is probably due to the espresso being more more ‘syrupy’ and stronger, however, at this extraction time is should be extremely bitter and undrinkable.
 
I may not extract this far for a straight espresso but this held up really well in a flat white.
 
Beans for reference were just standard Red Brick from Square Mile, so it’s not even that this was a lighter roast which necessitated a longer pre-infusion/extraction time.
 
It was also brewed on a Mara X without flow profiling so was using the standard 9 bars of pressure after the standard short pre-infusion.
 
This makes me think that I should start disregarding the normal 25-30 second time for a 1:2 extraction ratio when it comes to more milky drinks.
 
Does anyone do the same?

Edited by shaunlawler
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I some times more often then not its either shorter or longer, and rarely put more than 90g of milk in.

Edited by Jony
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Your misunderstanding is 1:2 has nothing to do with extraction time. It's 1 part grounds to 2 parts water, eg 18g coffee grinds to 36g of drink. The time is not massively relevant unless way too short. Typical is 18g > 36g in 30 seconds, but this is really only a ballpark figure for a baseline. Traditional espresso would be longer (in ratio). Time has a limited impact. A shot that pulls in 15 seconds will almost always be sour but as you've observed, a 1:2 espresso pulled in 60" is often really good. Shorter ratio gives higher concentration, and therefore more syrupy goodness, but usually with a balance toward the acidic end. However, due to the non linear way in which coffee extracts, there can be areas of sweetness that you can hit even at short ratios like ristretto. Obviously roast degree will affect this too.

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I some times more often then not its either shorter or longer, and rarely put more than 90g of milk in.

I make a normal sized flat white so around 100g milk to around 30g of espresso and it tasted much better, to me, with an ‘over extracted’ shot.

I was just surprised as I expected it to taste horrible and was pleasantly surprised.


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The 1:2 guide has nothing to do with time and solely refers to amount of grinds in:coffee out. So 18g in to 36g out is 1:2. Time is a separate factor.

 

Personally I usually go for 1:2.5ish. In terms of time that varies from bean to bean and once I've got something dialled in, I tend to stop timing the shots for the rest of the bag unless it starts tasting way under/over.

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  • shaunlawler changed the title to Is it time to disregard the 'normal' time window for a 1:2 extraction ratio?

Yes - thank you all my original post and title was incorrect and has been amended accordingly (too early for my brain to work it seems).

The point I was trying to make is that for a 1:2 extraction ratio, most people recommend aiming for an extraction time in between 25 - 30 seconds. I clearly went over this by double and I was really surprised with the results.

Maybe it just means that I should play around more and not be too strict on the extraction time as it clearly can have a positive impact on flavour if you experiment a little.

Edited by shaunlawler
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Yeah definitely. Time is only a rough guide, like I say, 15 seconds is rarely good and usually means grind is too coarse or you're channeling. Anything 20 plus is normally ok until you get well over a minute, and even then, if it tastes good then it is good. The 18:[email protected]" thing is relatively new and only a guide. Some coffees, like my favourite Ethiopian naturals, show a real interesting funk taste when pulled fast, which can become muted on slower shots. Experimenting is where the fun is. And your tastebuds are the best guide.

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3 minutes ago, shaunlawler said:

Yes - thank you all my original post and title was incorrect and has been amended accordingly (too early for my brain to work it seems).

The point I was trying to make is that for a 1:2 extraction ratio, most people recommend aiming for an extraction time in between 25 - 30 seconds. I clearly went over this by double and I was really surprised with the results.

Maybe it just means that I should play around more and not be too strict on the extraction time as it clearly can have a positive impact on flavour if you experiment a little.

A lot depend on your equipment too, and the type of coffee, and your taste buds, the latter being the important component. 😉  For the coffees I use and for the machine I have, the sweet spot is around 35s-40s. I'd think it would be insane to aim for a 25s shot. It would be a gusher for me.

 

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The more I delve into coffee, the more I realise that there is no ‘perfect’ guide.

Yes - you can have recognised techniques and guides as a starting point but there are so many variables it really is impossible to have a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

I think I have watched too many YouTube videos which tell you how to make great coffee but everyone’s taste buds are different and what I like, someone else might hate.

It has just made me realise that I need to experiment more, strive for the perfect shot each time I get a new bag of coffee and try and dial it in for each one I get.

Time to start experimenting with flow profiling now...

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My taste buds are not great but I've found that, for flat whites etc. anything from 25 seconds to a minute still produces at the very least a drinkable result and usually a delicious one with all sorts of darker beans. My customers (wife and far more discerning son) agree!

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Over the years I've found for most of the beans I buy the sweet spot for time to extract is between 45-60 seconds rarely faster for a ratio of 1:2-2.5. I've often wondered if this was also down to my machine, Pavoni with a 49mm basket. It's probably a deeper basket than a 58mm would be but I only put on average 14g of coffee instead of 18g. 

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With a lot of recently roasted, light/medium beans, you can't over-extract at 1:2. So in that respect, it might not matter how long the shot takes. Though, if you grind too fine, the shot can be a little silty/flat/dirty tasting (if this isn't happening/a problem, all is good).

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3 hours ago, shaunlawler said:


I make a normal sized flat white so around 100g milk to around 30g of espresso and it tasted much better, to me, with an ‘over extracted’ shot.

I was just surprised as I expected it to taste horrible and was pleasantly surprised.
 

If it were over-extracted it probably would taste horrible, or at least have a horrible aftertaste. Time has nothing to do with it.

Also your tamping probably doesn't have anything to do with it unless you don't usually tamp and this time you did. A harder or softer tamp wouldn't cause a significant difference to shot time unless taken to real extremes, more likely the coffee just needs a coarser grind which can happen when it is fresh and then ages; from date of roasting it'll need to be ground fine, then one day suddenly coarser, then as it gets old gradually finer (I've even seen this little hump occur with rested beans if the bag has been unopened but not always).  

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3 hours ago, MWJB said:

With a lot of recently roasted, light/medium beans, you can't over-extract at 1:2. So in that respect, it might not matter how long the shot takes. Though, if you grind too fine, the shot can be a little silty/flat/dirty tasting (if this isn't happening/a problem, all is good).

What Mwjb says, at 1:2 your are not over extracting , it may be bitter , but this doesn’t mean you are over extracting in nearly any time frame .

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1:2 in 30 secs is just a ball park guide.
Some beans will taste great at 1:5 or pulling it shorter or longer.
I’ve certainly made some great mistakes that have tasted fantastic.


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I was obsessing about shot time a lot when I started out (not that long ago, have only been at this since August) but members here have kept telling me to ignore time, focus on taste and adjust grind instead (time is a byproduct). I am currently drinking mainly light/medium roasts and my shot times are anywhere between 35-55s and they taste delicious (yield is usually 36-40g paired 110-120ml steamed mlk). I don't experience much, if any, bitterness with the beans I've been on in recent months, even at those shot times. My basket prep has improved too so I can get away with grinding finer.

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This is the very thing that made brewing by ratio so liberating. Rather than aiming for a weight of dose, volume of output in so many seconds, you just stick to the weight ratio & adjust grind to steer flavour balance. Simpler than trying to shoehorn shots into a timeframe.

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