When baking muffins do you use a different amount of flour each time you make them? Or half a cup of milk this time and perhaps one cup the next? Would changing the recipe result in the same batch of delicious muffins each time?
We didn’t think so.
Espresso recipe works the same way – if you want to get the very best espresso and be able to repeat it consistently, then you need to follow an espresso recipe. (And the good thing is, following an espresso recipe is much easier than baking muffins!)
So what is an Espresso Recipe?
Made up of three elements the espresso recipe influences the quality and therefore the taste of the espresso:
Dose – the amount of ground coffee going into the portafilter.
Yield – the amount of the espresso made
Time – the length of time the shot takes to pour
These factors are each given a value and this is what forms the basis of the recipe. Each element has an effect on the next, so changing one part of the recipe will change the other parts.
This is determined by the size of your basket. Using scales, the dose is measured by weighing out and adjusting the amount of ground coffee going into the basket. This is going to be determined by the size of your basket and is measured by weighing out and adjusting the amount of ground coffee going into the basket using scales. (See our blog: why you should weigh your coffee).
This refers to the amount of espresso you end up with in the cup from a double extraction (not to be confused with the number of shots). Though you would expect yield to be measured in millilitres, it is instead measured in grams. Using a volume measurement like millilitres is fraught with inconsistencies due to the crema.
Yield is for the most part, controlled by the volumetric button on the espresso machine. Hence the importance of always using the correct button and making sure that all users on the machine are using the same.
All volumetric buttons can be programmed to deliver the yield you require to fit with the dose and the brew ratio you are using. See our blog dialling in your brew for more information on brew ratios.
Do make sure you check the programming on your machine as part of your morning set up by following the steps below:
How to measure yield
- Prepare the portafilter as if you were making a double espresso. Make sure you are using the dose specified in your recipe and correct barista technique. It is helpful if your grind size is roughly correct.
- Tare the cup you will use on the scales. Every cup is slightly different in weight, even apparently identical cups.
- Install the portafilter then start brewing cycle and the timer.
- Put the cup (and scales if possible) under the spouts to catch the full volume of espresso.
- Check the weight of the shot using the scales and compare with your recipe.
Now that we are always getting the correct amount of ground coffee and we have checked that the machine is delivering the correct amount of water to give us the required yield, the last factor to lock in is the time it takes for the shot to pour. This is measured using a timer and is from the moment the button is pushed until the moment the button switches itself off.
Espresso extraction should take between 25-35 second to pour.
Best results are usually found between 27 – 33 seconds.
Important – although the shot time is measured using a timer, it is important to understand that the shot time is CONTROLLED by the grind size only! This means you must adjust your grinder to keep your times on track.
Putting it all together.
With all that said, maintaining your espresso recipe is actually very easy. When it comes to coffee consistency, working with and maintaining your espresso recipe is the only way to quality control your beverages, plus it also takes a lot of the “guess work” out of the equation.
Use the scales, keep within 0.2g of your target weight
Your machine controls this for you – do check machine programming as part of your morning set up. Check all groups are delivering the same yield and don’t hesitate to reprogram the machine if needed.
Monitor and adjust – use your timer for each shot as it pours. Your shot times will change throughout the day so adjust your grinder accordingly.
Written by Summah Grant Barista Trainer
If you are looking to perfect your recipe you can come along to our home barista training courses held at the roastery in our purpose-built training room. Learn the science behind the pour and do some hands-on practice. To see upcoming class availability, simply click below.