Let’s learn how to program your coffee machine aka adjust your yield! This is a crucial step that every barista or coffee enthusiast with an espresso machine needs to know. Knowing how to adjust your yield confidently will allow you to make sure your espresso is perfect with every pour. Without further ado… let’s get into it!
First, let’s strip it back to basics and take a look at what we mean by “yield”. An espresso’s yield is the weight of the espresso that pours from your coffee machine into your cup. It plays a core role in your espresso recipe alongside dose and time. If you’re unsure what an espresso recipe is, we recommend reading through this blog for more information.
When we brew espresso, we generally use a brew ratio of 1:2 (coffee: water). For example, if we were to use 20g of ground coffee we would want to get a 40g yield. This would provide a good balance of flavour in the espresso eliminating one of the factors that could lead to over or under extraction. If you’re experiencing bitterness in your coffee this could be a reason why. Making sure you have the correct numbers is absolutely essential for acquiring that creamy espresso.
Different coffee beans may require a slightly different brew ratio but this 1:2 brew ratio is a good place to start. When working with an espresso recipe there will always be a small tolerance range that is acceptable. In a perfect world we would want exactly 20g of ground coffee and exactly 40g of espresso every time but, this is not always achievable in reality. We recommend keeping the dose (ground coffee) within +/- .02g of your target and the yield (espresso weight) within +/- 3g of your target.
How to change your yield
The volumetric controllers on the espresso machine can be programmed to give you the yield specified in your recipe. Volumetric controllers are much less intimidating than they sound! To put it simply, they refer to the buttons that change how much water we want out of the machine for the espresso.
Below are the steps to check the yield. We recommend doing this every morning from each group head before the start of service. The yield can change due to various reasons so it’s important you make sure it’s correct every morning before you start making coffee. This is especially helpful with home espresso machines as the factory settings are not always the correct setting for the dose.
If you have a coffee machine with multiple group heads, we would expect there to be a little bit of variation. However, the idea here is to make sure that all group heads are dispensing close to the same amount of water.
How to measure yield
- Prepare a portafilter as if you were making a double espresso with your basket dry and clean. Make sure you are using the dose specified in your recipe with the correct barista technique. It is helpful if your grind size is correct.
- Tare the cup you will use on the scales. This will ensure we’re measuring only the espresso yield (and not the cup). Note: every cup is a slightly different weight, even apparently identical cups.
- Install portafilter and start your espresso pour (brewing cycle) as well as 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 it with your recipe.
Once you’ve checked your yield you may find that the yield is not consistent with your recipe or, that you have a different amount of water coming from each group head. This is where you would reprogramme your volumetric controls. Let us walk you through how to reprogram your machine/check your yield.
Reprogramming your espresso machine
For this process it is helpful if you have a thin set of scales that can fit beneath the grouphead with a cup on top. If you don’t have thin scales, high quality scales can work too.
On some espresso machines, you may need to turn on ‘programming mode’ before you can program the volumetric controls. For most home espresso machines there should be instructions in your user manual.
How to program the coffee machine:
- Turn on programming mode, if applicable.
- Prepare the portafilter with coffee as you normally would.
- Turn your thin scales on and tare an empty cup. Or, if you don’t have thin scales tare your cup and place the cup ready for the espresso.
- Press and hold the ‘STOP/PROG.’ button on the far-right group head until the lights start to flash.
- Lock your portafilter into the group head.
- Press the button you would like to program.
- Put the cup and scales underneath the portafilter to catch the espresso coming out.
- 4 grams before your target weight, press the button again to stop the flow. The espresso will continue to drip for another 4gr so you need to press STOP to account for the extra 4gr.
- Press the ‘STOP/PROG.’ button again.
- Turn off programming mode.
- Check the program has taken effect on all groups.
Notes to consider
On some espresso machines when the programming is reset on one group head it can often overwrite the programming of the other group heads. It’s important to establish which group head is the master.
The other groups may be programmed individually, but when you program from the master again the program will be overwritten.
On older machines sometimes the ‘carry over’ feature doesn’t work and the groups must be programmed individually.
If you would like to see the programming in action check out our YouTube video below:
Struggling to put all together? Why not book in for one of our Barista Training sessions
We understand people learn in different ways. That’s why we have multiple resources for you to refer to. We have our blog, youtube as well as our in-house barista training sessions. If you have any more questions, feel free to pop in or give us a call.