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Industrial Grinders 101

Before throwing the dial around, there are a few important questions to consider:

  1. Is my espresso tasting overwhelming in terms of acidity, sourness, or anything that keeps you from accessing something more than one unpleasant hammer of blah?
  2. Is your espresso dull, drying, or somehow skimpy on flavor?

To pull back the curtain, we try to encourage people to keep their espresso grind dialed in using your taste first, and as you adjust for what tastes best, then keep yourself within the time-frame and weights we’ve set out for you.  

The other major point to make before changing anything is to implore you to make adjustments in small increments.  Even the smallest turn of that dial will have a huge impact on your shots.

If You're a #1

Whatever causes a puckering face, a coating of the tongue that won’t relent in its stringency, here’s where to begin course-correcting:

  • Begin by grinding coarser.  Your time will most likely go down, but as long as it’s within that time-frame you’ve been given, this isn’t a concern.  The taste is what we’re shooting for, and giving the pressurized water from the espresso machine a lower surface area to interact with may be exactly what you need to round out the acidity or bitterness, providing a more balanced cup.
  • You may need to minorly adjust weight of coffee, and in this case it is most likely that IF this is the case (and that’s a big if), you’ll add a gram or two of grounds to the portafilter.

If You’re More of a #2

If your espresso isn’t holding up in terms of body or if the sweetness washes away quickly, the acidity can’t keep up with the bitterness, or something along these lines, start out with the following:

  • Slowly adjust in finer grind.  Your time will increase.  What we’re doing here is giving the water a higher surface area to access all the chemical compounds and sollubles that give coffee its myriad flavors.  
    • We want to allow the water access to enough of the coffee to pull out what we want, but the danger here is that we give the water access to too much of that surface area and then we pull more out of that coffee ground than we really want.  
    • If things get to tasting like you’ve just licked a battery, try going just a little coarser from where you were with the battery-acid taste and adding a little coffee grounds.  If that doesn’t work, go coarser and before adding any more grounds taste it.  Your taste buds are the real determining factor.  The key is small, incremental adjustments.   

Record Your Data

Keep notes on a few things with every shot of espresso you are testing as you trial-and-error your way to the right shot:

  • Taste: Along the way, with each small adjustment, keep track of what each shot tastes like.  It will help to know how each change affects the espresso, rather than just hoping you find that one magical setting.  
  • Time:  Each espresso you get from Coffea comes with an optimal pull-time and weight of grounds (weight of dry ground, prior to pulling the shot).  Think of these as your constants as you conduct this science experiment of pulling an espresso shot.
  • Weight of Grounds: We’re talking about the weight of dry ground, prior to pulling the shot).
    • Think of the weight of the grounds and the time it takes to pull that shot as your constants.  We want to stay within those boundaries to duplicate the flavor we’ve been able to pull out of those espresso grounds.
    • If for some reason you are entirely unable to get this to work, and you’ve tried various grind-adjustments with no luck, then and only then should you start adding or removing grams of coffee grounds from the portafilter.

Things to just not tamper with

  • The macro-adjustment dial.  All industrial grinders have a micro adjustment dial, and most of them also have a macro-adjustment dial.  That macro-dial is something you only want to touch if you’re frequently rotating single-origin espressos or rotating which roaster you’re getting your espresso from.  
    • If that’s the case, we’d be happy to come in and do a personal training with you to show you how to utilize this dial with minimal waste and maximum efficiency of time.  It’s worth getting a tutorial on, though, and we’ll be there for you.
  • Don’t mess with the volume of water that your espresso machine puts out.  While this is something most machines allow you to change, I guarantee that is one rabbit-hole you don’t want to travel down.  It will also throw off all suggested times and weights we provide you for future coffees.  

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