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If my espresso shot appears to be extracting too quickly, what factors could be causing this? What should I change to try to get a better result?

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What type of grinder are you using? What espresso machine? Is this at home or in a commercial setting? –  jlunavtgrad Sep 11 '13 at 12:54
    
Its a good clarification question, but this is a transferred sample question from the Area 51 Coffee proposal, so fortunately I have no details to provide. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 11 '13 at 12:56

2 Answers 2

Without more details, it's hard to pinpoint, but here's a few suggestions:

Start by checking the setting on your grinder. You may not have it set fine enough for espresso. NOTE: if the coffee is really stale, as in many months old, the shot will start blonding early.

How much are you dosing? If it's too low you can get channeling and fast extraction (we tend to use 17-21 g depending on the beans). Also take into account the size of the portafilter basket. For example, if you try to put 17 grams of coffee into a triple basket, you will never get a good pour. I would suggest trying 18 g in a double basket and see if you notice an improvement. You should shoot for roughly a 25 second extraction.

Double check how you are distributing the coffee in the portafilter. If you are tamping unevenly, the grinds will be more likely to cause channeling with an uneven shot (check out the WDT method to help ensure proper distribution).

Otherwise, make sure you're fully engaging the portafilter into the grouphead and it is not loose when pulling the shot.

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Also make sure that you are tamping with enough pressure. David Schomer and many coffee professionals recommend about 30 lbs of pressure. –  leon Sep 12 '13 at 22:08

This can be due to a few factors:

  • Grind: the more coarse the grind the faster the water will flow through.
  • Compaction: if you are not compacting the grounds sufficiently, the faster the water will flow through.

The "formula" tends to be:

~20g coffee grounds + 24-27 sec of water == ~30mL (~30g) of coffee.

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