P Pat Cotter

Mistakes: Dialing In Your Espresso Machine (Top 3 Mistakes and Tips)

Jun 28, 2023 · coffee · education · espresso
Mistakes: Dialing In Your Espresso Machine (Top 3 Mistakes and Tips)

Have you ever struggled with dialing in espresso? Maybe you’ve practiced and practiced but you’re still finding that you’re wasting coffee? We’re here to help! Today we’ve got the top three mistakes that users often make when trying to get their espresso dialed in.

Starting With a Bad Setting

When working to dial in your grinder you’ll want to take it to a very fine setting, but not so fine that you cause it to lock up. You do this because you want a powdery consistency for your espresso grinding, which will sit at the coarse end of the grind settings. As mentioned, going too fine can result in your grinder locking up. This isn’t the end of the world, but you’ll probably have to open it up and empty the grind chamber, which is a hassle. On the other hand, if you start too coarse you might find that it takes quite a bit of wasted coffee to grind down to a finer setting, since you should really grind as you adjust finer once you’ve got beans in the hopper. By starting with a very fine but not all the way setting you’ll find that you’re closer to your ideal dial in point anyway, but finding where that sweet spot is does take a lot of practice.

Too Many Variables

Your espresso setup has two main components - the machine and the grinder. Between these two components there’s a ton of variables. There’s your grind setting, your tamp, the water temperature, the pump, the type of portafilter basket you’re using, and even the material of the glass you brew into. One thing you can do to help the dial in process is eliminating these variables. In some cases, this is as easy as using the same cup through your dial in process, or ensuring that you stick to one portafilter basket type and size as you do so. In other cases, it can be trickier. You’ll want to learn the temperature and pump characteristics of your espresso machine so that you can work to limit any variables coming from the machine in terms of pressure and temp. You’ll also want to practice your tamp to keep that consistent as well. Once you can get your variables down to just the grind setting you’re using, the process becomes much simpler.

Using Poorly Maintained Equipment

Brewing espresso can be dirty business! Coffee beans contain oil, which will cause residue buildup over time. The same is true for water, as it passes through brewing components it can cause mineral buildup over time. Grinders have oil build up over time too, and it can really have an effect on the flavor of your coffee. In order to combat this, make sure you’re following the guidelines for maintaining your coffee equipment found in the owner’s manual for your machine and grinder. By keeping your grinder and your machine fresh and clean you can ensure that your espresso’s flavor isn’t being altered from dirty equipment, and important piece of the puzzle that is dialing in. We hope this has helped you develop more understanding as to why you might be having a tough time with getting your equipment dialed in. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that dialing in is the hardest part of the brewing process, so just do your best and keep practicing!

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