In this post we’re going to discuss some basic concepts of coffee preparation. These are tools to make coffee brewing easier and therefore more fun.
Making good coffee consistently might be one of the hardest parts of being a barista. The first things you can do to make it easier is getting fresh coffee, use fresh filtered water and use clean machines that are regularly serviced.
After that, the easiest way for a barista to improve consistency is to use a recipe. Just like all food products, coffee has recipes. Roasters can provide their own recipes for the coffees they deliver, which is a very convenient reference point. If you like to try new things, you can also create your own recipe. Although you use the exact same coffee, a different recipe can give a very different outcome.
A coffee recipe usually consists of three things: in (dose), out (yield) and extraction time.
How much ground coffee is used for a coffee, regardless of the brewing method. This is always measured in weight, usually in grams.
The weight of the coffee after the brewing process. It’s good to know that espresso is measured differently than other methods of coffee preparation. In espresso, only the beverage in the cup is measured, so the water that is retained by the coffee grounds is not weighed. In most other brewing methods, the water that is retained in the coffee ground is measure in the total amount.
For example, an espresso recipe might say “out: 42 grams”. This means that the amount of espresso in your cup weighs 42 grams. A pour-over recipe might say “out: 360 grams”. In this case, 360 grams refers to all the water used, so the weight of the coffee in your cup plus the water that is stuck in the coffee grounds.
When brewing an espresso, this is the time from the moment you start the water flow until you stop it manually or the machine stops by itself. In pour-over brewing, this is the time from the moment you first add water and the moment your coffee bed is dry and has stopped dripping. If you’re making an immersion brew like the French press, this is the time between adding water and the moment the coffee is poured. In short, recipes allow you to replicate a certain flavour. It also makes it easier to experiment, since you can adjust one variable.
In coffee, a ratio is the weight of dry coffee grounds in proportion to the weight of the brewed coffee. This is essentially the strength. For example, espresso can have a ratio of 1:2, meaning one part coffee ground for every two parts coffee beverage. In comparison: filtered coffee has an average ratio of 1:16.
Coffee drinks aren’t bound to a set ratio or strength. You can adjust the ratio to match your personal preference or that of the target audience of your cafe. Some people like their espresso very intense while others prefer a smoother beverage. Besides that, certain coffees can be very intense in some ratios and a bit flat in others.
Your beverage size might also determine the ideal ratio. If you like a lot of milk in your coffee, you could increase the ratio to get more coffee. The same goes for smaller beverages.
In espresso, ratio can also be useful if you are working with different filter baskets. Baskets range from 7 to 25 grams. Using a ratio can tell you how much yield (“out”) you need to match your filter basket to get the same strength as a recipe you want to use. Do you want a recipe with ratio 1:3? With a filter basket of 15 grams you need to end up with 45 grams of espresso.
Most coffee roasters make their own recipes for every coffee. Our recipes can be found at the product detail page of every specific coffee in our webshop. Use that recipe as a reference point. Next, always check the amount of coffee that fits in the filter basket you use.
How to verify?
2. Insert the portafilter in your espresso machine and take it out without running water through it.
3. If the shower screen presses into the puck (as on the picture below), you need to lower your dose.
4. Try again until you found the right amount (as in the picture below).
With this setup, make coffee according to the roaster’s recipe in a ratio of 1:1,5, 1:2 and 1:2,5. Taste these next to each other, and you will find out what strength you prefer.
Do you need help? Don’t hesitate to contact us, or ask one of the baristas at Kerkstraat for advice. Good luck!