Posted on 24 March 2011 by Nate
The last article in our perfect shot walk through series for the Rancilio Silvia is here. In this article, we’re going to focus on proper extraction timing as the last step in getting a great shot of espresso from your Rancilio Silvia.
Why is Timing Important?
Generally, when you pull a shot of espresso, the timing of the actual pull will dictate the flavor profile of the finished product. If the shot is too short (meaning water passes through the coffee too quickly), you will not extract enough flavor from the espresso. When the shot is too long, it will result in a bitter flavor profile in the cup.
The optimal time of extraction for great espresso is around 18 to 23 seconds per ounce of espresso yielded. Obviously as with all things coffee, this is a matter of personal taste, but this gives you a good starting point. Some espresso enthusiasts prefer the ristretto, or restricted, shot which produced a powerfully sweet flavor profile when done properly. Others may opt for the lungo, or long pull, which produces more water content within the espresso and a slightly more bitter taste.
How to Get it Right
Unfortunately, timing espresso extraction properly with your Rancilio Silvia is perhaps one of the more difficult achievements. The simple reasoning behind this is that all of the other factors which we’ve discussed leading up to this point have a direct impact on this component. You can flip the brew switch on for 18 to 23 seconds very easily, but the product which is produced is at the mercy of your choice of blend, grind setting, dosing, tamping, temperature, and pressure. Quite honestly, it just takes experimentation. And you will have to go through calibration shots just about every time you switch beans.
It simply boils down to practice. To get the perfect 1.6 ounce shot of espresso in 18 to 23 seconds without blonding or channeling, you’ll simply need to experiment with your blend, dosing, tamp, and grinder settings. Think of this as the grade which is applied to all of the rest of your barista techniques. If you have lined everything else up correctly, you’ll get your A+ as a reward.
By incorporating all of the steps we’ve outlined within this perfect shot walk through series, you’ll be a professional home barista with your Rancilio Silvia in no time!