Dialing in Espresso: The Art and Science of Perfecting Your Cup

IPrecision in espresso making is not just a skill; it’s an art form. Crafting a well-dialed espresso is crucial for baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike, as it significantly enhances the coffee experience. This article delves into the intricacies of the brew recipe and the dialing-in process, underscoring their importance in creating the perfect espresso..
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Brew Recipe Significance

The foundation of a great espresso lies in its brew recipe. This recipe comprises four critical elements: dose, yield, shot time, and temperature. Each component plays a vital role in determining the consistency and quality of the espresso. Combining these factors is essential for achieving the perfect extraction and flavor profile. The dose refers to the amount of ground coffee used, yield is the volume of the espresso shot, shot time is the duration of the extraction, and temperature dictates the heat of the water used.

To brew your espresso, you will need an espresso machine. If you’re just starting on your home barista journey, you might want to check out our equipment section, where we offer a variety of espresso machines and grinders that are perfect for home use.

The Need for a Brew Recipe

Adhering to a brew recipe is crucial in extracting the desired flavor profile from the coffee beans. Deviating from the prescribed recipe often leads to subpar tastes, undermining the quality of the espresso. Consistency in flavor and quality can only be achieved once you hone in on your desired recipe.

Dialing In Process

“Dialing in” is the daily process of calibrating the espresso machine and grinder according to the brew recipe. This practice is pivotal in optimising the extraction of flavors and achieving a balanced taste. It involves making precise adjustments to the grind size and coffee dose based on the recipe.

Dialing In Process

  1. Start with a Double Espresso: This ensures consistency in extraction.
  2. Use Scales for Accurate Dosing: This helps in achieving the correct DOSE. Alternatively, visually inspect the coffee bed and spent pucks.
  3. Aim for a Brew Time of Around 25 Seconds: Adjust to achieve a yield of 35-40g.
  4. Adjust Grind Size: Fine-tune for brew time issues, making the grind finer if the shot is too quick (sour) or coarser if it is too slow (bitter).
  5. Clear Previous Grind Traces: Do this after each grinder adjustment.

Grinding Quality

The quality of grinding is paramount. Using a high-quality burr grinder and maintaining sharp burrs, changed every 3-500 kg of coffee, is recommended. Blunt burrs can deteriorate the quality of the espresso.

Dose, Yield, Brew Time, and Grind Size

  • Dose: Typically 18-21 grams, varying with bean age and roast.
  • Yield: The wet weight of extracted espresso, influencing concentration and flavor.
  • Brew Time: Usually between 25 to 30 seconds, dependent on grind size.
  • Grind Size: A crucial factor, starting finer than granulated sugar and adjusting as needed.

Tasting and Adjustments

Tasting the espresso is critical to balancing flavors. Adjust the dose, yield, and brew time based on taste. Consider how milk interacts with the espresso flavour.

Tips for Improvement

  • Change One Parameter at a Time: This helps identify the impact of each adjustment.
  • Maintain Consistency in Other Variables: Ensures uniformity in the process.
  • Keep a Dialing-In Journal: Document changes and results for future reference.
  • Stay Hydrated: Essential for maintaining taste sensitivity.

Advanced Techniques

Explore different espresso profiles and experiment with brew temperatures for various roasts. Doing this can lead to discovering unique flavors and textures in espresso.


Address common issues like poor taste, which may indicate problems with beans or equipment. Cupping beans can provide valuable flavor insights and help adjust the brew recipe accordingly.


Mastering the process of dialing in espresso is both challenging and rewarding. It is a journey of continuous learning and experimentation. As you practice, your skills in crafting the perfect espresso will evolve, satisfying you and those who enjoy your coffee. Remember, the art of espresso making is a blend of science and creativity – embrace it with patience and passion.

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