Anatomy of a bad shot

We'd been struggling with our machine all last week (dispensing pressure went out the window) and there was almost nothing we could do to pull shots that made any of us comfortable. A barista's worst nightmare.

Even after getting serviced, I'm still wrassling with my shots. Eh, it happens -- I'm far from perfect. But I won't rest until I'm satisfied with every single ounce!

Anyway, as a teaching tool, for myself and for ... myself, I guess, since I'm just about the only person who reads this thing, I intentionally did everything wrong when I pulled this shot, just so see what happens.

Ok. There's the beast. Let's talk about it!

First of all, the reasons it looks like that are: underdosing, no distribution of grinds, no tamp at all and loss of heat on the machine. Wow, yum.

What does that mean for the shot?

Because I didn't dose, distribute or tamp properly, the water found its way through the grind cake in several different places. This is one of the reasons we use the bottomless portafilters (which I've only really recently come to appreciate, because as a Virgo, I'm resistant to change!) -- there's no cheating. If your grinds aren't perfect, you're gonna see it, like so.

This striping, where one part of the stream is a rich brown and another is a brighter gold, indicates an uneven extraction. Not all of the flavor of the coffee is being utilized in some places, while other sections of the basket are releasing just acids, having spent all their flavor.

An overall assessment of This Bad Shot™ is that the color is terrible, it's clearly pulling too fast, and it's probably not even hot enough. It's also clearly travelling a little, based on the tilt of the pour. Basically, so sad.

So let's not do that! Let's do it right!

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PS - That link up there in the subject line is fascinating and helpful! Don't say Larry never gave you nothin'.