An espresso should be completed (1:2 ratio) in 25-35 seconds, but don’t trust a timer to determine the quality of the pull. Before even taste-testing your espresso, you can have a decent understanding of the espresso shot just by watching it do its thang.
Here’s what you want to see:
Straight Down Together – the espresso should fall evenly into the cup from the two spouts of the portafilter. Otherwise, it’s a sign your tamp was probably less than perfect and you’ll have an uneven extraction. If using a naked portafilter, the espresso should fall evenly from the center.
Start Like Honey – when the espresso first falls, it should come out slowly and thinly, and be heavy and deep in color much like honey.
Stream Like Melted Ice Cream – then it should gradually lighten in color and flow at a slightly quicker rate. It should still look full but in a creamier sense — I think it looks somewhat like melted ice cream.
Streaked With Water – Near the end of the pull, you should notice streaks of water integrated with the espresso and everything pouring more aggressively. This is a sign it’s the end of the process, and it is often referred to as “blonding.”
As a barista, it’s important to control the variables using the tools you have, but it’s even more vital that you learn to keep the process accountable with an apt knowledge for quality espresso work.
If you didn’t know to watch for this pattern, take a minute and share with other barista friends!