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January 30, 2017 /
The Espresso Compass

The Espresso Compass is a little more complicated than the Brewed Coffee Compass. Last year I wrote a series on Espresso, culminating in a video showing the relationship between extraction, brew ratio, and the coffee control chart. If you’re on top of that, you’ll get this compass in no time. If not, I recommend reading my posts on espresso Dose, Yield, Time and the video ‘Putting it All Together’.

Link to hi-res version.

A few pointers:

The Espresso Compass is at an angle because I wanted to keep the usual x/y orientation of Extraction and Strength as they are found on the coffee control chart.

Each slice of the triangle shows the flavours you can move through when adjusting yield. Increasing yield will make the espresso simultaneously weaker and more extracted. Reducing yield will make the espresso simultaneously stronger and less extracted.

Moving to a different slice requires changing grind setting and extraction evenness. In lower and less even extractions, you’ll notice that over (red) and under-extraction (yellow) are much closer together and the sweet spot (green) is smaller. If you’ve ever had a simultaneously bitter, sour, and low strength espresso it was likely sitting in the lower left slice.

The more you improve and increase your extraction, the further away from that hell you will be. More even extractions have a much larger sweet spot that tastes more like the coffee itself, and less like the taints of poor extraction.

Note: increasing extraction can only really be done in conjunction with improving its evenness. Grinding finer and finer does not result in a continuous increase in extraction, and it certainly doesn’t always result in more deliciousness. A lot of the time it results in the exact opposite. For more on this, read up on the law of limiting returns in espresso here.

As always, if you need any help I’ll be down below! Please feel free to share this graphic with other coffee people – all I ask is for a mention or link to the blog alongside it 🙂

 

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Deepak Sharma
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Deepak Sharma

Hi,

I just came across this compass and I am wondering if it works for Moka Pots as well or should I be following the brew compass for that? Thank you 🙂

Chase Fowler
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Chase Fowler

YES!!! Thank you so much for this. My new phone background!

Gerfried Reis
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Gerfried Reis

Cool stuff. Coincidentally, I’m working on an interactive version of this (meant to be a barista training tool), but it’ll be a while before I’ve wrapped my head around all the parameters.

AndyS
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AndyS

This is excellent. I particularly like how many taste descriptors you have provided; They are very helpful in navigating one’s way around the often-confusing espresso palate. I think it could be mentioned that your work has numerous precursors, including this similarly structured chart that Jim Schulman created years ago: http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/general/72888#72888 Your version vastly expands and clarifies those early attempts, of course. Also, there is an additional taste-modifying variable that folks have mentioned in previous discussions: brew water temperature. It is well known that some sour flavors in espresso can be corrected with higher temps, and vice versa with bitterness. These… Read more »

Sherman Cheung
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Sherman Cheung

May I ask, how do you check the development of a roast so one could determine if it is a well developed one or not.

German D Salamanca
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German D Salamanca

thank YOU. great job

AndyS
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AndyS

No, if you travel from lower left to upper right (by grinding finer, for example) you go from sour to strong-substantial to plump-transparent.

Chris G
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Chris G

this is great, I just want to check with if this is the general idea in terms of dialing in a new coffee: 1) lock in dose (based on the amount of coffee you want to make) 2) choose a yield and get in time ball park (for ex: 27-32 secs). (extract more or less by increasing or decreasing yield to achieve correct balance – so you would not change grind if you are in the time ballpark, just let the shot run longer or cut it shorter. (so you would be in the green zone, in the diagram above)… Read more »

Daniel Remer
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Daniel Remer

Just to confirm I understand the chart, if you have SOUR the only thing you can do is increase yield? Is that what it is saying? (I realize that increasing temperature should or may reduce sourness).

Luke Inouchi
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Luke Inouchi

With access to one of these babies: http://javalytics.com/handheld-analyzer/

If you don’t have a lazy $2,500… break a bean open and see if there’s a noticeable difference in colour, it’ll be lighter on the inside of the bean and probably harder to break open… you can also chew on a bean, if it’s guaranteed fresh and properly stored but chewy, another sign it could be underdeveloped.

Matt Perger
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Matt Perger

Thank you Andy.

I’ve never seen that one! Good find! (It is a little confusing though…)

Yeah. I considered adding water temp but thought it was already too confusing. Especially after the simplicity of last week. Maybe a 3rd dimension or modified chart will make its way out soon!

Matt Perger
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Matt Perger

You can do either! As Andy said 🙂

Matt Perger
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Matt Perger

That’s pretty much the gist of it, yeah!

Matt Perger
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Matt Perger

Good luck! Let me know if you need any help 🙂

Sherman Cheung
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Sherman Cheung

Hope roasters can share their thoughts on this one. As it will really help all on the specialty industry!

Matt Perger
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Matt Perger

Tough one. Turns out a very large portion of the specialty industry has no idea – if they did there’d be a lot less underdevelopment going on!

Rege Coffee Break
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Rege Coffee Break

Merci Beaucoup Matt!
I will translate this in French for my Caffeinated Frog Buddies!

Gerfried Reis
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Gerfried Reis

I will so take you up on that! Thanks for the (much appreciated) offer, will get back to you!

Gabriel Rhodes
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Gabriel Rhodes

Another great read. I love how when it comes to espresso you consistently bring up the importance of focusing on extraction which is something that in my personal experience is missing/misunderstood in a lot of Barista training. Someone needs to make “The Taints of Poor Extraction” into a book. Appreciate what you do Matt.

Newsletter Volume 5 Issue 1 – Feb 2015 – Quaffee
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Newsletter Volume 5 Issue 1 – Feb 2015 – Quaffee

[…] espresso brew coffee compass, read more […]

Matthew Hoffman
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Matthew Hoffman

I was confused when I first studied this chart and read the commentary; but it was easy to follow in actual use and, most important, helped me quickly improved the taste of my expresso.

JF
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JF

Hi, I stumbled upon your site a week or so ago and went through pretty much all of it’s content. Just want to say great work. It’s defintily the best source of information around on the web, concise, complexe enought and complete. You should think about making a book !! Thanks again and keep up the awesome work !

Joe
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Joe

Hey Matt, thanks for sharing your knowledge with everyone here. Your posts have changed my understanding of extraction and helped made my coffee taste better than ever. I’ve met many people in this industry who claim to love coffee but never met anyone who would get into the science behind it and, best of all, share with with everyone in such an easy to understand manner. Really appreciate the efforts you’ve put in here. I’d like to ask for your advice regarding ageing,which as far as I know has not been mentioned here before. When I first learned how to… Read more »

Joe
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Joe

Bit late to this but the 3d one should be ideal for occulus rift etc. we can immerse ourselves in the espresso compass 🙂

Błażej Walczykiewicz
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Błażej Walczykiewicz

Matt ! Great stuff ! It is so helpful during training with baristas 🙂

About underdeveloped roast isn’t it that if coffee is developed enough so it is easier to brew it in enough TDS and extraction yeld level in shorter time with the same temperature, grind size and when it is underdeveloped it is harder or even not possible to do it with the same settings and temperature ?

StopnGo Coffee
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StopnGo Coffee

A really interesting read – I’d be interested read about the cleaning agents and taint from them. I only use bi carb in my groups to clean, and rinse really well, and I find I get a greener flavour afterwards. If I don’t clean every day, I get towards the red zone. I’ve tried a descaling treatment, and found a strong yellow zone flavour.

Heath H
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Heath H

This is exactly the sort of information I have been searching for! I’m currently a home enthusiast but working towards getting in to the coffee industry. Most tutorials and videos are aimed at the novice but there is nothing in the middle so to speak so thanks for this. I also enjoyed and appreciated the video on YouTube going in to more depth on tuning your espresso.

Giancarlo Ferrando
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Giancarlo Ferrando

If it is salty and sour it is under extracted. Keep your dose locked in, aim for a higher yield until you have the flavors you want. Once you have the flavors you want, keep your dose and yield locked in, and adjust the grind to maximize flavor and body

Así Calibra Zarathustra o Una Guía para Todos y Para Nadie
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Así Calibra Zarathustra o Una Guía para Todos y Para Nadie

[…] Barista Hustle: The Espresso Compass […]

Ferry Kamoto
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Ferry Kamoto

Hello Matt. I still have the problem to understand the compass. For example, how to move from salty and sour to sweet, balanced, rich, fruity or creamy? Please reply. Thanks

Dimitris Kapridakis
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Dimitris Kapridakis

hello matt .i have a question the method to weight the yield of the extraction is correct for all the espresso coffees? i mean specialty and commercial? thanks

Stephane_Paris
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Stephane_Paris

Hi, i was wrong so.
Thank’s 😉

Thodoris Stamatiou
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Thodoris Stamatiou

well when you want to go to improve extraction/extract more you must extract more coffee more of your coffe so you need to grind finer or maybe improve your temprature by going up so you can take more soluble solids=strength but always that depends its a general answer just think of that : taste and see where you wanna go on your compass but yes the answer i think was pretty clear . hope it helps .

Stephane_Paris
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Stephane_Paris

Hi, first Thank’s for this 😉
Just to be sure i understand it well, if i want to see where the fact to grind finer or coarser will be placed on you Compass, it will be grind coarser on “Improve extraction &/or extract more” and grind finer on the opposite side ?

Thank’ you

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