25 seconds in Fiji

Fiji Hotel Cafe

Moments after hearing the coffee machine click and the expresso starting to pour, I looked up to see the coffee pouring into the cup, expecting to see two beautiful thin curved golden brown coffee flows into the cup, but I couldn’t see any coffee! I thought to myself was that a 5 second shot? Was there any coffee in that cup? Not the coffee I was looking for…


The next day I decided to take more notice and timing the barista from the first flow of coffee until it finished, it didn’t look good the coffee just came blistering out of the machine at the speed I’ve never seen before. This was not good, I need to fix this as I can’t stay here in this hotel for one week with bad coffee, that’s just not gonna fly.

The Barista told me the machine is not working well, but I suspect the problem is with the coffee grind setting. I told him that maybe he should check the grind and that he needed a finer grind and a good hard tamp to get the perfect 25 second shot. I’ll be back tomorrow for my 25 second shot.

If t=time in seconds and tp=tamp pressure g=grind and w=water pressure

Then t=tp/ g x w

This implies to increase the shot time you need to increase the tamp pressure or reduce the grind or water pressure. The water pressure is normally at 9 bar, and tamp pressure should be 15kg, so this only leaves the grind, which is why the coffee grind is so important, and I would argue the most important factor to great coffee and most difficult to adjust.

I fast shot will not give the hot water the time to extract all the required coffee flavors, and the course grind will make the coffee weak. On the other hand a too slow shot will always beat a fast shot in my view, but can become bitter and even a bit sandy in texture.

The third day I came back and again the coffee was slightly better but still only counted nine seconds for the shot that’s far from the 25 seconds. At this time at least he asked for some help to set the grind on the Mazzer coffee grinder, telling me “it was set when we got it and we’ve never touched it.” I said “yeah sure” so when I checked the grind it was obviously way off, grinding more like filter coffee than expresso grind. I also noticed that they were only pouring a one shot on the machine but using a two shot porta filter so this would also explain the poor shot, after 10 mins now we are talking! 25 second shot and now I can see those beautiful thin brown pours of coffee into the cup at least now I could enjoy a great coffee. Fiji has now great coffee, at least at this hotel 😉

Tony Fergusson – Helping coffee lovers all over the world

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