two shots espresso, only first is good


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Mar 25, 2005
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I have a Solis Maestro Plus grinder, and a Saeco Classico espresso machine. I am using a grind slightly coarser than the "Espresso" marker on the grinder. (If I use the "Espresso" setting on the grinder, the Classico has trouble getting anything out, even if I hardly tamp at all.)

Following all of the pre-heating instructions, I fill the portafilter with two spoons full of ground coffee, and I lightly tamp the coffee. (I find that I cannot tamp the grounds very much at all without causing extremely slow extractions. I can only tamp the grounds just enough to get a consistent depth and get rid of obvious air pockets or lumps.)

I brew two shots of espresso. Each shot takes about 20 seconds to express. The heating light turns back on at about 15 seconds into each shot. I wait for the heating light to go back off between the first and second shots, so both shots are presumably being brewed at the right temperature.

However, there is a clearcut difference in the quality of the first and second shot, every time. As the first shot comes out, I can see a rich reddish-golden-brown crema, and the liquid itself comes out very dark reddish-brown. But at the tail end of the first shot, the crema changes to more of a beige/yellow color, and the coffee seems to be thinning somewhat. The first shot always tastes GREAT, like an explosion of many flavors.

The second shot starts out the way the second shot ended (beige/yellow crema, with clearer liquid than the first shot) and stays that way. The second shot comes out tasting like strong coffee, but without any of the punch of the first shot, and without any of the complex arrangement of flavors.

When I remove the portafilter after brewing, I see a nice, smooth, and even surface. The coffee grounds are uniform, and have formed a hard puck. I don't see any evidence that the water has flowed more through one part of the coffee than the any other.

From my description, the problem seems heat-related. I will say that I have thoroughly preheated the whole system based on instructions I have found on the Internet, and I have waited for the heater to cycle back off between shots. Of course, I don't want to wait TOO long between shots -- I have a drink to make.

Does anyone have any advice on what is causing this problem?

Thank you.
forgive me..

wait... did i misunderstand? it sounds like you're using the grinds twice. .. ive only worked on a marzocco, so i dont know about other machines. if you're brewing the shots one after another, isn't the second one pretty much a long-pour shot?
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My filter head has room for two shots' worth of ground coffee. Double the ground coffee, double the espresso.

The problem does not occur if I use one shot worth of ground coffee, brew one shot, then clean up the mess, and do the whole thing again. Using this (inconvenient) method, I do get two very good shots of espresso, using the same amount of ground coffee as the easier method that is not working.

Another problem "solved" by only brewing one shot at a time is that I can use the "Espresso" grind setting on my Solis Maestro, and the Classico is able to pump through the result without difficulty.

So, I guess I will just brew one shot at a time. It adds about a minute to my usual 8-minute routine to produce a double-shot latte.

Thanks for reading!