Flow Control: The New Era In Coffee

by Jahasia Cooper Updated: October 19, 2021 6 min read
CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive promotions and regular updates on everything coffee!

Updated for 2021. 

“Not only are you able to control the different variables of your coffee depending on the flavor and style of coffee you’re going for, but you’re totally in control of brewing your favorite coffee, exactly how you like it, and that’s something you just can’t get at your local coffee chain.”

Flow control has been a hot topic of discussion here at Whole Latte Love. We’ve been experimenting with pulling shots with our Dalla Corte Mina, ECM Synchronika and Profitec Pro 700 and have found that it’s really an amazing tool that’ll help home baristas and professional baristas to extract more flavors and aromas out their coffee and pull barista-style shots in their own kitchen or in the cafe.

The Profitec Pro 700 Equipped with a Flow Control Device Pulling a Shot

Flow control opens up a world of possibilities for pre-infusion and extraction on plumbed and reservoir machines.

We’ll be sharing with you some details about flow control, how it works and why you’ll love it. But I know you’re excited to dive right in so let’s start off with why flow control is a big deal for coffee connoisseurs and what it can do for you.

Intro to Calculating Flow Rate on E61 Group Machines

Intro to Calculating Flow Rate on E61 Group Machines

Flow control is the latest trend in espresso. It’s a tool to help you get more out of your coffee by extracting specific flavors, aromas, and nuances out of your favorite coffee and now it’s more accessible on prosumer-level home espresso machines from manufacturers including Profitec and ECM, as well as high-end home and commercial machines like Dalla Corte’s Mina.
Read Article

What is Flow Control

Flow control is all about controlling the flow rate of water during pre-infusion and during extraction as water passes through the coffee puck. By controlling the flow rate of water, you have the ability to bring out all of the nuances of your coffee. For example, with a very fresh or "overly fresh" coffee, you can set a flow that will allow the coffee to off-gas and bloom so you can get a nice extraction. This profile can be saved in the Dalla Corte Mina App for later use.

With the ECM Synchronika and Profitec Pro 700, you can change the flow rate setting based on the shot timing on the machine, so you can consistently repeat the profile next time. Check out our blog on how to set up the flow control device here!

ECM Flow Control Device and Gauge

ECM/Profitec have designed two unique devices to match the gauges on their machines.

With flow control, you’ll also have the opportunity to simulate the results from a lever machine like the Profitec Pro 800. When you pull the lever on the Pro 800, the group fills with water to pre-wet the coffee, when you release the lever, the spring puts pressure on the coffee puck and begins extraction. This technique is well sought-after by espresso lovers and is now an option for baristas to implement into their espresso routine with the flow control device.

Flow control is an innovative technique that allows coffee connoisseurs and pro-baristas to experiment with the different flavor profiles and aromas of their coffee, whether you’re looking to tease out that rich chocolatey flavor or if you need to tone down the acidity of your coffee.

As you can see, flow control can really change the game for home and professional baristas looking to pull barista-style shots in the comfort of their own home or experiment with their favorite whole bean coffee to increase or tone down the different flavors, aromas, and characteristics on their coffee. It’s not just about how you can control the flow of water and change the flavor of your coffee, but you can also brew filter style coffee, AKA a "coffee shot" if you’re looking to switch up your routine or if someone in your household isn’t a fan of espresso.

For example for a filter coffee, you can grind your coffee coarse and set a low flow to make a full cup of coffee. If reading this is getting you excited about flow control, great! We’re just getting started, let’s go over exactly how flow-control works.

How Flow Control Works

Bottomless Espresso Extraction

We never get tired of seeing beautiful bottomless espresso extractions.

Getting the right flavors and finding the sweet spot is as simple as following a formula. Set the flow to 9 grams per second, dial in your shot and then make adjustments to the flow according to your preferences. Using the flow control knob, turn the knob back and forth to increase and decrease the flow rate of water while monitoring your shot time and the pressure gauge which will tell you the water pressure against the puck.

By monitoring the pressure and time, while adjusting the flow, you’ll be able to adjust the acidity, sweetness, and body of your coffee. See below for some ideas on how Danilo Lodi, a World Barista Championship (WBC) Certified Judge since 2011, World Coffee Events (WCE) Representative since 2013, as well as a roaster, barista, instructor, and coffee consultant since 2004, experimented with flow control using different roasts.

3 Digital Flow Profiles from a Dalla Corte Mina Espresso Machine

Flow Control profile graphics courtesy of Danilo Lodi and Dalla Corte.

Light Roast - Light roast coffee has more of the original characteristics found in pre-roasted coffee including high acidity and original sweetness. To tone down these characteristics, start your extraction with a longer preinfusion between 5-8 seconds with a slow flow, 2-3 g/s. This will break down the acidity and bring out the original flavors of the coffee. From there, increase the flow for 5-8 seconds until you achieve 5-7 g/s of coffee.

Medium Roast - Medium roast coffee is a great stepping stone for many entry-level baristas exploring the different flavors and aromas of coffee. It’s well-balanced, not too pungent and has just the right amount of pleasant flavors that any coffee lover can enjoy. To get the most out of your medium roast coffee and bring the caramelized sugars and oily flavors to life, start with a gentle, 5-second pre-infusion, at 5-6 g/s. Then, increase the flow by 30% at 6.5 to 8 g/s. This will extract more of the natural oils and create more body in your coffee. Taper off the flow by slightly decreasing the stream of water for a boost in a delicious aftertaste in your coffee.

Dark Roast - Dark roast coffee has strong and bold flavors with little to no acidity. If you’re a dark roast lover, you know that the coffee can be quite bitter depending on extraction. Thankfully with flow control, you can still keep the dark roast flavors but tone down the bitterness for a naturally sweet and pleasant coffee.

Medium Roasted Coffee Beans

Modifying your flow rate can have a major impact on extracting coffees of varying roast profiles.

Start by increasing the flow so you’re extracting between 10-12 grams per second for up to 4 seconds to increase pressure in the portafilter. From there, lower the flow rate to 4 grams per second to extract the oils and sugar. The result is a delicious and naturally sweet coffee without harsh bitterness.

💡Quick tip: For a bolder coffee, go for a longer pre-infusion. If you’re looking to tone down the bitterness of your coffee, taper off the flow off the water at the end of your shot.

You can access all of your flow profiles via the MINA app where you can customize the profile, save extraction variables and adjust the variables to suit your taste preferences.

Flow Control: How Flow Rate Affects Coffee

As you’ve seen, flow control opens up a new world of possibilities in the coffee and espresso world. One of the most impressive aspects of flow control is having the ability to create filter-style coffee if you’re looking to switch up your normal espresso routine. You’ll have the opportunity to replicate barista-style shots, control the length of pre-infusion and increase water flow through the coffee puck while still getting a delicious and flavorful end result.

Not only are you able to control the different variables of your coffee depending on the flavor and style of coffee you’re going for, but you’re totally in control of brewing your favorite coffee, exactly how you like it, and that’s something you just can’t get at your local coffee chain.

Espresso Extracting on a ECM Synchronika with Flow Control

Extract perfect shots, better than you can get at your local shop with the power of flow control.

Flow control is the newest tool in the market for getting a true barista-style shot of espresso or coffee. If you’re looking to dive into experimenting with flow control, check out some of our favorite machines with flow control below!

Flow Control: The New Era In Coffee

Dalla Corte Mina Espresso Machine (110v)

The Dalla Corte Mina is a commercial dual boiler espresso machine with an acute focus on repeatable, consistent results. A manual lever offers control over flow rate, offering the ability to create fundamentally different extraction profiles based on your tastes. The Mina App opens the door to automatic brewing with flow control and a wealth of adjustable features.
Flow Control: The New Era In Coffee

Profitec Pro 700 Espresso Machine with Flow Control

The Profitec Pro 700 Flow Control is the best in show from Profitec when it comes to dialing in your perfect extraction. Manually profile shots with the new flow control valve to tease the best flavor possible from your espresso.
Flow Control: The New Era In Coffee

ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine With Flow Control

The ECM Synchronika with Flow Control is a powerful upgrade over an already adept dual-boiler machine. Impeccable build quality is complemented by Flow Control, giving you further access to the nuances hidden in your coffee.
Flow Control: The New Era In Coffee

ECM Classika PID Espresso Machine with Flow Control

The ECM Classika PID with flow control packs cafe performance and high-end features you would expect from much more expensive machines into a compact frame, providing unmatched quality among machines of similar size.