If you've never heard of Flow Profiling before, to put it simply: flow profiling is controlling the amount of water being introduced to your coffee per second (in grams). It's similar to turning a tap on and off. Most espresso machines are designed with only one flow rate, which unfortunately creates limitations to extraction control and consistency. As you’re no doubt aware, there are hundreds if not thousands of variations in single origins, blends, and roast profiles; so being able to change the flow rate opens up many possibilities in terms of specific sensory attributes.
Much like different varieties of grapes will produce different tastes and aromas in wine, and different aging processes will further change flavor and aroma, different varieties and roasts of coffee beans will produce different tastes and aromas in coffee beverages. Additionally, the amount of water seeping through coffee, as well as the amount of time the water spends going through the coffee, will dramatically alter the flavor of a beverage. To fully experience this, go to a cafe that serves specialty coffee and order a long black as well as a pour-over filter brew. Tasting them side by side will give you an idea of just how dramatic the difference can be.
If coffee comes in so many varieties, and changing the flow profile alters the flavor, how do we know which flow profile is right for which coffee?
Ultimately, although there are some definite “wrongs”, there is no unanimous “right” flow for any given coffee, it’s up to you to decide what you like. A lot of people don’t know what they like, simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to try a variety of tastes and textures in coffee. Discovering your preferences is a beautiful thing.
Thanks to the ability to control flow rate, a barista can combat common difficulties in various grind sizes, allowing them to get light fruity flavors without sourness, or bold chocolate notes without bitterness. Then, once they've found the perfect recipe they can easily modulate the Flow Profile to recreate that same brew with digital precision using Dalla Corte’s DFR technology in the Mina or the Zero.
In Mina's app, you can control the speed and amount of water introduced to your coffee, as well as keep a record of different flow profiles you've tried, saving your favorites for future use. Mina's DFR (Digital Flow Regulator) opens and closes allowing water to pass through at varying rates of flow. As shown on the app, Mina's DFR has 12 settings, with one to five being a slow or light flow, 6-8 being a more traditional flow (similar to other machines), and 9 or above being a strong flow.
The Zero, like the Mina, features Dalla Corte’s DFR technology, allowing baristas to have more control over flow. But unlike the Mina, the Zero comes in either a two group or three group machine, each with individual boilers. This allows baristas to serve more people in a shorter period of time, a necessity for cafes that serve a large volume of customers, while still leaving room for custom flow rate beverages on the menu.