I always time from 1st drip, timing from first turning on the pump and shooting for 25-30 seconds including preinfusion etc, to me always ends up a fast/gusher like shot like it's under-extracted when whether updosed or downdosed. Vs 25-30 seconds timed from 1st drip, where the flavors are there, the mouthfeel etc.
Timing is a practicable way for beginners to monitor extraction, but it's better to stop extraction at the first sign of blonding. This requires a little experience, though. Like I said, it doesn't really matter when you start counting as long as the resulting shots taste good to you personally.
*** "This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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