bigabeano wrote:I didn't mean to be "dismissive"; for some reason, many here view Jim's questions as "skepticism" and my comments as "dismissive." I think there is a fair amount of bias involved because Jim is a more regular poster here.
I think the 'bias' is more because there are claims made about the VST baskets that have not had the benefit of transparently produced, publicly viewable verification. I have seen repeated requests and invitations for such data. I look forward to seeing it when it's made available. For now, though, I am biased towards Jim more because he designed and conducted an experiment and published the details of the design and the results of the experiment. He used the VST baskets as well as others and tested them in ways that we have traditionally evaluated espresso-brewing products: consistency of flow rate, change in flow rate in response to changes in dose, and tasting the coffee. If I am biased towards him, it's not because of a silly sense of seniority or familiarity, it's because his conclusions based on his detailed study lines up better with my informal experience—to me.
I appreciate your comments about taste. It's true, taste is subjective, and your questions always linger in everyone's minds in approaching these types of tests, I assume. Certainly mine. Yet, there is still no substitute that I know of to taste. The best thing you could possibly hope to say about Extract Mojo is that it correlates directly to 'coffee taste'—that two brews of the same coffee with the same refractometer reading should taste the same. But this doesn't appear to be true—you have to, as I understand it, control a number of variables (extraction evenness, etc.) to make the refractometer readings correlate to coffee flavor. Maybe I've misunderstood that, but this appears to be what you are saying as well as many others.
Given that, I don't understand why it should be a requisite in a comparative basket evaluation unless we wanted to directly assess the extraction claims regarding the VST baskets. This is and would be an interesting claim to assess, and I would love to see data about that along with details as to how it was obtained, in line with the data that Jim has produced to test what he has about the baskets. Still, I do not understand the perspective of insisting that extraction yield as measured by a refractometer be assessed during testing being a prerequisite for any valid, useful evaluation of these baskets. Such a requirement would limit the group of people (EM owners and those with access to one) who can evaluate the baskets in a valid way, without a justification that I can see as to why it must be a requirement.
A more general question for the HB community: How much can one really judge the merits of Extract Mojo without having a fair amount of experience using it? As an "outsider" looking at the various threads, I notice a lot of skepticism about EM, but the skepticism has been expressed solely or primarily by those with little or no experience with it. Those with extensive EM experience who have posted online have been unanimously supportive of it. I entered this discussion hoping that my having had so much experience with EM would count for something. But I've read many critiques and skeptical remarks, and very few opinions backed by extensive experience.
I think a lot of the EM skepticism probably comes with the prohibitive expense of the tool for a home user. I haven't seen a lot of people (any at all?) denigrating the device or completely writing it off, but it strikes me as natural to wonder—is the expense worth it? That is perhaps also true of the VST baskets, although they are a lot more within reach ($25 is below my personal threshold of really even thinking about it, honestly). I bought a full set of the baskets the first day they were available, and picked the 18 and 22 g baskets up directly from Vince at his corner of the Baratza booth. I think there is a significant number of VST basket owners on this forum. How much experience any of us has is probably up for debate.
I would say, though, that your question, if it's about the baskets in particular, appears to admit that there are at least some critical opinions backed by extensive experience. Why not address these directly and ignore the opinions that don't seem to be experience-backed? I think it'd be unfair to lump the few experienced negative/neutral opinions in with all the inexperienced skepticism.