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Digital espresso or a way to consistency - Page 6

Postby cannonfodder on Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:02 am

So after 5 pages of debate, what does all this boil down to? If you are unhappy with your espresso, try using a scale to improve your consistency. If you are happy with your espresso, dont worry about it and drink up.
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Postby Martin on Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:28 am

cannonfodder wrote:So after 5 pages of debate, what does all this boil down to? If you are unhappy with your espresso, try using a scale to improve your consistency. If you are happy with your espresso, dont worry about it and drink up.

IMO, it's much more fun to worry about something when I'm happy about it than when it's driving me nuts. :D
Anyway, put this thread to some practical use. How does it translate in terms of grinder purchase decision making (and subsequent use) when advising newbies"? Does it tilt the balance toward pre-grind per-shot weighing? Avoid using clacker dosers and timers. If pulling under x# shots per day, avoid machines that trap residual grounds that need removal.

That's the advice I recently gave, but I'm willing to go back with a deep, humiliating apology and correction.
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Postby Ken Fox on Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:31 am

Martin wrote:Anyway, put this thread to some practical use. How does it translate in terms of grinder purchase decision making (and subsequent use) when advising newbies"? Does it tilt the balance toward pre-grind per-shot weighing? Avoid using clacker dosers and timers. If pulling under x# shots per day, avoid machines that trap residual grounds that need removal.

That's the advice I recently gave, but I'm willing to go back with a deep, humiliating apology and correction.


If you want more consistent results, get a Titan-level grinder and use it in a consistent manner. These grinders are much more forgiving when it comes to dose variation and in the need for minor grind setting adjustments.

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Postby zin1953 on Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:55 am

Religion, art, politics -- whatever . . .

My espresso at home is quite consistent, and so I'm perfectly happy with what I'm making at home, and that's that. (What my 16-year old daughter makes is another issue.) :lol:

What I expect from a café/"professional" barista is something else again . . . Clearly from a *$ the answer vis-a-vis expectation is "not much." So, too, from other chains and no-name corner shops opened because the profit margins seemed HUGE . . .

On the other hand, when I go into a place like Ritual in San Francisco, Intelly in Silverlake or Pasadena, Vivace in Seattle, and similar places that probably all of us could name, my expectations are higher, AND I've not been disappointed . . . but since I am not a "regular" at any of these establishments, I cannot realistically comment on their consistency shot-after-shot, barista-after-barista . . .

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Postby Marshall on Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:59 pm

cannonfodder wrote:So after 5 pages of debate, what does all this boil down to? If you are unhappy with your espresso, try using a scale to improve your consistency. If you are happy with your espresso, dont worry about it and drink up.

+1
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Postby tekomino on Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:38 am

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Postby mini on Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:13 pm

What, are we all going to group hug now? :P I appreciate that this forum can settle different positions with relative civility. I do propose that we look into an internal competition, though. How interesting would it be to "play for keeps" and have a heads up, shot - shot, best of 5 aimed at determining inventive home techniques? It would be tons of fun to taste some of Dennis' shots compared to the best that I can do on home equipment. It's too bad that so many of us are so spread out. "World Home Barista Championship?"

More related to the topic at hand, I have a question. I do weigh all of my doses, but I don't really like doing it in the middle of my routine. I'd much rather weigh all the doses for the day ahead of time and have them ready to quickly dump into my grinder, similar to the video mentioned earlier. Does anyone else do this, and what vessel do you use?
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Postby Bob_McBob on Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:08 pm

cannonfodder wrote:So after 5 pages of debate, what does all this boil down to? If you are unhappy with your espresso, try using a scale to improve your consistency. If you are happy with your espresso, dont worry about it and drink up.


I don't think that's what it boils down to at all. We're not weighing doses and shots because we're unhappy, we're doing it because it makes better espresso.
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Postby AndyS on Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:21 am

I am replying very late to this thread, and probably most of you have lost interest after six pages of (as Ken says) "religious" argument. But I'd still like to comment.

The long version of what I have to say is on portafilter.net. Here's a shorter version:

To me, weighing espresso is very important when you are communicating about your espresso to others. By weighing the dose and weighing the beverage, you can accurately describe the kind of shot you are pulling to people who may live thousands of miles away from you.

This point was emphasized to me in a two recent email conversations. Ken Fox and I were talking about weighing shots. He replied that his doses were mostly in the 14.5 to 15g range, and the shots weighed from 9.8g to 14.5g. This surprised me, because although I knew Ken was a low doser, I didn't know he was a ristretto puller, too. If he ever sends me more samples of his coffee roasts, I will start out pulling them in a ristretto style. When he previously has sent me coffee, I have pulled it more lungo. Doing it ristretto instead, I will be more likely to "get" what he's trying to do with his roasting.

Another friend told me of his visit to a famous espresso machine factory in Italy. In their testing lab he measured their doses at 14-17g and the beverage weights at 54-60g! That really surprised me; I can't imagine pulling good shots that long with the beans I use and my setup. Sometime I'll get some decent Italian espresso beans, lower my boiler temp, and try it out.

An additional reason to weigh shots was pointed out in a pretty brilliant post by James Hoffmann. Read it for yourself, but the gist of it is, you can often dial in an espresso by sticking with a fixed brewing ratio (in James' case, dose g/beverage g = 65%) and adjusting grind to taste. Irish barista champ Colin Harmon made a similar observation on his blog.

Like many other commenters on this thread, I don't think one should be in the habit of pulling every shot on a scale and stopping the pump on every shot based on weight. It is very valuable, IMO, to develop one's skill in assessing the flow rate, texture and color of the espresso stream and ending the shot based on those cues. If you're always watching the scale rather than the stream, you don't develop that skill.

So each technique has its place. To the extent that we can leave the religion out of it, I believe we can help ourselves and each other to make better espresso.
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Postby jammin on Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:34 am

Andy,

Great post! I was hoping you would weigh in on this lol;) Seriously though, you make some great points. I think one of the greatest things about checking your brew ratios is that it allows you to recreate shots that you enjoyed. All one has to do is know the dose you were using, brew temp and beverage weight.

~j
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