Wet pucks

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by cal »

Hi All,
Please be kind.....I'm a complete newbie to this adventure. I recently inherited a Brasilia Portofino America 2 group and tore it down, gave it some TLC, and put it back together. Now that I have my 220v hooked up, as far as I can tell everything seems to function. The problem I'm having is that when I un-rack a portafilter after brewing a shot, there's a definite water layer on top of the puck. I'm thinking the puck should be relatively dry.... Any thoughts/advice????


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#2: Post by cafeIKE »

Finer grind and lower doses = wetter pucks.

We tend to worry about the taste.

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#3: Post by HB »

Ian's right, there has been a rash of posts expressing concern about puck appearance. I will add it to the FAQs. Below are some previous discussions:

Wet, glunky pucks
How do my pucks look?
Wet pucks: Do beans make any difference?

I've not discovered a correlation between the appearance of the puck post-extraction and the taste of the espresso. Moreover, there's nothing inherently wrong with small puddles of water on the puck's surface, though it should be consistent from shot-to-shot. That is, if you see big puddles one time, dry as sand the next, that's a problem. But if the puck's surface looks and feels basically the same each time, I believe you've exhausted the value of "puckology."

That's why I am wary of claims that one can see evidence of channeling on the puck's surface. Afterall, most espresso machines have 3-way valves and they depressurize from 130 PSI to 0 in an instant. I think that any fissures are as likely caused by rapid depressurization as channeling during the extraction.
Dan Kehn

cal (original poster)
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#4: Post by cal (original poster) »

Thanks Dan, and Ian. They ARE consistent in that there's a layer of water every time. I'll try to increase dose and see if it makes any difference. OTW, no worries... :mrgreen:

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#5: Post by TimEggers »

Hi cal,

Please don't take this the wrong way but are you making espressos to produce beautiful pucks or is your intention to produce a delicious hot beverage?

Puckology is really silly and seems to be the latest (unfortunate) trend. It's the taste that really matters and I've yet to see the puck change the way the shot tastes. Dose more because you want a change in taste, not because you're out for dry pucks.

What's a dry puck if the shot tastes bad? Wet pucks are not "a problem" but bad taste certainly is.
Tim Eggers

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#6: Post by Psyd »

TimEggers wrote:Please don't take this the wrong way but are you making espressos to produce beautiful pucks or is your intention to produce a delicious hot beverage?

Puckology is really silly and seems to be the latest (unfortunate) trend.
Of course, there are symptoms of bad technique that can show up in the puck, and remarkable changes in the look of the pull or the resulting look of the puck will raise questions. Most folk are used to one thing happening, and when (usually without a detected technique change) the results change dramatically, most inexperienced users will question it. Not a bad thing.
It's kind a like, "My car is making a noise!"
"So, do you drive to get somewhere, or drive to make great noises? Ignore the noises and just concentrate on getting where you're going!"
Great advice, until the engine seizes...
I wouldn't discourage these questions too much, but reassure those that ask them that their machine is fine, and this is normal. This way, when some guy has a really weird issue (but the coffee still tastes pretty good) he won't destroy a machine for fear of getting mauled for wondering if there is a look-taste relationship.
Puckology may or may not indicate issues, and the look of a pour may or may not indicate quality of the pull, but the concern is valid, as is the conversation.
There is also the supposition that one is not pulling the best shot into the cup that one could, and the resulting taste, while not necessarily bad, could be improved if the technique were adjusted. Seeing dry pucks on everyone else's kit, and wet ones on yours, could lead you to believe that maybe there is and adjustment to your technique that could improve your shots. To that end, I might say that if you are satisfied with what you're getting, engage the first rule of engineering. If it's working, don't screw with it. If you're in search of god in porcelain, however, and don't fear change (or the total lack of change in your pocket ever again!) asking questions such as, "Why does my puck look odd?" aren't that out of line.
The mere fact that the user has decided that this shot is 'good' is relative.
I used to be pretty danged proud of the shots I got from the ole steam toy. If I had been given the advice that 'taste is the only thing that matters' I might still be pulling shots on that. Sometimes, though...
I'd give them the same advice that you folk have, without the undertone of admonishment for questioning what the process looks like.
Humans have been depending on appearances for ten thousand years, successfully, I might add. This is going to be a very hard habit to break.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

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#7: Post by malachi »

All models are wrong. All models are useful. Therefore the more models you have and use the more understanding you will have.
What's in the cup is what matters.