Order of Importance: Coffee, Grinder, Espresso Machine... and Barista? - Page 5

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
samuellaw178
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Postby samuellaw178 » Oct 20, 2011, 9:29 am

Allon you're right, they're not sum of of each part. But rather,

E=C^4*B^3*G^2*M^1

The argument here is the magnitude of each factor on the final outcome and that's my opinion anyway.

jfrescki wrote:I would argue that with a knowledgeable and talented barista the rest follows thus still making mano the most important. If you have someone who is knowledgeable, they will use the best coffee, and understand how to get the most from that coffee. A skilled barista can also pull a good (or at least decent) shot from lesser equipment.


I guess you could argue it that way. A good barista will have access or rich enough to buy good equipments, good grinders and of course good coffee. So the rest of the factors are irrelevant anyway. But try imagine that, if you start with bad bean, bad barista skill, bad grinder, bad machine, which would improve your espresso more significantly if you can only upgrade one of them?

nixter wrote:If we assume the barista is good then why not assume the coffee is good, and the grinder is good, and the machine is good?


What important here is the relevancy I guess. We could argue that the worst barista is actually a chimpanzee with synesso that doesn't know how to prep coffee, but that would be irrelevant somehow. I am not assuming the barista is good, but the worst barista I've seen thus far is people that don't really care about making espresso and not making an effort to. They're doing what they are told to or just do it because they have to. But for bad coffee, the worst coffee I've seen and people actually consume it is the char-coffee that I've mentioned so many times. And there are actually people spends hundreds to thousand of dollar on machine but skimp on the bean using inferior quality beans. There is no way to get good espresso with that beans, even with the best grinder or best skills, not until you change the beans. There is actually some places on this world that you can't get good fresh coffee, only preground coffee in the grocery store. In that situation, it's better to give up on coffee and start drinking tea instead.

I guess good coffee is taken for granted nowadays and thus most people don't recon it's any more important than the barista. But really, if you are a new barista starting with bad beans, there is no way you could make palatable espresso. Even if we're competent WBC champion, I doubt we could add any value to the already charred bean. The only way to get around this is to get a better bean.

Edit: Or maybe, it's E=min(C^1,B^2,G^3,M^4)

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Postby Compass Coffee » Oct 23, 2011, 1:13 am

lsjms wrote: The 4m's are a load of bs, no single item is more or less essential than another. Exceptional results come from a harmonic relationship between all 4, not from a Robur and a Krupps :)

However good, not exceptional but good results can come from a Mazzer Major and a lowly Krupps Gusto. After all it has the pump pressure and if you know how to manipulate the Gusto's temp a quite decent shot can be pulled, and relatively repeatably. Just proved it to a new in training Barista who commented he'd heard you can't get good results from home espresso machines. As fate would have it I just picked up a Gusto in pristine condition for $15 off Craigslist 3 days ago. Fired it up and ten minutes later pulled a respectable shot. This kid (Curtis) has a great palate and passion for coffee, home roaster too. He was surprised and amazed. Used a flash flush-n-go with boiler forced on via steam position I'd worked out Wednesday after picking it up. Did the Gusto shots match our (also lowly) PID Lineas? No, but respectable none the less. This is an example of where Barista skill was way important, definitely more important than the espresso machine! If following Gusto directions shots will be much lower quality.
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jfrescki
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Postby jfrescki » Oct 24, 2011, 8:23 am

Samuellaw, I certainly agree with you that the result is not simply the sum of the parts.

samuellaw178 wrote:I guess you could argue it that way. A good barista will have access or rich enough to buy good equipments, good grinders and of course good coffee. So the rest of the factors are irrelevant anyway. But try imagine that, if you start with bad bean, bad barista skill, bad grinder, bad machine, which would improve your espresso more significantly if you can only upgrade one of them?


I also agree with you in this example that changing the beans will yield the best improvement. However, I don't agree with the premise of "barista skill" here. In the real world I can't separate skill from knowledge or wisdom. I don't see how a highly mechanically "skilled" barista would lack knowledge or wisdom about coffee, unless you're making a purely academic argument or have created a lab experiment. If you don't decouple skill from knowledge or wisdom, then I still argue the other variables automatically follow.

samuellaw178 wrote:
And there are actually people spends hundreds to thousand of dollar on machine but skimp on the bean using inferior quality beans. There is no way to get good espresso with that beans, even with the best grinder or best skills, not until you change the beans.

But really, if you are a new barista starting with bad beans, there is no way you could make palatable espresso. Even if we're competent WBC champion, I doubt we could add any value to the already charred bean. The only way to get around this is to get a better bean.


Again, I would argue in this case the only reason the bean would be more important is because you've already fixed the barista variable at "unskilled".
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