The Princess on the Pea - Page 2

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
User avatar
michaelbenis

#11: Post by michaelbenis »

another_jim wrote:Michael thinks we should discuss every detail, no matter how obsessive or obscure, and entertain every claim about their importance. I'm thinking we need to frequently throw the cold water of hard nosed testing on these things so that we don't go overboard.
I have to find fault with both your rhetoric and your telepathy, there, Jim. Comparing one person's experience with one's own - testing their claim, exploring their technique suggestions is exactly what I was speaking in favour of and is what many of the posts here do, which is why - since it is a common pursuit - there is a sense of community here.

"Your 30kg tamp doesn't work for me" is fine in my book. But I find calling someone names for it or suggesting it should in some ways be controlled just plain silly.
LMWDP No. 237

zin1953

#12: Post by zin1953 »

another_jim wrote:If someone wants to make espresso a hobby, he or she needs to understand that productive participation on the forum is primarily about developing coffee judgment and taste, not about equipment best buys. If all they want is the best gear at a certain budget, they don't need to post, they can just lurk.
Even in an ideal world, Jim, that will never happen . . . the best you could hope for is that Dan turns this into a pay-to-participate site that would force most people (but by no means all) who seek "the best gear at a certain budget" into "lurk mode."

I, for one, think that would be a horrible idea. Lurkers should be encouraged to participate (IMHO, of course), no matter how many times we end up with "I want to buy a great machine for under $200" . . .

This is Dan's site, of course, and he can do whatever he wants with it. It seems to this humble participant, however, that your description of HB (the forum is primarily about developing coffee judgment and taste, not about equipment best buys) is inaccurate. It is about both, not one to the exclusion of the other. There are "professional" forums for that. There are sensory exams for that. This forum is comprised of a wide variety of individuals -- from extremely knowledgable professionals, very knowledgable enthusiasts, knowledgable hobbists, experienced newbies with much to learn, and absolute novices.

I, personally, fall into the next-to-last category. Example: at first, I thought the thread about hole patterns and baskets was like, WTF? Someone has too much time on their hands . . . But as I read through it, I find there is merit to a topic I would have otherwise never considered.

But how did I come to HB? By seeking equipment advice . . .
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

User avatar
Psyd
Supporter ♡

#13: Post by Psyd »

another_jim wrote: Reckless self-deception occurs when someone issues instructions, and backs them up by pretending to have a level of refined espresso taste that doesn't exist. Nobody contradicts him, since anyone who does is announcing their own deficient taste. The once near universal acceptance of 203F shots and 30lb tamps come to mind as examples. This results in a double falsehood. The lesser one is unfounded practices.
"Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but..." that might be a bit of an over-reaction to someone who deals with information far too (and I'll give you that) enthusiastically.

The 203 degrees* and 30 lb. tamp have long been (and this is my experiences here, and my viewpoint, YMMV) advocated as a proper place to start for the sake of repeatability, dependability, and the adjustment of variables one at a time. They've taken on a mantra-like life of their own, granted, but to suggest that there is no tamp pressure 'ideal' and there is no temperature 'ideal' without any other direction for newbies means that they have no idea where to go from the store. These (again, IMHO) are meant to be starting places for the novitiates to the religion in which we hope to meet God through his Brown Elixer.
I'd take the "Start with 203 degrees and a thirty pound tamp, and use those til you get the rest of your act together, and then you can change bits to see what works for you and what doesn't" as great advice.
Yeah, some have a too-eager enthusiasm for adopting anything that makes a shot better (including happenstance) into a religious prostration before the altar that is their kit. SO be it. If you didn't bring a grain of salt or two to an internt forum,, you have already erred.
On the other side of that net, in the fore-court, bouncing from foot to foot are the scientists, who have gone a bit 'round the bend in the other direction. I am glad that they have, cause I get a whole boatload of useful information without the outlay of time and expense of all that test kit. I mean really, I've seen scanning electron microscope photos of coffee grounds. That ain't normal! I tend to scroll on to the bottom, see what their results are, interpreted by them, of course, and then duplicate their efforts with my kit to see if it's "better, or worse?".

I agree that some of the results that some folk are being turned into religion, but anecdotal evidence, and non-scientific, I did this and this happened' experimentation is useful, too, if only to spur on more empirical study.
Let's not toss the baby with the bathwater, here.
"...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."
Dennis Miller

*I always heard it to be a range, myself, but maybe I was just late to the party.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

User avatar
Marshall

#14: Post by Marshall »

I have argued in the past about treating online forums as scientific journals and holding posters to the same standards. It is not only unrealistic, it would kill the forums. When someone posts a premature conclusion, a thoughtful guess or even wild speculation, it can all be read with full consideration of the source and the writer's experience.

Regular readers know to disregard posts that start, "I opened the box this morning and can report that the Ultragrind 3000 is the greatest grinder to leave the shores of Italy."
Marshall
Los Angeles

coffeefrog

#15: Post by coffeefrog »

another_jim wrote:...
This discussion is already "meta," aimed at clarifying what "we, the citizens," that is, people who have been here a while, say longer than 6 months, should recognize as sensible discussion. Michael thinks we should discuss every detail, no matter how obsessive or obscure, and entertain every claim about their importance. I'm thinking we need to frequently throw the cold water of hard nosed testing on these things so that we don't go overboard. Probably we need both, some people making wildly over-refined claims, and others throwing cold water.

That leaves the newbies. They fall into two classes. The first is those who come here because they want to upgrade their home espresso, but who don't want to make it a hobby it. They probably don't register and post, but just search through the content to find what they need. The second group is the one Greg addresses: they want to get into espresso, but know just as little as the first group. Their posts ask for an authoritative primer on the current state of the art.

My feel is that we shouldn't blithely accommodate requests like these. If someone wants to make espresso a hobby, he or she needs to understand that productive participation on the forum is primarily about developing coffee judgment and taste, not about equipment best buys. If all they want is the best gear at a certain budget, they don't need to post, they can just lurk.
Anyone who has been here longer than six months will already have some views about what to believe, so that can't be the problem that we are addressing. People will always ask silly and over simplified questions, and they will get answers that are more a product of the group dynamics than of science, by definition thats just how groups display a set of collective behaviours. What seems to be causing you pain is that we don't all agree about what is useful or right and the responses are inconsistent. Psyd's comment about 203/30 is an example. I think he is wrong about it as a starting point, he thinks he is right, we will probably not agree on it. That doesn't bother me in the least, I am still using the plastic tamper I got with the MCAL in 1984 and my 3yo daughter tamps the grounds when she and I are making coffee in the morning so you can sort of tell where I stand on tamping and tampers (maybe I'd think differently if I had any pump machines). There is no authoritative primer on the state of the art and I don't believe that the newbies you refer to really want one. They want easily digested, single dimensional answers to their questions and they will grab them when they see them. For the rest of us the arguments are a form of entertainment.

If it wasn't likely to be akin to herding cats, it might be interesting to survey people in a fair level of detail to see what their positions are on the various contentious questions, their duration here and the duration of their involvement in coffee, they probably cluster in some interesting ways, but even the definition of the questions is likely to be contentious because they would tend to pre-define the group boundaries. Then we could enter these discussions a little more formally... "Good evening, I am Itto Ogami, Suioryiu School, <sound of sword being drawn>"

Greg
LMWDP #15

User avatar
kahvedelisi

#16: Post by kahvedelisi »

I like hansel and gretel better.

--spoiler--

they get to eat "everything" and in the end they get away with it!

--spoiler--

It's all about which motto is yours "hidden in the details" or "simple is the best". Personally I prefer both. First one summarize my approach to coffee itself and second one summarize my approach to coffee preparation. I'm definitely not into and do not care at all about 0.1 bar pressure adjustments and/or 0.1F temperature variations or PIDed machines or ultra clean coffee working environment (If I attend to a competition I'd get disqualified because of this) I try almost every new idea I read online but never turn it to a habit. bla bla technique for better distribution? sure I tried, even modified or offered some ideas of my own but when it comes to practice I don't have the patience for it. Bla bla leveling technique? aaayh same goes for that too. The best shots I got to this day was always when I kept everything simple, when I didn't care at all.. and as if a joke or a surprise birthday party, every careless move resulted goodness in the cup. Those I worked hard for, or ultra careful about were either sink shots or blink and spit shots. Pay more attention to coffee itself, quality greens, quality roasts, being careful about freshness these are the details. If there's something "hidden" it's hidden in the bean not in the machine, and of course not under your bed :)

That's also the secret behind "espresso tasting better in italy". I read many times "espresso served in italy much better than our average, but our specialty coffee community serve much better than italian average".. e? you buy cream of the crop they buy either the average or a little better than the average. give those never leveling, lightly tamping, dirty portafilter, muddy basket and grouphead user "careless" italian baristas some cream of the crop coffee then we will see who's producing average shots compared to one other.

the pea on the princess, and she's convinced that it's a pearl. maybe that's what your problem is.. you are so into it, sometimes you forget to have "fun". eureka!! :lol:
Resistance is futile. You will be caffeinated!

User avatar
malachi

#17: Post by malachi »

HB wrote:
  • Pressure variations of 0.1 bar and/or temperature variation of 0.1F
  • Damaging heat during grinding attributable to the motor
  • Detrimental taste impact of "baking" the puck in the group for 30 seconds
  • Distasteful flavor of "unseasoned" portafilters (or those with chrome finishes)
  • <add your favorite wild claim here>
It's possible some individuals can detect such differences, but I'm skeptical, especially when their claims are not backed up by blind taste tests.
#1 - verified (blind testing) at 0.3F but not at 0.1BAR or 0.1F. Portland OR, Nov 2005
#2 - no blind testing to the best of my knowledge, but repeated experiential evidence in commercial situations (likely not relevant for home baristas however).
#3 - no idea if anyone has tested or experimented or observed anything about this.
#4 - this one is hard as the "off" flavours could be the result of the machine being backflushed with detergent and not fully rinsed after or the result of the portafilter being soaked in detergent and not fully rinsed. So no-one to the best of my knowledge has ever tested in a truly well prepared manner (with a machine that is clean but has not lingering cleanser and a portafilter that is clean but has no lingering cleanser. So while I know of folks who have, in fact, tested this (and have in fact done so blind) I can't say that the results are truly informative. I don't know anyone who has tested the chrome flavour issue.

Now... to my final point...
HB wrote: More practically, from a reviewer's viewpoint, I assert that the validity of their claim is irrelevant if only a minority of highly skilled baristas can reproduce it.
Here I disagree.
I would assume that all of us are striving to become more skilled as baristas. We're all trying to become one of those "minority of highly skilled baristas."
So even if we're not currently capable of reproducing this issue - that doesn't mean that it is irrelevant.
More than that - even if it is irrelevant to the majority of baristas that doesn't mean it is untrue or unimportant.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

zin1953

#18: Post by zin1953 »

Marshall: +1
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#19: Post by another_jim »

Marshall wrote:I have argued in the past about treating online forums as scientific journals and holding posters to the same standards. It is not only unrealistic, it would kill the forums. When someone posts a premature conclusion, a thoughtful guess or even wild speculation, it can all be read with full consideration of the source and the writer's experience.
I'm not sure if I'm being strawmanned by this, or whether it's just a general point. FWIW, I hope posts not only remain as speculative as they are, but get more so. My warning was against the stultifying effect of accepting one way of making shots as the only way.

Marshall will remember the three to four years on alt.coffee when anyone who got a bad 30 second, 2 ounce espresso shot knew there could be only two reasons: the tamp wasn't really 30 pounds or the temperature not really 203.

These misguided diagnoses gave us click tampers and PID controlled groups, so at least some fun and some good came of it. But it didn't get us good espresso shots. And most of all, it made for a screamingly boring discussion.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
michaelbenis

#20: Post by michaelbenis »

I love these discussions! Twenty posts of frank exchange and we find we all basically agree! :D

And the great think about the fussy-pursuit-of-perfection experiments is when we also report they weren't really worth the trouble. Like your great Elektra mod, Jim. Saved a lot of people a lot of fiddling...

But what I love about the peas under my mattress is that they keep moving! :shock:
LMWDP No. 237