Fellini does espresso ...

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Dr Jim

Postby Dr Jim » Jan 25, 2006, 12:27 pm

The bulk of this message was originally posted to alt.coffee, but since it appears to have dropped off into Usenet purgatory, and it represents an interesting side-commentary to the Micro-Casa technique thread, I've been inspired to post it here:

Towards the end of Enrico Fellini's 'The Rehearsal' - there is a scene in a
busy bistro. Watch carefully as the very professional barista pulls a shot
from a lovely 3-group side-lever Gaggia machine. Notice that he pulls the
lever down and holds it for pre-infusion, then he rapidly lifts the
lever up a few inches and pulls it back down into preinfusion and holds it for
about 10 seconds more before releasing the lever to complete the pour.

This 'double-pump' move was frequently used on this vintage of commercial
lever machine - the theory behind it being that if you initially saturated the
puck and allowed it to swell, and put in another charge of hot water
then you'd get rich, syrupy 'mouse-tails' during the initial pour.

I've often wondered if the design of the E61 grouphead with its preinfusion
chamber wasn't supposed to mechanically emulate the classical barista's
double-pump maneuver?


I wondered if the fluid dynamics of the commercial machine's relatively flat and shallow 58mm puck was different from the tall and narrow 45mm Ponte Veccio basket, and after burning my way through nearly a pound of home roast and tasting a fair number of double ristretto shots (buzz, buzz, buzz) from my commercial and PV Lusso machines can say that this technique appears to be equally applicable to both 58mm and 45mm spring machines. Sadly, I don't believe that this move is applicable to Pavoni or Olympia direct-acting lever machines, because once you've started the pour you won''t introduce a further water charge by lifting the lever and risk fracturing the puck by pulling the lever up.

Ironically, while rather dramatically intensifying the flavors and body of the shots, this technique also does appear to significantly diminish crema production, especially early in the pour. Also, as a point to note, the same vintage baristas would not collect any of the pre-infusion drips, claiming that "They are bad liquor, very bitter!" and would sometimes not put the cup under the spout until the first drops had merged to make true 'mouse-tails.'

I must confess that I've not tried this trick, as I'm far too cheap and greedy not to want guzzle every drop ....

Anyway, do go and rent 'The Rehearsal' it's an interesting commentary on Italian life and politics in the early 60's, and you get a free espresso tutorial from a 'golden-age' barista at no extra charge.

Cheers

Jim
LMWDP #26

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peacecup

Postby peacecup » Jan 25, 2006, 1:13 pm

Dr. Jim,

Just the post I've been waiting for. I've been developing a hypothesis very much along the same lines as yours re: the difference between a 58- and a 45-mm group. The surface-area-to-volume ratio differs, and I wondered if the relatively deep basket on the 45 was somehow effecting the quality of the espresso. I'm anxious to try the "Fellini" technique, and will do so this AM. I confess, however, to having developed a taste for both the flavor and dose of the Ponte Vecchio "microsolo espresso".

By the way, what volume espresso do you get with the Lusso, either one or two pulls? I consistently get 0.5 oz single pulls on the Export. One wonders why the designers chose such a small group, although the Riveria has the same (they may be one and the same, since there appears to be a complex history behind the Ponte Vecchio brand).

Cheers,
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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kbuzbee

Postby kbuzbee » Jan 25, 2006, 2:48 pm

Dr Jim wrote:Sadly, I don't believe that this move is applicable to Pavoni or Olympia direct-acting lever machines, because once you've started the pour you won''t introduce a further water charge by lifting the lever and risk fracturing the puck by pulling the lever up.



Jim, I'll have to rent the movie to see how this is being done but it doesn't sound dissimilar to how I pull an over dosed shot on my Europiccola. I lift the handle full and hold for 2 secs, lower it ~2 ", slowly raise it back, repeat and pull. I don't have a naked portafilter to watch every hole but the crema is rich and deep brown. The coffee is sweet and full. Pour volume is under 2 oz, anywhere from 1 oz to 1.5 depending on the age of the coffee (mostly)

Ken
LMWDP #054

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srobinson

Postby srobinson » Jan 25, 2006, 5:27 pm

I think my concern with this technique would be relieving the pressure of the pull so early in the process. I would assume that in a commercial setting this was done to eliminate waste at the end of the pull....thus they had it grooved to do a half pull then a full pull which would stop right at blonding stage. I much prefer a full first pull followed by a short second pull to try and keep consistent pressure on the puck on a non-commercial lever.
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

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kbuzbee

Postby kbuzbee » replying to srobinson » Jan 26, 2006, 9:50 am

I've tried doing it in that order. I found just the opposite. Since the puck is only being (sort of an extended) preinfused during these small "pre pumps" (no coffee is actually pouring yet) I find I can then use one constant downstroke to actually make the coffee. I'll revisit doing it after the pump to re-compare. Thanks.

Ken
LMWDP #054

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peacecup

Postby peacecup » Jan 26, 2006, 1:09 pm

Hats off to Dr. Jim! As I suspected, the Fellini method is just the answer I was looking for with the Ponte Vecchio. I'd been enjoying the ½ oz., one-pull solos that I was getting, but I had the sense that they were inherently over-dosed (i.e. the single basket holds a bit too much coffee for a ½ oz. of water). All eight shots I've pulled since I read Jim's post have been single-basket solos using the Fellini pull (I wish we knew the name(s) of the barista(s)). All eight have produced 3/4 oz. solos that taste (and look) better than my one-pull ½ oz. solos. I think 3/4 oz. is probably just the right size for the dose in a 45-mm single basket.

I have to agree with Ken that the small pump at the beginning does not appear to damage the puck, at least with the single basket. When I was trying full first, and partial second pulls with the double basket I was getting cracks in the puck, so I'm anxious to see if the Fellini pull will remedy this.

One last observation is that this method seems to make the pull more sensitive to grinding, dosing, and tamping - I suspect the extra time and water tend to more fully saturate the puck. This must cause the puck to swell more, making it more pressure sensitive (maybe this also prevents puck damage?).

Thanks to all on this forum for such interesting discussions, and for helping to me improve my lever espresso at a much faster than would have otherwise been possible!

Jack
LMWDP #049

Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

simons1

Postby simons1 » Jan 26, 2006, 1:32 pm

kbuzbee wrote:Jim, I'll have to rent the movie to see how this is being done but it doesn't sound dissimilar to how I pull an over dosed shot on my Europiccola. I lift the handle full and hold for 2 secs, lower it ~2 ", slowly raise it back, repeat and pull. I don't have a naked portafilter to watch every hole but the crema is rich and deep brown. The coffee is sweet and full. Pour volume is under 2 oz, anywhere from 1 oz to 1.5 depending on the age of the coffee (mostly)

Ken



ken-i read with interest row you use your europiccola.i have mine for about a year now.i'm still having problems with the crema (i can't say its rich or deep), and i dont get concistent shots.i think my toubles are with the prssure or/and the temperature.i'm using a fine grind in the single portafilter.sometimes the pull is very hard to make and i use a lot of force,lowering the lever.i dont think this action is in the benefit of the machine.i want to try your pull:can you explain what you meen by"reapat and pull"?also if you have any other suggestions i'll be happy to hear.
thanks
simon.

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kbuzbee

Postby kbuzbee » replying to simons1 » Jan 26, 2006, 2:17 pm

Sure Simon, I was doing the same thing as you (but with the double basket). Malachi suggested I loosen the grind. I did (1/2 turn on my Zass) and way increased my tamp pressure. Now I lift the lever, listen for the water to enter the group, lower it a bit (maybe 2", no more), slowly raise it (a bit more water), lower it the same 2", raise it one more time (still nothing coming out) and lower it all the way.... I start getting coffee about 1/3 of the way down, it's almost all dense rich foam (crema).At this grind, without the added tamp pressure coffee would have started out during the initial preinfusion. Let me know how that works for you.

Ken
LMWDP #054

simons1

Postby simons1 » replying to kbuzbee » Jan 28, 2006, 8:01 am

thank you ken for your prompt answer.i'm beginning to try to find the good grind.i'll let you know the progress.

ladalet

Postby ladalet » Jan 30, 2006, 4:07 am

Always game to try a new technique, I thought that I would try to adapt this Fellini technique to my Olympia Cremina. Since my Cremina is not spring loaded, it operates in reverse to a spring loaded machine. For example: instead of pulling the lever down and holding it for preinfusion, I lift the lever up and hold it for pre-infusion. So I just reversed the operation described in the Fellini technique. I had great success adapting this technique to my Cremina. Crema was denser and and more abundant. The shot was also a little more syrupy and had a little richer flavor. I was actually kind of surprised that it made a difference let alone for the better. I have pulled about 8 double shots each a little better than the one that came before as I fine tune this technique. Here is my version of it (I am skipping the normal steps--grinding, tamping, etc. . . -- and only including the novel steps):

The total pre-infusion time should still take about 10 seconds.
1) with the portafilter loose in the group, lift the lever to just before the point water enters and then lock in the portafilter. This eliminates damage to the puck on the initial lift.
2) Continue to lift the lever until you feel water begin to flow into the group and start timing your 10 second pre-infusion.
3) carefully continue to lift the lever to the top and pull down just until you feel resistance and lift quickly back up to the top
4) Again, pull down just until you feel resistance and a little further just until a couple of drops of coffee drip out of the portafilter, and snap the lever back to the top.
5) After a full 10 seconds has gone by, begin first pull. Pull the lever a little less than 1/2 the way down and then snap it back to the top. Normally I would pull down about 3/4 of the way, lift, and then begin my second pull to yield two 1oz shots. With this method I only pull the lever down a little less than half way down before I lift to get two 1oz shots. Results may vary.
6) finish your second pull
7) enjoy

I just realized that this is actually a triple pump rather than a double pump. I suppose that you could continue the pull at the second pump (step 4) and it would be closer to the Fellini technique. I will try this tomorrow morning and report how it works. I guess the only real important thing is "what makes a better cup" rather than if it adheres rigorously to a technique. Experimenting is fun.

Let me know if this works for any of you using non spring loaded lever machines.
Lance Goffinet
LMWDP #019