Bring back the portafilter tap?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
lagoon

#1: Post by lagoon »

With my current work from home arrangements, I've found myself with a few more opportunities to tinker and experiment with espresso making.

Remember the practice of tapping the side of portafilter with the tamper to settle the grounds? It struck me that this went out of vogue a few years ago, and was replaced with all manner of weird and wonderful things like stirring with chopsticks, dosing into cups, and so on.

So I've been experimenting with this old technique instead of the above alternatives.

My process is:

Grind direct into portafilter (E65S grinder. 18g into IMS Competition 18g basket)
Couple of taps of the portafilter (from opposite sides) with the tamper to settle the grounds.
Spin the distribution tool (Pullmann Chisel)
Light tamp, no spin.

This is getting some of the best pours and most fantastic tasting shots I can recall, better than those other techniques.

Note that I do grind very fine and use a long, low pressure preinfusion. It's all working together spectacularly well. Why did this go off trend?

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JohnB.
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#2: Post by JohnB. »

Dents in the pf? :lol: I've always just tapped the bottomless pf on the counter to settle the grounds.
LMWDP 267

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RapidCoffee
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#3: Post by RapidCoffee »

I question the value of tapping, other than (as John observes) to settle grinds:
coffee grinds and flour
John
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lagoon

#4: Post by lagoon »

JohnB. wrote:Dents in the pf? :lol: I've always just tapped the bottomless pf on the counter to settle the grounds.
Maybe dents was the issue back then? Older portafilters were mostly chromed brass, so yes maybe that was the concern. These days a lot of them are now solid stainless steel, so not really a problem unless you really go nuts.

I guess the other thing is that OCD/Chisel type distribution tools weren't really prevalent back then, which may have led to the chopstick solutions. But I'm finding the taps, then the distribution tool is a killer combo.

Regarding a vertical tap on the counter, this doesn't achieve the same level of effect for me. This is due to the rubber tamping mat which nullifies most of the "shock" that is required to settle the grounds. The alternative is to use a naked bench top, but that would cause damage to the quartz bench top.

jpender

#5: Post by jpender »

Why would tapping on a non-padded surface cause more damage than tapping with a steel tamper?

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slybarman

#6: Post by slybarman »

I still tap the ears of my PF with the distribution tool to settle the grounds. Never gave it up, just switched from the tamper.

lagoon

#7: Post by lagoon » replying to slybarman »

Yeah that makes sense, a distribution tool is of a similar mass to a tamper (around 400g). As long as the "hammer" is a hard object with substantial mass it should impart a good result. Video above shows nothing much going on with a teaspoon, which has a tiny fraction of the mass at about 30g.

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#8: Post by RapidCoffee »

If you don't like my video, why don't you make your own? Whack away with a tamper if you think that will make a difference. Or provide extraction yields, or run double blind taste tests... something more than just anecdotal evidence.
John

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BaristaBoy E61

#9: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

RapidCoffee wrote:I question the value of tapping, other than (as John observes) to settle grinds:

coffee grinds and flour
Thanks for that video, I find it quite revealing.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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JohnB.
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#10: Post by JohnB. »

lagoon wrote: Regarding a vertical tap on the counter, this doesn't achieve the same level of effect for me. This is due to the rubber tamping mat which nullifies most of the "shock" that is required to settle the grounds. The alternative is to use a naked bench top, but that would cause damage to the quartz bench top.
My coffeebar counter also has a rubber pad covering the grinder/prep area. Tapping the pf on the padded counter settles the grounds just fine for me.
Both of my grinders have dosers so the grounds are well mixed by the time they land in the pf. Tap, level, tamp. No issues.
LMWDP 267