Caffe Gambrinus's reasoning on heating the portafilter

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TenLayers
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#1: Post by TenLayers »

Approx 13 second point on the video from Gran Caffe Gambrinus in Napoli.
The portafilter is loaded and tamped and it looks like he's running hot water over the body of it.
To bring up the temperature of the grind inside so it more consistent during the pull?

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another_jim
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#2: Post by another_jim »

It's pretty much a trademark move that people have been commenting on for thirty years at least. David Schomer, in his classic book from 1995, mentions it as one of his eyeopeners concerning the poor temperature stability of espresso machines

However, I have no idea why Gambrinus really does it. Given that a heated PF will warm the exiting liquid rather than affect the brewing temperature in the basket (which is why bottomless PFs don't affect brewing temperature), it may be more about serving the shot piping hot rather than brewing it at the right temperature.
Jim Schulman

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Chert

#3: Post by Chert »

Does anyone do the Gambrinus challenge macchiato, or is it mocha-iatto?



je n'ai jamais vu ça
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cskorton

#4: Post by cskorton »

Couple points to note, and these are just strictly my opinions.

A lot of the funky stuff you see Italian caffe's do, like preheating the portafilter, are generally just because, "this is the way it's always been." It's fun and interesting to stick to traditions over years, and I'm sure there was a good reason for it many years ago. Now a days, especially with better equipment, it isn't necessary, unless you want to emulate tradition, which can be fun.

Another good example of this is how long they preinfuse for or you occasionally see the barista "pump" the lever briefly. Generally, they'll hold the lever down for 10-15 seconds, which for a dark roasted Napoli blend, isn't the best thing to do in my experience. I've found 5-7 seconds preinfusion is plenty for these darker roasts. They also tend to let the shot run for too long for my tastes, but again, I can totally respect their traditions. Pumping the lever may actually be a good thing, as it'll allow the water to better penetrate the puck during preinfusion. But you run the risk of breaking apart the puck.


Off topic, but I've always wanted to try to emulate Gamberinus's "Nocciola" (hazelnut) signature drink at home. I believe it's pretty popular at other caffès in Napoli as well. Here's a couple links to the procedure and a recipe (in Italian):

https://www.facebook.com/CaffeGambrinus ... 895565214/

vze26m98
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#5: Post by vze26m98 »

I buy Jim Schulman's explanation, and might add that the practice may be a function of serving a huge clientele with just a few heads of espresso machine. Chris's comment about "the way it's always been done" make sense from the standpoint of a caffè's use of older machines as well.

I've never been to Gambrinus, but Sant'Eustachio in Rome serves everyone from a two group machine, or is it just a single head? It's hard to tell with the crowds at the counter and the cardboard set up to shield their technique. Gambrinus has more groups than two, but it's an order of magnitude bigger than Sant-Eustachio.

cskorton

#6: Post by cskorton » replying to vze26m98 »

I've been to Sant'Eustachio in Rome, and sadly, left unimpressed. It was a tourist trap in my opinion, as a bus of foreign tourists absolutely flooded the place when I was there and the shot I had wasn't great at all. Very disappointed, but maybe it was bad timing. I can recommend other places.

As for their machine, I believe they have 2 3 group Cimbali pump machines:


vze26m98
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#7: Post by vze26m98 »

Hi Chris- My comment went to the mechanics of service rather than taste, and I would agree that the appeal of their blend is a mystery. The can of beans I brought home was no better.

I went there a few years ago now, and it looks like they've upgraded their machine, which used to be a single or dual lever.

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Chert

#8: Post by Chert »

I popped in there too briefly I think in 2016. Great memories of Rome I have and the gorgeous Roman pines on the horizon, antiquities and morning espresso at random spots stand out more for me now. Nice photo that brings back memories.
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