Clumping and Tamping - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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Randy G.
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#21: Post by Randy G. »

cai42 wrote:The years before the naked portafilter's appearance most of us were satisfied with the espresso we made at home. The only remedy we had was to adjust the grind and maybe some adjustments to the espresso maker to improve the shot.
But that is only based on the knowledge you had at the time. There were still adjustments to be made in dosing and tamping. Just because you were unaware of the effect that these had on the extraction did not mean that those changes these was not available.
But we were enjoying our shots, some were good, some were great, and some were bad.
Ignorance IS bliss, no?
I think the process is now more important then enjoying the product.
I hope you are kidding.... a winky would have helped. Otherwise, I have to say that I think that sentence is nonsense. If you are going to remove the importance of the process and disregard details that can make the product better, you might as well be drinking instant and save ALL the trouble of paying attention to what you are doing.
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Psyd
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#22: Post by Psyd »

cai42 wrote:Greetings,
Do baristas in a competition mix the ground beans with needles, pins, and other pointed objects? If not, why not?
No. But the real reason is that the competitors tend towards techniques that they use in practice at their shops as well as competition.
Some of the techniques discussed, and even developed here, are the result of using equipment with shortcomings. The WDT is specifically to break up clumps and evenly distribute the grounds in the basket. If the grinder that you're using does that sufficiently, the WDT is a waste of time, and may even (it has been suggested) aid in the migration of fines to the bottom of the basket.
Every barista does, though, have some sort of ritual that borders on OCD or a religious sanctification rite. This is so that the preparation of the basket in each PF is as identical as one can make it. I'm pretty sure that the 'Chicago Chop' wasn't laughed at, and neither was the 'Stockfleth's Move', nor the constant thwacking of the grinder, or balancing a tamper to get a flat and even tamp. All of these 'tricks' were introduced in competition by a xBC hopeful, and they've been adopted by others because, well, they worked.
The judges wouldn't laugh at you, they'd score you on your drinks. If the espresso in the drinks were better than that of your competitors, I'm pretty sure that they don't care what your technique was, as long as it was sanitary and took less than fifteen minutes.
Ya do what works for you, and you ignore those that are laughing at you or sneering up their sleeves. It's about the coffee, not about how 'cool' you look.
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One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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HB
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#23: Post by HB »

Psyd wrote:Some of the techniques discussed, and even developed here, are the result of using equipment with shortcomings.
Well said.
Psyd wrote:If the espresso in the drinks were better than that of your competitors, I'm pretty sure that they don't care what your technique was, as long as it was sanitary and took less than fifteen minutes.
In years past, SCAA workshop instructors specifically asked that sensory judges not watch the competitor prepare the drinks lest they be influenced by what they observe. However, I don't believe there's any rule against it. As for me, I was too busy scoring the last drink, listening to the competitor, and writing notes. Even if I did notice something "unusual" in their preparation, I would not care when it came time to score the drinks. That's the tech judges' job.
Dan Kehn

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Psyd
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#24: Post by Psyd »

Coming from a judge, what would the tech judge consider 'unusual' in preparation that was sanitary and under fifteen minutes for the dozen, that would take points off? What do you have to do to a PF basket full of grounds before the judge blows the whistle and throws a flag?
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#25: Post by HB »

I can't think of anything, but Barry has probably seen it all.

The tech judge focuses on waste reduction, consistency, cleanliness, etc. They do not impose specific preparation steps other than well-accepted convention like "flush the group before the extraction." If someone wanted to WDT in competition, they certainly would not dock points. Tap the portafilter? Sure, no problem. Don't tap the portafilter? Go for it. Tap the portafilter one time and don't tap it the next? Oops, points off.
Dan Kehn

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Marshall
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#26: Post by Marshall »

Psyd wrote:The judges wouldn't laugh at you, they'd score you on your drinks. If the espresso in the drinks were better than that of your competitors, I'm pretty sure that they don't care what your technique was, as long as it was sanitary and took less than fifteen minutes.
Ya do what works for you, and you ignore those that are laughing at you or sneering up their sleeves. It's about the coffee, not about how 'cool' you look.
I dunno. There was a big flap last year in Long Beach about the barista who made the judges drink her specialty drink from beer hats with straws. There is definitely a "performance" element to the competition.

That's Jim Schulman in the middle:
Marshall
Los Angeles

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HB
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#27: Post by HB »

Please excuse this diversion. Here's another point of view of Jim Schulman hard at work as sensory judge...

Dan Kehn

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cannonfodder
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#28: Post by cannonfodder »

You should have seen her dress. If she showed up at my work dressed like that, she would have been sent home. Maybe it was for the distraction of the tech judges.

At any rate, as the quality of my kit has improved, the voodoo needed in the preparation of my espresso has dramatically dropped. When you are running PID Marzocco and Robur, you just don't need to stir grounds and temperature surf. Just grind/dose/tamp/pull repeat.
Dave Stephens

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Marshall
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#29: Post by Marshall »

cannonfodder wrote:You should have seen her dress. If she showed up at my work dressed like that, she would have been sent home. Maybe it was for the distraction of the tech judges.
Actually, Tatiana is the co-owner of her shop near the University of Washington. The location inspired her to do a performance piece based on the frat boys and sorority girls she serves there. Unfortunately, quite a few people took offense.
Marshall
Los Angeles

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another_jim
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#30: Post by another_jim replying to Marshall »

Technically, her performance was tight, and her espresso and cappa were good enough to get her into the next round. Moreover, she's the only competitor I've ever seen who could ride a tray over the shoulder, one handed; something even most waiters can't manage anymore.

She got clobbered in the scoring, and then criticized afterwards, because competitors and their performances are supposed to represent the profession (this is part of the rules). My feeling is that mandating this sort of "representing" is not a good thing; a confident profession has no problem making fun of itself.

On the original question. In barista competition, competitors are allowed their own grinders, or they can use the supplied Compak conical, which many do. I use the Compak, and it is relatively clump free. But the hot grinders, like the Anfim this year, are the ones that dose the most clump free and evenly. This is why you don't see the WDT in competition.

For home users, doserless grinders seem to exercise a nigh addictive fascination. I've given up shouting vainly as people sleepwalk towards them. The WDT is Doserless Anonymous for buyers who have hit their clumpy bottoms.
Jim Schulman