A few hints from Heather Perry

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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Marshall

#1: Post by Marshall »

I have attended all of Heather Perry's espresso classes at the three annual SCAA Consumer Homecomings. So, I took note of what I thought might have been some new suggestions at the "Coffee, Tea & Me" show in Pasadena last weekend:

1. As you dose, move the portafilter around and fill the basket edges first, then work your way to the center.

2. Disturb the grounds as little as possible while leveling them off with your finger.

3. After the first tamp, don't bother tapping the basket to knock the grounds off the walls. Although she still does it herself VERY LIGHTLY out of habit, she said she has stopped recommending the tap in training, because so many people knock the basket too hard and disturb the cake.

4. Polish with a very light back and forth twist.

Most of my barista habits are things I have copied from Heather over the years, and they have worked very well for me at home. They are one of the reasons I have so little patience with some of the elaborate rituals and measuring techniques that some on-line consumers have promoted. Great espresso really isn't that hard. It just takes practice.
Marshall
Los Angeles

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Niko

#2: Post by Niko »

Marshall wrote: 2. Disturb the grounds as little as possible while leveling them off with your finger.

3. After the first tamp, don't bother tapping the basket to knock the grounds off the walls.
Those are the two most important things for me, Marshall. I do get better shots when the cake is least disturbed.
For me, second tamp equals disaster...I'm better off with a single downward motion to get it down into the basket, grinds on the walls and everything, etc..

Great advice!

Matthew Brinski

#3: Post by Matthew Brinski »

Marshall wrote:I have attended all of Heather Perry's espresso classes at the three annual SCAA Consumer Homecomings. So, I took note of what I thought might have been some new suggestions at the "Coffee, Tea & Me" show in Pasadena last weekend:

1. As you dose, move the portafilter around and fill the basket edges first, then work your way to the center.

2. Disturb the grounds as little as possible while leveling them off with your finger.

3. After the first tamp, don't bother tapping the basket to knock the grounds off the walls. Although she still does it herself VERY LIGHTLY out of habit, she said she has stopped recommending the tap in training, because so many people knock the basket too hard and disturb the cake.

4. Polish with a very light back and forth twist.

Most of my barista habits are things I have copied from Heather over the years, and they have worked very well for me at home. They are one of the reasons I have so little patience with some of the elaborate rituals and measuring techniques that some on-line consumers have promoted. Great espresso really isn't that hard. It just takes practice.
Marshall,

I agree with everything you wrote, I just find it funny that you refer to these basic steps as "new suggestions". As you implied, they are simple concepts but require attention ... I especially think attention to steps #1 and #2 will solve virtually all uneven extraction troubles.

... actually, I can see where you might imply these suggestions as being "new" when introduced to beginners who come on board thinking that they need dissecting needles.

Jarno

#4: Post by Jarno »

Matthew Brinski wrote: ... actually, I can see where you might imply these suggestions as being "new" when introduced to beginners who come on board thinking that they need dissecting needles.

ok.... no more laughing... :oops:

Randii

#5: Post by Randii »

Another thing Heather mentioned at "Coffee, Tea & Me" - which she taught me - is to taste the extraction with a spoon during the pour, every few seconds. You can taste the difference at each "level" of extraction and it is easier to tell when the extraction is completed, because the flavor disappears. (It's kind of hard to identify blonding visually). That tip helped me to improve my shots.

I'll be taking my first official class from Heather next weekend. Heather is a great teacher!

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Marshall

#6: Post by Marshall »

Matthew Brinski wrote:I agree with everything you wrote, I just find it funny that you refer to these basic steps as "new suggestions".
I thought I was clear that they were just things I hadn't heard from Heather before. No claims of originality were made by Heather or by me.
Marshall
Los Angeles

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Marshall

#7: Post by Marshall »

Randii wrote:Another thing Heather mentioned at "Coffee, Tea & Me" - which she taught me - is to taste the extraction with a spoon during the pour, every few seconds. You can taste the difference at each "level" of extraction and it is easier to tell when the extraction is completed, because the flavor disappears. (It's kind of hard to identify blonding visually). That tip helped me to improve my shots.
SCAA sells a 3-cup tool for this purpose: http://scaa.org/shop/product_detail.asp ... id=R800500.

Andy Schecter was making and selling his own 6-cup version earlier in the year as a fund raiser for Coffee Kids: http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espres ... nes/297967.
Marshall
Los Angeles

Bertie Doe

#8: Post by Bertie Doe »

Randii wrote:Another thing Heather mentioned at "Coffee, Tea & Me" - which she taught me - is to taste the extraction with a spoon during the pour, every few seconds. You can taste the difference at each "level" of extraction and it is easier to tell when the extraction is completed, because the flavor dissapears. (It's kind of hard to identify blonding visually). That tip helped me to improve my shots.

I'll be taking my first official class from Heather next weekend. Heather is a great teacher!
Marshall wrote:SCAA sells a 3-cup tool for this purpose: http://scaa.org/shop/product_detail.asp ... id=R800500.

Andy Schecter was making and selling his own 6-cup version earlier in the year as a fund raiser for Coffee Kids: http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espres ... nes/297967.
Hmmm, that's interesting. It suggests that the '2oz pour' (from a double) isn't necessarily writ in tablets of stone. I prefer 1.5oz in an espresso, partly to remove blonding from the equation, but mainly because I enjoy the intensity of flavor. Is there a general trend toward the shorter shot, or does it depend on the bean or roast?

Bertie

EspressoObsessed

#9: Post by EspressoObsessed »

Where does this leave those of us who underdose, either because we have Rocky/Silvia combinations or follow the advice in this thread: Basket Overdosing; time for a serious re-evaluation!? Leveling isn't possible at lower doses, and Ken's advice to grind really, really fine and use a minimal tamp doesn't seem to work for R&S. I'll keep my dissecting needle.

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#10: Post by cannonfodder »

Marshall wrote:I have attended all of Heather Perry's espresso classes at the three annual SCAA Consumer Homecomings. So, I took note of what I thought might have been some new suggestions at the "Coffee, Tea & Me" show in Pasadena last weekend:

1. As you dose, move the portafilter around and fill the basket edges first, then work your way to the center.

2. Disturb the grounds as little as possible while leveling them off with your finger.

3. After the first tamp, don't bother tapping the basket to knock the grounds off the walls. Although she still does it herself VERY LIGHTLY out of habit, she said she has stopped recommending the tap in training, because so many people knock the basket too hard and disturb the cake.
.
Interesting, I have been doing the exact same thing for months now, I mentioned it when I had the grinders for the titan grinder project. I actually move the portafilter in a circular motion, not just a left right move of the portafilter handle but while holding the handle pointing at me I move the entire portafilter in a circular motion while dosing. That doses around the outside of the basket then the last pull or two into the center of the basket.

That works especially well when properly dosing a 14-15gram dose which is well below the rim of the basket. I then simply knock off the top of the center mound, thump the portafilter on the tamping stand 3 times to settle out the grounds then do a light tamp with a no pressure tamper spin to polish. No fuss and perfect almost every time. And I did away with the portafilter tap between tamps, one tamp and no tap tap.

The circular motion of the portafilter works best if you have a bottomless portafilter or simply remove the portafilter forks off the grinder .
Dave Stephens