Home barista techniques that the pros shun (and vice versa) - Page 4

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#31: Post by ThaRiddla »

HB wrote:Ah yes, the Chicago Chop. Before you deride the moniker, recall that Intelligentsia's crew took four of the top six positions at the 2006 Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition. I'm always experimenting with different techniques, especially with ones that (a) are easy to explain, and (b) give a leg up to new home baristas. I tried it for a couple weeks and found the Chicago Chop was consistent and easy.

Meta-comment: Matt Riddle and the rest at Intelligentsia are clearly top-notch baristas. I wonder if they employ this distribution "crutch move" at their cafes, or if it's reserved for their less experienced baristas?
Ah, the "Chicago Chop" or "Intelligentsia Chop" or the "Hassan Chop" (well, not really the Hassan Chop, but I'm a huge classic bugs bunny guy.)

I think someone on CG coined that phrase a while ago. We started using that when we switched over from the swift about 3 years ago, now. We needed to come up with something that was ultimately repeatable for the baristas. Since there are sometimes upwards of 6 people working at once, we needed something that wouldn't take the "art" out of making shots, but was still able to be used by more than one person on a shift without the lag time of changing the grind every time someone went on break. Enter the chop.

As for competition, none of us use the chop method. We have all developed our own techniques for distribution and leveling. Stephen "The Rog" Rogers uses an adapted Aussie/Sammy Piccolo method of knocking the pf on the tines of the grinder to pack additional coffee in. I personally mound the coffee and go back and forth a few times keeping the coffee on the pf, then level, but not level....it's hard to explain. I kind of make a dome on top. Someone asked me recently how many times i go back and forth....i didn't know. It was muscle memory and I had to do it and count it out to figure it out. I just know that i do the exact same thing every time, exactly the same way....even down to wiping my hand on my apron after leveling/tamping (above my towel which makes a quarter circle of grounds on my apron - old habit from college art classes.) I had to do that so I could forget about it...the whole wax on wax off idea - do it until you forget it.

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#32: Post by RapidCoffee »

another_jim wrote:In every skill I've acquired, the techniques were verbal descriptions one used to train beginners. By the time anyone gets good, the technique has morphed into something idiosyncratic that works for that person. Trouble is, these expert idiosyncrasies can't be easily described or taught, so techniques are necessary, if only for basic training.
A truly insightful observation. In order to introduce new concepts, you have to strip away unnecessary details and expose the essence of the subject matter. This usually takes the form of easy-to-master rules. But experts in any field, be it a physical activity, mental skill, musical endeavor, whatever, always break those rules and evolve their own methodology. Why should espresso be any different?


#33: Post by snoboy »

This Weiss technique probably deserves its own thread...

That said, I am here to add another vote in support of it. I just started trying it out (or at least my version) this week, and I have never had such consistent results out of Silvia.

I have had a problem recently with side channeling in the NE side of the PF, and that seems at this point to have stopped. It also seems to have cured an early blonding issue.

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#34: Post by HB (original poster) »

snoboy wrote:This Weiss technique probably deserves its own thread...
Actually it has its own thread and article with videos too.
Dan Kehn


#35: Post by snoboy »

Missed it, searched for "Weiss" and that thread didn't pop up... :oops: It should now though. ;)