Built around the option of taking my time?!?
malachi wrote:I actually think that many of the techniques used at home tend to be built around the option of taking your time.
If anything my techniques are built around maximizing the quality of the first shots. There's the cost of the coffee, which professionals largely ignore, and my time limitations during the week. I only have time for three tries and it's out the door, good or bad. PeterG mentioned that he's never paid for coffee, ever. Maybe he was already working on psyching us out for the Pro-Am competition, but he said that Mike and I dial in grinders much faster than him. It's not about skill per se, it's practical necessity. Mike will roast six ounces of coffee for a sampling -- Peter claims he would use more than that just to dial in the grinder. I laughed because we've worked out our own shorthand for dialing in by having a reference (e.g., "For a ristretto, turn to 1-1/2 clicks coarser than Toscano at three days post-roast").
Back to the original question, one common enthusiast practice that I followed for a long time was measuring the weight of the beans / grinds. Part of the motivation was saving coffee by grinding precisely what was needed, the other was added consistency. It's been awhile since I bothered and tonight I gave myself a quick test. Target weight was 18.5 grams. Results of five baskets measured by volume, two taps at 3/4 full, rounded leveling (Stockfleths move): 17.8, 18.6, 18.9, 19.1, 18.7. Not too bad... but I would be happier to see less variance.
While not a barista technique, here's a couple tools that probably don't see much use among professionals. I thought they were pretty sweet for awhile, but I rarely use the espro and the Macap auto-tamper hasn't seen any action since I finished the grinder writeup.