How important is the tamper, correct pressure, and 'twist'?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
toots

#1: Post by toots »

Hello baristas

first excuse my english is not 100%
I accidentally found this forum by searching some information about espresso. I'm a technician for Faema in Belgium, and in fact most of the time i do fullautomatic machines (= similar cimbali M3 superbar and M5 dolcevita) repair and settings.
But a while ago there was this barista hints and tricks course i went to, where someone introduced me to the real art of espresso and this was something i never knew or seen before... in Belgium we have 18cl cups of coffee people call this "espresso"... the more liquid the better, so this is the way i set these machines for 3 years now. (only some italian bars here seem to do it right, but still.)
Now I bought a second hand Faema-Express 2group machine, just for fun experiments. An old mill taken out from a rex-royal fullautomatic and so i start my first steps into home barista.
So now, there's a few (maybe sound stupid) questions;

- Is it very important to use a tamper, give it the right turns and polish and downward push force for good espresso? I am planning to make one myself, as now i use a plastic one... comes free with each machine and everyone throws it away. I don't notice much difference between polishing the coffee or not, but indeed the pressure given is a big difference in erogation time.

- i read something about differences in length of grains at cone shaped mills and flat blade mills. I suppose cone mills are better, someone at work thinks its the speed of the mill that makes much difference. The slower the better. So a handmill would be best. Am i near or far? hihi

- sometimes a HX-machine will deliver different result depending on the place where the machine is installed, so this means the water is much influence to the result of crema and taste. I noticed this a few times.

- At which point do i have to measure the temperature? In the coffee group, or at the point where the coffee comes out of the portafilter?

- I never noticed the phenomenon of the coffee group first boiling water and then going to cooler temperature (whashing)before brewing. We always put water brakes of little diameter into the termocyphone circuit to lower down the temperature, so the group doesn't get very hot in the first place. (our coffee starts burning at 86°C)
Should i re-insert the original large diameter water brakes?


I read all these magnificent stories about the water dance and the HX cooling flush by Dan Kehn. It is really interesting and I want to try it as well on my faema express, but is this all based on true barista workmanship or is it a little over the top?

Hope to be able getting a better taste in coffee and get some nice results here :-)

Kind regards!
Dirk

HAL9000

#2: Post by HAL9000 »

Hi Dirk!

I just want to address your tamping question, because I may be the only person here who doesn't tamp. I have an older Faema No Stop, and both the manual and an individual I know who is knowledgeable about this machine don't place much importance on tamping, focusing instead on proper grind and dosing.

I tried that with a Nuova Simonelli Oscar I used to use, and it never worked. The coffee either choked the machine or gushed out. Tamping was the key to getting decent shots.

But with the Faema I find that when I grind and dose so that the first drops of coffee emerge around 6 seconds after I activate the pump and I get good extraction for the next 20-25 seconds (26-30 seconds total), I find there is usually little or no channeling and the result is a good tasting cup of coffee. I have gotten comparable results with tamping, but never better, and by adding that variable I actually increase the chance of throwing off my shot. So I don't bother tamping anymore, at least on this machine. Though I do use that plastic thingy to level the grounds...

I can't explain why this works for me in spite of all of the advice from many, many knowledgeable folks to the contrary, maybe something to do with how the preinfusion works on this machine?

Anyway, I know just about everyone here will disagree with this method, and I don't think it merits a debate - I agree that tamping probably works best for most people - I just wanted to mention it to you as an alternative to consider after you get hit with the avalanche of tamping advice.

Good luck!
Paul

User avatar
HB
Admin

#3: Post by HB »

toots wrote:Is it very important to use a tamper, give it the right turns and polish and downward push force for good espresso?
Some advocate the "no tamp" espresso where the dispersion screen does the compression, but most agree that a good firm, level hand tamp helps assure a more uniform bed of coffee.
I suppose cone mills are better, someone at work thinks its the speed of the mill that makes much difference. The slower the better. So a handmill would be best. Am i near or far?
Jim mentions conicals versus flat burrs in his must-read Home Barista's Guide to Espresso. The rotation speed is more an issue in a commercial environment where the burrs get very hot from constant use (a lot of the heat is transmitted from the motor too).
At which point do i have to measure the temperature? In the coffee group, or at the point where the coffee comes out of the portafilter?
Ideally in the basket. One of the common setups is the "Schomer style" thermocouple placement shown below:

Image
From the Scace Thermofilter Temperature Device thread
Should i re-insert the original large diameter water brakes?
I assume you are referring to a flow restrictor in the thermosyphon... it influences the idle temperature of the group by slowing the circulation of water. The "flash boiling" is the water exiting the HX where it's well over 100C once the machine has idled awhile (how long before the water overheats depends on a lot of factors, including HX volume, percentage immersed in the steam boiler water, HX injector length, etc.). My assumption is there's no need to fuss with the flow restrictor if the group's idle temperature is sufficient to deliver the desired brew temperature.
I read all these magnificent stories about the water dance and the HX cooling flush by Dan Kehn. It is really interesting and I want to try it as well on my faema express, but is this all based on true barista workmanship or is it a little over the top?
You force me to admit the truth: I made it all up. In fact, I don't even like drip coffee, and I've never tried espresso. Vile, nasty black-bitter stuff. What do you people find so good about it? Oh, and if you haven't done so already, check out the Resources page. It points to other "over the top" articles. :lol:
Dan Kehn