How important is tamping? - Page 9

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

Relative to other contributors to exceptional espresso, how important is tamping?

Not at all important
8
6%
Somewhat important
49
34%
Important
52
36%
Very important
36
25%
 
Total votes: 145

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Psyd
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#81: Post by Psyd »

2. "Simply." Means, "surprisingly troublesome instructions are about to follow...."
I dunno, Marshall, I've shown the technique to folk that have never pulled shots before, and they've picked it up by the second try, at most. What part of the simple technique are you having surprising trouble with? Perhaps I could break it down into yet smaller, simpler steps?
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timo888

#82: Post by timo888 »

psyd wrote:I've shown the technique to folk that have never pulled shots before, and they've picked it up by the second try, at most
Not to answer for Marshall, but to define "simple" in an absolute rather than relative way.

"Simple" means "nothing unnecessary". "Simple" should not be defined as "so easy that a flute-playing candidate for high office :wink: could learn to follow the procedure if adequately prepped."

Regards
T

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Psyd
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#83: Post by Psyd »

"Simple" means "nothing unnecessary".
I dunno about that. It's fairly simple to fit the yoghurt cup into the basket, and it's fairly simple to fit the basket into the PF afterwards, but none of them are necessary. It just catches all the stray grounds that you'd have to wipe or sweep up afterwards.

And to be a bit pedantic, I'd imagine that there is a rather complex set of procedures involved in, say, flying a jet or removing a gallbladder, and that most of them would be considered necessary.
I may have totally missed your point, however.
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timo888

#84: Post by timo888 »

It's a commonplace in engineering and design (and classical art):

If a procedure contains unnecessary steps, it can be simplified, i.e. it is not yet "simple".

The unnecessary steps might be easy, but they would not be "simple". People often mistakenly conflate the two concepts or treat 'simple' and 'easy' as synonyms. Simplicity can be difficult. :wink:

Regards
T

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Psyd
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#85: Post by Psyd »

I understand that, but who defines 'unnecessary'? I find it necessary to find some way to corral grounds so that I don't find it necessary to sweep after every cappu. The simplest method would be the one with the fewest unnecessary steps, in my mind, and fetching the whisk broom and the dust pan become far more complicated than inserting a lil yoghurt cup.
I'm not saying that either method is correct, but I as specifically addressing, "My PL53 grinder is not very good about grinding right into the basket, it throws all the grind to one side, messy, and has you twisting about to try & get an even fill."
If you've got better (simpler) advice, we'd all be happy to hear it.
I keep saying that we do these things, not out of ritual or faith, but because they solve inadequacies of kit, or the translation between a professional/commercial environment, and a hobbyist/consumer one.
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timo888

#86: Post by timo888 »

psyd wrote:... who defines 'unnecessary'? I find it necessary to find some way to corral grounds so that I don't find it necessary to sweep after every cappu. The simplest method would be the one with the fewest unnecessary steps, in my mind, and fetching the whisk broom and the dust pan become far more complicated than inserting a lil yoghurt cup.
The task defines what is necessary. If you add the attribute "must be tidy" to the task, that's fine, though that's more a grinder convenience issue than an espresso issue per se. For all we know, someone may be doing three pirouettes counterclockwise to eliminate static electricity from the preparation area. If people draw pleasure from performing these little rituals, or derive some practical benefit from them (as with your tidy countertop) there's no reason for them to stop doing what they're doing. Though if they're going to advise others to adopt them, and they don't know why they themselves are doing them, then they, as mentor, and the person they're advising, as protege, are both taking things on faith.

The point raised earlier in the thread was that much tamping rigmarole and precision has come to be considered an 'article of faith' while having little to do with the quality of the espresso in the cup. As in any ritualistic activity, the underlying reason for certain precise actions tends to become obscure over time, until devotees do them because "that's the way it's done". If one is interested in making tasty espresso, it's important to understand the reason for specific actions and not simply to adopt the prevailing ritual, because your results may vary depending on your kit ... and the roast.

My advice: a scale to measure the dose is far more important than a scale to measure the force of the tamp. A 25% change in dose will have a much greater effect in the cup than a 50% change in the force of the tamp.

Regards
T

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Psyd
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#87: Post by Psyd »

The point raised earlier in the thread was that much tamping rigmarole and precision has come to be considered an 'article of faith' while having little to do with the quality of the espresso in the cup.
If you're going to start attributing behaviours to their resemblance to religious fervor, I've found out where to start; Right here.
Some guy said that his grinder was spraying strays. I suggested a simple, easy fix.
We both get cast as ignorant zealots by a group of seemingly aesthete coffee monks who offer us no other solutions, only disdain for our rigamarole.
The point that I've been making all along has been that some of it is not rigamarole for the sake of rigamarole but (*sheesh* have I really got to say it yet again!?!) things that actually do make a difference, if not in the cup then in the betterment of our daily routine. I'm all for the reduction of rigamarole, but not for any spiritual or aesthetic reasons. Function over form, y'all should be careful not to toss the baby out with the bathwater.
Ya know, you don't have to believe me, but I agree with one of the greatest minds of the last century:
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
Albert Einstein
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Psyd
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#88: Post by Psyd »

O' course, in the interest of fairness, Al also said,
"Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." ; >
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timo888

#89: Post by timo888 »

Psyd wrote: ... The point that I've been making all along has been that some of it is not rigamarole for the sake of rigamarole but (*sheesh* have I really got to say it yet again!?!) things that actually do make a difference, if not in the cup then in the betterment of our daily routine.
You need to read a little more closely, and not skim. I wrote:
If people ... derive some practical benefit from [these little rituals] (as with your tidy countertop) there's no reason for them to stop doing what they're doing.
Regards
T

Canuck

#90: Post by Canuck »

EDIT* After going home tonight with a plan to try the light tamp, I think I solved my issue. Because I was going to tamp lighter, I thought I should grind one notch finer, I did this, but then decided to tamp as I normally would...the espresso was great! My issue was grind (duh). I followed this shot with a very light tamp, didn't change grind, shot was bad (maybe a finer grind would've worked?). Anyway, with my machine I believe my best chance at a good shot is to select a grind so when the shot extracts it dribles for a while, then the mouse tails kick in, it never gushes, and I cut it at first sign of blonding (1.5-2 oz).

I would appreciate some comments on my situation. In the end I may try tamping differently than I normally do, but thought that I would describe my routine and see if changing tamping is the first place to start. Bit of a long post, but wouldn't you rather help me than continue the back-and-forth with the other home barista :P

Equipment: Brasilia club (I've heard it's similar to a silvia), double basket, rocky dl, reg barber tamper, black cat beans 9 days after roast (I often have other home-roasted blends on the go, including SM Monkey)

Routine:

- 30-60 mins pre-heat
- run a couple of ounces through the group/pf/basket into my espresso cup
- remove basket from PF, dry, put yogurt cup in basket, grind
- dosed by volume, most often the loose coffee sits just above the rim
- use a pin to stir the grinds (if too much coffee, I level with a straight edge)
- light tamp, light nutating tamp, hard tamp
- lock and load
- stop the shot when blonding appears

Result - I really enjoy 1/2 the shots, other 1/2 are drinkable.

I would like to get more consistent shots with the equipment I have. I think I'm executing the routine consistently each time, but for whatever reason the results change. How should I approach this? Tamping, seems to me like an obvious "something I can change and see if it works", but given my equipment, a change in routine may result in a better or worse shot for another reason (hardest thing, I believe, for us with modest equipment). Also, I don't like to play around with changes because I don't have time. One shot a night...try and remember the grind setting for the next day based on today's grind and the results.

Also, a specific question - sometimes when doing the light/5# tamp I 'feel' that the coffee isn't distributed evenly, should I re-distribute the grinds at this point and then try the light tamp again? The "try to fix it with the tamper", which I've done, is probably a bad idea :oops:

Thanks.