Ideal Puck Saturation?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
Tony163

#1: Post by Tony163 »

I am a newbie who had believed a perfectly uniform, dry puck was a sign of a well pulled shot. My machine (an R91) doesn't yield dry pucks no matter what I do. They are typically highly saturated, occasionally even soupy. I almost never get channeling. Conceptually it would seem like a highly saturated puck would be incompatible with channeling.

I am now wondering if a dry puck is to be desired for any reason. Perhaps it is a mythology and a wet puck actually conduces to a more evenly distributed shot?

Would appreciate any thoughts on the topic. Ty

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Kaffee Bitte

#2: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

Never used an e61 machine, but from this forum I remember seeing LOTS of posts about soupy pucks. It seems that e61s tend towards wet pucka at end. Especially when down dosing. What size basket and dose are you using?

Try dosing to get just a little space between the puck and shower screen.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
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Nunas
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#3: Post by Nunas »

As far as I know, there's no relationship between puck wetness and results in the cup. I agree with Lynn, up dosing a bit on an e61 will usually result in a dryer puck. The only reason I like a drier puck is ease of cleaning. To that end, I up dose, and I use sintered metal puck filters for every shot. As with puck wetness, I believe that there's no benefit in the cup from using a puck filter, although some claim that it may reduce channeling. There are threads here on H-B on puck filters.

Tony163 (original poster)

#4: Post by Tony163 (original poster) »

Thanks for the feedback. Just seems like a wetter puck relieves some of the pressure on quality of puck prep...

Auctor
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#5: Post by Auctor »

Try placing a piece of filter paper above the puck. I've found that in addition to keeping my machine cleaner, I've seen more consistent puck integrity and a cleaner portafilter post-knocking across different bean types.

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baldheadracing
Team HB

#6: Post by baldheadracing »

Tony163 wrote:I am a newbie who had believed a perfectly uniform, dry puck was a sign of a well pulled shot. My machine (an R91) doesn't yield dry pucks no matter what I do. They are typically highly saturated, occasionally even soupy. I almost never get channeling. Conceptually it would seem like a highly saturated puck would be incompatible with channeling.

I am now wondering if a dry puck is to be desired for any reason. Perhaps it is a mythology and a wet puck actually conduces to a more evenly distributed shot?

Would appreciate any thoughts on the topic. Ty
I wouldn't worry about dry pucks unless you have a traditional (no pump) commercial spring lever machine that doesn't have a three-way solenoid.

Puck dryness in pump machines with three-way solenoids can tell you how much headspace that you have. I will leave the discussion on whether one can taste headspace to others, but "too much" headspace will give soupy pucks (or is it "too little," I don't remember).

The issue to watch for is when you have dry pucks all the time and suddenly have wet ones with no changes.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

AYarter

#7: Post by AYarter »

The best sign of a well-pulled shot is how it tastes, and you never told us what you thought of the coffee.

Too many people get hyper obsessive into pucks, But each machine and sometimes even coffee are a little different. My Spaziale seems soupier than my Expobar.

Can soupy pucks be a sign of bad prep? Sure. Are they always indicative of it? No.

I say if your coffee tastes great, stop paying so much attention to the puck,. If it doesn't, check out the sticky about how to adjust dose and grind by taste.

That's just my two cents, and we know what they say about opinions...

Tony163 (original poster)

#8: Post by Tony163 (original poster) »

Thanks all - coffee typically tastes great and when it doesn't I know it's due to something else... I was just curious bc it seems to me that a wet puck makes puck prep less critical since the water should equally saturate the entire wet puck and thereby make channeling far less likely....

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Jake_G
Team HB

#9: Post by Jake_G replying to Tony163 »

I don't think it's that simple.

In my experience, a wet puck is primarily tied to the amount of headspace in the machine. If I wanted a drier puck, I would either increase my dose to reduce headspace, or - if the coffee tasted best at the lower dose and grind setting combination - choose a basket that had less headspace with that dose.

Otherwise, I don't find that soupy pucks mean much of anything at all.

Cheers!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

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spressomon

#10: Post by spressomon »

Wet pucks make zero difference other than slightly messier to remove from the basket. Most of my espresso "pulls" involve some length of pre-infusion using my Slayer. The expansion/bloom of the bean cake/puck almost always leaves a slight impression from the shower screen; near or at effective zero headspace, and result in wet/"soupy" pucks.

If a dry puck is the goal, I can do that too by grinding more coarsely and using a smaller dose to basket height ratio, no or little pre-infusion and the puck comes out dry. But the espresso isn't as tasty.

What really matters, is the flavor in the cup. :wink:
No Espresso = Depresso