Is leveling off the coffee necessary? - Page 2

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

#11: Post by shadowfax »

Marshall wrote:There was a K30 at the "fourth machine," where shots were pulled for the audience. One of the shop owners manning it complained about clumping (they prefer a super-fine grind for their coffees). I told him about the WDT and offered to run out and buy some yogurt. He politely declined.
That was a good move, I'd say. The K30s I've seen clump, but it doesn't seem to show up in the cup as a defect. It makes the [home] barista who's used to clumping being associated with channeling and poor shots a little nervous, but I suppose that's part of the road to recovery. Or something. Which leads to an important thing to note about the WDT: the fact that it addresses clumping is nothing more than a side effect of the goal of addressing channeling in espresso shots. It's only intended to address clumping inasmuch as clumping causes channeling. But that's really not the end of the story, is it?
Nicholas Lundgaard

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another_jim
Team HB

#12: Post by another_jim »

If the grind isn't clumpy, one can level by rocking the tamper slightly before pressing down.
Jim Schulman

mivanitsky
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#13: Post by mivanitsky »

The Kony and Robur electronic doserless grinders distribute slightly forward, but otherwise very evenly. Tipping the PF up a bit causes an even, centrally distributed mound. It is possible on the slower Kony (which I own) to distribute in a level fashion, but I have found that it does not matter whether I do this, or dose in a mound and tap the PF down on tampstand to partially level. If I tamp level, and do not crack the puck on the grouphead screw, I get no channeling. It also works fine to mash the mound with a slightly nutating tamp as the first light tamp.

The process was much more fussy with my Mini-E. I had to finger level, and sometimes WDT. I had to completely revise my technique when I switched to the current setup, which is much more sensitive to overdosing, but much less sensitive to distribution and tamping technique. I think the big and/or conical grinders do make a difference... even the little Kony.

-Mike

toma

#14: Post by toma »

AFAIK it started last year at competitions when US baristas like Baca started to use the Super Caimano and skipped levelling. They also mentioned during their performances that with this grinder no distribution by hand was necessary. Morissey then incorporated this into his WBC winning performance. Given the success its not surprising that more and more competitors skip levelling. This year it seems that the doserless Roburs are good for the technique as well. I find that with some coffees I can pull it off as well with my Max.

EricL

#15: Post by EricL »

Would this be a competition phenomenon? These guys have to crank out drinks with a time limit, so in the analysis did they find they could get acceptable results and shave x seconds off each shot? The proof is in the cup of course, but I wonder if this is simply an evolution of competition techinique.

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Marshall (original poster)

#16: Post by Marshall (original poster) replying to EricL »

At this level of competition "acceptable" won't cut it. Scoring is weighted toward sensory achievement, and most of the finalists, including the winner, were non-levelers.

But it may well be that this is a technique limited to grinders with 83mm burr sets, not a common appliance, even in the more fanatic home espresso bars.
Marshall
Los Angeles

toma

#17: Post by toma »

EricL wrote:Would this be a competition phenomenon? These guys have to crank out drinks with a time limit, so in the analysis did they find they could get acceptable results and shave x seconds off each shot?
I don't think so. Time is also important in busy bars. I think there at at least a couple of cafes that have switched to this method, Gimme for example.

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RegulatorJohnson

#18: Post by RegulatorJohnson »

you get scored on waste... so a timed grinder.. equals zero waste equals 6's in that column.

you are judged on consistency of the shot time. so a timed grinder reduces that variable so you probably will get a higher score there.

the shots are probably more consistent by flavor as well...higher scores.

you build the shots faster..

i would say yes it is a competition strategy.

i think leveling gives insight into the dose as much as it is distribution. but with a timed grinder your dose is already determined. it is a bit more difficult to be consistent without a timer on the grinder. i have 2 grinders on the bar. a kony with out a timer and a major with a timer. i can grind and tamp on the major without leveling and it is consistent. on the kony its more of a crap shoot, so i tend to use the traditional level on that grinder, but its more of a dose check than distribution. i tend to weigh a few dosed portafilters throughout the day to check myself as far as dose..from each grinder.

jon
2012 BGA SW region rep. Roaster@cognoscenti LA

EricL

#19: Post by EricL »

Sounds interesting. I'll have to look for some video. Although these guys are in the big league's, and I know I can't even throw a curve ball. Sounds like the dosing is pretty much right on, just mounded, so they're able to distribute and tamp in virtually the same motion? I'll have to keep my eyes open for the next competition in our area. Sounds fascinating.

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Marshall (original poster)

#20: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

RegulatorJohnson wrote:you get scored on waste... so a timed grinder.. equals zero waste equals 6's in that column.

you are judged on consistency of the shot time. so a timed grinder reduces that variable so you probably will get a higher score there.

the shots are probably more consistent by flavor as well...higher scores.

you build the shots faster..

i would say yes it is a competition strategy.
Since technical points are now a max of 77 vs. 239 for sensory, I would say this is a doubtful conclusion, except insofar as producing great tasting espresso is a "strategy." Of course, eliminating useless steps does help on the timing. Scoring sheets here: http://www.worldbaristachampionship.com/downloads.htm
Marshall
Los Angeles