Is there any benefit to using a coffee distribution tool in conjunction with a leveling tamper?

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Carl K

Postby Carl K » Feb 08, 2019, 2:38 pm

I already have a leveling tamper that has really improved my extractions. Would using a distribution tool such as the Chisel or OCD in addition to a leveling tamper be of any benefit? Any one use both?

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EvergreenBuzzBuzz

Postby EvergreenBuzzBuzz » Feb 08, 2019, 5:05 pm

Part of that may depend on how you feel about your process. I feel that it helps me, and some people use them without a leveling tamper by extending the depth and pushing a bit harder.

Personally I RDT (I live at 7750 feet for now), WDT, distribute, and level tamp. I feel they all help but more importantly I love that part of the process. That is a time of gratefulness that I am about to enjoy a damn great cup. So I wouldn't give it up.

Michael
EvergreenBuzzBuzz
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RapidCoffee
Team HB

Postby RapidCoffee » Feb 08, 2019, 7:13 pm

These tools never did much for me. If you are looking for a reason to add one to your collection, it's probably best that you stop reading now.

First, I don't believe that the OCD/Pullman tools (and their knockoffs) do much for distribution throughout the puck. The primary action is clearly at the top of the puck, where they redistribute and level the grinds.

Second, height adjustment is apparently a closely held secret, and I never received the decoder ring. Every time you change coffee, grind, dose, and basket, the height needs to be readjusted. When the height is too high, nothing much happens. And when you adjust the height downwards, these tools begin to compress the grinds, acting as pseudo-tamping devices. Why would this improve consistency or extraction yield?

IMHO you are better off with a true distribution tool (dissecting needle, Londinium, Pavoni, etc.), and your leveling tamper. But I may be biased. 8)
John

Brother_Bluto

Postby Brother_Bluto » Feb 08, 2019, 11:36 pm

EvergreenBuzzBuzz wrote:Part of that may depend on how you feel about your process. I feel that it helps me, and some people use them without a leveling tamper by extending the depth and pushing a bit harder.

Personally I RDT (I live at 7750 feet for now), WDT, distribute, and level tamp. I feel they all help but more importantly I love that part of the process. That is a time of gratefulness that I am about to enjoy a damn great cup. So I wouldn't give it up.

Michael


This fairly well sums up my thoughts as well, although I recently stopped the WDT. I enjoy the input process, and while I can't say for sure that there is much of a benefit for both a distribute tool and a level tamp... the the output is delicious.

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kolu

Postby kolu » Feb 09, 2019, 6:57 am

I have very good experience with the BT wedge tool (I bought 25$ knock-off from Aliexpress - completely metal, I like that way more than the wood nonsense from St. Anthony's).

The depth should be set as deep as possible until it begins pushing the grounds to sides and that you still compress the bed by tamping (by approx. 3 mm). As I use only two baskets (12 g The Single from IMS for coffee shots and 15 g VST for espresso) and only one machine, I keep my headspace constant so therefore I have no problems keeping my dialed-in distribution tool depth.

Anyway, I would say it really reduced the amount of channeling in my shots, unfortunately can't give you any numbers (as that would be inherently imprecise because I didn't do any thorough double-blind test or measurements) but just my humble observation that it had a positive effect, especially on side channeling and general evenness of how the bottom of the basket looks during extraction.

myso

Postby myso » Feb 09, 2019, 7:05 am

Ocd or chisel, they are not distribution tools. They only groom top of the basket. Proper distribution is beneficial.

Carl K

Postby Carl K » Feb 09, 2019, 8:52 am

kolu wrote:I have very good experience with the BT wedge tool (I bought 25$ knock-off from Aliexpress - completely metal, I like that way more than the wood nonsense from St. Anthony's).

The depth should be set as deep as possible until it begins pushing the grounds to sides and that you still compress the bed by tamping (by approx. 3 mm). As I use only two baskets (12 g The Single from IMS for coffee shots and 15 g VST for espresso) and only one machine, I keep my headspace constant so therefore I have no problems keeping my dialed-in distribution tool depth.

Anyway, I would say it really reduced the amount of channeling in my shots, unfortunately can't give you any numbers (as that would be inherently imprecise because I didn't do any thorough double-blind test or measurements) but just my humble observation that it had a positive effect, especially on side channeling and general evenness of how the bottom of the basket looks during extraction.


kolu, Do you use a self-leveling tamper after you use your distribution tool? Since the OCD and Chisel also level the grounds I'm trying to find out whether the distribution tools and the self-leveling tamps are having positive affects on extraction because they are actually doing the same thing, producing level pucks, or is there any reason to use both tools, one after the other.

BaristaBob

Postby BaristaBob » Feb 09, 2019, 10:29 am

EvergreenBuzzBuzz wrote:Part of that may depend on how you feel about your process. I feel that it helps me, and some people use them without a leveling tamper by extending the depth and pushing a bit harder.

Personally I RDT (I live at 7750 feet for now), WDT, distribute, and level tamp. I feel they all help but more importantly I love that part of the process. That is a time of gratefulness that I am about to enjoy a damn great cup. So I wouldn't give it up.

Michael


I agree with everything Michael said above. The prep time is worth it for the enjoyment in the cup. I am one of those people that extend the distribution tool out to serve the dual purpose of not only leveling the grounds but also compressing them. About 8mm as I recall. I started tamping again because my pucks were sticking to the shower screen...just a messy pain. I also just replaced WDT with the Blind Shaker and feel that the flavor in the cup has improved.
Yesterday I tried not using my distribution tool, just a leveling tamper (DE v2), and I got the dreaded donut extraction out of my bottomless pf, along with plenty of squirts. Cup was sour too. For me the distribution tool does help uniformly and then using a 58.5mm DE v1 tamper to finish off the puck out to the edge of the VST basket gives me a super quality pour and flavor in the cup.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."

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kolu

Postby kolu » Feb 09, 2019, 11:38 am

Carl K wrote:kolu, Do you use a self-leveling tamper after you use your distribution tool?


I tried PUSH tamper and St. Anthony's New Levy tamper, both had zero or near-zero impact on my coffee extractions, so I'd guess I'm just tamping straight (I use Barista Hustle's plastic tamper). Also it's worth mentioning that the St. Anthony's New Levy is almost impossible to make really straight, if you just tighten it it tends to stay crooked. I tested like 20 pieces of them in the shop and they were all crooked and really hard (sometimes impossible) to lock straight.

Carl K

Postby Carl K » Feb 10, 2019, 9:31 am

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your responses.