Jack Leveler + E37S = Channeling like crazy... Can't Win

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by JP2019 »

Hey guys,

New to the forum. I am running into an issue with my espresso pulls when trying to dial in. I recently upgraded from the Ceado E6P to an E37S and been having all kinds of issues dialing in. Went through 2lbs of coffee in a day lol. I feel defeated, but I think I know what the issues are related to, I just cant figure how to fix it.

I have been using the jack leveler. With the E6P I didnt have any issues with pulling shots like I am now. Was getting minimal channeling. With the E37s I originally was getting spraying when pulling my shots but seems now I have been able to limit it. However, I still get this issue where the espresso is dripping from the middle vs the entire puck. See video... yes this video will show the spraying, but focusing on the extraction area, this I cant figure out what is going on.

I am doing 19G in a 20G basket. When I grind to fine, I can get the timing down in terms yielding about 36-40g liquid. But in doing this, I noticed the puck sticks to the portafilter basket a lot and breaks when knocking it out. If I go to coarse, the yield time is to quick. When extracting, there is a strip of espresso coming out down the middle of the portafilter, vs an even all around extraction. In looking at the puck, I noticed the sides are more squishy, but the middle is more firm and dry in terms of pressing down. Also in viewing it, it looks like the puck caves in.

I would take a picture of this, but I ran out of Espresso... I am wondering if I need to increase the grind amount and go coarser, or extend the jack leveler out to tamp more? I tried manual tamping after and that resulted in the same. Any help, question or tips would be greatly appreciated.

I posted a video here

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#2: Post by dsblv »

The issues aren't with the E37S but with the way you're preparing the puck. Channeling typically means the coffee is unevenly distributed in the portafilter. I used to use a Pullman leveling tool and found that it didn't help with distribution at all. I used to get a lot of channeling and made the following changes to improve my shots:
  • I reduced the amount of coffee and now grind 17.8g into a 18g VST basket. I vary this slightly depending upon the coffee I'm using.
  • I then use a small metal wisk to evenly distribute the coffee in the basket.
  • Next, I use my finger to level the puck and then tap the bottom of the portafilter to settle the grounds. Settling the grounds is very important to eliminate air pockets.
  • Lastly, I use a Reg Barber tamper designed for VST baskets (wide, flat base) to tamp the coffee.
After using this process, I have eliminated channeling and my shots typically run 30 seconds for a 1:2 brew ratio. I've also eliminated the leveling tool, so I've simplified things. I'm now getting very consistent results from my E37S.

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#3: Post by Jeff »

"Less is more"

There aren't any "magic" tools that I know of to get the level of uniformity that home baristas strive for. Each step you add can add to variability, or worsen the result.

Very thin needles (0.3-0.4 mm) seem to be in favor for homogenizing the grind and raking them level. In my experience, even paperclip wire (0.7 mm) could make things worse as far as uniform extraction went.

JP2019 (original poster)

#4: Post by JP2019 (original poster) »

Thanks so much for the responses. I've seen many people talk and tout not having to do extra with the jack leveler and how consistent it was. Being unexperienced and how it was working on the first grinder made me think it was the grinder or leveler.

Is there any information I can gather from the puck? I am going to go buy some coffee here shortly to upload some photos. Should the puck slide out and not clump when knocking out? If the espresso sticks to the portafilter and breaks in pieces when knocking out, what would this usually indicate?

Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

"Puckology", if it ever shows anything, seldom reveals more than what's in the cup and a cell-phone video of the bottom of the basket can. The puck gets pretty destroyed when the pressure of 8 bar or so gets dumped through the exhaust valve. Soupy pucks are messy, but don't mean the shot was "bad".

Crema, while pretty to look at, also doesn't tell much about the quality of the cup. "Tiger flecks" are apparently just spent coffee grinds sitting in the foam. Crema is like beer foam. Some consider it an unpleasant byproduct.

Enjoy the journey!

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Randy G.

#6: Post by Randy G. »

A lot of it depends on the grinder's output on a lot of levels like static, distribution in the basket, clumping, etc. But the basic rule is do as little as possible. Dispense the correct mass of coffee into the portafilter, give it enough of a shake to generally level it, tap the spouts downwards to compress the loose coffee, tamp and be done with it. Do that for a while and see if you can get some consistency.The only thing I did in the last couple of years was was to use "The Force" leveling tamper.

Now... if you are doing everything now exactly as you were doing before, then the problem may be the coffee.
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JP2019 (original poster)

#7: Post by JP2019 (original poster) »


Yes, trying to limit having to rake or using a dosing cup etc. I feel these are more expert techniques that work to enhance the flavor. I am just trying to get an even extraction before adding more steps. I'll give this another shot. I switched coffee as well. Still getting the same "bar" like extraction down the middle. Thinking to switch to a more forgiving grinder. Would it be worth exploring the Atom 75?

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#8: Post by dsblv »

Given your grinder, extraction issues are a person issue and not a machine issue. Think of this as an opportunity to improve your barista skills.

JP2019 (original poster)

#9: Post by JP2019 (original poster) »

Haha well said. I am def no barista. I would say my skill level is a 1 out of 10 and that is just because I took Clive coffee's class to learn the recipe and techniques to look for. I guess you are right though, this is a skill I need to learn. I hate that I've wasted 4 lbs of coffee now and still can't get it right.

Team HB

#10: Post by Jeff »

We all went through it, and it always seems there's one thing to do better, then another, ...

What machines are you using? Your profile shows a Gaggia Accademia with seems an interesting choice to pair with a grinder of that quality level.

Edit: Video looks like an ECM/Profitec E61.