The problem is on the handle side of the portafilter - Page 4

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

#31: Post by barry »

malachi wrote:The whole "learn on a hard to use platform" theory is something that I've heard applied in other areas and in general I tend to disagree with it in all areas.
i agree completely, and i usually cringe when i hear people advocating the silvia as an "introductory" machine. it ain't.


glad i learned to fly in a C-152 and not a 767.

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

#32: Post by Compass Coffee »

malachi wrote:In general, I think it is unrealistic for those who have fought through the process of becoming a barista on a "hard to use platform" and become successful despite the challenge to claim that this is the best solution for everyone. Just because you ended up being a barista - despite the challenges and despite the additional arbitrary hurdles you crossed - doesn't mean this is the best solution. There are a ton of good baristas out there who have never used such a machine.
Since I think I sorta instigated this line of discussion I never said "best solution" rather: "also might benefit from non-professional training by being forced to learn to use an unmodified Silvia, especially one running 16bar no-flow" My primary thought being greater maximum possible pressure forcing very good PF technique. Which thought may or may not be a falacy anyway.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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another_jim
Team HB

#33: Post by another_jim »

malachi wrote:The whole "learn on a hard to use platform" theory is something that I've heard applied in other areas and in general I tend to disagree with it in all areas. I've seen it proposed in education, in driving, in cooking, in photography and in music. I don't feel it works anywhere.

{snip of a great post}
I mostly agree. When I was learning computers in the 70s, I heard complaints about us not having to deal with punchcards and assembly language. All it meant is I could get productive in about 1/4 of the time. Now that time has been cut by a factor of 10 or more. I learnt to ski on 8 foot long wooden ones where it took about five years just to be able to make a single turn, since it required a sequence of coordinated moves that would have given even a ballet dancer a hard time. Most of the old timers complained when learners were put on very short skis (you only need long ones to go fast); after I taught a friend, admittedly a jock, how to enjoy himself on skis in a weekend, I stopped complaining (unless I'm waiting in a lift line).

There is one general point -- a "hard" learning process usually involves having to deal with the lowest levels basics of the process. Knowing these is useful when things go wrong.

Then there's one espresso point -- what happens when superautos get really good, so no learning is required. I'm talking about machines where you can insert a smart card that comes with the coffee blend, and the best pressure, temperature, dose, flow rate and shot time is automatically and accurately produced at the push of a button. The user needs to know absolutely nada, while the tech needs an advanced degree to fix anything that's gone wrong.

With progress, crafts and skills die out. Ultimately, that's what the old timers are complaining about -- their hard won lore becoming useless and forgotten.

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Kristi

#34: Post by Kristi »

kristi wrote:I do understand that you are able to do this by taste. I think it's really nice that you, and others, are able to do that. In a year or so, I may be able to do that a bit. But at the moment, I can't - I need the electronics to get me close enough so that I can start working by taste.
HB wrote:Sorry, I have to be direct: That's bull. Shocked

If I can, then any Joe / Jane Espresso off the street can distinguish such differences.
Now THAT is bull :!:
malachi wrote: from hb review of Mia: "It took me about a year of work and thousands of shots to get to the point where I could identify brew temperature by taste."
(I just read that this afternoon)
Kris

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AndyS

#35: Post by AndyS »

another_jim wrote: what happens when superautos get really good, so no learning is required. I'm talking about machines where you can insert a smart card that comes with the coffee blend, and the best pressure, temperature, dose, flow rate and shot time is automatically and accurately produced at the push of a button
What happens if you lose the smart card? 8)
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#36: Post by cannonfodder »

But when all the arguments are made, all the mods contemplated, all the settings tweaked, in the end, what's is in the cup is all that matters. The only way to improve is practice, practice, practice, until your good gets better and better becomes best.

I have made the mods, upgraded the equipment and learned to trust the wisdom of those much more experienced than I. That being said, I still like to tinker and occasionally challenge the 'standard' dogma. In the end I walk away a bit more knowledgeable and realizing that they knew what they were talking about to begin with.
Dave Stephens

Dogshot

#37: Post by Dogshot »

cannonfodder wrote:That being said, I still like to tinker and occasionally challenge the 'standard' dogma. In the end I walk away a bit more knowledgeable and realizing that they knew what they were talking about to begin with.
It's so true that variance is the best friend of the aspiring home-barista. That's also why I think that machines with pressurized portafilters are a bad idea - they make everything mediocre. With so little variance in the taste, a person who has only big chains as a comparison for good espresso will think that they are making the best they can at home, and just stay in the PPF world for years. When I switched to a Gaggia, I couldn't believe the range of quality I could get from the machine. It took two shots to realize that I needed a grinder.

My skill improved very rapidly at first as I acquired the basics, and now it comes in leaps. Whenever I get comfortable with my technique, I change something, like try to make a larger volume shot that tastes the way I want it (I can't make a 2oz shot taste decent), or roast 25 seconds into 2nd crack instead of 35. Occasionally I get a shot that is much better than what I have made before, and it becomes my new standard. Without all the experimentation, I would never have the opportunity to learn what better espresso tastes like, or how to make it.

I have no doubt that a better machine would make the whole process much easier and faster.

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AndyS

#38: Post by AndyS »

HB wrote: I don't recall reading reports of someone upgrading from Silvia and then claiming that their new machine was a step backward in this regard.
Don't know about a stock Silvia, but several people have reported being disappointed in the shots when going from a PIDed Silvia to an E61. About 5 mos ago I bought a Zaffiro, PIDed it, and tried making shots. I hated using it, and immediately went back to the Silvia. YMMV.

On the other hand, I don't recall anyone being disappointed in the milk steaming capabilities when they went from Silvia to HX!
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

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HB (original poster)
Admin

#39: Post by HB (original poster) »

AndyS wrote:About 5 mos ago I bought a Zaffiro, PIDed it, and tried making shots. I hated using it, and immediately went back to the Silvia.
What didn't you like about the PID'd Zaffiro?
Dan Kehn

gscace

#40: Post by gscace »

barry wrote:my mileage must vary. a lot.

i ran my 4-group with a restricting needle valve on one brew boiler and the other brew boiler wide open (no gigleur) and we really couldn't tell a difference in the shots. of course, this was a few years ago, before chopped portafilters, so maybe i need to re-examine this. i'd really like to see side-by-side comparisons on this, not just before and after comparisons.

fwiw, i still think the channeling issue mentioned is more likely due to operator issues than machine issues, especially as the problem is intermittent (25% of the time?). i wish folks would stop saying things like "slams the top of the puck" because that just doesn't happen.
Hi:

I think both methodologies have merit. If you are trying to learn and you are operating blind, without clues to why things turn out differently time after time, then you will likely be very frustrated unless you are very observant and persistent. Things like the crotchless portafilter provide very good feedback because they graphically demonstrate errors. In the case of the crotchless pf, bit of time spent with one can save enormous time in the learning process. The value of other diagnostic tools can be similar. For instance, if one's machine is brewing way too hot, then themometry can pinpoint the problem quickly. Proper diagnostic thermometry can teach proper flushing and allow the experienced barista to quickly dial in to a new machine or to quickly teach flushing fundamentals to folks who are developing their technique.

The problem that I see is that diagnostic tools distract people from the coffee. They get hung up on the tools and not the taste. Properly used, diagnostic tools are tools to better taste, not distractions.

Barry, I quoted your post because yesterday I installed gicleurs in my linea 2AV. I did this because I was interested in why my Linea performed differently from the GS3 at the same temperature, brew pressure and grind fineness. The equalization of water debit (reduction in water debit on the Linea) between the two machines has resulted in two things. First, the grind fineness requirement between the Linea and GS3 is now close enough to the same that I can make taste comparisons. Second, it seems to improve my Linea's consistency. I'm not sure why, but you might wanna reinvestigate the gicleur thing. Seems easier for me to use. I have some ideas as to why, but I'm gonna post them to AC in a couple days.

-Greg