Shaken vs stirred: I'm a believer!

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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RapidCoffee
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#1: Post by RapidCoffee »

I finally got a blind shaker and did the smoking gun test this afternoon: visually compared a mixture of coffee grinds + flour after stirring vs shaking. Both did a good job of mixing, but shaking was slightly better (at least for my brief WDT stir):

L: WDT, R: blind shaker

In initial tests, shaking yielded slightly reduced puck resistance and slightly faster flow than stirring:

L: WDT, R: blind shaker


L: WDT, R: blind shaker

WDT has the advantage of grooming the puck surface, which may account for the higher puck resistance. Several people have already noted that they do a brief leveling stir after shaking. When I stir after shaking, flow differences vanish:

L: WDT, R: blind shaker+WDT

Differences in the cup were subtle, and potentially explicable by the change in flow. Other hypotheses (fines binding to large particles, densification, static electricity effects, etc.) are certainly interesting, but remain to be proven - and the burden of proof is on those who promote those theories.

Kudos to Lance Hedrick for initiating one of the most interesting conversations about espresso in recent memory.

Credit where due: the idea of mixing coffee and flour came from an aecletic post back in 2017.
John
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kye
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#2: Post by kye »

Great post and thanks for doing the test and sharing!

I look forward to more people sharing info too. I'm experimenting with mine, but am a long way from being able to offer anything concrete to the discussion.

Tonefish
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#3: Post by Tonefish »

I loves me some data, but I can't for the life of me figure out what are all the curves and which is shaken versus stirred. Is there a legend? Thanks for doing and sharing!
LMWDP #581 .......... May your roasts, grinds, and pulls be the best!

Jonk
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#4: Post by Jonk »

Do you have a refractometer and any of the new baskets with holes all the way to the edge?

I have also noted a bit faster shots just using a blind shaker. In a old-fashioned tapered basket there's been a significant bump in extraction, but with the new 'high extraction' basket I've got (a Pesado HE) the effect is reversed. Lower extraction as well as worse flavor so far.

I have been using the shaker as recommended by Hedrick, from a height so that the grounds form a little mound in the center. Makes me wonder if what he's recorded about extraction yield is actually more about edge extraction?

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Jeff
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#5: Post by Jeff »

That's an interesting thought. There was some talk of "inward comb mounding" in the DE community a couple of years ago. I understand that Dan Calabro is the proper person to credit for sparking that discussion. The concept, as I recall, was to intentionally build up the center of the puck a bit higher before tamping.

PIXIllate
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#6: Post by PIXIllate »

I'm definitely getting a doughnut fill pattern during my low pressure (2-3 bar) preinfusion/soak stage with the Craig Lyn shaker. I'm holding the shaker about 2 inches above the funnel on the basket and aiming for a centered mound, which I then WDT the surface of until leveled before tamping.

On back to back shots where I compare to directly grinding into the portafilter and using full depth WDT the wetting of the bottom of the puck is very sudden and even and the shots are slower, which indicated to me more even puck integrity and resistance.

Still doing testing and taste comparisons. No conclusions yet other than I don't like the shaker workflow nearly as much as a direct grind.

I'm using VST 18 and 20g baskets.

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RapidCoffee (original poster)
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#7: Post by RapidCoffee (original poster) »

Tonefish wrote:I loves me some data, but I can't for the life of me figure out what are all the curves and which is shaken versus stirred. Is there a legend? Thanks for doing and sharing!
Apologies for the lack of introductory material. We're talking about best puck prep practice; specifically, how to ensure an even distribution of coffee grinds in the basket before tamping. "Shaken" refers to shaking the grinds in a container such as the Weber blind shaker. "Stirred" refers to WDT: stirring the grinds with needles using a tool such as this.

I tested these methods by dosing (brown) coffee and (white) flour into a basket, with coffee on the bottom and one side, flour above and on the other side. This allowed me to test top-to-bottom as well as side-to-side distribution. As you might expect, stirring does a good job at distributing horizontally, but not as good vertically. Shaking did better than I expected. I believe stirring is still useful for post-shake distribution/leveling and breaking up clumps (one of the original goals of WDT). Since grinders are no longer clump monsters, shaking alone should be fine for most people.

The extraction profile graphs above are from my Decent DE1 espresso machine, using Damian Brakel's DSx skin with shot history. Red line is temperature (C), green is pressure (bar), blue is flow (ml/s), brown is weight (g/s), and yellow is puck resistance (R=P/F). This lets you compare extractions for the different puck prep methods.
John

jpender
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#8: Post by jpender »

RapidCoffee wrote:I finally got a blind shaker and did the smoking gun test this afternoon: visually compared a mixture of coffee grinds + flour after stirring vs shaking. Both did a good job of mixing, but shaking was slightly better (at least for my brief WDT stir):

L: WDT, R: blind shaker

I can't help but wonder: what if you just stirred a little longer? Is it the shaking or just the mixing that matters?

I want there to be a big breakthrough that will make all my espresso into god shots. But I'm a skeptic at heart. I've been shaking lately. Not sure if I'm doing it right though.

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RapidCoffee (original poster)
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#9: Post by RapidCoffee (original poster) »

Stirring longer should mix better. But for my (brief) WDT stir vs (brief) shake-n-swirl, shaking did a better job. I'm sure there are other things to try (e.g., you could mix dark + light roast coffees rather than coffee + flour). I certainly encourage others to perform their own tests and report back.

No, I don't believe this "changes everything". There's no magic bullet: you still need good coffee, grinder, espresso machine, and "mano". But as far as grinds distribution goes, shaking appears to be a reasonable alternative to stirring.
John

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Chert
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#10: Post by Chert »

Bond, James Bond.

Weiss, WDT Weiss.

Love the title and the thread. I'll take time to watch the video.
LMWDP #198