Surprised by "premium" shower screen

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
Vindibona1

#1: Post by Vindibona1 »

Obviously water distribution is an important key in consistent and good espresso, or so they say. While I was excited about my new Quick Mill QM67, I know how much difference an IMS shower screen brought to my Gaggia Classic, not that these machines are in the same league. Somehow I was led to think that the E&B screen by IMS would improve the water distribution. It claimed the secret sauce coating and even distribution holes. So with Amazon's easy return policy I have one a go.

I wanted to see the difference so first ran some water through the stock screen, then the E&B IMS... The video speaks for itself and obviously this screen is getting returned. I think I'm going to take a chance on the standard non coated IMS screen as I tend to clean and care for my machines regularly. So as they say- 1000 words is worth a picture. [Couldn't get the video to preview here so included the URL. What may I have done wrong?]

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cafeIKE
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#2: Post by cafeIKE »

Neither looks optimal, but the water diffuses very quickly into the puck, so the deltas are likely small between them, assuming similar height.

IMO, the most important screen factor is height as it impacts the headspace. A selection of screens is as important as a selection of baskets.


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BaristaBoy E61

#3: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

We have good results with the IMS E61 200 IM. That would be my recommendation.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

Vindibona1 (original poster)

#4: Post by Vindibona1 (original poster) »

cafeIKE wrote:Neither looks optimal, but the water diffuses very quickly into the puck, so the deltas are likely small between them, assuming similar height.IMO, the most important screen factor is height as it impacts the headspace. A selection of screens is as important as a selection of baskets.
image
I'm not that deep into the rabbit hole yet. I did have good luck with my IMS screen on my Gaggia Classic.
BaristaBoy E61 wrote:We have good results with the IMS E61 200 IM. That would be my recommendation.
I have that one on order. Should be here Friday. The only reason that I ordered the E&B is because it was nano coated, made by IMS and $10 cheaper than the straight up IMS brand. But as I thought about it my Gaggia's IMS screen didn't have coating and from time to time in between regular cleaning in the sink I'd throw it in a pot of water with Caffiza with the other loose parts and it came out light new and always functioned well. $20 extra for a coating? I hope I'll like the 200 IM.

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Jeff
Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

The better the group's innate water dispersion, the less likely a "high performance" screen is going to improve it.

My Quick Mill seemed to do quite well with a $4 screen.

Looking at the water dispersion without a screen in place can help you decide if you might be better with one with a solid center or one with holes all the way to the inside.

Mikeprican

#6: Post by Mikeprican »

Have you try Stainless Steel mesh filter screen discs? The specs 1.7 mm thick 150-micron filter precision.


Vindibona1 (original poster)

#7: Post by Vindibona1 (original poster) »

I ditched the E&B screen, sending it back to Amazon and thought I'd try the cheaper IMS 200 without the coating ($14USD). Obviously it's better than the $25 E&B one and I didn't think that spending $20 more dollars for a coated one was worth the money as I tend to be pretty meticulous about cleaning and maintenance.

So here is an updated comparison now that I have a standard IMS 200 screen. Any thoughts on the practical differences between the OEM and IMS 200? Obviously the droplets are larger with the IMS 200. I have no idea what's up with the E&B but it got returned.

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cafeIKE
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#8: Post by cafeIKE »

Perhaps drill a hole in the side of the PF, install a high pressure endoscope and record :wink:

IMO, other than height, screens matter little and flow counts for nada

Vindibona1 (original poster)

#9: Post by Vindibona1 (original poster) » replying to cafeIKE »

Seems lke the folks at IMS have made a lot of money selling "premium" shower screens. If it doesn't matter, why are they on the market and seemingly popular?

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Jeff
Team HB

#10: Post by Jeff »

Why IMS is selling them is clear. There is a market for them at a volume and price that is profitable for them.

There are many who seek silver bullets for their inability to reach perceived coffee nirvana and will latch onto most anything that is claimed to improve their coffee, especially if no additional skill is needed.

There are some advances that are measurably better in terms of extraction efficiency and testably significant in terms flavor in the cup. If you're used to drinking as-defined SCA or Italian espresso or the comfort espresso it has evolved to, the range of achievable flavor, an often high level of green and roast defects, along with hiding it under milk, may make those changes close to irrelevant to you.

Complicating things is a belief that if Specific Thing X has a benefit, then Anything Else X has to be good too. Take "flat-burr grinders". There are a tiny handful of grinders out there that have the potential to make espresso that some people find "better" and many people, especially those that shun lighter roasts, may detest. All of a sudden, any flat-burr grinder is better than any conical-burr grinder, to the point that people are trading down in quality in the cup. WDT tools are another place I've recently seen this, where a lot of what has been suggested in the past, and continues to be suggested by some, is measurably worse in the cup for repeatability.

Want to improve your espresso?

Invest in some barista lessons from someone that pulls espresso that they can tell you the origins in the blends and that isn't knocking on the door of second crack.

Read https://strivefortone.com/2020/09/19/lo ... -espresso/ to understand why 9-bar, 25-second shots may not be the best thing going. That's a bit more digestible than the full-on paper. Then take time to do some careful explorations of your own. I can tell you with confidence that a Niche Zero, Bentwood, and DF64/MP all behave differently at higher-than-classic flow rates with lighter-roast coffees. I can tell you with much less confidence that I seem to find improvements even with medium-roast, espresso-intended blends.

Edit: I took for granted the best thing to invest in for many people, better beans and roasts, along with quality water.