Thoughts on measuring: scale vs. no scale - Page 3

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

#21: Post by JimWright »

Randy G. wrote:Is it time for a "weighing twaddle" thread? I do not weigh my dose nor have I ever done so. It is so easy to dose by volume (through various methods) that I feel weighing is unnecessary. And really, is it not volume that counts and not mass? Why not teach new baristas to dose accurately so that adding unnecessary steps and handling of the coffee is not necessary?
I bought a scale and have used it a couple of times to see what the weights of various doses looked like, but never in day to day operation. Dose by volume, taste, and adjust.

Ken Fox

#22: Post by Ken Fox »

In reality, threads like this are basically a waste of time and provide very little useful information. They are generally initiated by people new to espresso making who are looking for some guidance in developing a routine that will work for them. Those of us who have been doing this successfully for a while will all have developed routines that work for us, in fact we may have developed several routines that have worked for us during our own personal experiences with making espresso in the home.

Truth be told, there are many ways to reach a point where making espresso is more or less effortless, akin to changing a roll of toilet paper in the john. For me, this may mean using a ramekin and a gram scale, and for someone else it could mean adventures with a dissecting needle. In the end it really does not matter; what works for you may or may not work for someone else.

What it will take is time. There is nothing wrong with posing questions such as the one posed that started this thread, but in the final analysis it will simply take time for each and everyone to reach a point of being satisfied with a routine that takes very little effort and that is repeatable the great majority of the time.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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HB
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#23: Post by HB »

Ken Fox wrote:There is nothing wrong with posing questions such as the one posed that started this thread, but in the final analysis it will simply take time for each and everyone to reach a point of being satisfied with a routine that takes very little effort and that is repeatable the great majority of the time.
Learning the mechanics of making espresso is easy, especially if you have simple guidelines to follow. I've helped a few friends learn the ropes and they were pulling good shots in 20 minutes with the aid of very precise instructions. What took them more time was diagnosing extraction problems and diagnosing taste defects took even longer.

This thread "scale vs. no scale" falls into the mechanical learning phase. Newbies certainly benefit from eliminating a significant variable like dosage; for them, investing in a $15 scale is a no-brainer. For the more practiced, it's more a matter of preference than necessity.
Dan Kehn

Ken Fox

#24: Post by Ken Fox replying to HB »

Dan-my-man, you correctly identify the issue at play. I submit that most people just want to find a simple and "automatic" way to pull good shots time after time. You and I both know that being able to do that is as much a matter of experience as it is of having a rote technique, yet I'd be willing to bet that you (like me) use a rote method 95 or more percent of the time, if only because it is brainless and easy to do so.

Like anyone else here reading this, who has the scars to prove it, I have had many trying experiences over time in trying to make espresso. I remember vividly the several times when I pulled 5 (or was it 7?) consecutive sink shots and could not figure out why the technique that seemed to normally work for me failed to work in a particular instance. In the last several years the worst it has ever been for me has been maybe 2 or 3 sink shots when changing over a grinder from a coffee that needed a very fine grind to a coarse one, or vice versa. Even then it was pretty much brainless.

Once you get to the point of making brainless espresso, you can change your rote technique on the fly to adapt to a particular circumstance, without giving your "adaptation" very much thought, either. Again, this all comes from the experience of doing it many ways and many times. I'll give a couple of examples from my own technique, which by rote now involves weighing coffee into a ramekin on a gram scale and using the same dose each time. But what if the coffee is near its end in the grinder and the resulting grind will therefore be coarser for that last shot? I just put an extra gram or gram and a half in the PF and the shot comes out ok. Or what if I got a substandard shot (needing a grinder adjustment) and then forgot to adjust the grinder the next time around, more or less guaranteeing another mediocre shot? On the fly you can just increase or reduce the dose to account for that, and you can probably get a decent shot, rather than tossing that coffee and grinding again. These things you learn by doing and you can learn them well enough that they become automatic as well, basically like an appendage on your rote technique.

But you don't get to the point of making brainless espresso without having pulled a whole lot of shots under a whole lot of different conditions over a long period of time, regardless of whatever mechanical method of espresso shot making you have decided to use.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

zin1953

#25: Post by zin1953 »

But Ken, don't you have to get to the point of making "brainless espresso" . . . AT LEAST for the first cup in the morning! After that, you can begin to think! Image
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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sweaner
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#26: Post by sweaner »

Ken Fox wrote:...akin to changing a roll of toilet paper in the john. For me, this may mean using a ramekin and a gram scale.

ken

Ken, the ramekin I can see, but a gram scale to change the TP? :)
Scott
LMWDP #248

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cafeIKE
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#27: Post by cafeIKE »

HB wrote:Newbies certainly benefit from eliminating a significant variable like dosage; for them, investing in a $15 scale is a no-brainer. For the more practiced, it's more a matter of preference than necessity.
We're [mostly] boys. The boy with the most toys, wins.

Humor aside, I only got a scale after discovering the coffee internet many years after I started making espresso at home. It's nice to have... a scale is akin to an impact air wrench for a home mechanic. It's not something needed every day, but when it's needed, it makes things a whole lot easier.