Unexpected results when forgetting to tamp - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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mrgnomer

#11: Post by mrgnomer »

Hey, that's some good responses. More stuff to consider.

Surface tension of un tamped vs. tamped grinds relative to a preinfusing wetting. Fines migrating down to clog the basket in an untamped dose. Or just accident.

The factor of fines in the grind was discussed in quite a few topics, I think, with relation to grind quality. I'd forgotten about that. Quality/type of grind/grinder would make a difference if fines are a significant variable relative to an un-tamped or a very lightly tamped puck.
Kirk
LMWDP #116

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#12: Post by cannonfodder »

A similar discussion from a couple of years ago Purpose of the Tamp. A search on tamping will bring back pages of information. As I understand, our obsession over tamping is unique to America. Most of Europe does not tamp, or they use the grinder attached tamping thingamajig. I have had good shots using both techniques, you just have to adjust your grind the method you use. Your dose is also very important, a half gram off either way will make a noticeable difference in the shot timing. I would suspect that some machines work better than others using the no-tamp method. The slower infusing E61 type groups may work better than the fast infusing solenoid controlled groups. On my Elektra, headspace is very critical and a no tamp shot is usually a meltdown with coffee spraying everywhere.

I once forgot to put the cup under the portafilter while stumbling around in a sleep deprived state.
Dave Stephens

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Bertie Doe

#13: Post by Bertie Doe »

cannonfodder wrote:A similar discussion from a couple of years ago Purpose of the Tamp. A search on tamping will bring back pages of information. As I understand, our obsession over tamping is unique to America. Most of Europe does not tamp, or they use the grinder attached tamping thingamajig. I have had good shots using both techniques, you just have to adjust your grind the method you use.
Carlo Odello, an influential figure in Italian barista standards and co-author of the book l'Espresso Italiano Tasting. When talking about the L'Espresso Italiano Certifico, mention was made of the absence of tamping in these guidelines, his responce was :-

Regarding tamping, I can quote the book "Espresso Italiano Specialist", which is an official book from the International Institute of Coffee Taster and of the Italian Espresso National Institute. It is suggested that its force should be not less than 5 kgs. Regarding tamping in Italy, I agree you usually see a very quick, and sometimes light, tamping. Beside the technical parameters, I think a good barista has mainly to evaluate its espresso from a sensory point of view. You can use more or less force in tamping: the most important think is that you get a valid espresso. I refer in particular to the profile indicated by the Italian Espresso National Institute (which you can find here)

KillerQ

#14: Post by KillerQ »

Randy G. wrote:A few years ago, during an early, sleep-fogged prep, I was refilling Silvia's reservoir and nearly poured the water into Rocky's bean hopper!
Haha -- absolutely classic!

CafSuperCharged

#15: Post by CafSuperCharged »

kahvedelisi wrote:probably because the grounds were loose, they absorbed water easily and all swelled instantly, that may be the reason why your machine choked (ie. pourover coffee)
Personally, I find this a very likely hypothesis, but expect grind evenness will play a big role. A grinder that produces relatively much dust as side-effect may cause a different effect.
cannonfodder wrote:As I understand, our obsession over tamping is unique to America.
You turned it into an add-on business.
cannonfodder wrote:Most of Europe does not tamp, or they use the grinder attached tamping thingamajig.
True. Especially outside Italy (which is most of Europe) this is nuanced. Either they use espresso machines to emulate the national/regional coffee style (e.g. drip filter coffee in the Netherlands), or their own version of what they think is espresso. If a region's customers expect to sit down with a cup of coffee, bartenders may feel the price of a cup of coffee may be too high for a single shot espresso, or they may feel espresso is too strong for national tastes, so in both cases you are likely to end up with either a bad lungo or a small cup of drip filter like coffee at the same price as a larger cup of coffee in that style.
Generally there is a lack of training and tradition and it may well be the grinder is adjusted by the coffee vendor or espresso machine mechanic on an accidental visit. Usually there is no tamping involved here.
But then you may stumble upon an espresso bar that has a high espresso standard and diligently tamps time and again.
On several trips around Italy my experience is they generally (80%) do not tamp at all, not even on the compression disc attached to the grinder. This is based on experiences throughout Italy (North, Tuscany, Roma, Napoli and Sicily) and alike in villages or cities, in restaurants or highway gas station espresso bars, poorer or posher areas (however the coffee taste when changes when going South).
The internet and WBC may cause coffee-cultural changes that e.g. Italy might import from e.g. the U.S. I was a little surprised to see an Italian barista (said to be in the Italian top 5) in a restaurant in Amsterdam distribute and tamp seriously. But, my prejudice/expectation may have to significantly change in a year's time.
I would expect most of the home baristas in Europe to tamp however. At least I do. With flat Reg Barber, concave Espresso Vivace (Schomer) or a spring loaded flat Italian one.

Regards
Peter
Netherlands
Europe

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#16: Post by RapidCoffee »

darrensandford wrote:This morning, in my sleep-addled haze, I dosed my double basket, smoothed off the coffee as usual (N-S-E-W), then for some reason I locked it straight into the macine without tamping.

What was unexpected was the result, which was it choked the machine, the spout was dripping very slowly.

I dumped the lot, dosed the same and tamped hard. This gave me my usual 30-second pour.

...

Thoughts?
Unexpected indeed. Being something of a skeptic, I decided to try this myself. I dosed two ridgeless double baskets at 17g, leveled both, tamped one and left the other untamped.
I then pulled a 30 second shot with each basket on my Vetrano. The untamped basket poured significantly faster, and yielded 46g of espresso for a brew ratio of 37%. The flavor was characteristic of a lungo shot: not bad, but slightly sour. The tamped basket poured as usual on my setup, resulting in 35g of espresso for a brew ratio of 48%. The flavor was typical of my normale doubles: rich, creamy, and much more to my liking.


I have no idea what happened in your situation, but these results make much more sense. An untamped puck should allow the water to percolate through the coffee bed faster, not slower. You can certainly get a decent pour with a light tamp (or no tamp), but in general you'll have to grind a bit finer to compensate.
John

CafSuperCharged

#17: Post by CafSuperCharged »

RapidCoffee wrote:[...] I dosed two ridgeless double baskets at 17g, leveled both, tamped one and left the other untamped.[...]
pulled a 30 second shot with each basket [...]
untamped basket [...] 46g of espresso for a brew ratio of 37% [...]
flavor [...] not bad, but slightly sour [...]

tamped basket [...] 35g of espresso for a brew ratio of 48% [...]
flavor [...] rich, creamy, and much more to my liking.
[...]
I have no idea what happened in your situation, but these results make much more sense.[...]
Very interesting, John.

Now, would you be able to do an additional experiment and find the point where untamped pours the same grams of espresso, and brew ratio gets near your normale value?
Then, what grinder do you use and could you indicate the difference in grinder setting between these two versions?
Finally, how would you qualify the difference in taste?

Regards
Peter
Netherlands
Europe

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#18: Post by RapidCoffee »

CafSuperCharged wrote:Now, would you be able to do an additional experiment and find the point where untamped pours the same grams of espresso, and brew ratio gets near your normale value?
Maybe this summer, when things quiet down at work. But please feel free to carry on without me. :)

I make no claims that my little test is definitive. (For example, the untamped shot might have channeled, leading to the higher flow. There was no visual evidence of this in the naked pour, but it's a possibility.) Still, some claims require a higher level of substantiation than others. If you measured the specific gravity of water as 1.0, I'd accept that without hesitation. If you measured it as 2.0, red flags would go up all over the place, and I'd look for alternative explanations (malfunctioning equipment, operator error, etc.). In this case, the claim that untamped pucks offer more resistance to flow than tamped pucks seems rather unlikely to me. So with just one report and no independent verification, I'm not particularly inclined to spend much more time and energy on further testing.
CafSuperCharged wrote:Then, what grinder do you use and could you indicate the difference in grinder setting between these two versions?
Mazzer Super Jolly with brand new Duranium burr set. Beans were PT's Bella Vita espresso blend. No change in grinder setting; I prepped both pucks and then pulled the shots, stopping to weigh and taste each one. The only difference between the pours was tamping.
CafSuperCharged wrote:Finally, how would you qualify the difference in taste?
I don't have much to add to my observations above. Keep in mind that I'm not an expert taster, I did this test hours ago, and I didn't take notes. The untamped pour seemed slightly more sour and noticeably less rich than the tamped pour. The tamped pour had a creamier texture and better mouthfeel. I attribute this to the pour volume, not the tamp per se. The 37% brew ratio puts the untamped pour near the borderline between a lungo and a regular espresso, and that's where I'd put the taste profile.
John

darrensandford (original poster)

#19: Post by darrensandford (original poster) »

I only tried it once (and not intentionally!), because my priority was getting a good cup at that time in the morning! I was just surprised at the result. I can't remember now how many days old the coffee was, but I have a feeling that it was a little young (1-2 days).

I imagine that if I tried more times, I would see a -lot- of variation in pour times, as before tamping I imagine the coffee has random voids and clumps, making it very hard to predict exactly what is going to happen. The whole point of the tamp is to remove voids and give an even puck, removing these uncertainties :)

Anyway, it's just another odd thing to make me go "Oh!" and not worry too much about.

CafSuperCharged

#20: Post by CafSuperCharged »

RapidCoffee wrote:Maybe this summer, when things quiet down at work. But please feel free to carry on without me. :)
Thanks John.
Understand/appreciate the message. Reason I asked is your photos suggested you might have more serious kit and hence capable of an experiment with less variability in unwanted places.
RapidCoffee wrote:I make no claims that my little test is definitive. (For example, the untamped shot might have channeled, leading to the higher flow. There was no visual evidence of this in the naked pour, but it's a possibility.) Still, some claims require a higher level of substantiation than others. If you measured the specific gravity of water as 1.0, I'd accept that without hesitation. If you measured it as 2.0, red flags would go up all over the place, and I'd look for alternative explanations (malfunctioning equipment, operator error, etc.). In this case, the claim that untamped pucks offer more resistance to flow than tamped pucks seems rather unlikely to me. So with just one report and no independent verification, I'm not particularly inclined to spend much more time and energy on further testing.
Well, you have been in this forum long enough and contributed so much I would respect your opinion anyhow. Other than that, university professor, in a conversation on "validity" the other day I was searching for the proper English translation of a Dutch word I would paraphrase in English as "repeat precision", but I digress.
RapidCoffee wrote:I don't have much to add to my observations above. Keep in mind that I'm not an expert taster, I did this test hours ago, and I didn't take notes. The untamped pour seemed slightly more sour and noticeably less rich than the tamped pour. The tamped pour had a creamier texture and better mouthfeel. I attribute this to the pour volume, not the tamp per se. The 37% brew ratio puts the untamped pour near the borderline between a lungo and a regular espresso, and that's where I'd put the taste profile.
Objection! Contradictio in terminis. You start saying "Keep in mind that I'm not an expert taster", and then explain in fact you are. :)

The relevance of the experiment I proposed was the entire Italian market where caffè is a cheap commodity, yet around almost every corner and can be bought for a small amount. The French have their baguette (bread), the Italians caffè at low prices and national protests are imminent when prices would rise too fast. No tamping, in most outlets. And good to very good quality in most cases, especially when you are the nth in line (n > 1, 2 or 3 depending on the machine and its operator). This, I suppose, explains why it is hard to find espresso machines in Italian shops.
So there is much to be explored in the difference between that approach and the reference approach that sort of hovers over this forum.

Regards
Peter
Netherlands
Europe