Which puck prep tools / techniques do you think make a real difference?

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

#1: Post by chockfullofbutts »

Hi all,

I've cycled through a number of tools in my puck prep and was wondering what people think are essential for them. I'm always a bit of a skeptic and curious what people have integrated into their daily prep.

WDT tool - This makes an undeniable difference to me. Shot length and channeling are visibly different on my scale and bottomless portafilter. It's a $10 fix that I recommend to all my espresso friends.

Wedge tool - I had a cheap one off Amazon and it seemed to do nothing. Looks cool when they do it in a cafe though.

Self levelling tamper - Not sure of the difference in the cup, but a level bed is mentioned by every espresso guru. I had a lot of trouble getting it level with a ridgeless basket so I've enjoyed using the self levelling tamper knowing it's pefectly level each time.

Screens / filter / etc - haven't tried these myself. Starting to feel like my prep is taking longer than drinking the actual coffee. Curious if people .

Anything else I'm missing?

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#2: Post by cafeIKE »

The grinder
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#3: Post by JB90068 replying to cafeIKE »


The best prep tool and the one I use for every shot is the Duomo The Eight. I have other WDT tools and include one in my travel kit, but the ease, no mess and consistency every time, makes the Duomo worth every penny it cost. If they made a smaller version for my Picopresso, I would get one.
Old baristas never die. They just become over extracted.

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#4: Post by yakster »

I never felt like I needed any special prep when I was using my Vario grinder with ceramic burrs with lever machines. I tried WDT, but it didn't stick.

When I upgraded to the Weber Key grinder, I installed the WDT wire to use with the magic tumbler and that along with a spray of water on the beans before grinding and the included tamper with my Robot seem to be all I need. I did pick up the Orphan Espresso leveling tool for the robot and some extra pins to make a WDT tool, but I'm not convinced that they are making a difference.

I forgot to mention the importance of a 0.1 gram scale, I've been using scales so long in coffee prep that it slipped my mind.

LMWDP # 272

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#5: Post by Nunas »

I've tried virtually every puck prep discussed on these pages. The only things I use now, every time, are the tamper and a couple of sintered metal puck screens. The screens have nothing to do with results in the cup; I use them because they keep my group head and drip tray very clean, and they provide a dry puck that usually pops right out of the basket, leaving very little cleaning before the pulling next shot. The tamper that came with the Synchronika I mostly use it as a levelling device and to set the right amount of headspace. I've a drawer full of prep gadgets I no longer use.


#6: Post by SJM »

Besides a good flat tamper?
Nothing at all.


#7: Post by CSME9 »

A well fitting flat tamper, good beans, and a dialed in grind.....

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#8: Post by mckolit »

I use a proper fitting funnel, wdt tool, distribution tool, and a tamper.


#9: Post by Vindibona1 »

I think we all can agree that consistency is key, especially when learning. I'd like to think that what we strive for is consistent, even distribution, top to bottom, with consistent grind particals without clumps. Of course a good grinder that produces even grinds, minimal fines, few or no clumps. I think what makes the most difference is a developed palette and knowing what you want and finding beans that can initially get you in the ballpark, provide experience so we have a benchmark from which to judge what falls into the cup.

As a relatively new "serious" home espresso brewer perhaps my puck prep might be a bit of overkill. But I'd like to think it's relatively consistent based on, at least, the even flow/single stream that comes out of my naked PF.

The one tool I've begun to use religiously is my home-made WDT made of acupunture needles. It seems to work very well. I have been using Lance Hedrick's method of stirring from bottom to top to keep things even.

Since we are talking about tools, I've recently purchased a funnel that sits OUTSIDE the rim of the basket rather than inside ( I have a few of the latter). The ones that have a ledge that goes into the basket leave a gap around the circumference of the basket which need to be filled and evened out later. With the new funnel all the mess stays in the basket and I can use the WDT without removing the funnel collar.

Next on my list of over-kill puck prep tools I have something similar to the OCD distribution tool. I keep it at a very shallow depth as I only want it to spread the very top layer evenly and would probably be fine without it. I don't allow it to go deep enough to consider tamping, though I could. I prefer to be able to feel when the puck compresses when I tamp and think I've become very consistent with my tamping pressure. After the spinning distribution tool then it's just tamp and go.

While it doesn't come under the category of puck prep tools but does make a difference... or will make a difference if I can learn to be consistent is the flow control device on my E61 machine. With that I am NOT consistent yet, but learning.

That's all I got.


#10: Post by BKH »

My experience is WDT made a huge difference especially with light roasts. But this is only when it is done vigorously with a funnel. I noticeably needed to adjust my grind setting coarser for similar flow. Less channeling too.

It was the thing (on par with aligning my df64 better) that made a change in the richness in my shot.