Why don't pros use the WDT? More advanced distribution techniques?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
dawgcatching

#1: Post by dawgcatching »

I have yet to see a pro-level barista use the WDT at a cafe, and have been to some pretty good ones recently. I am assuming that for a skilled barista, there is no need for the WDT, and that they can replicate it without the extra time required to mix up the ground with a chopstick ect.

So, with that said, how does a pro barista dose into the PF without getting the grounds to clump up and cause an uneven extraction? What are the tricks? To my eye, it seems that they really focus on rotating the PF to get the grounds to fall evenly, but what else is going on? Then again, we purchased beans from all of these cafes and brought them home (Victrola, Vivace, and Stumptown) and were able to easily replicate or exceed the quality of espresso we had at the cafe. Still, there must be some tricks that top-level baristas use that negate the need for the WDT in a cafe setting.

User avatar
luca
Team HB

#2: Post by luca »

Nope; I just grind, dose and tamp.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Grader Exam, Brewer's Cup #3, Australian Cup Tasting #1

Bertie Doe

#3: Post by Bertie Doe »

dawgcatching wrote: Then again, we purchased beans from all of these cafes and brought them home (Victrola, Vivace, and Stumptown) and were able to easily replicate or exceed the quality of espresso we had at the cafe. Still, there must be some tricks that top-level baristas use that negate the need for the WDT in a cafe setting.
I guess, if these same barista were taking part in Comps, they would use WDT, Stockfleth etc. In the cafe they need to develop a goodish tamp that'll avoid long queues. Not award winning but practical.
luca wrote:Nope; I just grind, dose and tamp.
Luca - wicked!

User avatar
HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

dawgcatching wrote:So, with that said, how does a pro barista dose into the PF without getting the grounds to clump up and cause an uneven extraction? What are the tricks? To my eye, it seems that they really focus on rotating the PF to get the grounds to fall evenly, but what else is going on?
I credit good distribution technique (rotating the portafilter while dosing, Stockfleths move to redistribute after dosing) and most importantly the grinder. I've noticed that some grinders benefit more from the WDT than others. For example, the improvement for the Mazzer Mini is unmistakable; it's hardly worth the time for the Mazzer Robur. I would like to explore this "WDT Factor" more closely...
Dan Kehn

User avatar
RapidCoffee
Team HB

#5: Post by RapidCoffee »

dawgcatching wrote:I have yet to see a pro-level barista use the WDT at a cafe, and have been to some pretty good ones recently. I am assuming that for a skilled barista, there is no need for the WDT, and that they can replicate it without the extra time required to mix up the ground with a chopstick ect.

So, with that said, how does a pro barista dose into the PF without getting the grounds to clump up and cause an uneven extraction? What are the tricks? To my eye, it seems that they really focus on rotating the PF to get the grounds to fall evenly, but what else is going on? Then again, we purchased beans from all of these cafes and brought them home (Victrola, Vivace, and Stumptown) and were able to easily replicate or exceed the quality of espresso we had at the cafe. Still, there must be some tricks that top-level baristas use that negate the need for the WDT in a cafe setting.
As stated in the WDT article, this techniques is designed to help the home barista overcome grinder flaws:
Grind, dose and distribution are critical to fine espresso. But unfortunately for home baristas, most high-end espresso grinders are designed for the fast-paced production of a commercial environment. Smaller capacity grinders found in even the best equipped home espresso environment may suffer from clumping, static, and uneven distribution. The home barista must overcome these hurdles to achieve an extraordinary espresso pour.
High-quality commercial grinders are prized by home baristas, but are used quite differently in the home setting. In a commercial environment, the bean hopper is kept full, with 1-2# of weight forcing beans down into the grinding burrs. At home we often weigh and grind per shot. In a commercial setting the doser is often kept full (or at least half full), whereas at home it's kept empty. For this reason, doserless grinders are much more popular at home.

As Dan notes, some grinders benefit more than others from the WDT. My modded doserless Mazzer Super Jolly (the "clump monster" in the WDT article) benefits greatly.

Along the same lines, the home barista needs to develop special techniques for managing brew temperature on HX machines, whereas in a commercial setting, a steady flow of espresso drinks may eliminate (or reduce) the need for the water dance. So different techniques in the home vs. commercial settings should not come as a surprise.

BTW, I do not recommend the use of chopsticks, coat hangers, or any other blunt instrument to break up clumps and redistribute grounds in the WDT. My favorite instrument is still the dissecting needle, although I suppose an unfolded paper clip would also work. A blunt object like a chopstick could easily leave voids in the grounds that promote channeling, which is just what the WDT attempts to combat.

On a related note, I'm delighted to see that yogurt manufacturers have finally embraced the WDT. Here is one "WDT-approved" yogurt cup: :lol:

Image
John

User avatar
woodchuck

#6: Post by woodchuck »

I got my new S1/VII and M4 in late December and used WDT religiously for the first month. Once I got a better feel for dosing and tamping I pretty much moved away from WDT with good success. As Dan points out, I find rotating the PF during dosing, careful leveling (I do use a modified Stockfleths move) and a consistent tamp gives me just as good a shot as with WDT most of the time. I would add however that the WDT was pretty much goof proof for me whereas now I do have the occasional squirts using my regular regime. I use a naked portafilter all the time so I know it when I do goof!

Cheers

Ian

ppopp

#7: Post by ppopp »

One thing I've noticed from watching videos of pro barista competitions (which might better approximate what we do at home, at least in drink volume), is that many baristas are extremely aggressive with their use of the doser. Rather than just three or four wacks of the doser lever to fill the portafilter, like one might do if the doser were half full or so, I've seen pros turn on the grinder and then whack the doser lever as fast as they could while grinding for one shot. It seems to me by doing this, each whack of the lever is dropping only a small volume of grinds down into the portafilter. I've been doing this with my M4 (only I'm a little more gentle, maybe one whack per second for the 14-15 seconds it takes to grind a double), and I think it results in a better distribution, and whatever drops down through the doser is pretty much clump-free.
Peter

Know beans, know coffee. No beans, no coffee.

User avatar
Jasonian

#8: Post by Jasonian »

I'll bite.

It's unnecessary. It takes too much time. It cuts into my "barismo".


Seriously, I've tried it, and I haven't seen the time worthwhile. I can't detect a difference in flavor, and I definitely don't see any differences in the naked extractions, which leads me to believe that it's a sort of crutch.. training wheels for those who have issues with distribution without it.

From MOST home videos I've seen, it seems a lot of people are too careful with the dosing and distribution. During the preparation stage is when I have no qualms about showing the coffee who's boss.

I also firmly believe that there's no feeling like the human touch. You can feel the dead spots much easier with your finger than you can with a tool lacking in sensory nerve endings.

A few more passes with standard distribution methods, I've found, will alleviate most distribution problems.

Just my $.02, but John knows. I haven't said anything new.
Owner - AJ Coffee Company
HB Rocks!

User avatar
AndyS

#9: Post by AndyS »

Jasonian wrote:I also firmly believe that there's no feeling like the human touch. You can feel the dead spots much easier with your finger than you can with a tool lacking in sensory nerve endings.
I don't know, I'm looking at your avatar, and you sure look lacking in sensory nerve endings yourself.

8)
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

Mambeu

#10: Post by Mambeu »

Jasonian wrote:Seriously, I've tried it, and I haven't seen the time worthwhile. I can't detect a difference in flavor, and I definitely don't see any differences in the naked extractions, which leads me to believe that it's a sort of crutch.. training wheels for those who have issues with distribution without it.
I feel the same way.

I work as a barista, and it's much faster if I just tap the portafilter lightly on the grinder forks before leveling and distributing the grinds with my finger. That little tap does wonders for an even extraction, and I don't need another tool to do it.