Why WDT this? - Page 3

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

#21: Post by jpender »

Jake_G wrote:To assuage any concerns that I'm advocating for mediocrity, I simply mean that if I personally can't taste the difference between certain tweaks in my workflow when I'm looking for them, I certainly won't be able to discern them in a blind tasting, and I see no reason not to simplify my workflow.
If you can't taste the difference then there's no reason to do it. That's common sense.

But taste the difference between what? There is a lot of noise that makes discerning a subtle signal difficult. There is random variability from shot to shot, from day to day as the coffee ages, from bag to bag from the same roaster, and from coffee to coffee. There are various parameters that one might be tweaking to dial in a particular bag of coffee. And people usually pull and consume shots sequentially so the differences in their palates come into play. You could think you taste a difference when it's really due to something else. Similarly, you might miss a difference because it is swamped by some other variable. Or maybe what you're doing doesn't have an effect for one coffee but does for another.

It's hard to know without performing a very laborious series of carefully controlled experiments. Jonathan Gagné did that, comparing different puck preparation methods, and found that WDT had a measurable effect on consistency.

This morning I pulled two otherwise presumably identical shots, one with no WDT and one with. The WDT shot looked a lot better coming out of the portafilter. And it tasted better too. But it was only two shots, consumed sequentially, unblinded. Meaningless statistically. It's not likely that I will do the work to get the statistics. Rather, I'll keep spending that extra 5 seconds on each shot because there are reasons to at least suspect that it helps. You could call that a silly thing or a superstition. It is. But sometimes that's all you have to go on.

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Jake_G
Team HB

#22: Post by Jake_G »

jpender wrote:If you can't the difference then there's no reason to do it. That's common sense.

But taste the difference between what? There is a lot of noise that makes discerning a subtle signal difficult. There is random variability from shot to shot, from day to day as the coffee ages, from bag to bag from the same roaster, and from coffee to coffee. There are various parameters that one might be tweaking to dial in a particular bag of coffee. And people usually pull and consume shots sequentially so the differences in their palates come into play. You could think you taste a difference when it's really due to something else. Similarly, you might miss a difference because it is swamped by some other variable. Or maybe what you're doing doesn't have an effect for one coffee but does for another.

It's hard to know without performing a very laborious series of carefully controlled experiments. Jonathan Gagné did that, comparing different puck preparation methods, and found that WDT had a measurable effect on consistency.

This morning I pulled two otherwise presumably identical shots, one with no WDT and one with. The WDT shot looked a lot better coming out of the portafilter. And it tasted better too. But it was only two shots, consumed sequentially, unblinded. Meaningless statistically. It's not likely that I will do the work to get the statistics. Rather, I'll keep spending that extra 5 seconds on each shot because there are reasons to at least suspect that it helps. You could call that a silly thing or a superstition. It is. But sometimes that's all you have to go on.
I don't think it's silly at all. It sounds like WDT makes a difference for you and your equipment. I know it did with my old grinder. I'm 100% positive it doesn't hurt anything, so yeah, your could easily call it a 5s insurance policy. If it tastes better, that's all that matters to me.

As for all the random variability from shot to shot, I guess I take for granted that I now have high quality repeatable equipment that takes the guesswork out of it. I cut my teeth on a Krupps "burr" grinder and Saeco's precursors to the Starbucks Barista model, so yeah, I've been there. I still remember bringing the SJ home when I had a Francis Francis! X5. The X5 was probably ahead of it's time, as to convert from a PID machine to one that processed ground coffee, the tamper base was a shower screen, and it stayed in the basket on top of the puck - hello puck screen... anyway, times have changed and my process is real simple these days and stuff just doesn't change much. And if it does, it changes in a way that I recognize and deal with.

Take coffee, for instance. If I get a big bag of something tasty, I freeze half and use the other half while I determine how long a rest the coffee would prefer. If it peaks 5, 14, or 27 days past roast (I'm not that anal to know the exact day, but point is some coffees need more rest than others) I make a note of it and then I pull the other half out of the freezer and let it age until it is also at that sweet spot and then freeze it again. I pull my shots straight from the freezer thenceforth with basically zero variability on the coffee front. The next batch of that same coffee will be different. But that doesn't cause frustration for me. Every bag is a journey and it is exceptionally rare that any such journey is one that is filled with nasty shots. 70s ristretto? Whoops, still delicious. 20s turbo? Different presentation of the flavors, gonna pull that one longer because a 10s Ristretto is not something anyone wants to try.

My point is that when I get a new coffee, I smell it, look at the beans, see how dense it is to figure out a starting dose weight, guess on a starting temperature and grind setting based on those same visual and aromatic cues. Light roasts and more dense beans are likely to end up with a hotter temperature and/or finer grind than darker roasts/ less dense beans, but there are obvious exceptions (like Lusso, among others). Having a basic horse sense about these things and knowing when to cut a shot based on flow, color, etc... allows for a first shot of just about any well-roasted, high-quality green coffee to taste quite good. The road map for subsequent shots is "this would be nicer if I could bring out more of the stone fruit and tame that hint of astringency out of the finish" rather than "Dear God! What is this wretched swill I've produced?!".

I'm fairly confident you could lock my grinder on setting 2.0 (100 microns from lock) and I'd be quite happy pulling delicious espresso. Maybe I'm lucky, or my palate is just garbage, but dial-in for me is about finding exceptional above and beyond really, really good. It is not remotely about trying to make something palatable, and thus the natural variation of all the things you mentioned at the beginning of your reply are things that "spice things up" for me.

Anyway. Yeah. The OP should definitely try WDT and see if they prefer it over not.

Cheers!

- Jake
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cafeIKE
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#23: Post by cafeIKE »

jpender wrote:This morning I pulled two otherwise presumably identical shots, one with no WDT and one with. The WDT shot looked a lot better coming out of the portafilter. And it tasted better too.
The same visual and taste results could apply to all four prep combinations.

I just had one of the absolute best shots of 2021 and definitely the best of the Wolf Coffee Espresso. Dangerously close to g.. shot territory.

It's 8°C and it poured like blazes around 0530, so humidity is up. Other than that, the 14 hour drive and the two *$ doubles I had to endure yesterday, what accounts for the quantum step?

jpender

#24: Post by jpender »

Jake_G wrote:As for all the random variability from shot to shot, I guess I take for granted that I now have high quality repeatable equipment that takes the guesswork out of it.
Maybe I need better gear! :-)

That was a very good post.

Cheers.

Eiern

#25: Post by Eiern »

Jake_G wrote: I rather wish that 90% of home baristas out there pulled shots from a single spout portafilter and kept their bottomless and WDT tools in the back of the coffee closet, next to the refractometer.

[...]

Now, I use a bottomless daily and have for years. But mainly because I prefer the cleanliness. Basket removal is easy, and there is nothing to get dirty under the basket, so as long as my prep is on-point, it is a very clean process. I also used the WDT for every single shot once I learned how badly I needed it with my Super Jolly. After upgrading to a well-aligned 98mm flat burr grinder, I just assumed I still needed it, but it turns out I don't.

[...]

Much like the arbitrary "bottom of the basket fills in evenly within 1 second rule", if I were to post a picture of the bottom of one of my spent pucks, I'd be told that my extractions would be more even if I down-dose, grind coarser and pull a longer ratio. It's very likely true. When I do those things, the bottom of my pucks have less dark regions on them, which is neat. But I don't prefer the flavor, body or mouthfeel of those more dilute shots. So I pull my tight ristrettos of light roast coffee and enjoy them thoroughly.

I'd probably enjoy them even more if I switched to my spouted portafilter.
I agree, after testing something new with my refractometer I try to leave it in the cup board. It can mess with the coffee experience/perception to always be in that analytic test mode, it's good to go purely by the end result.

I also agree on bottomless for cleanliness more than keeping an eye on every extraction. I have tried spouts but immediately get reminded of what I don't like about them.

I also agree fine with a few dark spots or ring on the edge of the puck when I'm happy with the taste. I know that if I pulled the shot only slightly faster I would get a perfect looking cup, but I might not like the taste better, and I'm going to drink it and not show off the puck online. Also have tried going below 18g and found I didn't like all aspects of that. I get a clean and good extraction with smaller dose but maybe it lacks a little of the complexity of bigger doses.

I could probably add even more steps to my coffee process like mounding and tweak water and profiling every time, but I find it enough to get grind and ratio dialed in + WDT and puck screen and usually that makes awesome results from awesome beans.