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avraptorhal
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Joined: 20 Mar 2014
Posts: 9
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia New Baby
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Posted Sat May 17, 2014, 4:51pm
Subject: coffee refractometer
 

I just got around to reading Scott Rao's book on measuring espresso extractions. He keeps talking about a coffee refractometer. I know what a refractometer is. It determines the refractive index of a liquid. The refractive index in turn is a function of the density of the liquid.

I have tried to find one at several retailers with no success. I don't even know if it is reasonable for a home barista to concern him/herself with it.

Any thoughts from the coffee geek community. I'm afraid that I'm showing my engineering education and background but when I get into something I tend to like to get as much of the basic technology of the process so I can deviate in creating my own understanding.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,067
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
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Posted Sat May 17, 2014, 7:03pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

VST makes one. There have been a few discussions here recently about them, in particular their utility as a useful tool for home enthusiasts. The discussions tend to get a little heated, but are worth reading for anyone interested in exploring the possibility of a purchase. Try using VST Refractometer in the search engine or better yet, google...which will give you home-barista hits as well. I think they go for around $800...but don't quote me on that.

Though it's off topic, I think it's worth mentioning...in my opinion, your money would be better spent on a grinder upgrade and, if you don't have one on your machine already, a PID kit. Those things will likely give you bigger improvement in the cup than a Refractometer will.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,219
Location: Monrovia, CA
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Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
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Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
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Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat May 17, 2014, 8:27pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

What are you hoping to learn?

Rich
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,041
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Sun May 18, 2014, 3:01am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

To me a coffee refractometer seems like an academic and at $799 quite expensive tool that doesn't really help to improve your espresso at home. After all, brewing and drinking caff is all about flavor. The parameters messured by a refractometer won't tell you if the taste in your cup is great or not. You can have all the parameters right, and still you don't like the shot for one reason or the other. IMHO, your palate is the best tool for espresso quality.

So Rich is right:

boar_d_laze Said:

What are you hoping to learn?

Posted May 17, 2014 link


 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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andys
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andys
Joined: 10 May 2003
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Location: NY
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Posted Sun May 18, 2014, 7:25am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

avraptorhal Said:

I don't even know if it is reasonable for a home barista to concern him/herself with it.

Any thoughts from the coffee geek community.

Posted May 17, 2014 link

With respect avraptorhal, please note this topic has been beaten to death in several of the online forums. Here is a recent example.

It is unlikely that you will get any fresh or useful info by starting a new thread.

Since I was a beta tester for VST, and received my refractometer at no charge, I am far from impartial in these discussions. I would simply note that IMHO the people who are most stridently pro or con on the subject of coffee refractometers often have the very LEAST practical experience using one. In many cases, they have ZERO experience.

On the other hand, people who have used a coffee refractometer regularly and carefully find it is an extremely useful tool, although not a substitute for tastebuds or for common sense.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,219
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sun May 18, 2014, 9:42am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

Just to be clear, my question "What do you hope to learn?" was not argument in favor of nor against using a refractometer. It wasn't value loaded with the idea that there's nothing to be learned from using the tool, it was a simple question.  

andys Said:

With respect avraptorhal, please note this topic has been beaten to death in several of the online forums. Here is a recent example. It is unlikely that you will get any fresh or useful info by starting a new thread.

Since I was a beta tester for VST, and received my refractometer at no charge, I am far from impartial in these discussions. I would simply note that IMHO the people who are most stridently pro or con on the subject of coffee refractometers often have the very LEAST practical experience using one. In many cases, they have ZERO experience. On the other hand, people who have used a coffee refractometer regularly and carefully find it is an extremely useful tool, although not a substitute for tastebuds or for common sense.

Posted May 18, 2014 link

Andy,

Referring to the statement's logical schema only: Outside of marriage, a preemptive grasp at the last word is inconsistent with the expressed intent of avoiding an argument.      

Let's at least find out what the OP's trying to get at before strafing the field.

Rich
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andys
Senior Member
andys
Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 857
Location: NY
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Speedster, Londinium 1
Grinder: EK-43,Robur, HG One, M3
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: various
Roaster: PIDed Popper
Posted Sun May 18, 2014, 11:39am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Let's at least find out what the OP's trying to get at before strafing the field.

Posted May 18, 2014 link

Hi Rich:

Since you aren't a moderator, I don't pay attention to your attempts to control the discussion in this or any other thread.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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