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VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > VST 20g vs. 18g...  
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Markarian
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Markarian
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 2:25am
Subject: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

I have been using my ridgeless VST 18g basket for a while and have been quite pleased with it. However, I picked up the 20g version on a visit to 49th Parallel's roastery in Vancouver and am trying it out, but am kind of wondering what its purpose is. Something I seem to remember about it being a "competition" size, but it seems like it should pull somewhere between a double and triple (so, 75ml??). Why does this thing exist, should I use it over my 18, and is there anything I should be aware of for adjusting my tamp/dose technique? My results with it so far have been less than stellar, though not bad.
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Sun Sep 29, 2013, 6:28am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

Some beans taste better at 18g (Red Bird, Chromatic Gamut, for instance), while others tase better at 20g (Klatch WBC for instance).  Well, that's my opinion.  It all depends on your palate.  If something seems to be lacking at 18g and you want to try a higher dose, then try it in the 20.  As far as volume goes, better I leave that for someone who actually measures theirs.  I adjust my grind and dose for flavor and don't measure output.  Take a look at Jim Schulman's Espresso 101 article on how to adjust dose and grind for taste...

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

Good luck!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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TonyVan
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Posted Mon Sep 30, 2013, 10:47pm
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

If your taste sometimes runs toward dark - or very dark - roasts, you may have noticed that the resulting beans are much less dense.  It can get really tough to fit 18g into an 18g basket, but the extra space provided by the 20g will work just great.
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Markarian
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Markarian
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Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
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Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 3:09am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

I'm really curious what about the 20g basket makes it particularly well-suited for barista competitions. I generally tend more toward light roasts. Right now I'm on a single origin Ethiopian from 49th Parallel that sits so low in the 18 I added another gram for good measure. It makes an ugly, messy shot each time but tastes surprisingly balanced and pleasant.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
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Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 3:18am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

There you go, do what tastes good.
I have several baskets and use a 18 g basket, YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 7:38am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

The biggest difference between 18g and 20g VST baskets is the respective headspaces they allow between the top of the puck and the grinder.   The same is true for other ultra-consistent baskets like Stradas (which are better in my machine than VSTs).  

18g never tastes better than 20g; but 18g may taste better than 20g (or vice versa) in a given basket/pf/head.  That, for instance, is where something like head space comes in.  

Be careful about letting objective metrics (like weight) become ends in themselves.  The set of "in the cup" qualities (sweetness, mouthfeel, etc.) is a product of a lot of different things.  By itself, the weight of the beans in the dose tells you very little; but becomes important as one of the two factors which determine extraction ratio.  

Measuring output by volume (e.g., 75ml) is not nearly as meaningful as measuring output by weight.  Volume will vary with crema production, which changes from day to day as the coffee ages.  

A standard normale, with a brew ratio of 50%, weighs twice as much as a the dose.  Thus a standard doppio normale (double regular espresso) pulled with an 18g dose should weigh very close to 36g.  Up until very recently the modern trend has been to pull everything a little stronger than the "old" standard.  A modern normale might be brewed at a 60% ratio, which would mean that an 18g dose would produce a 30g shot.  

The new, Scandinavian trend is back to a fully-extracted (as opposed to over or under extracted, and judged by TDS measured by refractometer), 50% brew ratio, using a lighter and more acidy roast than traditional for espresso -- at least in Europe.    

Learn to measure degree of extraction by observing blonding.  If you form a consistently good puck, your degree of under or over-extraction will not only allow you great control over quality in the cup; but will also allow you to hit your desired brew ratio with great consistency.  I'm no paragon, and am seldom off by as much as 2g.  

If you don't already have one, buy a scale large enough to tare your pf and basket and accurate to the nearest 0.1g.  They cost around $20 on Amazon.  Also, start using a stop watch (occasionally).  

The trick to using measuring tools like a scale and watch is to check yourself for consistency.  You can learn a lot by measuring how long it takes to pull an 18g dose to the blonde point -- but you'll never make consistently good espresso by pulling every shot to 28sec.  

Taste and flow will tell you more about whether your grind and dose are right than time (not that time isn't an indicia), but time will say a lot about your consistency in making a puck.  Like every other metric other than taste, it's a way to help you improve your barista skills -- not an end in itself.    

BDL
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emradguy
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Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 7:50am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

boar_d_laze Said:

The biggest difference between 18g and 20g VST baskets is the respective headspaces they allow between the top of the puck and the grinder.

Posted October 1, 2013 link

did you mean head space to group?

boar_d_laze Said:

Given the height of our espresso machine's counter and the quality of light in our coffee room, I find it as easier to judge blonding by observing the top of the pour (in the cup) then by contorting my body and squinting at the stream. Do whatever works for you.

Posted October 1, 2013 link

This is an excellent point (not that the other things you said weren't as well).  In fact, I've found your posts to be extremely well written, informative and highly logical...and have found myself opening threads I wouldn't have otherwise in order to see what you've had to say. (and it's especially nice to see this particular post of yours, because it pretty much outlines and lends credibility to my m.o. - except for the measuring output part, which is something I've been more than lazy about).

Anyhow, I've been struggling with the lighting issue for a while now.  I looked into some of the LED kits that are included on other machines, but haven't seen anything that really, truly shows the extraction well enough for me to consider modding my machine with it.  Maybe I'll have to resort to doing it your way, but I really enjoy watching the extraction come off the bottomless pf.

 
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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: 732
Location: Monrovia, CA
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Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
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Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 11:09am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

emradguy Said:

did you mean head space to group?

Posted October 1, 2013 link

Yes.  Space between top of the puck to the group-head screen.  The difference between the right and wrong distances -- or more accurately distance range -- makes a huge difference.  

Thanks for asking and giving me the opportunity to clear it up.  

Anyhow, I've been struggling with the lighting issue for a while now.  I looked into some of the LED kits that are included on other machines, but haven't seen anything that really, truly shows the extraction well enough for me to consider modding my machine with it.

If you've got decent ambient light in the room, perhaps you can use stand-mirror to throw some light on the stream.  A mirror can also give you a better viewing angle.  

And thanks for the nice words.  

BDL
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,743
Location: Houston
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Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
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Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 11:36am
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

yes, a mirror...excellent idea!  and as a joke, I can run a little steam and then tell friends "it's all smoke and mirrors"

ok, kidding aside, you're quite welcome for the comments...and I will look into trying a mirror.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Markarian
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Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 652
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Oct 1, 2013, 12:33pm
Subject: Re: VST 20g vs. 18g baskets - What's the difference?
 

Wow, thanks, Boar. This is stuff I'm just now discovering. For instance, on 49th's website, they literally say for this coffee "Should yield a 36g shot from a 18g VST basket in about 28 seconds." For the first time, I took my little scale and tared it with the shotglass right on the drip tray and pulled a shot. 36 g was right to the top of the glass.

For lighting, I have one of these:

Click Here (www.amazon.com)

I try to in inspect every pour. When I had my Oscar, I had an LED light bar mounted behind the group from Ikea.
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