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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Critique My...  
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MikeNH
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Nashua, NH
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 2:47pm
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

Frost Said:

Here's a brief tutorial at Sweet Maria's on diagnosing shot by crema appearance:

click here

Posted December 15, 2012 link

Thanks Frost, I just read through that and it will be a great help in the future.

After getting a digital scale, using WDT, and also trying the nickle test, I'm seeing better results. Still need to work on my tamp, my shots usually pull faster to the left side, and I suspect I'm tamping crooked.

The shots are consistently tasting more pleasant and I had my first oh shit moment when I was able to detect the dark chocolate flavor the new blend I'm using was advertised as having. My palate is pretty bad, but improving!

I'm going to pull apart the group and clean the whole thing as that is what I think is causing some excess water dripping during shots. I reduced the dose I've been dosing 16.5 grams, and with my distribution and tamp this passed the nickle test, so I'm thinking I just need to do a thorough cleaning.

I'm still pretty awful at steaming milk and pouring art. My lattes taste too milky and not really like I've gotten at the good cafe's I've been frequenting... I've tried steaming it a little hotter, using less milk when I pour, changing how I steam, but it doesn't make any huge difference. Any ideas?

I have a new video of me making a latte using the new techniques uploading to youtube now. The coffee I have is quite fresh, and based on Frost's link I think I need to brew hotter still as the crema is quite light, but I'm still pretty happy with the results.
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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 Tue Dec 18, 2012, 4:46pm
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

Hey Mike,

I haven't been on your thread in a few days, and boy, you sure have improved a lot!

Regarding the question you asked...

MikeNH Said:

I'm still pretty awful at steaming milk and pouring art. My lattes taste too milky and not really like I've gotten at the good cafe's I've been frequenting... I've tried steaming it a little hotter, using less milk when I pour, changing how I steam, but it doesn't make any huge difference. Any ideas?

Posted December 18, 2012 link

It sounds to me like you're milk to espresso ratio or your milk to foam ratio is too high. Try pouring less milk into your espresso, or maybe even use smaller cups, so you don't have to worry about the temptation to fill them with milk.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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MikeNH
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Nashua, NH
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 9:39pm
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

emradguy Said:

Hey Mike,

I haven't been on your thread in a few days, and boy, you sure have improved a lot!

Regarding the question you asked...

It sounds to me like you're milk to espresso ratio or your milk to foam ratio is too high. Try pouring less milk into your espresso, or maybe even use smaller cups, so you don't have to worry about the temptation to fill them with milk.

Posted December 18, 2012 link

Just got myself a smaller mug, I think that will help indeed! Thanks again!

Here's the new video - I've some parts from the brew head soaking in cafiza and scrubbed the innards hoping that will remedy the dripping. Like I said, its a bit blonde so I'll need to brew hotter next time - it seems sometimes the silvia wants to heat up hot enough to come out as steam so I have a reference point for surfing, other times it doesn't. Hope it doesn't mean my boilers going?

Click Here (www.youtube.com)
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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
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 8:24am
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

I watched your video last night.

You spend an inordinate amount of time preparing your basket, only to potentially ruin it by twisting the tamper at the end.  That was something baristas used to do, but it's been shown that it doesn't do anything but harm.  It can fracture the dry puck, leading to channeling, so the current advice is to tamp straight down once, maybe twice, then leave the coffee alone until you extract.

If you watch one of the videos in Chris Coffee Service, where Chris is demonstrating how to use one of the machines, he does something very cool, which I've found extremely helpful in tamping straight.  He extends his finger tips beyond the sides of the tamper base before applying pressure, then uses his palm to tip the tamper where needed to straighten it out.

When I took my barista training class from Heather Perry, she taught me to let go of the tamper while in the basket and then raise the handle to eye level, so I could assess whether the tamper handle was standing straight or not.  You do this from at least two angles, in case it is tilted towards or away from you when you first look.

I've never done WDT, but I l know many people do, and if you have clumping, it's probably useful.  I use something similar to Stockfleth's move, where I sweep my finger parallel to the basket surface while rotating the handle in the opposite direction. I use a little back and forth sweeping too, but only once or twice, just to push the highest part of the mound into low spots when I'm about to start the finger sweep. It's worked fine for me.  I don't tap on the counter during basket filling, but some people do (including Heather).  I found that when I used to do that I was overdosing and ruining the extraction.  In fact, when I tried the nickel test, I failed.  That was actually why I stopped in the first place, but I found that my shots improved significantly right away.

Anyways, I don't necessarily want to change your whole process, but I really think you'd benefit from one or both of the tamper level checks I mentioned, and ceasing to twist the tamper at the end.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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MikeNH
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Joined: 2 Dec 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Nashua, NH
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 7:45pm
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

Thanks for the advice! Do you think the twisting of the tamp is bad in general, or just at the end of the shot? I see some sort of twist incorporated into every video I've ever seen from barista competitions to home brewers to cafe videos. All I know is what I've seen on youtube, which I'm sure is rife with bad habits. :)

Also, in terms of tapping the basket when filling, if I'm weighing the coffee as I'm dosing does that alleviate the the tapping on the counter/dosing issue?

Thanks again! What I really need is to find someone local who knows what they're doing to come over and pull some good shots to show me what I should be aiming for.
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
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Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Dec 20, 2012, 9:19am
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

MikeNH Said:

Thanks for the advice! Do you think the twisting of the tamp is bad in general, or just at the end of the shot?

Posted December 19, 2012 link

And the end of the shot I just knock the puck out, but I guess you can twist if you like...

MikeNH Said:

I see some sort of twist incorporated into every video I've ever seen....

Posted December 19, 2012 link

I twist *before* I tamp down firmly, as a way to distribute the grounds evenly.  One I've tamped down with any force then I don't tap or twist...just remove the tamper and then pull the shot.



MikeNH Said:

Also, in terms of tapping the basket when filling, if I'm weighing the coffee as I'm dosing does that alleviate the the tapping on the counter/dosing issue?  

Posted December 19, 2012 link

It may be helpful to rephrase the question as it is not clear to me what you're asking.  

 - - - - - - - - - -

Here's what I do, and it works well for me:  

  1. Weigh the coffee dose and WDT (using a funnel and dissecting needle).  
  2. After stirring then I may tap the basket on the counter lightly to settle the coffee in the basket
  3. Remove the WDT dosing funnel and brush grounds inward from the edges so it doesn't spill when I tamp.
  4. Then lightly twist the tamper on the surface of the grounds, without letting the tamper weight rest on the puck...

  5. As I'm twisting, then I gradually let the tamper ride lower until the coffee puck has a flat surface (but not tamped down yet).  
  6. Press the tamper straight down, no more twisting or tapping or anything else.  

  7. Then I load the basket into the portafilter (I use ridgeless baskets to make this easier), and pull the shot.  

It may read like a bunch of steps, but for me it's quite fluid.  I'd guess that the whole process takes me about 15-20 seconds after grinding until I start the shot.  And this results in consistently good pours for me, with very even beading across the basket at the start and nice, centered extraction cone.  

Maybe I'll try to make a video to post this week....

Anyway, it's just a suggestion.  It works for me but YMMV.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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MikeNH
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Nashua, NH
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:08am
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

And the end of the shot I just knock the puck out, but I guess you can twist if you like...

Sorry, read back through my post and realized it was slightly confusing... What I meant was twisting the tamper before tamping hard or after, which you answered for me later.

Here's what I do, and it works well for me:  

.
.
.
Anyway, it's just a suggestion.  It works for me but YMMV.

Very interesting - do you do any leveling with your finger or do you just tamp on what's left over after you remove the dosing funnel?

Anyway, thanks for your feedback!!
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JonR10
Senior Member
JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Dec 20, 2012, 7:16pm
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

MikeNH Said:

Sorry, read back through my post and realized it was slightly confusing...

Posted December 20, 2012 link

Sorry - it was an attempt at humor.  I wasn't confused ;-)

MikeNH Said:

Very interesting - do you do any leveling with your finger or do you just tamp on what's left over after you remove the dosing funnel?

Posted December 20, 2012 link

I use the tamper twisting-while-lowering motion to both distribute and level the grounds.  
Like I said, maybe I can post a video showing it soon....

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Dec 21, 2012, 6:49am
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

I do not twist at all, at any time in my shot prep. I do however, level the grounds in the basket and I tend to do a slightly concave (lower in the center) "leveling" of the grounds in the basket.

I avoid anything that can possibly affect the puck after tamping, no tapping no twisting, nothing messes with the puck after it is compressed. This works well for me and like always, 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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jwoodyu
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jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 849
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Fri Dec 21, 2012, 7:59am
Subject: Re: Critique My Espresso Pull
 

JonR10 Said:

I use the tamper twisting-while-lowering motion to both distribute and level the grounds.  
Like I said, maybe I can post a video showing it soon....

Posted December 20, 2012 link

I would like to see it to Jon. I swiped that notion from one of your earlier post I would like to see how what i am doing compares. I do the WDT stir, let the funnel stack the coffee up above the lip of basket then supporting almost all of the weight of the tamper give it a very intentional, measured twist left and right. I take a quick look at the distribution before placing it on the mat, tamp clear the lip of the basket and stick it in the machine.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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