Our Valued Sponsor
OpinionsConsumer ReviewsGuides and How TosCoffeeGeek ReviewsResourcesForums
Espresso: Questions and Answers
Better shots without tamping?
Cafe Espresso Machines
Video reviews, nationwide installation, leasing options... Nuova Simonelli, Rancilio, La Marzocco.
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
 
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered  
Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Better shots...  
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
showing page 1 of 2 last page next page
Author Messages
volfro
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Sep 2008
Posts: 14
Location: Marietta, GA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013, 1:46pm
Subject: Better shots without tamping?
 

I've recently had an espresso-related breakthrough.

Here's the story:

I bought a refurbished Preciso last year. It grinds fine, with a high degree of consistency. However, my tamping was off: I was using the crappy double-sided tamper from Bed, Bath & Beyond, and it was too small for my portafilter. I'd grind and tamp and grind and tamp, but couldn't consistently get a 25-30 second double out of my Sbux Barista machine (with a hacked-to-be-non-pressurized PF).

So I got a new, weighty, appropriately-sized tamper. Also took the time to clean my boiler, shower screen, &c., to make sure my machine was up to snuff. (It's an old Barista.)

Thereafter, I'd sometimes pull a delicious 30-second shot (with a few being truly memorable); but most shots were crappy, blond, 15-second pulls, even with the grinder set on 5 or so.

I never perceptibly changed my tamp or amount of coffee. I also took the time to 'calibrate' my tamp (as much as one can calibrate such a thing) with a bathroom scale. Since I kept getting those crummy shots, I assumed the grinder was to blame.

BUT THEN. There was a Seattle Coffee Gear video on Youtube wherein Gail said something about Italians hardly tamping at all; they grind the coffee extra fine, and then just basically use the weight of the tamper and a quick spin to pack the coffee down and polish the surface a bit.

So I tried that: dialed the Preciso down to a 4 or so, ground up some local roast, barely tamped, hooked the PF up, and hit the switch.

The Barista promptly choked.

Since then, with some finagling, I'm getting consistent 30-second doubles out of my humble little Barista, all with barely any tamping pressure. My grind is set at 5G; anything finer than that, and the machine chokes.

When I discovered this, I thought that surely I'd be able to obtain similar results if I bump the grind up a click or two and tamp at the normal 30lbs, but no dice. The two or three shots I pulled with a full tamp were short (15 seconds or so), blond, and bitter.

My question, dear readers, is this:

What's up with that?

Whether or not I'm doing it right, I'm quite happy with the quality of shots I've been able to pull since discovering this method. If anybody has any insights as to what I could be doing wrong in my tamp, though, I'd be much obliged. (Also, does anybody have similar experience with a fine grind and light tamp? Are there reasons to use this method over the full tamp? And does anybody know if this is actually how Italians do it?)

Whew. Long post.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013, 4:53pm
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

You know, after reading your post, I think I know what is happening.

Go out and buy a precision scale. Something like a Digiweigh DWP-1001. Something which can measure up to 1 kilogram, but has a resolution of 0.1 grams. Buying a small
"Drug Dealer"-style scale will also work, but you have to pop out the basket from the portafilter, otherwise it is too heavy for the scale.

Tare your portafilter before you do your dose and keep your dosage consistent. A good place to start is 15.0 grams. That gives you the flexibility to downdose to a more
conventional Italian-style 14.0 grams or a more new-wave style of updosing to 16.0 grams. (Or more, depending on your machine.) (Some new-wave coffee shops use 19 gram doses.
If you want to go that high, make sure that your coffee doesn't touch the screen, otherwise it will fracture and cause channelling.)

When your dose is inconsistent, you will run into this problem. What gave it away for me was when you mentioned you went from fast pulls to choking with a minor grinder setting.

Once you dial in your grinder and you get "Close" to where you want, adjust your dosage to "Fine Tune" the shot time. You never adjust your shot time by tamping pressure.

The purpose of tamping is to evenly distribute the grounds across the portafilter and to create a solid puck so that way you have less of a chance of things like channelling.
It shouldn't be used to adjust the speed of your shots. The key trick is to keep your tamping consistent and the same each time.

IMO, when I tamp, I just "Go by feel" for what is right and stick with it. I use a heavy tamp which approximates 30 lbs.. The thing is, you can tamp 150 lbs or you can tamp 30 lbs
and you will get the same exact result. It is only when you tamp less than 30 lbs that things start changing.

I've seen expert baristas use a light tamp, just enough to spread out the grounds in the portafilter. That can be viewed as "Good enough". Just keep in mind that all the baristas
in the shop will do this because the grinder and the dosage they're using is suitable for use with a light tamp.

Whether or not you decide to use a light or heavy tamp, that's purely up to you. It doesn't really matter as long as just keep your grind and dosage consistent for the type of
tamp you are doing and keep your tamping consistent for what is comfortable to you.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
back to top
 View Profile Contact via ICQ Contact via MSN Messenger Link to this post
emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,031
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 Sun Mar 17, 2013, 7:49pm
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

And just to be certain...the beans you are using are fresh? Roasted within two weeks or so?

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 1:11am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

emradguy Said:

And just to be certain...the beans you are using are fresh? Roasted within two weeks or so?

Posted March 17, 2013 link

I can't believe I didn't mention this! Thanks Emgradguy.

One thing I find when beans are somewhat stale is that they are very inconsistent. I once bought some vacuum packed beans which were
about 3 months past roast date. The salesperson assured me that they were just as good as fresh roasted and not to worry about it.

Well, all I can say is that every shot I pulled off those beans was completely inconsistent. Fast pulls, choking pulls and some good pulls. They were
kind of frustrating to work with.  Even though I froze what I didn't need at the time, the beans went stale in the hopper quickly (After about a week)
and were resulting in shots with poor crema, until I took the next batch out of the freezer.

I figured it was a $20 mistake that I wouldn't make again. Try switching suppliers of beans and see if you get the same behavior after you finish off
your current batch.. Good luck!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
back to top
 View Profile Contact via ICQ Contact via MSN Messenger Link to this post
calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,722
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 6:17am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

I will say again here, the tamp is the least important part of the process, BE CONSISTENT.

You grind was off and you did not get it right or even close until you changed your thinking.

The reason for the tamp is to provide a consistent bed of coffee to be presented to the flow of water. It is NOT to adjust your shot time, YOUR GRINDER DOES THAT, a $200 tamper can not make up for a poor grinder or a poor grinder adjustment.

Of course, all this is based on fresh beans.

 
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!
back to top
 View Profile Visit website Link to this post
emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,031
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 Mon Mar 18, 2013, 7:09am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

^ AMEN to that!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,039
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 7:33am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

calblacksmith Said:

It is NOT to adjust your shot time, YOUR GRINDER DOES THAT, a $200 tamper can not make up for a poor grinder or a poor grinder adjustment.

Posted March 18, 2013 link

As a general rule I agree. But I know professional baristas who adjust the difference between the single and the double shot filter by tamping differently, because they don't want to reset the grinder each time they serve a single espresso or a doppio. This requires, of course, a lot of practice and loads of experience. I certainly can't do it.

 
***
"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)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,031
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 Mon Mar 18, 2013, 7:40am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

Not saying you're wrong...but I don't really understand how this is possible.  Modifying dose to adjust for single v double makes a lot of sense to me, but not tamp.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,039
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 7:50am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

emradguy Said:

Modifying dose to adjust for single v double makes a lot of sense to me, but not tamp.

Posted March 18, 2013 link

I must admit that I don't how their dose for a single is compared to a double. It might be a combination of adjusting both.

 
***
"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)
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
kboom1
Senior Member
kboom1
Joined: 31 Aug 2009
Posts: 310
Location: Northeastern Pennsylvania
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex2HX,Alex Duetto,Rancilio...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky,Vario
Roaster: Behmor x2 / USRC Sample...
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 7:52am
Subject: Re: Better shots without tamping?
 

watching the southwest barista championships on the net the last 3 days, It looked like some of the competitors were only using a 10lb tamp or less.
back to top
 View Profile Link to this post
showing page 1 of 2 last page next page
view previous topic | view next topic | view all topics
Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Better shots...  
New Topics updated topics   New Posts new posts   Unanswered Posts new unanswered     Search Discussion Board search   Discussion Board FAQ faq   Signup sign up  
Not Logged in: Log In to Postlog in
Discussions Quick Jump:
Symbols: New Posts= New Posts since your last visit      No New Posts= No New Posts since last visit     Go to most recent post= Newest post
Forum Rules:
No profanity, illegal acts or personal attacks will be tolerated in these discussion boards.
No commercial posting of any nature will be tolerated; only private sales by private individuals, in the "Buy and Sell" forum.
No SEO style postings will be tolerated. SEO related posts will result in immediate ban from CoffeeGeek.
No cross posting allowed - do not post your topic to more than one forum, nor repost a topic to the same forum.
Who Can Read The Forum? Anyone can read posts in these discussion boards.
Who Can Post New Topics? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post new topics.
Who Can Post Replies? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post replies.
Can Photos be posted? Anyone can post photos in their new topics or replies.
Who can change or delete posts? Any CoffeeGeek member can edit their own posts. Only moderators can delete posts.
Probationary Period: If you are a new signup for CoffeeGeek, you cannot promote, endorse, criticise or otherwise post an unsolicited endorsement for any company, product or service in your first five postings.
Donate to Coffee Kids
Coffee Kids works with farming communities around the world, improving lives. Donate today.
www.coffeekids.org
Home | Opinions | Consumer Reviews | Guides & How Tos | CoffeeGeek Reviews | Resources | Forums | Contact Us
CoffeeGeek.com, CoffeeGeek, and Coffee Geek, along with all associated content & images are copyright ©2000-2014 by Mark Prince, all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Content, code, and images may not be reused without permission. Usage of this website signifies agreement with our Terms and Conditions. (0.32740187645)
Privacy Policy | Copyright Info | Terms and Conditions | CoffeeGeek Advertisers | RSS | Find us on Google+