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What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > What exactly are...  
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888RP
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Mar 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Cuadra
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sat Apr 27, 2013, 6:16am
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

dana_leighton Said:

Yes. In my case, I have a 15g and 18g.



Experimentation. When I get a new coffee, I start with the basket's rated dose, and then vary from there based on taste. I have always found the 15g basket to taste best with 14.5-15g of coffee, but your results will vary based on your grinder and machine. There is some indication, for example, that the Mazzer grinders may taste better with overdosing, but my Macap MXK will taste better with a smaller dose. The headroom will also vary by machine and portafilter geometries.

No. When I dose into my 15g basket, the grounds heap up above the lip of the basket, but I simply tamp straight down.



In my case, I use an 18g basket when the coffee tastes better in it. I find that some blends taste better in the 18g basket, but many of the SO coffees I brew taste better with the 15g basket.

Posted April 25, 2013 link

Thanks!

2 qs - 1. Do you generally use your fingers when you level the grinds in the of when they're above the ridge and then tamp straight down? Not sure what the best method is when the grinds are above the ridge of your pf ie dosing 20g in an 18g basket

Also if I were to add 2 vst's to my arsenal would you suggest a 16 and 18g for a beginner?


Qualin - how's your new 18 g vst treating you? Any thoughts / observations?
Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my q's
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dana_leighton
Moderator
dana_leighton
Joined: 11 Jan 2002
Posts: 1,937
Location: Little Rock, AR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Isomac Relax; Caferina...
Grinder: Macap MXK; Baratza Vario-W;...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: Technivorm; CCD; Melitta
Roaster: Poppery I w/PID controller
Posted Sat Apr 27, 2013, 9:44am
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

888RP Said:

2 qs - 1. Do you generally use your fingers when you level the grinds in the of when they're above the ridge and then tamp straight down? Not sure what the best method is when the grinds are above the ridge of your pf ie dosing 20g in an 18g basket

Posted April 27, 2013 link

Well, I simply do not overdose the basket. The instructions for the VST are to dose into the basket, tap twice to settle the grounds and tamp. I have followed these directions and haven't had trouble, but I am not trying, for example, to stuff 17.5g into a 15g basket. So, leveling the grounds is not an issue for me.

Also if I were to add 2 vst's to my arsenal would you suggest a 16 and 18g for a beginner?

There is no 16g basket. I chose a 15g because I like the flavor profile I get from smaller doses ground more finely, but that may be a product of the kinds of coffee I brew, my grinder, and my machine. Your results will likely be different. If I were you, I'd go with the 18 and 20 since you seem to like up dosing. Try the 18g with 20g coffee stuffed into it, and try the 20g with 20g. You will get different flavors.

 
Dana Leighton - Espresso hack and CoffeeGeek moderator
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PrescottCR
Senior Member
PrescottCR
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Prescott
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Breville
Grinder: Baratza
Roaster: Diedrich
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 5:37pm
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

Alright.

How about this?

Anyone tried the 7gm baskets? I roast coffee for a living and I prefer to do single shots if possible. I realize that with blends I'm running the risk of getting inconsistent results, but my blend components are all over 12% which should reduce the risk.

Also, several of my wholesale customers have commercial machines that come with 7gm baskets, and they all seem pretty useless. For a commercial operation they can't afford to change the grind from one basket to another, so I tell them to do doubles (14gm in their case) and let one pour off.

I just got a couple 7gm VST and a 40mm tamp to play with, and the shots are wonderful. I'm stopping the flow at 14gm liquid espresso in just over 20 seconds. The puck is a mess at the end, but they coffee is good...

Any ideas/experience is appreciated.

Thanx!

Rich
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PrescottCR
Senior Member
PrescottCR
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Prescott
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Breville
Grinder: Baratza
Roaster: Diedrich
Posted Sun May 5, 2013, 10:36am
Subject: Answering my own question..
 

I realize no one else asked about 7g baskets, but just in case there is some interest out there-

The 7g VST baskets do seem to have a lot more flow through area, just like the larger VST baskets. That is, there are more holes. Build quality is excellent, again like the larger VST baskets.

The appropriate tamp size is a bit hard to find. I wound up on eBay and bought a tamp & base to fit. I think it's 40.7mm or something around that size.

My hope was that a grind that works for a 15gm basket would work for a 7gm basket. Success. Shots with the 7gm basket hit 14gm in poured espresso in 23-25 seconds. That might seem short, but who cares. They were some of the best espresso shots I've pulled. Pour that shot on top of 4-5oz of water and you have a beautiful, short Americano that lets you enjoy them for a few minutes. Perfect for sampling a few different roasts as I hoped.

Pros- Excellent build, excellent shots. One grind to do doubles and singles. Which appeals to cafe owners more than home espresso enthusiasts, but I mention it just in case. Small amounts when you want it.  

Cons- 40mm tamp base, dosing is tricky. I wound up cutting up a scoop that came with a Hario pour-over to use as a ring which feeds the ground espresso right into the 40mm basket. That works pretty well. Lastly- mess. At least on my machine I'm getting a nice, soggy puck with a little puddle on top. I think there's only so much a 3 way valve can do to dry out a puck that isn't where it's supposed to be.

Some of the stock baskets with home machines are 'almost useful' as I like to say. I can say a VST basket will make your end result much better if you have one of these just-this-side-of-tinfoil baskets. You MUST have a good grinder (goes without saying, but I typed it) and good dosing/tamping technique. I'm sure there are tapered baskets out there that will work too.

Hope this all proves helpful to someone. If there is any curiosity to the 7g baskets I'm happy to take some pix of the tamp, plastic dosing ring (from scoop) and wet pucks or whatever.
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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 May 5, 2013, 3:01pm
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

888RP Said:

Qualin - how's your new 18 g vst treating you? Any thoughts / observations?

Posted April 27, 2013 link

Sorry for the late response, there hasn't been a lot of updates on this thread.

I've been sticking with the 20g basket, mostly because I kind of like a sweeter tasting cappuccino/latte and I
like sticking to 19 gram doses.

I've been working through a few different blends lately with the 20 gram basket. I really haven't had a chance
to try dosing 16 gram doubles with the 18 gram basket yet, but I probably should, if only out of curiosity.

Here are a few things I've noticed right away in comparison to the stock baskets which came with my Duetto:

  1. The 20 gram VST I've been working with has retained it's shiny finish after a month of knocking out pucks with it.
  2. It's extremely easy to clean. Pucks knock out a lot cleaner than the stock baskets.
  3. Looks good. The stock baskets had a dull matte aluminum look to them.
  4. Does its job. I get good consistency and I've noticed reduced channeling, but this could just be a mental thing.
  5. The flat bottom makes it easy to get a consistent puck and an easy tamp.

I use a flat bottomed Rattleware tamper, it always kind of annoyed me when the tamper would "Rock" in the basket
after I finished a tamp. I felt I wasn't getting a solid enough tamp. Maybe this was a mental thing, but having a flat
bottomed basket just kind of gives me peace of mind because I'm not going neurotic wondering if the tamper went
down far enough in the basket or that I'm unevenly tamping.

Maybe I'm suffering a little bit from "Audiophile" syndrome in regards to switching from stock baskets to VST baskets.
My main motivation for moving to VST baskets were the flat bottoms and that it is extremely easy to dose 19 grams
into a basket which is meant for it. (As opposed to dosing 19 grams into a stock 16 gram basket.)

All in all, I don't honestly think that my VST baskets have made my coffee taste any better, but what I do think they've
done is make my coffee significantly easier to prepare and add a bit more consistency to the way I make my coffee.

If anything though, one thing that I really enjoy immensely is that fact that now I can select from a wide variety of
doses and start "Playing around", using anything from a 14 gram dose all the way straight up to a 24 gram dose.
With the stock baskets, I really didn't have that flexibility.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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888RP
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Mar 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Cuadra
Grinder: Vario
Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 8:22am
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

Thanks for the feedback.. i bought an 18g VST last week and have been dosing 18g in it. The results have been an absolute mess... very bitter espresso, lots of squirting, lots of premature blonding.. my stock naked pf was yielding much better results. i would dose 18 in these and get a very nice shot.

with the vst i find that it's either very bitter because i'm pulling way less than 2 oz in 30 seconds or i'm pulling 2 oz in 25-30 seconds but it starts blonding at 15-20ish seconds... i always tend to consistently get 2 streams out of the vst for the first 10-15 seconds where as with the stock i get one very nice stream from t - 5 seconds to 30

those were just my observations, i'm glad others are having better luck with it :-)
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PrescottCR
Senior Member
PrescottCR
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Prescott
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Breville
Grinder: Baratza
Roaster: Diedrich
Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 9:33am
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

888RP Said:

Thanks for the feedback.. i bought an 18g VST last week and have been dosing 18g in it. The results have been an absolute mess... very bitter espresso, lots of squirting, lots of premature blonding.. my stock naked pf was yielding much better results. i would dose 18 in these and get a very nice shot.

with the vst i find that it's either very bitter because i'm pulling way less than 2 oz in 30 seconds or i'm pulling 2 oz in 25-30 seconds but it starts blonding at 15-20ish seconds... i always tend to consistently get 2 streams out of the vst for the first 10-15 seconds where as with the stock i get one very nice stream from t - 5 seconds to 30

those were just my observations, i'm glad others are having better luck with it :-)

Posted May 7, 2013 link

Premature blonding could be from channeling, squirting also. VSTs seem to require very a fine grind which is pushing some grinders to their limits. If your volume (over time) is low then I would think you need to open the grind a bit. Are you getting clumps out of your grinder? That can cause channeling too.

If you have the beans then keep adjusting. Try more or less in your dose. 18g sits very low in my VSTs, I bet I could put 20g in with no problems.

Good luck!
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 847
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 11:16am
Subject: Re: What exactly are VST baskets and are they worth it?
 

888RP Said:

Thanks for the feedback.. i bought an 18g VST last week and have been dosing 18g in it. The results have been an absolute mess... very bitter espresso, lots of squirting, lots of premature blonding.. my stock naked pf was yielding much better results. i would dose 18 in these and get a very nice shot.

with the vst i find that it's either very bitter because i'm pulling way less than 2 oz in 30 seconds or i'm pulling 2 oz in 25-30 seconds but it starts blonding at 15-20ish seconds... i always tend to consistently get 2 streams out of the vst for the first 10-15 seconds where as with the stock i get one very nice stream from t - 5 seconds to 30

those were just my observations, i'm glad others are having better luck with it :-)

Posted May 7, 2013 link

My suggestion is  snug it up a tiny bit at the time until your getting 19.5g in the basket with enough head room when tamped (scale it after the basket is prepared). I would go so far as to say don't bother pulling another shot through it until you hit that weight on the scale. When you do pull it and see what happens. If your running way long or choking the machine all together adjust the grinder up a micro click or two, take .10 off your timer, scale it and try again.19.5g should be about all you can pack into that VST. My Duetto is set to 9 bar and 18.7g of redbird equals a bad ass shot both visually and in the cup. It took me some time learning to love my VSTs as well but I would not trade them now.

Don't worry about the two streams dancing around and becoming one. if you just cant get a result then i would suspect beans or the VST is putting some defect in your distribution technique into focus for you. That Vario is plenty capable of grinding for the VST.

 
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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