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Thread: Modded Linea Mini just arrived

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    Modded Linea Mini just arrived

    I first made contact with Rick Bond (aka site sponsor the Coffee Machinist) in early January. I was pretty intrigued by his Linea Mini modifications. A Slayer style pre-brew or preinfusion has always been of interest to me... I like the texture of ristretto shots (I'm a dinosaur I know) and felt that longer shots with that sort of texture as well as the potential for more tasty shots because of the ability to grind finer with that style of pre-brew would be a great combination. It was really good working with Rick as I had many other custom features that I wanted. I like my steam wand to the left, so Rick managed to reroute all of the tubing, I really wanted a shot timer (I'd been spoilt by my last machine, a Profitec Pro 700), and I wanted to be able to reduce pre-brew flow rate to something like 1.5 grams per second which was achieved by fitting a smaller diameter 0.6mm gicleur. The shot timer in particular is a work of art, having been beautifully integrated into the paddle housing.

    I've only had the machine for a couple of days but it's clear that it's a really capable machine. Commercial strength steaming is an eye opener having come from three prosumer machines. I'll need to improve my steaming capabilities to handle a full 2 bar of steam pressure (milk was literally being blown out of my small milk jug) and so have dialled pressure down to 1.6 bar. I spent about an hour and a half checking brew temperature with my Scace and the integrated group head is extremely temperature stable.

    Other things that delight about this machine/setup:
    - The Linea Mini looks really amazing in the flesh (much better than photos)... the stainless panelling is thicker and more robust than I had expected;
    - The drip tray has a little funnel extending out of the back middle which makes it really easy to empty;
    - La Marzocco spouted portafilters are deep enough to accommodate triple baskets;
    - The paddle is super solid and feels wonderful - I understand that Rick does work on the paddle as consensus suggests that LM sends Linea Minis out with paddles that are much to stiff.

    Things that are not delightful:
    - The little wheel that drives the potentiometer/PID for control of the brew temp is way off... I found that it suggests that brew temp is a full four degrees celsius less than what the Scace is measuring. The only upside is that it is consistently four degrees off so once one is aware it's fine... however if I didn't have a Scace I'd feel very confused;
    - The steam and hot water knobs have LM fleur de lys symbols on them, but they are not aligned vertical when the knobs are in their off positions.

    Currently I'm running pre-brew at 2 bar for 20 seconds, with first drops of espresso hitting the cup at about 18 seconds followed by 22 seconds of 9 bar extraction. Brew ratio is 1:1. Extractions are very clean and tasty with grind only slightly finer than what I had been using on the Profitec.

    All in all, this has been a great purchase. Rick's done a great job.
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  2. #2
    kbc
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    Rick has to Melbourne's #1 when it comes to coffee machine mods. LEGEND.

    Great setup there - enjoy

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    Nice write up. What did you do with the Profitec?

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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    Nice write up. What did you do with the Profitec?
    Sold to a friend of mine... it was and is a wonderful machine.
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    Congrats on the machine, it looks fantastic. I have recently ordered one through Rick. Great mods that have been done to yours. Love the shot timer.
    I too think they look a lot better in the flesh (I have also gone with the stainless steel). As you say the stainless steel panels are so thick, and it just oozes quality.

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the difference you notice in the shots you pull using the preinfussion as apposed to just going to full pressure.

    One of the reasons I wanted to go through Rick is if I want to do the modified paddle upgrade later down the track.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davie View Post
    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the difference you notice in the shots you pull using the preinfussion as apposed to just going to full pressure.

    One of the reasons I wanted to go through Rick is if I want to do the modified paddle upgrade later down the track.
    Great question. I have an initial answer for you but there are so many variables that it's not at all a definitive response. Yesterday I roasted some washed Ethiopian Sidamo Bulga for pour over at work. Thought I'd run it through the Linea both at full pressure and with preinfusion. The results are not surprising... with 20 seconds of preinfusion and a finer grind (such that the brew ratios are the same) the coffee is noticeably less acidic, thicker in texture and a little sweeter. Straight to full pressure with a coarser grind produced more citrus notes. Both shots were great, it's all about your preferences. It's important to note that Rick adds a spring-loaded pre-infusion chamber so that even when I go straight to full pressure the modded version still has significantly more preinfusion time than the stock Linea Mini.

    One other thing that I didn't note in my original post is that the small brew boiler really does adjust very quickly. Brew temp reaches a new stable temperature in at most two minutes... that was the interval I was using to measure... so with my preshot routine I expect that the brew temperature is truly adjustable shot to shot.
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    That is AWESOME. First machine for a while that has me thinking about upgrade

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    TC
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    They really are an amazing machine. Rick's mod turns a 5.5/10 into a good 8.5. Sample one if you can....
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    Thanks heaps for the write up kwantfm!

    Thanks also for your confidence in the preinfusion system, patience during the lead time and latitude to let me do my thing with the shot timer etc! It has been a pleasure putting this 'mini with the lot' together for you.

    The paddle feel is something I work alot on. The stock setup is super stiff, and I find the hard edges from the bakelite mouldings particularly offensive. Bakelite is a great material to the touch, but it has to be SMOOTH! So that's the first step. The paddle itself rides on thick teflon friction pads, which are locked down with a double nut and some spring washers. I back off the tension, change the grease to something with lower viscosity, and change the spring washers to a star washer, to lessen the chances of the washer turning against the nut. This may need to be tensioned up slightly down the line but I figure it's better that it feel right from day one.

    Some observations from my end on the temperature wheel - These come calibrated from the factory (you can see the notes from the factory techs in sharpie), but I sometimes need to make my own 'adjustment' - this consists of pulling the wheel off the potentiometer, taking an average of a few temperature measurements at the group and re-setting the position of the wheel. Kinda crude, but I find it works.

    I have a theory why you're seeing higher temperatures on the scace device than the wheel position indicates, and it comes down to flow rates (again!). The standard gicleur in the scace measures from memory 0.3mm. When translated to flow rate from the group at 9 bar pressure, this is much higher than we'd be typically extracting an espresso at, especially with my (and yours it seems) preference to ristretto style extractions.

    This is where Newton's law of cooling plays a part. If you lower the flow rate down to a 1:1 ratio when taking measurements of temperature at the 'puck', you would see a significant drop due to the fact that heat is being lost in the portafilter/basket due to the increased dwell time.

    For a few years now I have ditched the standard fixed jet on the scace in favour of an adjustable needle valve. This is how I've set the calibration on your machine and the number should correlate once you get down to a more realistic flow rate when measuring temperature. I also semi regularly calibrate the probe to the meter in a boiling water bath.

    If you do get more data on the temperature offset at different flow rates, I'd be keen to know your findings. I use a mini gear puller to remove the dial from the potentiometer shaft but I think it could be done easy enough by hand.

    Yeah the steam pressure takes some getting used to! Do I see a different steam tip in one of those photos? What's the hole pattern/size?

    The steam knob insert alignment - yeah a few people have commented on that but I gotta say it doesn't bother me in the slightest! They are threaded, so what I'd suggest as a fix is to take them out, and carefully score the plastic thread of the white insert with a blade, against the direction of the thread. This would give enough friction to hold them in place at any angle. Maybe?

    Again, thanks and I wish you many spectacular shots. They really are a great little machine. Super quiet as well which I really like.

    -Rick

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    Thanks Rick, so sounds like I should check temperature using pre-brew right?

    Very observant on the steam tip... it's a Sproline Foam Knife which I've had plenty of luck with in the past... I might try the stock tip (I swapped it for the Foam Knife immediately).

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    kbc
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    Congrats. What an amazing difference a "Rick" can make !!

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    Stock steam tip is fabulous...

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    Agreed, the stock tip is great. The steam quantity/quality is up there with a full size LM commercial, one thing LM have always excelled at. The dedicated anti-vac, high boiler capacity/ pressure and huge diameter pipe also help, of course!
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    Modded Linea Mini just arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by coffee_machinist View Post
    Agreed, the stock tip is great. The steam quantity/quality is up there with a full size LM commercial, one thing LM have always excelled at. The dedicated anti-vac, high boiler capacity/ pressure and huge diameter pipe also help, of course!
    Since picking mine up from Chris at Talk Coffee (modified by Rick prior to purchase) I have discovered that this is not only the most powerful steamer if have ever used but also the easiest to make silky milk with. Amazing. Tip just below the surface and go for it. About 8 seconds later (or so it seems) and it's all over. A quick swirl and good to go!!



    Thanks go to both Chris and Rick. Lovely machine and great service as always from both, especially to Chris for opening the shop for me to pick up at a time when he wouldn't normally be open.

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    Is that the La Marzocco Lux Grinder with that Luke?

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    Quote Originally Posted by snedden9485 View Post
    Is that the La Marzocco Lux Grinder with that Luke?
    Looks bigger than a Lux to my eye... Kony?
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    Quote Originally Posted by snedden9485 View Post
    Is that the La Marzocco Lux Grinder with that Luke?
    No mate a Kony-E...... I wish the grinder matched!!
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    Congrats all...These mini's seem quite flawless
    I do not think I have ever read a bad thing about them.
    Enjoy!

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    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Hi kwantfm and others,

    I am seriously considering this as an upgrade to my current Duetto II and was wondering if the height between the drip tray and portafilter is enough to allow the use of barista scales with the standard La Marzocco supplied handles? Are the portafilter's a very different fit to an E61 group? I have a Pulman handle on my Duetto and would like to keep using it. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukemc View Post
    Since picking mine up from Chris at Talk Coffee (modified by Rick prior to purchase) I have discovered that this is not only the most powerful steamer if have ever used but also the easiest to make silky milk with. Amazing. Tip just below the surface and go for it. About 8 seconds later (or so it seems) and it's all over. A quick swirl and good to go!!



    Thanks go to both Chris and Rick. Lovely machine and great service as always from both, especially to Chris for opening the shop for me to pick up at a time when he wouldn't normally be open.
    Are you happy with the colour match with the Kony E? What is it you wished matched? I have a Kony E also and really like this combo, congrats on a stunning setup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    Are you happy with the colour match with the Kony E? What is it you wished matched? I have a Kony E also and really like this combo, congrats on a stunning setup.
    Yeah I am happy but I'm thinking of going back to a flat burr grinder with less retention. I find I waste a I had a laugh of beans when I dial in my roasts as I like to swap and change beans a bit. Once it's dialed in though it's great.

    I haven't critically looked at the blacks to see if they match but I can if you like.

    I'm not sure you'd be able to use scales with the stock group to be honest.

    Did you want a close up pic of the two blacks?

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    Baratza encore or wait for the sette w (which is still a conical but no retention) I want to be able to dose by weight

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    Hi kwantfm and others,

    I am seriously considering this as an upgrade to my current Duetto II and was wondering if the height between the drip tray and portafilter is enough to allow the use of barista scales with the standard La Marzocco supplied handles? Are the portafilter's a very different fit to an E61 group? I have a Pulman handle on my Duetto and would like to keep using it. Thanks
    There is plenty of room between drip tray and PF and I use a pretty thick scale when I (occasionally) weigh shots. E61 PFs are supposed to be compatible with LM group heads, but I haven't actually verified.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    Hi kwantfm and others,

    I am seriously considering this as an upgrade to my current Duetto II and was wondering if the height between the drip tray and portafilter is enough to allow the use of barista scales with the standard La Marzocco supplied handles? Are the portafilter's a very different fit to an E61 group? I have a Pulman handle on my Duetto and would like to keep using it. Thanks
    Not a huge amount of room under the portafilter with a scale but you can still fit one as in the attached image.
    My previous machine was a Expobar Minore which I had a naked portafilter however it did not fit the mini.
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    In the US they have just announced a pimped version with an Acaia Lunar scale that fits into the drip tray.
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    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Tok much science takes the fun out of it.
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    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davie View Post
    Not a huge amount of room under the portafilter with a scale but you can still fit one as in the attached image.
    My previous machine was a Expobar Minore which I had a naked portafilter however it did not fit the mini.
    Wow that is very tight, I have a Duetto which I thought was fairly low.

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    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwantfm View Post
    There is plenty of room between drip tray and PF and I use a pretty thick scale when I (occasionally) weigh shots. E61 PFs are supposed to be compatible with LM group heads, but I haven't actually verified.
    I think you're right with a naked portafilter it would be fine, I'm sure Rick Bond could make a holder for the Brewiasta scales in the drip tray.
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  29. #29
    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukemc View Post
    Yeah I am happy but I'm thinking of going back to a flat burr grinder with less retention. I find I waste a I had a laugh of beans when I dial in my roasts as I like to swap and change beans a bit. Once it's dialed in though it's great.

    I haven't critically looked at the blacks to see if they match but I can if you like.

    I'm not sure you'd be able to use scales with the stock group to be honest.

    Did you want a close up pic of the two blacks?
    Thanks for the feedback, I am just glad you clarified the details, the blacks I'm sure will be close enough. I'm super interested in whether people are going to be long term fans of this machine.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    Tok much science takes the fun out of it.
    Yep, its all becoming very geeky.

    I do enjoy a well made cup of espresso, which I seem to be able to achieve every time without pretending to be a chemist.

    Perhaps someone should start a thread titled (Espresso unplugged) for us minimalist types.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coffee_machinist View Post
    I have a theory why you're seeing higher temperatures on the scace device than the wheel position indicates, and it comes down to flow rates (again!). The standard gicleur in the scace measures from memory 0.3mm. When translated to flow rate from the group at 9 bar pressure, this is much higher than we'd be typically extracting an espresso at, especially with my (and yours it seems) preference to ristretto style extractions.
    In addition I'm thinking that if a puck is being wet at a dribbling 1.5 g/s for a 20 second preinfusion, the puck will be quite a bit cooler than brew temp and thus a larger thermal mass to overcome than dry or more quickly wet grounds.
    Last edited by simonko; 11th July 2016 at 11:13 AM. Reason: spelling

  32. #32
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    Speaking of geeky....

    Just working on implementing a shot timer and passive group head temperature display for the Mini, I think I have the hardware sussed but the implementation is far from finished. I'm interested to know, from people that already own an LMLM or are considering one, would this feature be worth circa $600 to you? Mounting of the display will be either in the stainless panel just above the paddle cover, or in the paddle cover itself - this will require some more tinkering but perhaps it can be done, got to brush up on my desoldering skills. I doubt it will be available as a DIY kit, but I won't rule it out.

    It's an interesting one, the current trend to scientific analysis of every single variable in espresso. For me personally I like having the numbers available, but I also realise all too often they don't tell anything like the whole story, and often lead to a counterproductive assumption that if a value is 'correct' the end product will be good.

    I think there is worth in having quantitative data of as many factors as possible available. You might say scientific inquiry has not done anything for espresso in the last 15 years and a lab coats should not be anywhere near a barista, but at the end of the day if it helps someone on their journey to coffee they personally get the most out of, it's a good thing. Illy was a scientist after all!

    Link to external demo video: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH13Qh6DD86/
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    I would be very interested. Re: the temperature, would you be displaying the temp the user has set, the actual group head temp or both? My strong preference would be for both to be accessable via the digital display. I would like it to default to actual, with set temp toggled via button press because the dodgy display wheel doesn't display the temp numbers

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    Quote Originally Posted by coffee_machinist View Post
    It's an interesting one, the current trend to scientific analysis of every single variable in espresso. For me personally I like having the numbers available, but I also realise all too often they don't tell anything like the whole story, and often lead to a counterproductive assumption that if a value is 'correct' the end product will be good.

    I think there is worth in having quantitative data of as many factors as possible available.
    I'd like to think that consideration and measurement of more variables would help to rid espresso of some of the dogma.

    But sadly, my impression is that it is generally creating more confusion, fostering the creation of even more unhelpful coffee-specific jargon (often based on half baked concepts) and seems to be focused on individual variables, completely ignoring their interdependence (and in some cases, equivalence).
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    Also in the video you linked to what was the set temp for that machine?

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    Very very cool.

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    Anti-science crew coming across as haters.
    Interesting to see the parallels between espresso-brewing community and beer-brewing community.
    At the end of the day, everybody is entitled to their preferred approach and as long the final result in the cup (or glass) makes you happy, that's all that matters.

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    Owning one of your modified LMLMs (which I love), I personally don't feel the need for temperature display. I'm confident after having Scace'd the relationship between the brew temperature and the temperature wheel.

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    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwantfm View Post
    Owning one of your modified LMLMs (which I love), I personally don't feel the need for temperature display. I'm confident after having Scace'd the relationship between the brew temperature and the temperature wheel.
    It's not knowing that would worry me, I think most of us wouldn't have access to a SCACE device so knowing the true temperature would be a huge benefit, but I haven't got a Mini so my comments are void.

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    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotchparty1 View Post
    Anti-science crew coming across as haters.
    Off topic post coming up please skip if it offends you

    I'm not anti science, I actually have a science degree. I do however, see a lot of people using gadgets as a crutch or replacement for actually learning the art of making coffee.
    The science should be used to validate/supplement/enhance the art not to replace it.
    Last edited by trentski; 16th July 2016 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Phone typing
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    Each to their own Trenski. If a PID and a set of scales improves my coffee over guessing the temp and eyeballing the dose/yield then I'm going to use it.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotchparty1 View Post
    Anti-science crew coming across as haters.
    Rubbish.

    People have been making coffee and cooking for centuries without the aid of science, suddenly a few gadgets become available and the processes cant be carried out without using em.

    Some people can cook, some cant, no science needed just a bit of aptitude and skill.
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    OK but to my taste buds I can roast a better bean in a behmor (for example) than you can on a fire pit. If you're happy with your fire pit blend then keep doing your thing... and I'll do mine. Not saying you can't make coffee without gadgets.

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    Technology, installed and used appropriately, is great for fine-tuning what may already be a great machine for an end-user who understands what it takes to consistently make great coffee. Can also be used to make, what may be a tiresome process (for some), more convenient and enjoyable.

    However, some of the best coffee I've ever tasted was made using very basic and inexpensive equipment. Technology has its place, but not ahead of an understanding of what's required to produce consistently excellent coffee in the cup...

    Mal.
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Keep in mind the old idiom.

    a bad workman blames his tools

    If someone performs a job or task poorly or unsuccessfully, he or she will usually lay the blame on the quality of his or her equipment, or other such external factors, rather than take responsibility for his or her own failure.

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    Modded Linea Mini just arrived

    In terms of roaster "technology" I use thermocouples and Artisan. Accurate temperature readings allow me to be more consistent.
    Last edited by kwantfm; 17th July 2016 at 05:23 AM.

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    I work at one of Australia's top wineries (Paringa Estate) and we produce a number of well renowned wines. Our "Estate" series of wines are superlative examples of their kind and each has earned numerous gongs through the years. These wines are cleanly made wines, technically made to the numbers.

    However, our top wines are the Single Vineyard series. These wines follow old world, semi-unclean, artisan winemaking traditions... do not follow any preset notions of right or wrong when it comes to numbers and when the winemaker is asked how he managed to produce such mind-blowing wines, his response... invariably.. is... "I don't know... it just happened"

    Our top Pinot Noir and our top Shiraz are both ALWAYS on Langton's Top 100 wine list and both those wines are always made by an artisan winemaker with an inherent feel for what works... screw the numbers.

    Some can... some can't

    Given the battle between art and science I'll take art each and every time

    Nothing to do with hate
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    Given the battle between art and science I'll take art each and every time

    Nothing to do with hate
    Thanks Vinitasse... I really enjoyed your post and I've been thinking about it for the past few hours.

    By way of background my undergraduate degree (decades ago) was medicine, I ended up transitioning to the finance industry. My training points to hard, quantitative control methodologies. Laboratories, spreadsheets, Monte Carlo simulations... they are, or have been, my stock tools for dealing with the world. I'm also married to an artist. Your post jogged some shallow grave thoughts about philosophically how each of us goes about making decisions, enough to trigger a fun Sunday morning chat with the better half.

    So in our chat this morning, we considered what the actual objective and the processes involved in getting to that objective are. I think in a previous post of mine (clouded by too much pinot noir and rum) I suggested that measurement allowed me to be more "consistent". I now think that that is not quite right, I'd suggest that measurement allows me (perhaps) to obtain more reproducible results. It struck me that "reproducible" is an interesting objective... perhaps not a great objective from some perspectives.

    When I roast coffee, I tend to change up a single variable each time. Charge temperature, time to different points (either measured by bean temp or sensory triggers), amount of airflow at different times, drop temp. But then my wife asked me whether I knew the full set of control variables. I don't know much about winemaking (as will be obvious) but I imagine that there are a set of control points that are well understood (e.g. picking grapes at certain Brix levels, the effect of cultured yeasts, length and temperature of fermentation, percentage of stalks incorporated) but that there will be some things that are inherently unknowable (unknown unknowns or known unknowns such as the effect of wild yeasts).

    Apologies for the random scatter plot of thoughts... and I think that in the spirit of your no hate post "given the battle between art and science" I'll take a bit of both "each and every time".

    P.S. Does the wine maker at Paringa feel frustrated at the "I don't know... it just happened" phenomenon???

  49. #49
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    387
    May as well get instruments to do the tasting and drinking of the coffee too...
    Vinitasse likes this.

  50. #50
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    711
    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    May as well get instruments to do the tasting and drinking of the coffee too...
    Did what I wrote really come across like that? I clearly need to work on my communication skills!

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