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Thread: Sloppy puck

  1. #1
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    Sloppy puck

    G'day guys

    Sorry if this is obvious or had been asked before.

    I have a sunbeam em7000 and a breville smart grinder both 2 years old.
    I use 18g of freshly ground beans in a double shot basket, stir them with a pin and draw out about 40ml for 30 secs

    Anyway, my puck always ends up sloppy and when I remove the portafilter gets stuck the the grouphead

    Can you guys think of anything I might be doing wrong or things I can do do stop it getting so sloppy and stuck?

    Cheers!
    Last edited by science-teacher; 22nd August 2017 at 11:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    IT may only be me, but i have recently been using a new grinder and while getting use to it I have been trying all sorts of grinds, more coarse and some fine and everything in between. While doing so I have also found i have been getting some wet/watery pucks. My view on why is because i was grinding to fine, which after a few shots would make to tamp a little softer as i was fearful some shots would struggle to come through.

    I guess i should ask based on this, how hard do you tamp and is it consistent with what you always do. As i feel when i dont tamp firm enough, i seem to get some watery pucks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    G'day guys

    Sorry if this is obvious or had been asked before.

    I have a sunbeam em7000 and a breville smart grinder both 2 years old.
    I use 18g of freshly ground beans in a double shot basket, stir them with a pin and draw out about 40ml for 30 secs

    Anyway, my puck always ends up sloppy and when I remove the portafilter gets stuck the the machine

    Can you guys think of anything I might be doing wrong or things I can do do stop it getting so sloppy and stuck?

    Cheers!

    Hi,

    i believe you may be grinding too fine which is why the puck ends up more soggy and also explains your slow pour.

    For a double shot you should be extracting 60ml in 30 secs for an 18g double shot.

    The fact you are extracting only 40 ml in 30 secs would suggest your grind is on the fine side.

    Try grinding a bit coarser and see how you go.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    G'day guys

    Sorry if this is obvious or had been asked before.

    I have a sunbeam em7000 and a breville smart grinder both 2 years old.
    I use 18g of freshly ground beans in a double shot basket, stir them with a pin and draw out about 40ml for 30 secs

    Anyway, my puck always ends up sloppy and when I remove the portafilter gets stuck the the machine

    Can you guys think of anything I might be doing wrong or things I can do do stop it getting so sloppy and stuck?

    Cheers!
    How does the coffee taste? There's not necessarily a problem with extracting 40mls in 30 seconds (some prefer that). What you describe is certainly commonly associated with too fine a grind, but be wary of fixing a sloppy puck, and ending up with a less enjoyable coffee. Change one thing at a time, and let your taste buds as well as your eyes inform your next move.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabster View Post
    Hi,

    i believe you may be grinding too fine which is why the puck ends up more soggy and also explains your slow pour.

    For a double shot you should be extracting 60ml in 30 secs for an 18g double shot.

    The fact you are extracting only 40 ml in 30 secs would suggest your grind is on the fine side.

    Try grinding a bit coarser and see how you go.
    Hey
    It tastes fine but I don't think i know what good vs bad coffee tasted like.
    I was under the assumption that espresso was meant to be a 1:2 ratio, so shouldn't 18g of coffee yield me 36 ml of coffee? Or am I incorrect?
    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    How does the coffee taste? There's not necessarily a problem with extracting 40mls in 30 seconds (some prefer that). What you describe is certainly commonly associated with too fine a grind, but be wary of fixing a sloppy puck, and ending up with a less enjoyable coffee. Change one thing at a time, and let your taste buds as well as your eyes inform your next move.
    I don't consider myself familiar enough with coffee to really be able to tell if it tasted good or bad
    I'm under the impression it would under extract if i coarse up the grind
    The extraction dial is perfect and goes to 'too low' when I make it coarser, and I was udner the impression that a 1:2 ratio for g--> ml was ideal?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabster View Post
    Hi,

    i believe you may be grinding too fine which is why the puck ends up more soggy and also explains your slow pour.

    For a double shot you should be extracting 60ml in 30 secs for an 18g double shot.

    Try grinding a bit coarser and see how you go.
    I was under the impression that espresso should be a 1:2 ratio, shouldnt that mean 18g should yield me 36 ml esspresso? Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by coffeechris View Post
    IT may only be me, but i have recently been using a new grinder and while getting use to it I have been trying all sorts of grinds, more coarse and some fine and everything in between. While doing so I have also found i have been getting some wet/watery pucks. My view on why is because i was grinding to fine, which after a few shots would make to tamp a little softer as i was fearful some shots would struggle to come through.

    I guess i should ask based on this, how hard do you tamp and is it consistent with what you always do. As i feel when i dont tamp firm enough, i seem to get some watery pucks.
    G'day
    The EM7000 has an extraction dial that says this grind (5/60) on the breville grinder gets the right pressure extraction and if I do it much courser it the dial goes to underextracted.
    I tamp consistently with just enough pressure for the bench to push back.
    Thanks for your help, what are your ideas based on that?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    I don't consider myself familiar enough with coffee to really be able to tell if it tasted good or bad
    I'm under the impression it would under extract if i coarse up the grind
    The extraction dial is perfect and goes to 'too low' when I make it coarser, and I was udner the impression that a 1:2 ratio for g--> ml was ideal?
    1:2 ratio by mass is the standard. grams to mills is fine if you're talking about water. But brewed coffee produces crema, which is less dense than water.

    So 18g of ground coffee = 36g of brewed coffee (as per the 'standard') = somewhere between 50-70 mls of brewed coffee including crema.

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    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    1ml coffee does not equal 1g. The old measure is 60ml for a double (including crema), the new measure is grams in and grams out. Also 1:2 is the ballpark, use it to get you close but then move with taste. Different beans, different roasts, different people, and different combinations of the three will all need different extraction ratios and time taken.

    Always go by taste rather than the numbers (in terms of what is right, use the numbers liberally to get close etc). If you don't know what tastes good go taste more coffee. Find a recommendation on the appropriate geographic part of the cafe recommendations at the bottom of the forum front page. Find people you trust and get recommendations from them. Go taste! And then go home and compare. See if you can figure out which bits of the taste you do and don't like, and then play with your home coffee and see if you can get more/less of the good/bad. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and your coffee along the way. One of the best things that will help is if you can learn what different tastes are called, and by that I mean learn the language of coffee so that you can accurately describe what you are tasting and interpret other people's instructions. Learn it like you would any language, one word, term, or phrase at a time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    1:2 ratio by mass is the standard. grams to mills is fine if you're talking about water. But brewed coffee produces crema, which is less dense than water.

    So 18g of ground coffee = 36g of brewed coffee (as per the 'standard') = somewhere between 50-70 mls of brewed coffee including crema.
    I understand, so try coarsening the grind and get to maybe 60ml in 30 secs
    I find even now I think my shot might be blonding early, by then I reckon itll be nearly translucent?

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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    1ml coffee does not equal 1g. The old measure is 60ml for a double (including crema), the new measure is grams in and grams out. Also 1:2 is the ballpark, use it to get you close but then move with taste. Different beans, different roasts, different people, and different combinations of the three will all need different extraction ratios and time taken.

    Always go by taste rather than the numbers (in terms of what is right, use the numbers liberally to get close etc). If you don't know what tastes good go taste more coffee. Find a recommendation on the appropriate geographic part of the cafe recommendations at the bottom of the forum front page. Find people you trust and get recommendations from them. Go taste! And then go home and compare. See if you can figure out which bits of the taste you do and don't like, and then play with your home coffee and see if you can get more/less of the good/bad. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and your coffee along the way. One of the best things that will help is if you can learn what different tastes are called, and by that I mean learn the language of coffee so that you can accurately describe what you are tasting and interpret other people's instructions. Learn it like you would any language, one word, term, or phrase at a time.
    Hey mate, since I'm such a novice with tastes (and plan to improve) what would your base recommendation be?
    maybe go to the 60ml part including crema within 30 secs with a coarser grind?
    I'm worried it's blonding way too early but I plan to explore that more once I get a naked portafilter

  13. #13
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    I understand, so try coarsening the grind and get to maybe 60ml in 30 secs
    I find even now I think my shot might be blonding early, by then I reckon itll be nearly translucent?
    If you grind more coarsely (and hold everything else equal) you will extract more coffee before you hit the blonding point. Whether that happens in less time is a bit harder to say.

    But again, just change one thing at a time, slowly. And enjoy the coffee along the way.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Sloppy puck

    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    Hey mate, since I'm such a novice with tastes (and plan to improve) what would your base recommendation be?
    maybe go to the 60ml part including crema within 30 secs with a coarser grind?
    I'm worried it's blonding way too early but I plan to explore that more once I get a naked portafilter
    Hey Science-Teacher,

    One very easy experiment would be to grind courser and see if the sloppy puck disappears.

    As mentioned above, this advice is sound, use your taste to decide what is right. I know this sounds hard at first and we often look to processes and figures to fix things. Using weight and timing shots is great for gaining consistency(this helps to make sure when you change something you don't change the other factors).

    I generally keep my dose the same say 18g, I pull a shot if it looks like it's reasonable I'll taste it(you should taste any shots you make to help build up a memory of what kind of shots taste like), if it tastes sour(makes your lips pucker) then grind finer, if it tastes bitter(makes your throat close) grind courser. The other thing to keep constant(experiment first though) is the amount of coffee you are extracting, pull a few shots at say 1:1.5, 1:2, and 1:2.5 ratios this will give you a ballpark of what that particular coffee should taste like when extracted well(you may even need to try different ratios), but choose the one you like the taste of best. Lastly adjust the extraction time(short will be strong, long will be weaker) by fine adjustments on the grinder, be careful not to change your chosen ratio.

    I have found that some coffee when extracted leaves a wetter puck and others a drier puck, I think that density of different coffee's has something to do with it. Also try different amounts in the filter basket, less will generally produce a wet puck, more a drier puck, but don't get hung up on the idea that a wet puck is always a bad thing. Most important is that you're extracting everything you can from that puck(edit* extracting the best from that puck). This means getting your recipe correct, and making sure your distribution and tamping process is consistent and effective.

    All the best it sounds like you're doing really well, just keep experimenting and ultimately enjoy what you're doing.
    Last edited by Jono_Willmer; 21st August 2017 at 08:26 PM.
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    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    Most important is that you're extracting everything you can from that puck.
    I like everything else you said but this could be confusing if someone took it literally. There are soluble parts of every coffee that you absolutely do not want in your cup. Get all the good bits, leave the rest.

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    Senior Member Jono_Willmer's Avatar
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    Sloppy puck

    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    I like everything else you said but this could be confusing if someone took it literally. There are soluble parts of every coffee that you absolutely do not want in your cup. Get all the good bits, leave the rest.
    Yeah sorry, I should have left that out. I meant extract the best you can from the coffee, by fine tuning the process(I know exactly what you're saying it's a confusing statement). Plus I made some mistakes which I think I fixed up in my post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post

    In terms of extraction, the lighter roasts need higher extraction ratios and longer time taken, darker roasts need lower extraction time and less time taken. Lighter roasts will likely blonde before they should be stopped and darker roasts possibly after.

    ......

    Also the earlier part of the shot will be much stronger than later, but also more acidic (and when bad sour). The reason lighter roasts usually need higher extraction ratios is to balance the acidity. The later part of the shot will be weaker and have more caramel and chocolate notes, moving towards bitterness and astringency as you let it run. That's why darker roasts should be cut off sooner.
    Hey mate, was wondering if you could elaborate on this a bit if that's okay.

    Wasn't sure if you were referring to brew ratio (e.g. grams in to grams out, 1:2 etc) or extraction ratio in terms of TDS%.

    Makes sense in a way that lighter roasts need higher brew ratios to emphasise the acidity/fruity flavours etc, and also to be a longer shot time so that the acidity isn't too overwhelming/sour (to balance the acidity like you said). But at the same time, I'm wondering if it may be overdoing it... having higher brew ratio (faster flowing shot) would overemphasise the already present acidic aspects in the bean, in that case one need to tighten up the grind to slow down the flow and reduce the acidic component...

    And I have seen recommendations for darker roasts to have them run a bit faster, so that the bitter components aren't overemphasised (like they would be in slower shots).

    May be confusing myself and just thinking out loud here haha...

    Or I could be misreading what you're saying, it could be the opposite to what i wrote, you may be meaning higher extraction ratio in terms of slower flowing less volume shot , and lower in terms of looser... Sorry, it's late and am tired haha..

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    Please do not ever use the "sloppy puck" thing as meaning anything. I don't know how to discredit "the useless art of puckology" (a valid term I read somewhere in a coffee site) however I really wish I could. As long as the puck comes out relatively intact immediately after the shot finishes all else is utterly irrelevant. Especially in science teacher's case: most 6910's and every 7000 I have seen drop a little bit of low pressure water into the group after the shot is cut. I suspect it is to try to keep the twin showerscreens cleaner, however that is just a guess. Unless the shot is massively underextracted (i.e. bone dry and absorbent) that water will always be sitting on the top of the puck anyway. Additionally, level3ninja is 100% correct in saying that all roasts vary anyway, which makes the whole puck thing even more of a distraction / less helpful.

    Now for something much more useful and relevant:-

    One of the best teaching tests is to set up a system to give blonding at about the 25 second mark (not counting preinfusion). Then get 4 espresso glasses (cups are harder to see the colour change) and split a "25 to 30ish second" shot across all 4 glasses - about 6 to 7 seconds in each glass.

    Basically the first one is the rich low notes (chocolate to some people and roasts). The next one has a mix of low notes and a bit of regional high notes creeping in (a lot of people prefer it to a balanced shot). The third one will be virtually all high notes (i.e. regional / flavour characteristics). The last one will be watery quinine. The colour will shift from very dark to quite light from the first to last shot.

    That will teach most people more about balancing shots than any amount of explanations in words. Oh, and the resulting puck sloppiness has nothing to do with the taste of that test unless the blonding point is way off...

    Enjoy your cuppa


    TampIt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono_Willmer View Post
    Hey Science-Teacher,

    One very easy experiment would be to grind courser and see if the sloppy puck disappears.

    As mentioned above, this advice is sound, use your taste to decide what is right. I know this sounds hard at first and we often look to processes and figures to fix things. Using weight and timing shots is great for gaining consistency(this helps to make sure when you change something you don't change the other factors).

    I generally keep my dose the same say 18g, I pull a shot if it looks like it's reasonable I'll taste it(you should taste any shots you make to help build up a memory of what kind of shots taste like), if it tastes sour(makes your lips pucker) then grind finer, if it tastes bitter(makes your throat close) grind courser. The other thing to keep constant(experiment first though) is the amount of coffee you are extracting, pull a few shots at say 1:1.5, 1:2, and 1:2.5 ratios this will give you a ballpark of what that particular coffee should taste like when extracted well(you may even need to try different ratios), but choose the one you like the taste of best. Lastly adjust the extraction time(short will be strong, long will be weaker) by fine adjustments on the grinder, be careful not to change your chosen ratio.

    I have found that some coffee when extracted leaves a wetter puck and others a drier puck, I think that density of different coffee's has something to do with it. Also try different amounts in the filter basket, less will generally produce a wet puck, more a drier puck, but don't get hung up on the idea that a wet puck is always a bad thing. Most important is that you're extracting everything you can from that puck(edit* extracting the best from that puck). This means getting your recipe correct, and making sure your distribution and tamping process is consistent and effective.

    All the best it sounds like you're doing really well, just keep experimenting and ultimately enjoy what you're doing.
    G'day Jono
    I changed the grind to 10 this morning and it came out of the machine instead of being stuck, but was still a bit wet.
    I did my shot to 60ml today and tasted it (I've never had espresso alone) and it made my lips pucket and my throat close I had a laugh. Should I be mixing the crema through first? It was a small sip and mostly crema.
    Thanks a tonne

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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Really depends on the beans and the roast. The lighter roasts leaves more of the acidity in the bean and doesn't get to the caramel chocolate type flavours. The darker roasts lose all the acidity and lighter flavours for the stronger flavours and caramel and chocolate notes. Ideally the roast will be somewhere in between that has a bit of both.

    In terms of extraction, the lighter roasts need higher extraction ratios and longer time taken, darker roasts need lower extraction time and less time taken. Lighter roasts will likely blonde before they should be stopped and darker roasts possibly after.

    The colour of the coffee should be a repeatable indicator for you, but as to when it blondes and if that's when you should cut it off is debatable. What is a better indicator is when the pour goes from hot honey consistency to sort thin like water. Cut it off before that.

    Also the earlier part of the shot will be much stronger than later, but also more acidic (and when bad sour). The reason lighter roasts usually need higher extraction ratios is to balance the acidity. The later part of the shot will be weaker and have more caramel and chocolate notes, moving towards bitterness and astringency as you let it run. That's why darker roasts should be cut off sooner.
    I've never heard it put this way in regard to roasts and extraction, very good to know. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Please do not ever use the "sloppy puck" thing as meaning anything. I don't know how to discredit "the useless art of puckology" (a valid term I read somewhere in a coffee site) however I really wish I could. As long as the puck comes out relatively intact immediately after the shot finishes all else is utterly irrelevant. Especially in science teacher's case: most 6910's and every 7000 I have seen drop a little bit of low pressure water into the group after the shot is cut. I suspect it is to try to keep the twin showerscreens cleaner, however that is just a guess. Unless the shot is massively underextracted (i.e. bone dry and absorbent) that water will always be sitting on the top of the puck anyway. Additionally, level3ninja is 100% correct in saying that all roasts vary anyway, which makes the whole puck thing even more of a distraction / less helpful.

    Now for something much more useful and relevant:-

    One of the best teaching tests is to set up a system to give blonding at about the 25 second mark (not counting preinfusion). Then get 4 espresso glasses (cups are harder to see the colour change) and split a "25 to 30ish second" shot across all 4 glasses - about 6 to 7 seconds in each glass.

    Basically the first one is the rich low notes (chocolate to some people and roasts). The next one has a mix of low notes and a bit of regional high notes creeping in (a lot of people prefer it to a balanced shot). The third one will be virtually all high notes (i.e. regional / flavour characteristics). The last one will be watery quinine. The colour will shift from very dark to quite light from the first to last shot.

    That will teach most people more about balancing shots than any amount of explanations in words. Oh, and the resulting puck sloppiness has nothing to do with the taste of that test unless the blonding point is way off...

    Enjoy your cuppa


    TampIt
    I can't say the sloppy puck shots were tasting bad, more annoying that they were getting stuck in the machine, so that is good to know.
    Good to have experts that know what's going on inside my machine!
    I have seen Chris Baca do that (I think that's his name) on youtube and it looked awesome. I'll be doing it with my mate next week while I try to convert him to being a coffee snob
    Good way to learn! I had a laugh
    Thanks

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    Update for this morning
    I did my shot at grind 10 on the breville instead of 5 (out of 60)
    It came out pretty quick and I got to 60 ml including crema in about 22 seconds I think
    I think this means a grind 5 was correct, or I should use grind 10 and dose higher?

    I had a taste (I don't ever have espresso) and it was gross. I'd have to guess sour but I can't really tell (I plan to learn)
    Should I be mixing the crema through before tasting?

    Thanks everyone!

    Interesting to hear the term puckology I had a laugh

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    Ahhh right I think I know what you mean.. And true regarding the ratio not having to be dictated by flow rate as such.

    Makes sense to cut off darker roasts earlier so as not to get too much bitterness from the last part of the pour, and to have a longer timed shot for lighter roasts so there's not too much "first third" acidity/sourness of the shot.

    I think it's because I recalled something posted awhile ago to the effect of (and saved in my phone):
    "Lightly roasted beans will often like a slower pour to extract maximum flavour (otherwise they can taste more sour & acidic) - and more darkly roasted beans a slightly faster pour to prevent bitterness."

    But it seems it achieves the same thing by having a longer pour for lighter roasts (it mutes any potential sourness) which is the same result as a slower pour, and shorter pour/cutoff for darker roasts (avoids excess bitter components) which is the same result as a faster pour.

    (Although today I pulled a very fast shot 21g in, 45g out in 20s with my light-medium roasted Kenya AA beans and it was incredible, no excess sourness, so I guess exceptions can occur based on the bean hehe)

    Mind blown! (but am okay with correction )

    Thanks for that ninja!

    Okay, back to sloppy pucks topic!

  24. #24
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    You can also get a sloppy puck that sticks to the grouphead if you underdose. Assuming your grind is right, try adding a bit more coffee to the basket, try 19 or 20g, and see if that makes a difference.

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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    I've got a sure fire way of avoiding a sloppy puck - leave the portafilter in the machine until the puck dries out.

    I estimate this thread is 50% useful info and 50% BS and myth. It's been painful to read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    G'day Jono
    I changed the grind to 10 this morning and it came out of the machine instead of being stuck, but was still a bit wet.
    I did my shot to 60ml today and tasted it (I've never had espresso alone) and it made my lips pucket and my throat close I had a laugh. Should I be mixing the crema through first? It was a small sip and mostly crema.
    Thanks a tonne
    It can help to stir your shots, I do.

    If you have gram scales try weighing your shots it's easier to know how much liquid you have.

    I'd generally start with a 1:2 ratio so 18g in and 36g out, but never settle for that because coffee can taste dramaticly different even plus our minus 2-3 grams out.

    Keep practicing your technique too, being consistent is the key to repeatable results.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    I've got a sure fire way of avoiding a sloppy puck - leave the portafilter in the machine until the puck dries out.

    I estimate this thread is 50% useful info and 50% BS and myth. It's been painful to read.
    Thats what I've been doing except behind the shower screen was suffering, it got gross quick

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by science-teacher View Post
    Thats what I've been doing except behind the shower screen was suffering, it got gross quick
    I was being a little facetious so just ignore that. Seriously though just follow Jono's advice in the post above and make adjustments based on flavour. There are a whole heap of physical or visual indicators of shot quality, but none of them mean more than the result in the cup.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    I was being a little facetious so just ignore that.
    Haha you being sarcastic is my being lazy

    Will do

  30. #30
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    I've got a sure fire way of avoiding a sloppy puck - leave the portafilter in the machine until the puck dries out.

    I estimate this thread is 50% useful info and 50% BS and myth. It's been painful to read.
    Haha.. care to elaborate Leroy?

    True, "puckology" isn't really that significant as far as I can tell. I've had shots that have tasted phenomenal, and afterwards looking at the used puck I've seen various little holes around the edges. That could really mean anything, but if I got too focused on that it would detract from the actual result in the cup.

    I've found a very wet puck (that may stick to the showerscreen) to be the result of a low dose in the basket in my experience. It really doesn't matter too much, as some coffees taste much better with a lower dose, others not so much. Sometimes if the coffee is too aggressive/harsh, can help to lower the dose and grind finer which increase the proportion of caramel/sugars whilst keeping the acid/bitter balance the same.

    Will this result in a sloppier puck? Maybe, but yeah it's not as important a variable. I remember watching a video with Dan from HB talking about puckology and how the dramatic pressure release that happens when you end the shot pretty much destroys the surface of the puck with a three way solenoid valve and it's not something to worry about really
    LeroyC likes this.

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