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Thread: Where have all of our experts gone?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Where have all of our experts gone?

    Is it just my perception or have many of our more knowledgeable contributors (with a few notable exceptions) on Coffee Snobs fallen by the wayside over the past few years?

    Seems to me much of the advice being offered now is coming from people who are still obviously trying to find their own way, and, often offering questionable solutions.

    Wondering if it's forum burnout, I imagine you can only answer the same query re dosing, tamping, grind size etc so many times without becoming a little jaded, I'm guilty of ignoring poor advice, I tend to shy away from correcting people nowadays, simply because the whole thing usually turns into a shit fight with more of the uninformed jumping in and compounding the situation.

    A lot of what we see now is a bit like elevator music, it's there but you don't pay much attention to it.
    Last edited by Yelta; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:14 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    The answer to your question is yes, the CS brains trust has diminished over time. A pity as the forum needs more experts with true perspective gained from having tried a wide range of equipment and coffee. Unfortunately, some had commercial interests that led them to pushing their own barrows a little too hard. Others strongly believed that their way was the only way.
    Will they return? I hope so but that is their decision. In the meantime, CS needs to keep on moving. In my early days, I put forward the idea of having FAQs to address the common questions such as what machine should I buy or why are my shots no good. Now, I think it is important that we continue to have and answer these questions to help ensure the survival of CS.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    People come, people go. That's forums for ya. Sometimes it's a good thing, making way for new ideas. Sometimes not so much

    There's also a bit of a changing tide with the rise of Facebook groups; some ex-CS-brains-trusteers can be found thereabouts.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    As Matt says, Forums do ebb and flow.
    I am on a sports car forum and new, rude younger members have chased just about all the older members away.
    There are only a few 'die-hards' like me left who refuse to be pushed around by bad mannered cowards who hide behind avatars.
    It's about good moderation.
    Let's hope it doesn't happen here.
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  5. #5
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    Yes a lot of the quality contributors have definitely left....

  6. #6
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    As Matt says, Forums do ebb and flow.
    I am on a sports car forum and new, rude younger members have chased just about all the older members away.
    There are only a few 'die-hards' like me left who refuse to be pushed around by bad mannered cowards who hide behind avatars.
    Ahhh yes, the all encompassing brashness of youth and enthusiasm does tend to be a little abrasive at times, not much there that time won't take care of

    As Flynn commented, perhaps the rise of Facebook and Twitter have a part to play in what seems to be a decline in forum activity generally, I've noticed a couple of other forums I frequent have also experienced a marked slow down.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I did have to laugh when I noted that a former regular poster had a reference on their own website that proudly (and correctly) proclaimed that they were a 3000 post veteran of this forum. Then they magically became a 3000 post veteran of another forum (but they only have 280-odd posts on it).
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    I did have to laugh when I noted that a former regular poster had a reference on their own website that proudly (and correctly) proclaimed that they were a 3000 post veteran of this forum. Then they magically became a 3000 post veteran of another forum (but they only have 280-odd posts on it).
    I guess that would be our ex resident truth bender having said that, even he added something to the forum that sadly, seems to be missing now.
    PS Didn't take him long to rack up 3000, given he was around for less than 12 months.
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  9. #9
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    It's all relative really. Anyone who knows more than me is an expert (relatively) so I find this place pretty expert loaded. Keep it churning away

  10. #10
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Sorry Yelta, Iíve just been really busy with work and family commitments.
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  11. #11
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    A surprising number of the brain trust are no longer around because they've had to give up coffee for health reasons. (Sucks to grow old!) Then there are those whose interests have moved onto other fields. Some have died. A couple have turned into major problems and been disinvited, and some have moved on of their own accord.

    As anyone who's been around forums, especially large ones, for a long time knows -- it's pretty rare for any sizable percentage of users to remain highly active on them for more than a few years at most. Plus we're now entering the slower time of the year as people get into more outdoor activities and spend less time online.


    Java "Long time what?" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  12. #12
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    I agree with most of what's been posted in this thread and have to say the "disinvited" that Javaphile mentioned, have taken a huge amount of stress out of our lives behind the scenes. The troublemakers really do leave a sour taste and create a huge amount of work that many of you never see.

    We also have runs of new users too lazy to read a thread or search before asking a question and those typically get ignored by all the "old timers" as we are all too happy to help someone who is helping themselves and get irritated by gen-Y demands of "help me now".

    Maybe a lot of new people are quiet because they found all the answers they needed too?

    All in all I like where the forum is now, there is core of really good people who are having fun and sharing their experiences with others and there is very little sales pimping and stealth talking down other company products. New people are welcomed in the fold and in a short time they too are helping others find their way.

    I think we are all doing okay and the coffee is great!

  13. #13
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    I think we are all doing okay and the coffee is great!
    Amen.
    In terms of continuous and helpful contribution, isn't Mal deserving of a CS sainthood by now .

  14. #14
    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    Its a good forum and the only forum I can remember my username and password on. Every day I come and check it for all the information, news and to see whats new. Its become a habit for me which i never thought i would have and i wouldn't change it from how it is now or to when i first joined.

    My Coffee taste better now because of the information gain of this site, I'm grateful for that.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    Amen.
    In terms of continuous and helpful contribution, isn't Mal deserving of a CS sainthood by now .
    He's the Grand Ole Man of CS!


    Java "Three cheers for Mal!" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    I think an FAQ of the basics would make it an easy reference for anyone to get the standard information without having to search, which at times can be tricky as there is so much (generally very good) info here.

    I have learnt a lot here and try to help others where I can.

    Cheers
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    I think an FAQ of the basics would make it an easy reference for anyone to get the standard information without having to search, which at times can be tricky as there is so much (generally very good) info here.

    I have learnt a lot here and try to help others where I can.

    Cheers
    I've seen it done on other forums Artman, with little success, seems if people are either too lazy or unable to use the search feature they also overlook the FAQ section as well.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    He's the Grand Ole Man of CS!


    Java "Three cheers for Mal!" phile
    Now there's a statement I'm pretty sure won't be contradicted.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Original post deleted due to misunderstanding.
    Last edited by Yelta; 2 Weeks Ago at 06:36 PM.

  20. #20
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    I agree with this. For me just starting out, you almost want a recipe for success. Grind 21g, pull for 30sec at X mount ml/sec... etc, etc. I think most people are overwhelmed with all the potential of variances. (grind, tamp pressure, coffee type, basket size, pull times, water types and it goes on and on). People have busy lives and want things to just work providing they follow a set sequence. (this is something a lot of people don't realise when they get into making coffee at home it's not just pressing a button). Which is why there is a plethora of scales, timers, calibrated pressure tampers, digital thermometers, electronic dosers - all things trying to provide a known repeatable amount/figure/whatever.

    Once you have the basics down you can start introducing small things to make subtle changes which can go against the original advice but suit your tastes. You probably ditch the scales, buy a std tamper etc. (maybe)

    So maybe a FAQ with the very basics of a starting point to aim for, like the milk frothing guide someone posted which helped me immensely (simple, repeatable, works). Which basket size to use (one book I read said throw the single basket out and only use a double basket?), how many grams to grind, tamping pressure, how to to do basic troubleshooting on those variables. etc, etc.

    Most of the information is available in the forums, but you have to read a hell of a lot of old threads to sift through it all.

    My 2 cents :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    I think an FAQ of the basics would make it an easy reference for anyone to get the standard information without having to search, which at times can be tricky as there is so much (generally very good) info here.

    I have learnt a lot here and try to help others where I can.

    Cheers

  21. #21
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    An interesting observation Yelta.

    I still consider myself a relative newbie to the forum after lurking and then actively posting for not even a year. Even in my short time the same posts do get rehashed (yes even I am guilty of such crimes) but often many users come here for a little reassurance they are on the right path often about dose, grind and tamp (the basics).

    However there really is two (or more) layers to the forum -
    1. Those who come to seek the first steps of the journey to better coffee, usually affirmation of the basics or some simple pointers
    2. Those who are already on the path and come to share ideas about going from 'can make coffee at home' to 'making truly exceptional coffee' - and there is a large variety in between

    Personally I enjoy both aspects and think many of the old timers on CS sit on the far right of the the exceptional coffee skill set and can offer much wisdom to those on the far left. But we all start somewhere.

    Too long, didn't read version: Coffee Snobs is like an onion - it has layers.

  22. #22
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    I’ve been here since 2012 but haven’t really been posting much. I too have observed that many members seem to have moved on.

    I do understand the frustration that the longtime members have everytime someone comes in to ask something for the nth time. But to be honest, the search function comes up with so many hits (some unrelated) and for someone who’s a newbie, just navigating through those is a nightmare.

    I appreciate the fact that some newish members try to offer advice to even newer ones. Granted, the advice may not always be the right one, but we all have to start somewhere... Surely a gentle nudge in the right direction wouldn’t hurt? It is certainly better than ignoring or completely shutting down a first time poster.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Interesting the way threads evolve! I'm wondering who would even consider setting up a FAQ sticky, certainly not me, a path fraught with danger.

    Given there are so many different methods of brewing coffee with countless variables, every piece of advice would be open to dispute and challenge.

    Just did a search and found this by Caleb Podhaczky, perhaps a starting point.

    I've posted it a number of times in the past, the basics are there, all you need is a little imagination to extrapolate the information to your own situation.

    Hows that for a nudge?

    How to make the perfect espresso at home

    Date
    March 4, 2013
    Champion barista Caleb Podhaczky, a roaster for Five Senses, shares his wisdom on making cafe-quality espresso at home with Jane Holroyd.
    How to make the perfect espresso
    Victoria's reigning barista champion Caleb Podhaczky demonstrates how to make the perfect espresso at home.
    Caleb Podhaczky makes about 20 or 30 espresso coffees a day in his role as a roaster (and taster) for Five Senses, a coffee importer and wholesaler that supplies cafes and restaurants throughout Australia.
    Podhaczky no longer works as a barista but still likes to flex his muscle in competition; he was named Victorian Barista of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and will compete at the Australian barista titles in Melbourne this month.
    He says making a perfect, cafe-quality espresso at home is achievable with a bit of trial and error. Here are his tips for those with an espresso machine.

    Fresh beans can help deliver an espresso with a good crema. Photo: Marco Del Grande
    1. Beans: Buy your coffee beans from a specialist supplier who knows how old the beans are and when and where they were processed and roasted. Fresher beans produce a better espresso, which should be viscous and full of flavour with a good crema. A bad coffee will be thin and flat-tasting.
    Advertisement
    Always buy whole beans. Fresh beans should be stored away from light and heat at a constant temperature. There's no need to store beans in the freezer; a cupboard away from a heat source will suffice, but use them within three weeks. Make sure the beans are kept in an airtight container.



    2. The roast: Your bag of coffee beans should have a roast date on the back. Podhaczky believes beans should be used between four days and three weeks after roasting for optimal flavour.

    3. The grind: It's vital you get the grind right as this controls the rate of extraction, which in turn affects flavour. If the beans are ground too fine, a burnt or "ashy" flavour may result. If ground too course, the espresso will taste watery and thin, as the water will pass through too quickly without extracting all the flavours and oils in the coffee.
    Podhaczky describes the perfect texture for an espresso grind as being "like flour with a little bit of gritty salt or sand through it". The ground coffee should clump a little when you squeeze it (but not be too sticky). For filter coffee, the grind particles should feel more like breadcrumbs.



    4. Clean and dry: Make sure there is no moisture (or old coffee grinds) in your porter filter and basket. If the coffee comes into contact with moisture, it could begin extracting too early. Use a tea towel to wipe the parts clean.



    5. Tamping: Serious home baristas should invest in a tamper to compact their coffee evenly into the basket. Fill the basket about three-quarters full with ground coffee. Tap the basket on your bench to "collapse" the coffee and ensure the basket is filling evenly. Add more coffee and collapse again until full, but not overly.
    Tamp the coffee: Podhaczky grabs the tamper like a door knob and leans into it from above with a straight arm – "about 15kg body weight is ideal". If you turn the basket upside down after tamping, the coffee should stay put.
    After tamping, the basket should be about four-fifths full. If coffee sits too hard-up against the machine's shower screen, you may get an uneven extraction; too far away and the espresso may taste muddy. Podhaczky uses the analogy of a watering can: water poured from too great a height will hit the soil (coffee) too forcefully and churn it up, resulting in mud.



    6. Purge your machine by running some water through it before making your espresso.



    7. Make the espresso. Different baristas use different rules to ensure consistent and well-balanced espressos. Some, such as Aaron Wood from Auction Rooms and Small Batch in North Melbourne, advocate weighing both the dry coffee and final wet espresso. Wood says a good "brew ratio" is roughly two parts dry coffee weight to three parts wet espresso. So 20gms of dry coffee grounds should yield a final espresso shot weighing 30 to 40gms, depending on your taste.
    Podhaczky's rule of thumb is to go by volume: "30mls in 30 seconds". Espresso cups generally range in size from 60 to 90mls, but Podhaczky's ideal shot is 30ml. If your machine takes longer than 30 seconds to produce a 30ml shot, your grind is likely too fine and could taste burnt.
    (Note: While Podhaczky recommends playing with your grind before anything else, you could also try altering the rate of extraction by varying the amount of dry coffee you use. Less coffee will result in faster extraction and vice versa.)



    Signs of good coffee: In the first instance the machine will deliver drips before a steady stream of espresso. Fresh coffee will be slightly viscous and will almost look like it's springing back up because of the oils in the beans.
    Your 30ml espresso shot should have a nice crema on top. This is the lighter, fluffier substance that sits on the surface. Crema looks like tiny bubbles and is reddish-brown or hazelnut in colour and dissipates after a minute or two. Lack of crema is a sign your coffee beans are past their best.

  24. #24
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Interesting the way threads evolve! I'm wondering who would even consider setting up a FAQ sticky, certainly not me, a path fraught with danger.
    I had a go at one of these back when Julius Caesar was still in short pants and I wasn't going to let something like lack of experience deter me
    Coffee Snobs Home Truths
    It came to naught.

  25. #25
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    As a complete (still yet to pull my first shot) newbie I find the discussions and opinions on how best to achieve the desired level of coffee perfection very informative.

    I like the fact that there are so many varying ways you can approach the grind, pour etc as this gives me ample scope for improvement and new techniques to try when all goes wrong. I often ask questions as a way of general re-assurance and it is also always nice to feel as though you are part of a wider community when you get responses back to the questions asked.

    Sort of reminds me of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOYpFhxEptE (just replace sparrow with coffee related question ;-))

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I've seen it done on other forums Artman, with little success, seems if people are either too lazy or unable to use the search feature they also overlook the FAQ section as well.
    As a counter example, a certain commercial site on the other side of the Pacific which shares the second part of its name with the most important woman of a popular religion in the Anglosphere had a ton of detailed pages which are still referred to today, including using the internet archive to pull out the ones that aren't online anymore.

    I've personally first come across it a decade ago and re-read the home roasting page yet again when I bought my pan and started roasting thanks to Andy's great idea of mixing forum and shop.

    I suspect a good, detailed FAQ with photos would be useful to a lot of people over time. I've also tried to find information via search here but it takes a while to find good threads and dig up the info.

  27. #27
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apicius View Post
    I've also tried to find information via search here but it takes a while to find good threads and dig up the info.
    I've always found it easier to use a targeted search via Google for very specific topics...

    As an aside and waaayyy off topic...
    The first thing I thought of when I read the header for this thread was a very famous folk song of Peter Seeger's. Nothing to do with coffee but once heard, not forgotten...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS3-lyqCl80

    Mal.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    I've always found it easier to use a targeted search via Google for very specific topics...
    As have I Mal, usually find what I'm after pretty quickly.

    Funny you should refer to Where Have All The Flowers gone (great song) when contemplating starting this thread the Joni Mitchell number came to mind.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgMEPk6fvpg
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  29. #29
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Crikey Mal, showin our age now, 1960 and 1972.
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  30. #30
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    The first thing I thought of when I read the header for this thread was a very famous folk song of Peter Seeger's. Nothing to do with coffee but once heard, not forgotten...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS3-lyqCl80
    But to bring It back on topic of the thread , the lament at the end of each verse is " when will they ever learn ?"
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  31. #31
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    I've always found it easier to use a targeted search via Google for very specific topics...

    As an aside and waaayyy off topic...
    The first thing I thought of when I read the header for this thread was a very famous folk song of Peter Seeger's. Nothing to do with coffee but once heard, not forgotten...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS3-lyqCl80

    Mal.
    I had a dream and confused a few artists and came up with 'clowns in my coffee'
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  32. #32
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    Everyone can be an egg spurt, in some small way.

    I like to think of myself as hard boiled and not prone to egg spurt easily.

  33. #33
    Member 3rutu5's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I've been lurking, reading what people have to say and over the last 2 years have picked out key pointers I think I need to improve...very difficult to take on board recommendations when everyone has different machines which require different approaches to get to the end goal, which I wonder if that is being interpreted as bad intel. My journey has been slightly challenging as I have a unique to Australia machine and it has a smaller portafilter/basket and being a lever hard to time a 20 second shot

    The hard core enthusiasts may be diminishing but I find the level of information is still around.

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