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Coffee by the Numbers

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  • Coffee by the Numbers

    When I was training for Organization & Methods many years ago I was taught that whatever can be measured can be controlled.

    That appealed to my accountant’s brain and now to my CS brain

    Some baristas seem to be able to produce great coffee without measuring much at all – they have it down to a fine art from loads of practice. We lesser mortals benefit from being able to repeat a shot by applying the same numbers that we’ve found reliable in the past. But do we get carried away with the numbers 8-)

    Such things as:
    Grind - depending on the bean, weather etc etc.
    Dose - More important than most newbies realize.
    Tamp – perhaps not as critical as we’ve been told.
    Extraction time – forget the seconds, watch the pour.
    Milk – the hand is not a reliable temperature gauge.

    So let’s sort them.

    Standards:
    Dose
    Tamp
    Milk Temperature

    Variables:
    Grind
    Extraction time

    I think this should open up a bucket of worms :


  • #2
    Re: Coffee by the Numbers

    Add to ya variables......
    Bean
    roast level
    profile of roast
    age of roast

    You right though, for me, its coffee by numbers, I think its a common with most of us snobs, except AM ;D, its the process we love. I thought today actually......I wonder how many members coffeesnobs would have if all we had was super autos?? Not many, coffee would be aweful and boring!!!

    Cheers
    Warren

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Coffee by the Numbers

      Originally posted by 5F5B7D6464617E6966080 link=1270187329/1#1 date=1270190135
      Add to ya variables......
      Bean
      roast level
      profile of roast
      age of roast
      Youre right Warren - I meant to qualify my list as excluding roasting :

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Coffee by the Numbers

        Originally posted by 1E393F38354C0 link=1270187329/2#2 date=1270194105
        I meant to qualify my list as excluding roasting
        yeah.....the problem is, someone roasts it ;D so these factors apply whether you want them to or not ;D

        "buggar" i hear you say

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Coffee by the Numbers

          Originally posted by 7571574E4E4B54434C220 link=1270187329/3#3 date=1270195187
          yeah.....the problem is, someone roasts it Grin so these factors apply whether you want them to or not Grin
          Yes, but the only control I have over that, is who does the roasting - so it is not really a variable in my equation

          For each batch of beans my list still applies :

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Coffee by the Numbers

            Originally posted by 5374727578010 link=1270187329/4#4 date=1270195713
            For each batch of beans my list still applies
            yep im hearin ya

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Coffee by the Numbers

              baristas and roasters can only work with the raw product, which if just produced by standard numbers doesnt generate change and allow for improvement in techniques over time, same goes for producing shots, if we stick to the standard numbers we know, we are stuck within parameters that may not allow for certain roasts, ages, processing methods etc etc.
              not to say we shouldnt be aware of the numbers first, but innovation and improvement only comes from trying things outside our sphere of standards.

              as a couple of examples, a few years ago i was working with some of the current top baristas and we often noted that our prefences in terms of pullling a beverage would be outside of acceptable WBC standards in terms of time and volume, but our methods were governed by trial and error and taste.

              a well known WBC champ after being penalized for not dosing "correctly" in the first round finals questioned the judges reasoning, pointing out that the coffee he was making should be judged on TASTE, ultimately the judges who had judged 1s & 2s in the first round started appointing 4s and 5s to the same dosing procedure in the finals, he ultimately collected the prize but has gone on to question his previous techniques and now uses exactly the opposite style of dose, to good effect.
              how then do we call dose a standard without reference to the coffee and taste?


              should we apply a standard roasting curve to a high grown central, and fresh wet hulled sumatra and a full natural? or should we be aware of the numbers but not governed by the dogma of correctness, therefore allowing for something new and outside the curve..?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Coffee by the Numbers

                Originally posted by 6A717E757A72100 link=1270187329/6#6 date=1270196876
                baristas and roasters can only work with the raw product, which if just produced by standard numbers doesnt generate change and allow for improvement in techniques over time, same goes for producing shots, if we stick to the standard numbers we know, we are stuck within parameters that may not allow for certain roasts, ages, processing methods etc etc.
                not to say we shouldnt be aware of the numbers first, but innovation and improvement only comes from trying things outside our sphere of standards.



                as a couple of examples, a few years ago i was working with some of the current topbaristas and we often noted that our prefences in terms of pullling a beverage would be outside of acceptable WBC standards in terms of time and volume, but our methods were governed by trial and error and taste.

                a well known WBC champ after being penalized for not dosing "correctly" in the first round finals questioned the judges reasoning, pointing out that the coffee he was making should be judged on TASTE, ultimately the judges who had judged 1s & 2s in the first round started appointing4s and 5s to the same dosing procedure in the finals, he ultimately collected the prize but has gone on to question his previous techniques and now uses exactly the opposite style of dose, to good effect.
                how then do we call dose a standard without reference to the coffee and taste?


                should we apply a standard roasting curve to a high grown central, and fresh wet hulled sumatra and a full natural? or should we be aware of the numbers but not governed by the dogma of correctness, therefore allowing for something new and outside the curve..?
                great post......


                [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Coffee by the Numbers


                  Amen to that..... Zane.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Coffee by the Numbers

                    Instead of "standard" how about you call it "safe starting point"?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Coffee by the Numbers

                      Originally posted by 415A555E51593B0 link=1270187329/6#6 date=1270196876
                      baristas and roasters can only work with the raw product, which if just produced by standard numbers doesnt generate change and allow for improvement in techniques over time, same goes for producing shots, if we stick to the standard numbers we know, we are stuck within parameters that may not allow for certain roasts, ages, processing methods etc etc.
                      Good points Zane

                      You remind me of a saying that opens up the way to innovation and new ways of doing things:
                      What if....... then perhaps!

                      A sort of Edward De Bono approach to lateral thinking :

                      Outside the square are endless possibilities.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Coffee by the Numbers

                        thats why having known reference points works in our favour too..  safe starting ground

                        Rusty said: "whatever can be measured can be controlled" -err, if its been measured it is in the past.
                        thus what we have are a set of data points
                        we then make an assumption about a future event, a prediction, which is educated guess.= at best.
                        a set of data points, no matter what the resolution, is never the organic thing that is living coffee production, changing consumption patterns, and evolving plant.

                        if we served today the espresso we were happy with ten or fifteen years ago i think much of it would taste like swill (apart from tasting a little old ); will the coffee we make in ten or fifteen years from now make what were drinking today seem like swill? probably not (but possibly), certainly changes will come in perception and expectation.
                        thats what learning is all about.

                        the best coffees are often the most surprising, challenging to our idea of what is a great coffee, precisely because they come from outside our sphere of knowledge

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