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Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

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  • Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

    Im wondering why sometimes, as in about 10% of the time, my pours coming out of the left and right spouts seem to be different.

    One side is definitely underextracted while the other is absolutely perfect. They started out the same, with a dark reddish brown color and good crema, but one side turned pale about 10s quicker than the other (!)


    Technical details:

    Im using a standard EM6910 portafilter with dual spouts and a pullman tamper.

    Im using the levelling + tamp method with roughly 15kg of force.

    15g of coffee in the single sunbeam basket.

    After extraction, the puck knocks out clean with an imprint of the showerscreen on the top.

  • #2
    Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

    Hi Ezra

    Just a thought....before you knock out the puck take a close look at it. You may have some channelling there on the side that is becoming pale quicker than the other?

    If so, it might be due to your distribution of the grinds before tamping.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

      FWIW, I had the same problem until the end of last week. The difference: Pullman tapmer + Synesso basket. The holes in my Gaggia basket seem to be smaller and less uniform in size compared to the Synesso but I think the main reason is the improved tamp I can achieve because of the Pullman + Synesso match. My old tamper did not fit the Gaggia basket so there was a gap around the edge of a mm or so

      Something to consider - does your tamper fit your basket perfectly?
      HAve you tried using a double basket instead of the single?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

        Originally posted by flynnaus link=1218493526/0#2 date=1218496505
        FWIW, I had the same problem until the end of last week. The difference: Pullman tapmer + Synesso basket. The holes in my Gaggia basket seem to be smaller and less uniform in size compared to the Synesso but I think the main reason is the improved tamp I can achieve because of the Pullman + Synesso match. My old tamper did not fit the Gaggia basket so there was a gap around the edge of a mm or so
        A gap of that size probably wont make much difference to your shots. Occasionally I use the plastic 57mm La Marzocco tamper to see if my thinking has changed on this and I struggle to notice any difference in the cup when I do. I know of very, very few good cafes that use fitted tampers. There are lots of good reasons to buy one of Gregs tampers. Better shots is not one of them.

        Cheers,

        Luca

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

          Only speaking from my experience here Luca. As I said, before obtaining the Pullman + Synesso I was getting the uneven shots that ezralimm described. Now I dont - the espresso comes out of both pf spouts pretty much evenly. If that isnt due to the tamper then the only other possibility would be the basket. But the rings around the edge of the P tamper also ensure that the tamp is level.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

            Originally posted by flynnaus link=1218493526/0#4 date=1218512378
            But the rings around the edge of the P tamper also ensure that the tamp is level.

            that makes sense to me. an uneven tamp would mean theres more water/pressure/weight, that would make a diff, right?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

              ..but ezralim is also using a Pullman so Im not sure an unlevel tamp is his current problem. Ezralim?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                is your bench strictly horizontal? cant that be a problem?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                  Originally posted by luca link=1218493526/0#3 date=1218510891

                  A gap of that size probably wont make much difference to your shots. Occasionally I use the plastic 57mm La Marzocco tamper to see if my thinking has changed on this and I struggle to notice any difference in the cup when I do. I know of very, very few good cafes that use fitted tampers. There are lots of good reasons to buy one of Gregs tampers. Better shots is not one of them.

                  Cheers,

                  Luca
                  Sorry to stray off topic for a moment, but Id be interested to hear a little more on your views re tampers Luca. Apart from aesthetics, what other good reasons would you suggest for using one of Gregs tampers, if a plastic one does the same job? Apologies if youve covered this in an alternative thread...Im just scratching my head here!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                    Originally posted by chartres link=1218493526/0#7 date=1218519795
                    is your bench strictly horizontal? cant that be a problem?
                    Im not sure a slightly inclined bench would make that much difference Chartres. How far would you need to go to ensure you are holding the pf perfectly horizontal on the tamper mat, bench while tamping? The edge rings on the Pullman help to ensure the tamp is level regardless of what angle the pf is held at

                    One piece of advice that Greg makes with his how-to info is that if the tamper doesnt spin freely when polishing the puck after the second tamp then the tamp wasnt level. Given the leveling rings on the edge of the tamper and the good fit with the basket. I dont experience that now.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                      Distribution.

                      Ive been playing around with all sorts, currently preferring the NSEW - simple and I can modify it depending on how the distribution looks and feels. With practice Ive come to recognise the density of different areas of the puck with each stroke and therefore modify it to suit.

                      Definitely not a fan of the Weiss/WDT with a fine sewing needle - regularly caused more channelling than Id ever seen in a 58mm basket.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                        Originally posted by Dennis link=1218493526/0#8 date=1218523041
                        Sorry to stray off topic for a moment, but Id be interested to hear a little more on your views re tampers Luca. Apart from aesthetics, what other good reasons would you suggest for using one of Gregs tampers, if a plastic one does the same job? Apologies if youve covered this in an alternative thread...Im just scratching my head here!
                        Hi Dennis,

                        I dont know if I have answered that question with respect to Gregs tampers, but I think that I have put forward the point of view that, functionally, the most important feature of tampers in general is ergonomics. Even then, ergonomics is probably only going to be a big consideration if you are making hundreds of coffees per day. (With the possible exception of those tampers with really short handles, which I imagine could be gripped in a way to cause carpal tunnel pain after a relatively small number of repeated uses.)

                        Ill list a few positive points that I know about the Barista tamper, which will make me sound like a shill. I am very happy to sound like a shill for Gregs new tamper ;D Not having tried a production version, however, so Im going to stick to answering your question with the obvious positives and I wont try to balance this out with the negatives:

                        Ergonomics: I felt that the prototypes of the Barista tamper were a big improvement over the Deluxe. Height adjustability and a large, sloping rubber base are nice features. That said, I know one person who has about 13 or 14 tampers and rates the Deluxe over all of his others. (Im sure that he is ordering or has already ordered a Barista!)

                        Rings: Its not all that difficult to learn to tamp straight, but the rings cant hurt. In that regard, I guess its like the click on the Espro.

                        Quality: Tampers (usually) have no moving parts, so its pretty easy to judge quality. Gregs tampers are pretty solid. You can read up more about 304 grade stainless here. Im no metallurgist, but I understand that the relatively high Chromium and Nickel content, and the relatively low carbon content, of this steel render it quite corrosion resistant at a reasonable price; hence its widespread use in things like milk jugs.

                        Balance: Greg is one of the few tamper manufacturers to explicitly talk about balance. Whilst I cant say that I have used many tampers that I have felt were badly balanced, this is certainly a testament to Gregs comprehensiveness.

                        Modularity/Customisability: You can chop and change bits! Why not?! Ill probably get at least one wood and one aluminium handle with my barista. Im not one for engraving, but at least you have the option.

                        Service: Anyone who has dealt with Greg will tell you that he is very diligent and trustworthy. I remember having several kerfuffles with Aus Post and Greg being on top of it without my needing to lift a finger. As alluded to before, I have also received an astounding level of after-sales support from Greg, particularly given my relatively modest expenditure.

                        Australian: nuff said.

                        Cleanliness: Having a fitted tamper might result in less coffee accumulating around the gasket and on the sides of the shower screen. Im not sure. Maybe I should get a fitted base for my barista and collect a few weeks worth of scrubbings from the LM plastic tamp and compare them with a few weeks worth of scrubbings from a fitted tamper. I dont regard this as a big point, though, as

                        Community: Greg contributes to the CS community, both as a sponsor and as a poster.

                        Greg (aka Mr R and D): Gregs attitude towards the barista deserves a mention, as Im sure that he doesnt want to toot his own horn too loudly. Broadly speaking, Greg has investigated what people want, then has followed through with the legwork to find out (a) what will work and (b) what the most popular preferences are. This goes back to the dim, dark ages when Gregs tampers were a simple metal disk attached to a very, very long handle - the idea being that you could grab it in your fist. Im only privvy to some of the feedback that Greg has received, but I know that Greg Kaan and I suggested/requested/complained that the tampers would be better with shorter handles, a chamfer on the base and vivace style levelling rings. In the case of the handle, I think that I ended up with three different handle lengths at no cost to me - Greg was determined to get it right. Gregs response ot the other suggestions was cautious, but he must have tried them out and liked them. The new tamper provided Greg an opportunity to make a very simple sort of tamper to the Deluxe by going through all of the feedback that he had received about the Classic, the experience that he had gained in the years after its release and by using the industry contacts that he had made to good effect. Many prototypes of the Barista tamper have gone back and forth between Greg and many industry professionals. Greg had the unenviable task of becoming best buddies with Australia Post, working out what our chicken scrawl feedback sheets meant, machining parts to replace what we carelessly lost and then reconciling a bunch of opinions - and at least some of the opinions that I saw were contradictory! The investment of time that Greg has put into this tamper project is quite impressive and deserving of respect.

                        So thats ten reasons to buy a Barista. Ill stop there.

                        Luca

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                          Thanks Luca - I really appreciate the thought that went into your response! I actually think that apart from feel, the cleanliness point you mentioned ranks high with me, though as you say, this might be more of a perception than a reality. Goes to show were all diverse.

                          On topic - Ezra, I still think the prob might be due to distribution. Make us a coffee and let us know!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                            Thanks for the feedback guys.


                            Yeah, i totally agree that the pullman tamper DOES NOT IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF MY COFFEE.

                            However, it does greatly reduce the analness associated with getting a level tamp.

                            Ive even stopped using the tamp-knock-tamp routine as i find its unnecessary - hardly any grains stick to the sides.


                            back to the topic.

                            Sorry for the late reply. I kinda ran out of beans. Got a fresh supply today. Yes, still having the L/R uneven extraction problem. I think im gonna have to switch to the double synesso basket soon. Im suspecting the problem lies in the single sunbeam basket ive been using.

                            Puck looks fine, but after knocking out, there are some few pieces stuck to the side. They look lighter than the spent puck. Probably unevenly extracted.

                            Im using a much milder coffee blend now (Montes "Soprano" - possibly semi-stale, based on my observation of time taken to blonding and the effects of grinding finer. luckily i didnt buy much of it) and i find the 15g shots are not strong enough for two 180ml drinks anyway - despite its relatively high acidity cutting throught the milk. Will try the 22g synesso basket tomorrow.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Shot diagnosis... Split personality!

                              Hi Mate

                              Always use double basket as it will give a better quality of shot.

                              Comment

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