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  • Not looking good naked

    Gok Wan says: not okay...

    I'd like some help.

    My lovely new Alex Leva came with a naked portafilter, from which I am always seeing the same problem with my extraction. I assume of course that the same thing happens with mt double spout pf. Shots look/ taste the same in the cup. Ie good but could be much better.

    I'll try to describe what I'm experiencing:

    grind 21 grams ; smooth off with finger; tamp with slightly too small stock tamper (nsew) ; pre infuse for about 5 - 7 seconds ; release lever; then

    lets call part of basket nearest machine front 12 o'clock- nearest me 6 o'clock. Extraction comes from 10 11 o'clock and spreads from there, but 8 times out of 10 a steady stream . At 4- 5 o'clock half way to the centre of the basket, NOTHING comes though . I get maybe 1 or 2 lovely dark drops as the rest of the shot is finishing.

    So this is some sort of channelling. Hammering 10 o'clock , but getting nothing out of 5 o'clock.

    Always the same...
    I'm getting a nice fitted tamper in a week or two. Too simple to say that'll fix it?

    I think it must be something habitual, as it always seems to occur in he sme way. I suppose its good that I can get consistency. I'm hoping its just a little technical tweak required.

    id love your advice. Thanks.


  • #2
    Hey mate,

    Although there will always be someone to criticise what I'm about to say, WDT method with a needle or toothpick takes care of that.

    It's a step that in the past seemed unnecessary to me, but in the end that depends on what the grinder throws at you or the age of the beans themselves. It's the only way I could get shots to behave on my r58 paired with a Major. Previously with my bezzera galatea, no issues at all getting a pretty shot. The way I see it, it's only a few seconds more to add into the equation in order to drink a shot that extracts just as it should. Why bother to make shots if they aren't the best right?



    • #3

      I'd wondered if distribution might be the factor in this.
      I'll report back after trying in the morning.

      Thanks for the tip!

      actually, now I think of it. The hg one people recommend wdt. But I forgot about it coz it didn't seem to make much of a difference on my old machine.


      • #4
        What can I say?

        It worked.

        Thanks Gonzo!


        • #5
          Hi, Just saw your post
          Its really humid where I live and I get a bit of clumping
          I use an orphan espresso ipanema dosing funnel and tiny whisk - works really well, I get get even extractions
          Hope that helps


          • #6
            Do you swipe off holding the portafilter in your left hand, swiping with your right hand left-to-right? Cause maybe it's not quite left-to-right but offset (for the 10 o'clock problem) and always ends up with more coffee density to the right side (where pushing across will inevitably pack more grinds into the same space, causing your uneven extractions there).

            WDT will solve your problems, without a doubt. You also have other distribution method options as well. WDT is just as valid as other options, but has the benefit of breaking up small clumps. I personally don't care about clumps, so don't WDT. The down side is it takes time - but at home, time doesn't matter as much as good espresso.

            It's just my opinion, but I'm not convinced that NSEW is a necessary or particularly helpful tamping technique. Again, takes time, but also would slide your puck against the opposing wall, potentially impacting adhesion. You seem to be doing just fine with it, so if you're happy, keep to your process


            • #7
              Thanks Dave & Readeral.

              My success rate with wdt is 1/1 attempt. It wasn't perfect, but has effectively solved my problem. Just to practise it now.

              Yes. I was holding it in my right and swiping in a sort of circle. Must have been pushing it to "5 o'clock" . Also, I'm sure my nsew was shifting the puck. Certainly sometimes. But if I didn't do it I had an untamped bit around the edge.

              Looking forward to a custom tamper (when the money box is full!)


              • #8
                You could also try the so-called "Nutating Tamp" instead of adding in the extra step of whisking or WDT'ing - Takes about two seconds at most and becomes part of your normal tamping technique...



                • #9
                  Not looking good naked

                  That's what he means by NSEW Mal (or that's how I interpreted it)

                  If you mean moving the tamper, apologies! Ignore my earlier comments!


                  • #10
                    No mate, two different things entirely.
                    NSEW tamps are actually four separate tamps (at least) following the compass rose.

                    Nutation is quite different, as described here...



                    • #11
                      Yeah so I know what nutation is. Was surprised NSEW was a defined thing! Learn something new every day. I'm personally not so keen on nutation (read nutation into my comments above, rather than NSEW) but it's definitely up for debate, and some will swear by it. Experimentation is key.

                      For me, it can be easy to fix something on the surface with an added practice, but where it's cancelling out a bad practice (say delaying the placement of a cup due to side channeling at the beginning of a shot) - I'd be inclined to say "dig deeper and find the root practice causing you grief".


                      • #12
                        Having been using a Nutating Tamp for going on 15 years mate. Over that time, I could count the unsatisfactory shots I've poured on one hand...

                        Each to their own of course but don't knock something unless you've given it a good try yourself, I always say...



                        • #13
                          Yeah so my experience has been the opposite, it was something I did for the first few months of making coffee. It's so situational though, my machine is different to yours is different to SBMs. I found more success with a firm squared down tamp, but my tamper is curved, so might have an impact there. Machines and tools.

                          I guess - I'm reacting to a situation where many of the pieces of advice received are not always tested _as a matter of course_ - and would always make me inclined to posit counter-arguments to community sanctioned (and entirely legitimate) approaches. Just to help people question their assumptions.

                          All part of being in the community.
                          That being said - if NSEW is all SBM has attempted thus far - he _should_ try nutation! Might be a good help.


                          • #14
                            Very much inclined to agree with Readeral on this one, I've certainly heard of the various techniques mentioned, however there must as he says be an underlying reason for the problem, you would think there would be a simple and straight forward solution.

                            At the risk of being thought simple minded, there are only a few variables to work through, shower screen, grind, dose, tamp and basket, the answer must be there somewhere without having to resort to whisking etc.

                            Can understand Shortblackmans frustration, we all want to get a new machine performing at it's best ASAP, good luck with your quest.


                            • #15
                              Over the 15 years, I've owned 5-6 different machines and have always used the nutating tamp, so it's not machine specific, it's just what I and a lot of others do. It just saves on the need for a separate distribution step since it just becomes part of the normal tamp technique. It's not hiding a fault with my technique or I'm sure that this would eventually show itself. It's nothing more, or less than a distribution method.

                              For those people who don't need a distribution step in their routine anywhere, then that's great but I have found right from the beginning, that better distribution equals better results in the cup so I'm not going to change after 15 years of success... I'm an old dog I guess...