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  • tamping experiment

    I used to gorilla tamp until speaking to some pretty gun baristi who informed me otherwise (including David S – Wushoes) and since found a medium tamp obtains the best results.

    So with fresh beans at hand, I thought I’d conduct an “experiment” (not at all valid, internally reliable, or otherwise credible) re tamping pressure. I would keep variables as constant as possible (grind, dose, distribution) but would significantly alter the tamp pressure and see what results in terms of the “look” of the pour. I didn’t taste the shots as the glass would have got in the camera’s view, and I also didn’t flush before pulling (but this was the same for both shots). I paid careful attention to try to ensure an even tamp for both pulls. Gaggia double basket, generic SS concave based tamper. Average digital point and shoot with too much time in between shots (photo shots, that is)

    First up to the plate: light tamp (don’t know pressure, don’t own scales, but really light)

    fairly even initial extraction





  • #2
    Re: tamping experiment

    Concave tamper.....WHOA........are you sure? Ive seen a concave tamper with a diamonte in the middle....forgot what it was called....


    PORN PHOTO man.....I love it.

    Im not sure there is really any point in doing "experiments" or theorising about espresso unless you actually....
    1) get off your ass and do it
    2) taste the resulting shots.

    For example, a few months back, David Makin and I were discussing the pros and cons of pre-warming espresso cups for barista competitions....we had come to the conclusion it was a waste of your 15 minutes preparation time to draw hot water from the tea tap of the machine, allow the cups to heat up and then polish dry each cup. We saw no benefit what so ever in pre-heating cups for competition. We both agreed that sitting cups on top of the machine from dead cold for 15 minutes would be ample time to heat up cups.

    This was theory.....so what we did was we took 1 cup straight off the top of the machine and preheated it with hot water from the machine, dried it and pulled a shot in to 2 cups...one side with the pre heated cup (hottest cup) and the other with a cup straight off the top of the machine (colder cup). We found the viscosity/mouthfeel in the hotter cup to be much better....is there merit in it? Who knows...but totally irrelevant to this thread.....this is just an example.....TASTE THE COFFEE because we were wrong to assume the hotter cups wouldnt do much.

    By the way....where is the rest of the post and photos????

    My 2 cents on tamping...Im not sure you totally understood what I had told you when we had a chat about tamping. Basically in a nutshell....I tamp consistently to about the same pressure as an Espro...I calibrate my tamps to that. No less than 13kg....no more than 15kg. Why? Because I tamp a hell of a lot of coffee everyday and dont wanna get a bung arm by tamping too hard. My point is, whether or not you tamp like Paul Bassett or like a 10 year old girl, be consistent in everything you do. Make things repeatable, so if your espresso is not pouring right....you know its either
    A) your grind
    B) your dose
    C) both....in which case Scottie Callaghans dosing tools come in very handy.

    Best of luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: tamping experiment

      And I guess its obvious that you cant just change the tamp while leaving everything else the same. If you get a perfect pour with a light tamp, then a heavy tamp might just choke it. You will also change the taste by changing the grind and/or dose, and the tamp is part of that process. I guess thats why its so hard to really do meaningful experiments, as its impossible in principle to change only one variable within set parameters. But the flavour differences between coarser and finer grinds for a given dose (with consequent compensation of heavier/lighter tamp) is a fascinating topic Ive rarely seen analysed in any detail.

      Anyway, let us know what you discover - and more pics please!

      matt

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      • #4
        Re: tamping experiment

        Originally posted by Dolcimelo link=1203420336/0#2 date=1203424972
        And I guess its obvious that you cant just change the tamp while leaving everything else the same.
        I would tend to disagree to a certain extent. The tamp pressure only effects the time it takes the water to saturate the puck. Once the puck is saturated the tamp pressure is irrelevant. See here for a full experiment http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1202714966

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        • #5
          Re: tamping experiment

          As someone who only tamps to level, I am naturally buoyed by this, and have long heeded the advice on this and other forums to be obsessive with distribution.

          I guess my implication was that, if you want to stay within your extraction parameters of time and volume, then you cant just change the tamp. However, are your experiments saying that these parameters are not affected by tamp (given sufficient dose)? Or simply that it doesnt really affect the cup?

          matt

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          • #6
            Re: tamping experiment

            Matt,
            What we found was that with a measurable dose and distribution, the tamp can vary without having an effect on the cup. Of course a varying tamp is not 1Kg to 100Kg, we kept the variation on our tamp within the parameters of changing from 1 barista to another, 8-20Kg. What we found was that the tamp had a relatively small effect on the pour, which was only measurable when we had quantified our dose. If you can measure your dose accurately, try changing it by .1 gram. We found that a change in dose of .1 gram which for us is a change of less than 1% had a dramatic effect on flavour and pour parameters. This is why we are now using dosing tools, because it is impossible to accurately dose with less than .1g variance by hand. The other thing we found was by adopting a very aggresive collapsing technique, our distribution became irrelevant. I have always been a big believer in a religous distribution technique, but I think it was compensation for an inacurate dose. The changes we are making at the moment (being more focussed on dose than distribution) have not lifted our quality. I have always thought that when we get it right we pour a great espresso, but rather have lifted our consistency. Not just the consistency shot to shot, but barsita to barista.

            This is the great thing about coffee, the more you learn, the more you realise you dont know.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: tamping experiment

              Nice work Jason. Consistency is one of the hardest things to nail and its definitely a plus knowing which are the critical areas to focus on. As Mal mentioned this really correlates with the research I did on tamping pressure last year. Ive likewise found that an aggressive collapse makes a lot of other things less critical (though thats not necessarily the path to the perfect result) - as passive particle density increases (i.e. particle density from dosing and collapsing, but without the involvement of a physical compression object such as a tamper) theres less weak points in the puck when you do the tamp - this means a more repeatable, more monolithic puck which increases consistency and decreases the chance of channelling and premature blonding. The challenge then is to be able to get a monolithic puck without having to pack 30g into a double basket!

              A consistent dose / collapse technique is an essential start. From there I would agree that if youre wanting to vary the dose slightly, Scotts tools would be the best way to achieve that; if youre happy with the dose as I am, then the back of a knife to give a flat top every time works well.

              Greg

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              • #8
                Re: tamping experiment

                Originally posted by Pioneer Roaster link=1203420336/0#5 date=1203546387
                Of course a varying tamp is not 1Kg to 100Kg, we kept the variation on our tamp within the parameters of changing from 1 barista to another, 8-20Kg. What we found was that the tamp had a relatively small effect on the pour, which was only measurable when we had quantified our dose.
                Thanks Jason. Sort of sounds like it is, indeed, supporting Gregs research, too. Within that range of tamp force there may be very little change in the effect on the puck. My tamp would hardly be classified as a tamp in your terms, maybe 1 - 2 kg max, so I guess that any variation here might have a bigger effect.

                The other thing we found was by adopting a very aggresive collapsing technique, our distribution became irrelevant.
                I would say aggressive collapsing technique equals agressive distribution technique. One thing I have noticed is that a good distribution with no tamp at all leads to a better pour than a bad distribution and a very heavy tamp, if the grind is fine enough, presumably because the water pressure acts as the tamp. This is not an experimental result, merely a casual observation.

                I certainly agree that dose is a huge factor, but it is very interesting to see such minute variations having such large effects. I cant say Ive noticed that myself, but then the Elektra is very forgiving and the effect is likely overwhelmed by my inconsistencies in other areas :-/ Nice to see you are trying to be consistently great, not just consistent!

                This is the great thing about coffee, the more you learn, the more you realise you dont know.
                Thank goodness; how boring would it be if we already knew everything. Hmm, kinda like life, I guess...

                Please keep reporting any new findings. These experiments give substance to opinion.

                Matt

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: tamping experiment

                  The other thing we have found since using Scotts Tools (although an electronic doser would be better) is that some coffees prefer a up dose and some are better from a down dose. We are actually changing our dose day to day as coffee ages and it has allowed us to use fresher coffee, circa 3-4 days post roast.
                  With Scotts tools we find a 5 tool dose range that suits a particular coffee and then work our way through the range, either up/down dosing a little more daily as the coffee ages.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: tamping experiment

                    Originally posted by Pioneer Roaster link=1203420336/0#8 date=1203567627
                    The other thing we have found since using Scotts Tools (although an electronic doser would be better) is that some coffees prefer a up dose and some are better from a down dose. We are actually changing our dose day to day as coffee ages and it has allowed us to use fresher coffee, circa 3-4 days post roast.
                    With Scotts tools we find a 5 tool dose range that suits a particular coffee and then work our way through the range, either up/down dosing a little more daily as the coffee ages.
                    So do you use more, or less, dose to use the fresher coffee? Do you adjust the dose down or up as it ages? And what sort of gram size changes do these 5 tools give you? How much do you adjust by over time? 1 size tool change per day??? Can you give more details please? Very interesting topic.


                    thanks,
                    Bill

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                    • #11
                      Re: tamping experiment

                      Hi Bill, we have found every coffee to be different, it depends on the character of the coffee. I find a higher dose will allow less expansion, which can be good in a fresher coffee. As we dose higher we find the mouthfeel of the coffee shifts towards the upper pallette. In an excessively acidic coffee or fresher coffee this is bad, in a fuller bodied coffee it can be great to add this complexity. And vice versa, in an acidic or light bodied coffee, the combo of fine grind and low dose can highlight some body and smooth out some complexity. The big difference is the corrosponding grind. A fresh coffee ground fine will have more expansion due to larger surface area and more room to expand.

                      We are changing by 1 tool per day which is about .1 grams. So from too fresh to perfect we change the dose up/down to .6 grams (if a batch lasts this long). It is more a case by case decision. We put a fresh coffee in the grinder, find the right dose/grind. The next day we try changing our dose by 1 up and 1 down. If either is better we than try 3 tools that direction from the origional dose and fine tune to a happy medium. As the humidity changes we also look at changing dosing tools before changing the grind.

                      Today we were running a SO Mandheling through our SO grinder. We were dosing higher than normal to highlight the spicy acidity of the roast as it already has plenty of body. With our Heritage blend which is an lighter bodied coffee with plenty of flavour on the roof of the mouth, we dose lower than usual to bring out some body with the finer grind.

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                      • #12
                        Re: tamping experiment

                        hi all,
                        sorry i actualy didnt mean to post last night..long story..but anywho, some interesting reading for me. but i wont address anything b/c i think ive gotten a little bit over my head here. points taken about varius things like a) concave vs convex (and yes wushoes its convex...) pour time, grind setting, taste in the cup etc....

                        here goes thou...so TAKE 2:

                        fell into a nice single stream after a few drops; some decent tiger striping

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                        • #13
                          Re: tamping experiment

                          still ok, but early lightening of colour

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: tamping experiment

                            uumm…hello…

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: tamping experiment

                              “it’s NOT a tumor”

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