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  • manual or automatic?

    What are peoples thoughts on manual vs automatic (for controlling the water for the shot volume) for a commercial machine on a coffee shop?

    If you had an automatic machine is there any good reason to never use it? (the automatic feature)

  • #2
    I had a VBM Dommobar Super Volumetric which had programmable shot volume buttons that I very rarely used due to very slightly inconsistent volumes.
    Instead I would always use the manual button as this was far more accurate to achieve a perfect espresso.
    Dunno about commercial machines, they may be more accurate and consistent.
    I have occasionally jumped on a commercial machine to pull a shot or two and whenever I did, I'd always use manual as I don't know/care what the previous person has programmed.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by don_nairn View Post
      What are peoples thoughts on manual vs automatic (for controlling the water for the shot volume) for a commercial machine on a coffee shop?

      If you had an automatic machine is there any good reason to never use it? (the automatic feature)
      To save confusion, this is the VOLUMETRIC function (rather than "automatic").

      There is absolutely no reason why you shouldnt / wouldnt use preset programmed volumetric buttons on a commercial machine AS LONG AS they have been properly set by the cafe manager / owner / person in charge, and they havent been tampered with by all and sundry staff that shouldnt....

      If they have been properly set, what is wrong with using them and, if they have been badly set, then you shouldnt use them. That said, if they have been badly set, that also means the people operating the machine have no idea, so what's the difference to them making coffee manually....they will still have no idea. Exception to the rule, an operator who knows his stuff and that the buttons have been badly set, and makes coffee manually.....in which case, why wouldnt he speak to the cafe manager and ask for authorisation to put the programme right?

      Very good in busy cafe situations where if you are busy, then you are more likely to vary your volume if you are doing it manually.

      Essentially a discussion with no "right" answer however due to anyone's opinion. Same as the "should you use the cruise control programme in your car or not" discussion? Hotly debated, correct answer depends on any particular driver's opinion.

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      • #4
        I used 2 commercial machines for a while to get some experience after I did my course. I wasn't allowed to touch the grind settings on them - both were 'maintained' by the coffee supplier - they'd come round once a month I think...

        So what I learned to do was do a grind and tamp then do a volume-controlled double-shot into a latte glass and time the shot. If it was too short or too long in time I would vary my tamp pressure (seeing I couldn't change the grind) and mostly I got pretty good shots. I could have done manual and simply timed how long it took to get 60ml into the glass but I figured the machine already had that measure...

        Once I had that working I only used manual if people had specific requirements - other than that the auto size is great for NOT having to rush to turn the pour off - you can start the shot and start frothing and concentrate on the milk instead of having to watch the shot size as well.

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        • #5
          Home: Always use manual
          Work: Always use the volumetrics

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          • #6
            For those using volumetrics, what are the standard volumes used for setting volumetrics by most machine managers? Are these volumes set as water volumes or extracted volumes?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Burnsy View Post
              For those using volumetrics, what are the standard volumes used for setting volumetrics by most machine managers? Are these volumes set as water volumes or extracted volumes?
              We commonly set shot volumes to 20/30ml (with a single basket) and 40/60ml (with a double basket), unless the customer has a different idea regarding what they want. The volumes relate to the liquid volume of an extracted shot, excluding the crema.

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              • #8
                Interesting as I know some set as water volume not extracted. Have you ever measured the water volume on one of those? I am guessing a 60ml extracted shot volume that excludes crema would have an unextracted water volume of at least 70ml or more?

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                • #9
                  Hi all

                  Home & Work:-
                  Espresso machine: Always use auto / volumetrics (or whatever other "no brainer" function it has) set just a little long and cut it off manually when it blonds. If others use it, result will still be drinkable until they learn properly. Worked on all types of setups for years.

                  Grinders:
                  Home: Always use manual & alter grind to suit beans / temp / humidity / age etc etc etc.
                  Work: Always use grind just a tad coarse and auto weight / time / whatever set a little long unless it is a really quiet day...

                  TampIt

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TampIt View Post
                    Hi all

                    Home & Work:-
                    Espresso machine: Always use auto / volumetrics (or whatever other "no brainer" function it has) set just a little long and cut it off manually when it blonds. If others use it, result will still be drinkable until they learn properly. Worked on all types of setups for years.
                    I get why this approach may be desirable in an office environment, but why would I do this at home (presuming that I know what I'm doing?)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
                      I get why this approach may be desirable in an office environment, but why would I do this at home (presuming that I know what I'm doing?)
                      Hi Barry O'Speedwagon

                      Nothing to do with level of expertise.

                      Ever had a phone / doorbell ring? Someone drop & break a glass just behind you? Someone interrupt you just at the "blonding moment"? One of my ex's had an unerring sense of timing by giving me a major snog as soon as I hit the "go button" as I "had stopped looking busy". As she always got that coffee, no harm done. I find it a good "no cost" idea to have a backstop at home as well as work.

                      FWIW, I probably need it about every 6 months, however Murphy seems to ensure that such havoc always happens when making another cuppa quickly is not an option (last beans in the grinder / house, last bit of milk!).

                      Needed: No. Occasionally useful: you bet!

                      TampIt

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                      • #12
                        I see (I don't have an auto function anyway), I guess I tend to make coffee early in the morning, so don't tend to get interrupted too often.

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