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VBM Super Distribution issues...

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  • VBM Super Distribution issues...

    Hey all,
    Pretty new to coffee and splurged on the VBM Super Lever and a pretty Compak K10 (Love them both, thanks again for the recommendation Chris if youre reading this). I bought a naked portafilter in the quest of getting everything right and noticed for a while now (couple of months) the the extraction is uneven and biased toward the front half (closest to you) of the portafilter. Im using a pullman tamper with the tru tamp lines to make sure its even and Im reasonably consistent with the dose but I cant get the coffee distribution right. That is until I tamped unevenly making the front of the portafilter higher than the rear. Now Im getting even extractions but it doesnt seem in the spirit of things.

    Has anyone else noticed this?
    Does it happen on other machines?
    Is it me? (Probably)

    Sorry in advance if this has been covered before Ive had a look but couldnt find anything.

    Much thanks would be bestowed onto anyone with the supreme knowledge and experience to help me out.

    Going further into the rabbits hole and loving it,


  • #2
    Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

    Sorry Trent but I certainly havent experienced this.
    Are you using a double or triple basket? Ive been quite happy with the naked pours using the supplied triple basket (coffeeparts) & my Synesso ridgeless double.
    I guess you need to keep working on your distribution & tamp. Check out Greg Pullmans tamping tips page: just in case youre holding the tamper incorrectly. You may also want to try breaking up / stirring the ground coffee with a fine needle as people have suggested in the past. Theres plenty of info on this method.

    Heres a couple of pours Ive had with the triple. The first one was a little fast but quite even. The second was just right. (early stages of pour):

    Dont give up, youll get there!



    • #3
      Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

      Gday "hmb"...

      I guess youve checked for the obvious, i.e. the machine is sitting level on the bench and not leaning towards the front?



      • #4
        Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

        Thats a thought Mal. Trent, try running the machine without the PF in place & see if the water does the same thing.



        • #5
          Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

          My first thought is that you should check the dose. Dose and tamp level, then lock the PF in place as normal, but then remove it before pulling the shot. There should be no marks on the coffee at all.

          Here is what I have been doing for over a year now and it works for me with my VBM DS and Kony:

          VBM (and other E-61) DOSE and TAMP PROCEDURE

          1 - as the grinding is taking place, continuously flick the doser lever until the basket is overfilled. There should be very little coffee in the doser at any time during this process. Flick faster than the grinder can supply coffee. This will help break up any clumps of coffee and will give better distribution. it also helps create a slightly more fluffy grind that will tamp better. Move the portafilter around just a bit during this process to try to keep the coffee as level as possible, but dont shake, tap, or knock the portafilter.

          Those with doseless grinders will have to deal with how their grinders spit out the coffee.

          1b - if there is ANY sign of clumping, apply the WDT (Weiss Distribution Technique).

          2 - tap the side of the portafilter GENTLY to settle the grounds just a bit to assure an even distribution. Use a light, plastic tool like the handle of a plastic coffee measure. This is to close any large air pockets in the coffee. You may even see one part of the coffee settle more than other areas. But TAP LIGHTLY, and only once or twice!

          3 - level off across the top of the basket with a straight edge. do so in little increments so that you are not pushing a large mass of coffee across the basket as do so without compacting the coffee that is left in the basket.

          4 - to achieve the proper amount of coffee in the basket, SLIGHTLY bend your little finger and drag it gently across the top of the coffee to "scrape" some off into the doser. How much to remove depends on a lot of factors, but you will test this in step 8 below... In lieu of the finger, you can cut an arced piece of thin plasitc (like from a milk jug). The arc can be varied until yo find what works best.

          5 -the dragging of your finger across he coffee disrupted the top of the coffee into a somewhat uneven surface, so now is the time to repeatedly, but gently, tap the portafilter straight down to further settle the coffee and even out the distribution. In this step you should NOT see ANY separation of the coffee from the sides of the basket. The coffee will drop in height, but that is all you want to see happen. The coffee should be somewhat level at this point if all the above steps have gone well.

          6 - tamp lightly— maybe one or two pounds. If you have a heavy stainless steel tamper then just use the weight of the tamper and maybe one light finger. Remove it and examine the top of the coffee, it should be flat, level, and free from visible voids and of an even texture. This simply verifies that all the above went well. Now tamp again using a goodly amount of force. As much as 50 pounds isnt going to change much of anything to be concerned with.

          7 - remove the tamper quickly and retamp lightly. Repeat this a few times. The partial vacuum created when removing the tamper will suck in much of the loose coffee along the edges. Whatever does not get removed will be of no concern. This doesnt help the brewing at all, but helps to limit the amount of coffee ground that get sucked up on the screen and the gasket area. its just a housekeeping step.

          8 - OPTIONAL LEARNING STEP: Lock the portafilter into the group, then remove it. Do this gently without banging or knocking the portafilter. With the E-61 brewhead there should be NO MARKS on the coffee at all. The coffee should not be disturbed. This verifies that you removed sufficient amount of coffee in step #4 above. If the coffee is marked or disrupted then use a little less coffee, and try again.


          • #6
            Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

            Wow thanks to all for the quick responses...

            I have a triple that i rarely use, I mainly use my Synesso ridgeless double that I got with my Pullman. I used to do the WDT when I was grinding with a Rocky, but gave it away when i got the K10 and stop noticing clumping. Even with the Rocky and WDT i thought that it still favoured the front.

            I feel a little dopey, i didnt check to see if the bench was level, it is. Cheers.

            Ive run the machine without a PF and I dont think that theres an appreciable difference in water flow, theres certainly flow out of the rear of the shower screen.

            Thanks for the dosing recap, Randy. I havent checked my dose in a little while and will. I went through the better part of half a kilo of coffee, without a pour, a while ago trying to get my dose right.

            Well since its a me thing Im going to go back to the drawing board and stop intentionally tamping unevenly to correct.

            Final thought, would it be worth changing the shower screen if in a month or so if Im still getting the problem?

            Choose life,


            • #7
              Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

              if youve got water flowing out your screen more at the back than front, maybe check that the dispersion block channels arent clogged up the front end. Especially if youve been jamming coffee up against the screen and choking it may have forced coffee up into the screen to block it.
              Or give it a good backflush, to clear out anything. Worth a try, may not do squat though


              • #8
                Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

                oh and one thing I heard (and does happen), is that if youre striking off the coffee front to back, you could be packing down coffee into the back half, leaving the front a bit light on. Maybe just before you tamp, give it one last tap on the bench and settle, just to see if theres more of a collapse on the front(handle end). Thats quite common I reckon as far as distribution techniques go.


                • #9
                  Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

                  Hi "nmb"

                  Welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

                  The method I use on my VBM, standard double basket or Synesso double basket is;

                  1. Weight 19,2 to 19,5 grams of beans, you can get a cheep battery scale which will measure to 1/10th of a gramm from Coffeeparts )
                  2. Grind!!!!!!!!! :
                  3. Tap the porterfilter on the forkes of the grinder a couple of times while filling,
                  4. Give a light tamp,
                  5. One light tap on one side and the end of the porterfilter, only light!
                  6. Tamp to the usual 30 to 35 pounds,
                  7. Lock and pull your shot,
                  8. Enjoy

                  Measure and time your shots, if the shot falls outside the 25-30 sec for your 60 ml (double),
                  Adjust your grinder to suit

                  This method is fairly quick and gives me very consistent very good shots

                  Give it a try and you will soon be pulling shots most bartistas will be proud of ;D

                  This method works for me 8-)

                  As for the uneven pour, take the cover off the porterfilter spouts, make sure the casting is even,
                  if not, file with a fine rattail file till it is.
                  If it is even then???? :-/ :-/ :-/

                  All the best, enjoy your machine,



                  • #10
                    Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

                    Similar to YeeZas last comment, make sure when you tap the portafilter that the tapping force is in the middle of the PF. Sometimes when I tap on the dosing forks of the Mazzer I tap on the far side of the bottom of the PF and end up with the coffee at the front being at a different level to the coffee at the rear. If youre tapping onto the spouts this should be OK though in general thats not a great idea.


                    • #11
                      Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

                      Thanks for all of the advice,

                      After drinking a few more shots and paying a lot more attention to the prep things seem to be improving. I think the biggest improvement was seen when i wiped from the middle out and not from front to back.

                      Cheers all.

                      Going now to get my coffee on,



                      • #12
                        Re: VBM Super Distribution issues...

                        HI Trent,

                        As you have seen different things work for different people and to a certan extent, different machines :-?

                        Give them all a go, try them for a few days at a time and find what works best for you

                        You might find you will combine some elements of what different people use and come up with a method of your own which works for you

                        When you do, have fun with your machine and enjoy excellent coffee, as a lot of your friends will when they drop in more often for a cuppa [smiley=thumbsup.gif]