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Thread: Portafilters, to tap or not.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Portafilters, to tap or not.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Lot's has been written about the pro's and cons of tapping the PF when dosing, must admit I'm a tapper, after dosing I give the PF a few light taps to settle the contents before tamping, after tamping a couple more taps to dislodge any coffee that has crept up the sides of the basket then a final tamp.
    I have recently gone out of my way to see if excessive tapping has any adverse affect on the shot, have tapped until the coffee shows a distinct gap around the edge, then retamped, have even tapped until the puck has broken right across the centre then retamped it.
    What affect has all of this had on my shots? bugger all, shots have been equally as good after all of the messing around.
    Not suggesting we all become obsessive tappers, simply making the point that a lot of practices that are frowned upon are perhaps not as destructive to a decent coffee as some would have us believe.
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  2. #2
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    making the point that a lot of practices that are frowned upon are perhaps not as destructive to a decent coffee as some would have us believe
    here, here. Every time this question comes up I cringe a little.

    What works for me is:
    Firm tamp, light tap, light tamp and polish.
    Never get channels, always have clean pucks and group handle.

    Seems that someone had a punt at what might happen in the group handle, posted it to the internet somewhere and then forever it became regurgitated law.

    Do what works for you I say!
    Rooballer likes this.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Any disturbance by the tap **should** be negated by the second tamp.

    I do see some videos where there is no tamp post-tap, and I suspect this could generate problems.

    Greg

  4. #4
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    With my tamping and tapping, I load my grinds into the filter in the form of Mt Fuji then I lightly tamp down while rotating the handle with a circular motion to distribute grinds and remove channelling and clumping, I tap the naked portafilter down onto a small wooden board, and then give a firm level tamp and polish. I find it quick and effective.

    By going naked you soon see if there is any channelling.

    Use whatever method you find gives you good results. No way will we get everyone using the same methods.

    Barry

  5. #5
    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    For years I was a tapper and a few months ago stopped tapping to see what all the fuss is about.
    I must say that I haven't noticed much difference at all & I do use a bottomless portafilter.
    Will probably switch back to my old habit of fill, level, light tamp, tap, final tap as the bit of coffee that sneaks up the sides is quite annoying.

  6. #6
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    I must admit I'm an occasional tapper - but my preferred routine is to dose, sweep back into dosing chamber, then tamp and polish (no tap) - seems to work well for me

    I've tried to eliminate tapping from my coffee routine, not because I think it adversely effects the coffee, but because it simplifies my coffee routine, with minimal impact on the end result - and, perhaps more importantly, less wear and tear on the old body!

    I found that the constant jarring motion of tapping was no good for my wrist - causing (perhaps not exclusively) a ganglia about the size of half a golf ball on my left wrist - which took me about a year and a half top get rid of - after which time I made every effort to simplify my routine without hopefully compromising the end product

    Works for me but at the end if the day I recommend whatever works for the individual - so long as it produces consistently good coffee

    Cheers,

    ACg

  7. #7
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I don't tap the PF on the bench or anything else, my tapping routine is to lightly tap the sides of the PF with the Delron insert in the top of my tamper handle, what it does is settle and level the coffee in the basket, after the initial tamp a couple more light taps to dislodge any coffee that may have crept up the side of the basket then a final polish.

  8. #8
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    Portafilters, to tap or not.

    My style is no tapping on the bench, after dosing I gently tap and distribute the grinds with the back of a flat handled spoon, I then screed and repeat until there are almost no grinds left to distribute, these get flicked off from the back of my spoon at the end. After this I tamp firmly polish.

  9. #9
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    Portafilters, to tap or not.

    I meant tamp firmly then polish

  10. #10
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Since starting to use a bottomless Portafilter I found the less fiddling I did with the grinds before tamping, the more consistent the pour and no channeling.

    Even being just a little heavy handed leveling the grinds led to some channeling I found. Quick and gentle leveling did the trick for me.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    Since starting to use a bottomless Portafilter I found the less fiddling I did with the grinds before tamping, the more consistent the pour and no channeling.

    Even being just a little heavy handed leveling the grinds led to some channelling I found. Quick and gentle leveling did the trick for me.
    Interesting, so do we conclude from this that naked portafilters are more susceptible to channelling!
    brettryan likes this.

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    I think you should conclude that naked group handles are easier to see the channeling.

    My technique happily works on naked and dressed handles.
    brettryan likes this.

  13. #13
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    I suspect there is some confusion of the term "Tapping" between posters....
    Tapping of the side of the PF using the tamper is a technique/ habit that has been the subject of much ridicule and discussion..
    ..whilst the process of "Settling" the grounds by vertically tapping the PF on the bench/tamping mat before tamping, is a completely different action, recommended by most Barista trainers
    .. and i would suggest a widely accepted beneficial technique.
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  14. #14
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    My technique happily works on naked and dressed handles.
    "Dressed".

    That's a new one.

    Clever!

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod View Post
    "Dressed". That's a new one. Clever!
    ...or clothed, or spouted. How about bottomed?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    OK I admit it - I both settle the portafilter and tap with the tamper and polish not only that but I pat the coffee down and level it prior to tamping with a straight piece of stainless steel. OK I am a little bit Obsessive (I am a CoffeeSnob after all so it is to be expected). I don't get channelling and I get consistent results. I find that it works for me. By the way I use a dressed portafilter, I have never felt the need to go naked

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    I tap the PF on the mat as I am loading it (don't dose) and tend to tap the side of the PF with the Tamper simply because I don't like the look of grounds creeping up the edge of the basket. Tapping the PF with the tamper hard enough to dislodge the grounds may possibly open up a slight gap around the edge of the puck so I always give it a final light press. The shape of the shower screen suggests to me that a bit of ground up the side of the basket is neither here nor there and all my tapping is for purely cosmetic reasons.
    There's a car in town with the number plate "02 TAP" but I don't think they are a coffee snob.

  18. #18
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    I think you should conclude that naked group handles are easier to see the channeling.

    My technique happily works on naked and dressed handles.
    I was going to say its easier to see the fine squirts (channeling) using the bottomless portafilter but that would probably be going too far. Glad I didn't do that.

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    While I don't like to tap the portafilter as I see no need for it a guy that I work with does and the vast majority of his shots come out fine. Though there is that one shot in every 20 to 30 that he does that can channel quite badly, but it shouldn't matter too much and may be more to do with his tamping technique than the portafilter tapping.

  20. #20
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    I would recommend using the steel forks on the grinder body to settle the grind as opposed to tapping the handle on the bench or anywhere else for that matter - that's what they're designed for

  21. #21
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    I used to tap up until a couple of months ago when I saw another thread on this very topic

    tried not tapping on a few just for shits and giggles and found it worked a lot better for me as a result, I find that I need to change my grind a bit more frequently when changing beans now though, whether that's just coincidence and me noticing changes more or not is anyones guess

    for me at the moment it's just tamp and twist and clean the pf edge

  22. #22
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    Iím still starting out on my coffee journey (started corretto roasting and acquired a 6910 recently) and have to say Iím quite anal about tapping. As Iím a chemist I picked it up due to performing column chromatography at work all the time. The basic idea of column chromatography is that you pass a mixture of compounds in solvent down a solid phase (silica Ė ground glass) and they separate and come out the bottom at different times. There are some similar principles to pulling a good shot, one difference being that instead of applying pressure on top I create a strong vacuum underneath to pull it through. It is a glass column of same width as a basket, but a few times taller so you can see how evenly it was packed by watching the solvent pass through. If I donít excessively tap it by whacking it with a rubber hose, horrible channelling occurs. Its also important to make a completely level top, and tamp it flat too Ė same as with my coffee. You even add a piece of filter paper on top so when the solvent is added it doesnít disrupt the flat surface.

    Now while the goals are different I think some principles still apply Ė you want equal amounts of water to pass through each part of the coffee, not to over/underextract individual grinds, no? Iím not saying tapping is essential to a good shot. If your grind doesnít come out clumpy with air pockets the tamp is enough, but I can only see tapping it level helping.

    I did a google search to see if anyone has ever made a see-through portafiller/basket Ė sure enough there are some references to an elusive Illy glass/plastic PF. I was wondering because if it is see-through you could see the water seeping through the coffee, aiming for it to pass through at an even rate, eluting from the sides and centre of the puck at the same time. Surely thereís someone with sufficient time and passion for coffee to undergo such a project?
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burr View Post
    I’m still starting out on my coffee journey (started corretto roasting and acquired a 6910 recently) and have to say I’m quite anal about tapping. As I’m a chemist I picked it up due to performing column chromatography at work all the time. The basic idea of column chromatography is that you pass a mixture of compounds in solvent down a solid phase (silica – ground glass) and they separate and come out the bottom at different times. There are some similar principles to pulling a good shot, one difference being that instead of applying pressure on top I create a strong vacuum underneath to pull it through. It is a glass column of same width as a basket, but a few times taller so you can see how evenly it was packed by watching the solvent pass through. If I don’t excessively tap it by whacking it with a rubber hose, horrible channelling occurs. Its also important to make a completely level top, and tamp it flat too – same as with my coffee. You even add a piece of filter paper on top so when the solvent is added it doesn’t disrupt the flat surface.

    Now while the goals are different I think some principles still apply – you want equal amounts of water to pass through each part of the coffee, not to over/underextract individual grinds, no? I’m not saying tapping is essential to a good shot. If your grind doesn’t come out clumpy with air pockets the tamp is enough, but I can only see tapping it level helping.

    I did a google search to see if anyone has ever made a see-through portafiller/basket – sure enough there are some references to an elusive Illy glass/plastic PF. I was wondering because if it is see-through you could see the water seeping through the coffee, aiming for it to pass through at an even rate, eluting from the sides and centre of the puck at the same time. Surely there’s someone with sufficient time and passion for coffee to undergo such a project?
    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs Burr, interesting first post, bet this will generate some discussion, or perhaps not I'm not a chemist but do have a background in mineral sample preparation for analysis, I attempted to draw parallels between prepping samples and coffee making quite some time ago (grind consistency in particular) the silence was deafening.
    Last edited by Yelta; 2nd November 2012 at 02:18 PM.

  24. #24
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Great first post burr (and welcome to CoffeeSnobs)

    instead of applying pressure on top I create a strong vacuum underneath to pull it through.
    Coming to a barista bench near you soon, the vacuum tamp stand
    ...with optional see-through group handle.

  25. #25
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    Since starting to use a bottomless Portafilter I found the less fiddling I did with the grinds before tamping, the more consistent the pour and no channeling.

    Even being just a little heavy handed leveling the grinds led to some channeling I found. Quick and gentle leveling did the trick for me.
    After reading this whole thread again I thought I'd give tapping another try.

    Glad I did as I found I've probably been slightly underdosing by only grinding and tamping without tapping.

    Tapping the bottom of the portafilter on a rubber mat 2 or 3 times gave the best results for me once I got the technique right.

    So many variables to play with and so little time!

    With a proper dose in the basket I found grinding slightly coarser and tamping a bit harder achieved a really good result.
    This brought me back to a much drier tightly packed puck with consistently no channeling and a brew with noticeably more depth.
    The color of the extraction was also noticeably darker.

    I suppose its easy to get lazy when you're changing beans and roasts frequently but I'm glad I made the effort to experiment again thanks to this thread.
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 29th November 2012 at 01:30 PM.



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