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Thread: Does puck condition matter?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Does puck condition matter?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    So I've been playing around with my espresso machine for the past week. Finally starting to get the right looking/tasting shots but I've noticed a change in my pucks...

    The pucks used to knock out as a solid biscuit. Now they're knocking out crumbly, or at times knocking out in layers (top 3/4 layer knocks out into bin, remaining 1/4 layer remains in basket).

    Is this something to be concerned about? I've been told pucks should always knock out as a dry biscuit, and crumbliness or wet pucks mean bad distribution / dosing / tamping / grind.

    What I've changed to get the better shots (but worse pucks).
    - Reduced brew pressure (from 13 to 10.5)
    - Reduced boiler pressure (from 1.3 to 1.1)
    - Switched to triple basket (and from 18g dose to 21g dose)

    Also started using a naked portafilter, which doesn't show any channeling to the best of my knowledge.

    The horizontal breaking puck would suggest horizontal channeling though, no?

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Or if I'm worrying about nothing and the puck is irrelevant, let me know.

    Cheers,
    David.

  2. #2
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    I've recently got myself a better grinder, and thus have considerably changed how I've been making my coffees.

    Now it's much less coffee each time (regardless of single or double basket) and they are coming out pretty sloppy (or not coming out at all !!!!). I've put it down mainly to less coffee than to other factors - the doubles come out much more firmly.

    But the coffee is wonderful.

    I'm backflushing more and removing the shower screen to clean more, but it is worth it.

    So, I can live with sloppy if it means better coffee.

  3. #3
    Senior Member skidquinn's Avatar
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    Agree with NickR - i find when I dose at 18g, I end up with a reasonably sloppy puck. When I up the dose to 21g and open up the grind a little, the puck comes out dry and complete... the basket appears almost perfectly clean.

    Coffee using both methods is great and can't really pick up a difference there. I don't think its an issue.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidquinn View Post
    Agree with NickR - i find when I dose at 18g, I end up with a reasonably sloppy puck. When I up the dose to 21g and open up the grind a little, the puck comes out dry and complete... the basket appears almost perfectly clean.

    Coffee using both methods is great and can't really pick up a difference there. I don't think its an issue.
    Interesting... I will try updosing slightly to see if it cleans up the puck, but just for a trial. Wouldn't want to keep using 21+ grams every shot. Could start to get expensive.

    Good to hear that if the result is pleasing to disregard the puck though

  5. #5
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    The puck is everything.

    Gotta have a dry, perfect puck....every time.

    Don't worry about how the coffee looks, tastes or smells none of that is important.....it's all about the puck.

    I'm going to kickstart a website called Puck What A Pucking Good Puck

    And if it costs 5c more to get a good puck well what the puck? No great loss.

    It's all about the puck.

  6. #6
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    In my experience it can be due to volume of grounds in the basket (I'm sure other factors can cause it too).
    My roasts often vary in level from CS5-6 to CS8-9 depending on bean type and experimentation.
    20g of dark roasted beans take up more volume even after being ground than 20g of lightly roasted beans.
    If dosing on weight alone the lightly roasted beans sometimes don't fill the basket sufficiently to compact against the shower screen tightly as they expand with water.
    This leaves more water above the puck after extraction of which only some is sucked out through the 3-way valve, hence leaving a moist puck.
    I tend to vary grind/dose/tamp to ensure the basket has sufficient volume of grounds to make a tight puck, however I can't say flavour is particularly effected.

  7. #7
    Senior Member skidquinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidxcoffee View Post
    Interesting... I will try updosing slightly to see if it cleans up the puck, but just for a trial. Wouldn't want to keep using 21+ grams every shot. Could start to get expensive.

    Good to hear that if the result is pleasing to disregard the puck though
    No harm in using 21 grams each shot, and many people do. The difference in 3 grams is surely not going to break the bank......
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I use 18 grams in an 18 g EP basket, after extraction puck shows no evidence of sloppiness and knocks out intact pretty well every time.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post

    Puck What A Pucking Good Puck
    I had a laugh.

    I actually spat a mouthful of food all over my computer reading that post.
    Last edited by nickR; 6th October 2016 at 01:38 PM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    At one time I was doing some dose/tamp tests with different amounts of coffee in the same double basket, and at the time I noticed that less coffee = wetter pucks.
    Since then I have also realised that the machine also has an influence on how wet or dry they are. I believe it is due to the location of the three-way valve and the tube from it to the drip tray.
    My levers always leave slightly moist firm pucks that knock out easily, usually in one piece, but I have seen some layering as mentioned in the OP. I had a Gaggia Classic and no matter what I did, the pucks were always a little sloppy. And my Elektra Semiauto always leaves wet sloppy pucks that almost pour out. I suspect that's because the valve is so high above the group and the pipe out of it is even higher.

    All of these machine will deliver great shots, good shots, and poor shots all the while still leaving pretty much the same pucks that they usually do.

    So while I would normally bow to chokki's vast experience and wealth of knowledge, this is one time I'm going to have to disagree with him.
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  11. #11
    TC
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    Does it matter? Yes and no...

    So long as there is no channelling there is merit in experimenting with the dose/grind variable. The outcome is variable coffee chemistry and sometimes the best result with a given coffee will come from a lower and finer dose. The resultant puck is likely to be wet.

    Playing with this is just another in the many variables which makes this stuff so fascinating.

    As always, let your palate be the decider...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Does it matter? Yes and no...

    So long as there is no channelling there is merit in experimenting with the dose/grind variable. The outcome is variable coffee chemistry and sometimes the best result with a given coffee will come from a lower and finer dose. The resultant puck is likely to be wet.

    Playing with this is just another in the many variables which makes this stuff so fascinating.

    As always, let your palate be the decider...
    I read somewhere on this forum Sir that you actually value your pucks so much that you wouldn't even swap a 'used' puk for a brand new Sunbeam Torino.

  13. #13
    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smee View Post
    I read somewhere on this forum Sir that you actually value your pucks so much that you wouldn't even swap a 'used' puk for a brand new Sunbeam Torino.
    I wouldn't swap a polished turd for one...

  14. #14
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I wouldn't swap a polished turd for one...

    Too Funny !



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