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Thread: Using coffee distribution tools

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    Using coffee distribution tools

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Iíll try again, as I stuffed the last post. Wrong subject under heading I had a laugh.


    Does anyone use a coffee distribuiton tool (OCD), or just use there finger instead?

    i saw some vids using a naked portafilter and it looks like it makes a
    difference. Iíve never tapped or used a distribution tool s
    curious to see if others use them or if they work etc.

  2. #2
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Don't use a distribution tool, but I use a toothpick. Look up the weiss (I think thats the spelling) distibution technique.
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    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    barista hustle are currently investigating distribution and the efficacy of different tools/techniques. it makes for good reading.

    i reckon you have a good method with catching the grounds in a dosing container, giving it a few good knocks to break up the clumps, then pouring the grounds into your basket and giving the portafilter a few good sideways palm taps. that's what john from decent was doing at MICE and it worked very nicely.
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    Do you know of a good container, i I’ve a look but can’t find a good sized one that will be able to flipped and cover over the portafilter basket. They seem to be either to big or small. Nothing around 58mm. I did hear on a YouTube video a guy using a Tupperware container but could get a name for it.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Dosing cups like the one in the photo can be purchased from a number of outlets if you do a Google Search for them.
    Or, you could knock one up for yourself out of what ever comes close to the right size...

    IMG_3707.jpg

    Mal.
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    I couldn't find a nice stainless cup like that for a decent price (could have changed now) so i brought these https://www.decor.com.au/product/bri...ip-tubs-75-ml/
    Got them from Spotlight for $4. Fits a 21g dose in it and fits inside a 58mm basket so i tilt the PF slightly and flip the tub into PF, give it a shake to level grounds / break up clumps, tamp and pull shot. Cut the top lip down a bit if you find it leave an impression when dumping coffee into portafilter. Not too much as it help locate it and stay on portafilter if you want to shake to move grounds around.


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    I might buy the SS one, or sure how the plastic will go against the grinder (flex and crack or break it).

    they are a little $$$ though, I will try it, looks like there is a version with a distribution tool built in.

    Just need to to buy it from somewhere that doesn’t charge more for postage the item itself, went to th checkout and it was $36 for postage.

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    Hi Sten,

    Here is a youTube video from a recent post on this site ... Post 1154 "Decent espresso machines (DE1) - Any thoughts" thread which may be of interest for you.

    Declumping espresso with a milk jug


    Cheers.
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy View Post
    Hi Sten,

    Here is a youTube video from a recent post on this site ... Post 1154 "Decent espresso machines (DE1) - Any thoughts" thread which may be of interest for you.

    Declumping espresso with a milk jug


    Cheers.
    Hmmm, noticed this, given the long running discussion re this machine I'm quite surprised at the suggested fix.

    Then we had the before and after pics with almost non existent crema, if I had either served to me in a cafe in this condition I'd send them back, particularly the one with what looks like a hair stuck to the side of the cup.
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    I swill the grinds around with a toothpick as they come out of the grinder into the basket (Compak K3, clumps badly).

    This breaks up the worst of the clumps then i poke at the remaining bigger ones to break them up.
    I then tap the portafilter body down firmly 3-4 times on my tamping mat, them tamp and extract.

    When I tapped on the side with my hand to settle the grinds, or tapped it with the tamper, more often than not I had a quick gush of coffee a few seconds after beginning the extraction, then the extraction proceeded normally. This I would think is channeling.

    With tapping the portafilter body straight down, the extraction is always predictable and repeatable.
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    Senior Member noonar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sten186 View Post
    I might buy the SS one, or sure how the plastic will go against the grinder (flex and crack or break it).

    they are a little $$$ though, I will try it, looks like there is a version with a distribution tool built in.

    Just need to to buy it from somewhere that doesn’t charge more for postage the item itself, went to th checkout and it was $36 for postage.
    The bottom of a small stainless powdered chocolate shaker works perfect for me.
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    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    It seems jars are a good size. Jam, curry paste or similar.
    My 270w has a issue with holding the glass though. Messes the weight up if you hold (or even touch it)
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackster View Post
    It seems jars are a good size. Jam, curry paste or similar.
    My 270w has a issue with holding the glass though. Messes the weight up if you hold (or even touch it)
    How about a small piece of rubber or similar on the base to stop movement?
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    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    I tend to keep going back to using my spinny distribution tool (cheaper 3-vane version from the e to the bay), works really well, and every extraction has really even beading when the coffee starts to flow through and nice even extraction. Just have to set it correctly.

    Although I am currently experiencing very inconsistent results and have been trying out a variety of distribution methods to no avail (although I'm pegging it's a grinder issue and am going to change the burrs out soon I think). But in terms of extraction the tool really helped. But it doesn't distribute through the whole puck however, that's why as I dose into the basket I move the handle around so that it fills the basket evenly around. Collapse twice at the end, distr tool spins, tamp and go.

    Another option (if you're thinking of dosing into a cup first) is getting a dosing funnel like the Orphan Dosing funnel, easier to pour the grounds into the basket with that on. I have one I use from time to time and works great.
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    Hi Simon,

    Could you post a pic of the distribution tool you have please?

    Cheers.

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    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy View Post
    Hi Simon,

    Could you post a pic of the distribution tool you have please?

    Cheers.
    Sure can! This is the pic I put up on the ONA coffee distributor thread (which is also worth a read)

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/showthread.php?t=42916

    And I also put a runner band around the top holding part, much easier to grip that way. But seriously creates the flattest surface to tamp on. Can post pics of that too
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    Sure can! This is the pic I put up on the ONA coffee distributor thread (which is also worth a read)

    ONA coffee distributor

    And I also put a runner band around the top holding part, much easier to grip that way. But seriously creates the flattest surface to tamp on. Can post pics of that too
    great find, I couldnít quite bring myself to spend $220 on an OCD so will try the cheaper alternative and if itís good maybe upgrade afterwards.

    Good find, thanks for sharing.
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    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackster View Post
    It seems jars are a good size. Jam, curry paste or similar.
    My 270w has a issue with holding the glass though. Messes the weight up if you hold (or even touch it)


    When I'm making filter coffee I just catch the grounds into a Harris 10-12 cup filter paper. After reading this thread I though this would work perfectly for jiggling the clumps out and then be quite easy to pour into your portafiller, or you could try the cone one's and then cut the bottom off. Hey presto, a ready made funnel.
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    I have an el-cheapo e-bay distribution tool, and during a Barista course found that it works really well to improve distribution. One thing we found, was that it need to act as a tamp at the same time to get the best result. We compared it to another brand of distribution tool, and were able to get very close to the same result. The name brand (Lelit) was slightly better, but not in my opinion, enough to justify the additional cost.

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    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blonk View Post
    I have an el-cheapo e-bay distribution tool, and during a Barista course found that it works really well to improve distribution. One thing we found, was that it need to act as a tamp at the same time to get the best result. We compared it to another brand of distribution tool, and were able to get very close to the same result. The name brand (Lelit) was slightly better, but not in my opinion, enough to justify the additional cost.
    Ah that's interesting, I've heard from others (including the ONA guys) that the tool shouldn't have any (or much of) sort of tamping effect but only distribution. Was that through pretty thorough experimenting and testing? I'll have to give that a go. And how much compression did you find it needed, in terms of the proper tamp afterwards? (I remember watching a Pullman chisel video, and the fellow said you want to use the distribution tool so that when you tamp with the tamper after using the distr tool, there's about 2-3mm of compression)

    Mine is a cheaper one that has the 3 vanes on the bottom, perhaps this operates slightly different to the OCD maybe?

    Ah I took a photo of that vid for reference actually haha

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    Senior Member Arcade's Avatar
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    I use a LWW blind tumbler and then a Pullman Chisel for distribution. Repeatability is excellent. I love the Pullman because it doesn't hold a single grain of coffee after spinning, like some of the tri-bladed ones I've seen/used. As per the above post I adjust it do that my tamp compresses about 3mm.

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    I just love my Mahlkonig gen2 and 3 Varios - no static, clumping or temperature runaway so going direct into the p/f works superbly.

    One inital light pressure level tamp (first 2mm or so of "fluff") and a final (also light pressure) tamp and it is good to go.

    After several hundred shots I rarely get a spray or a channel - and as I always use my naked p/fs it would be obvious.

    Not faffing around with distribution methods (which I used to do many years ago - Staub, Weiss then nutating) is also a lot faster - so less oxidation is happening after it is ground.

    I concluded that the various distribution methods are really only to correct poor technique and / or poor grinder issues.
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    I distribute with the flat edge of the stock Rancilio plastic scoop, works like a charm. I’ve also experimented with a paper clip with surprisingly good results!

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    I grabbed one of the ones of Ebay, seems to work OK but the 'stickiness' of it on the sides is doing my head in and making my bench a mess. Not really seeing much difference in regards to channeling on the naked PF, most of my clumping is finger touch breakup so the tamper is probably having no issues with them. Was only $25 so am not too fussed.

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    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockford View Post
    I grabbed one of the ones of Ebay, seems to work OK but the 'stickiness' of it on the sides is doing my head in and making my bench a mess. Not really seeing much difference in regards to channeling on the naked PF, most of my clumping is finger touch breakup so the tamper is probably having no issues with them. Was only $25 so am not too fussed.
    Ah that's interesting, mine is probably the same one from eBay and it doesn't get messy and no grounds really stick to it at all.. maybe a very small amount on the sides but nothing much. Maybe you have it set too deep?

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sten186 View Post
    Iíll try again, as I stuffed the last post. Wrong subject under heading I had a laugh.


    Does anyone use a coffee distribuiton tool (OCD), or just use there finger instead?

    i saw some vids using a naked portafilter and it looks like it makes a
    difference. Iíve never tapped or used a distribution tool s
    curious to see if others use them or if they work etc.
    I've never had the need for one Sten, get your dose and grind right, everything else just falls into place.

    I weigh the beans, grind, dose, (using a dosing funnel) level by tapping the sides of the PF, then tamp, all pretty straight forward.
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    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    I just use a toothpick to loosen any clumps etc when I grind really fine. Takes only a few extra seconds a shot.

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    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    They hardly seem necessary for home use, however, I can understand them be used in busy cafes. It's basically a leveler you do the distribution yourself.

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    How do you change the depth? it doesn't screw up or down, has no spacers or anything. (actually just realised I got it from Amazon not Ebay)

    leveller.JPG

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    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockford View Post
    How do you change the depth? it doesn't screw up or down, has no spacers or anything. (actually just realised I got it from Amazon not Ebay)

    leveller.JPG
    Hmm that's interesting... usually you hold the bottom bit still while you slightly unscrew the top section. Then you can unscrew the bottom section (with the vanes) which lowers the depth as you unscrew. Then you can tighten up the top section again to set it at that level.

    Give that a go, but odd that it can't be altered, must be some way...

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    I got it!! had to use some multi-grips and tea-towel so as not to scratch it, but once I'd finally worked it loose the first time it now spins/screws freely. I think there might have been a metal edge on the thread somehwere which was stopping it turning :-)
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  32. #32
    NJD
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    I am having trouble with channelling at the moment . So I spent today practicing my routine and trying different things to try and sort the problem. I have also just recieved my naked portafilter which I am using to watch the extraction and try troubleshoot.

    I have checked the shower screen top and bottom and it is spotless. I have the pullman basket 17-19 grams and am dosing 18 grams which I always weigh every shot. My coffee is roasted by myself and is 10 days post roast so all should be good on that front.I also have the pullman distribution tool and the pullman palm tamp that I use. I do like to weigh out 18 grams into my tiamo cup then grind through my robur E back into the dosing cup weighing again to make sure I have 18 grams. Grinds look pretty good to me , I then give it a couple of swirls before placing my naked on top of the dosing cup then flipping upside down. Give it a shake to central the grinds then remove and tap on the benchtop once then use the distribution tool , give it 4 spins left then 4 spins right. I then use my palm tamp which gives me about 2-3 mm tamp as per the pullman recommendation before locking in and pull the shot. I am getting channelling probably 85% of the time and in the same place which is somewhat of a bonus as it must be my technique. I have loaded then turned the basket 90degrees to see if it was the shower screen but same outcome. I did get some what better than when I started and I did get 1 shot which was perfect to watch through the naked and boy oh boy what a taste difference. I would say I have improved to about 50 percent of the basket extracts now .

    This is frustrating but I'm going to keep working and trying methods to understand what is happening, I do shutter at the coffee waste though . Not cool at all!!!

    Does anyone have any tips at all which may help or ideas to try?? My only question in my mind is do I have the distribution tool set to low or to high ?? I have tried up and down through out my testing but am just guessing really.My extraction of the 1 good shot was timed pretty good to me 36 grams out in 40 seconds from 18 grams ground which seems a good area to be.

    Fire away with ideas or techniques to try or adjustments to my current.

    Thanks all.

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    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Honestly if your grinder is any good (sounds like it is) I'd ditch the distribution tool and do it by hand. By that I mean once the grounds are in the basket do your one tap on the bench to settle then tap the sides of the portafilter with your hand to move the coffee around until it is flat and even, then tamp. It may take a little time to adjust but you'll get a better result.
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  34. #34
    NJD
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    Yeah I did try this but I also tried so many things I forget how they went . Will give it another go. Thanks for the advice

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Honestly if your grinder is any good (sounds like it is) I'd ditch the distribution tool and do it by hand. By that I mean once the grounds are in the basket do your one tap on the bench to settle then tap the sides of the portafilter with your hand to move the coffee around until it is flat and even, then tamp. It may take a little time to adjust but you'll get a better result.
    Plus one from me, sounds like quite a rigamarole you go through NJD.

    I dose, tap on bench a couple of times to settle grounds, tap the sides of the PF to evenly distribute the grounds then tamp, that's it, works every time.
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    NJD
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    Rodger that. I guess the reason I got the chisel and palm tamp was to simplify the system as much as possible so my partner could use it when I'm working . Funny it was meant to make it simpler but its not that way at the moment.

    Cheers Yelta I will be trying this again and hopefully this works out well as yes it is much simpler .Thanks

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    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJD View Post
    I am having trouble with channelling at the moment . So I spent today practicing my routine and trying different things to try and sort the problem. I have also just recieved my naked portafilter which I am using to watch the extraction and try troubleshoot.

    I have checked the shower screen top and bottom and it is spotless. I have the pullman basket 17-19 grams and am dosing 18 grams which I always weigh every shot. My coffee is roasted by myself and is 10 days post roast so all should be good on that front.I also have the pullman distribution tool and the pullman palm tamp that I use. I do like to weigh out 18 grams into my tiamo cup then grind through my robur E back into the dosing cup weighing again to make sure I have 18 grams. Grinds look pretty good to me , I then give it a couple of swirls before placing my naked on top of the dosing cup then flipping upside down. Give it a shake to central the grinds then remove and tap on the benchtop once then use the distribution tool , give it 4 spins left then 4 spins right. I then use my palm tamp which gives me about 2-3 mm tamp as per the pullman recommendation before locking in and pull the shot. I am getting channelling probably 85% of the time and in the same place which is somewhat of a bonus as it must be my technique. I have loaded then turned the basket 90degrees to see if it was the shower screen but same outcome. I did get some what better than when I started and I did get 1 shot which was perfect to watch through the naked and boy oh boy what a taste difference. I would say I have improved to about 50 percent of the basket extracts now .

    This is frustrating but I'm going to keep working and trying methods to understand what is happening, I do shutter at the coffee waste though . Not cool at all!!!

    Does anyone have any tips at all which may help or ideas to try?? My only question in my mind is do I have the distribution tool set to low or to high ?? I have tried up and down through out my testing but am just guessing really.My extraction of the 1 good shot was timed pretty good to me 36 grams out in 40 seconds from 18 grams ground which seems a good area to be.

    Fire away with ideas or techniques to try or adjustments to my current.

    Thanks all.
    Definitely a good idea trying some things and seeing what changes. But for sure only change one thing at a time, so you know what might have affected what.

    I personally wouldn't recommend single dosing using a Robur, but that being said I have known some to do it successfully. Single dosing isn't always a guarantee, as something definitely changes in grind when single dosing compared to dosing with a weight of beans in the hopper. Again, people have done it fine with certain grinders, but only with some. Alot are designed to have a weight of beans on them. So whether that's a factor here I'm not sure, it may very well be.

    My distribution tool I think I have found that when it has a slight tamping effect, and the tamper tamp is about 2-3mm of compression or so works best. If it was too shallow it doesn't really work as well, but again experiment and see what works.

    Simplifying a routine is always a good idea like the guys above said, so try a routine without the tool (slight palm tapping to level), try it with the tool, but it's best not to have too many variables to have to focus on.

    My grinder makes really fluffy, easier-to-distribute grounds so I can simplify it a little, whereas prior grinders it was a reeeal workshop in finding the ultimate distribution technique for each bean haha. Now I just dose, collapse once, distribution tool and tamp. But it really is dependent on your grinder, beans etc.

    Let us know how you go though! I love talking distribution techniques haha

  38. #38
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with single dosing using a large commercial grinder.
    Not as convenient as a dedicated single dosing grinder but it certainly isn't a chore to do or achieve consistency. Sure, if you have a mob coming over and all want a coffee or three, then the large commercial grinder really shines when using it as intended with the bean hopper fitted. A very minor grind adjustment and then you're on your way again... Simple as could be.

    Mal.
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  39. #39
    NJD
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    Tried again this morning and even though it was 3:30 am I didi have better results. Dosing straight into the basket and not into the dosing cup then into portafilter I think will make a difference. So I will give it a go for a while. It;s a start . Take any small wins I say.
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  40. #40
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Nothing wrong with single dosing using a large commercial grinder.
    Not as convenient as a dedicated single dosing grinder but it certainly isn't a chore to do or achieve consistency. Sure, if you have a mob coming over and all want a coffee or three, then the large commercial grinder really shines when using it as intended with the bean hopper fitted. A very minor grind adjustment and then you're on your way again... Simple as could be.

    Mal.
    On reading the remarks I had similar thoughts Mal, though hesitated to express them having never used anything larger than the Mini, which I might add I have successfully single dosed for many years, second nature now, don't even think about it.

    Digressing slightly,have often wondered about the term Mini, at just over 10kg/22lb its a fair lump of a thing, guess it's comparatively small when compared to the rest of the Mazzer range.

    Before the naysayers chime in have to say have never regretted buying the grinder for a moment, cant see any possible reason to upgrade, except perhaps motor failure, think it will see me out.
    PS Cant resist the opportunity to beat the Mazzer drum
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  41. #41
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Nothing wrong with single dosing using a large commercial grinder.
    Not as convenient as a dedicated single dosing grinder but it certainly isn't a chore to do or achieve consistency. Sure, if you have a mob coming over and all want a coffee or three, then the large commercial grinder really shines when using it as intended with the bean hopper fitted. A very minor grind adjustment and then you're on your way again... Simple as could be.

    Mal.
    Fair enough Mal. I guess I was referring to consistency. I've known many people to single dose using certain grinders, weighing everything and doing everything very consistently, only to have very inconsistent yields due to the last dregs of their dose being ground very unevenly (which reflects in having to use a different grind setting for that purpose).

    Then when they switched to hopper dosing it solved everything, really consistent extractions and yields. Some grinders seem to do it better than others, just offering a possible avenue of a solution for NJD

  42. #42
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Consistency has never been an issue mate, so not sure what's happening there...

    Mal.
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  43. #43
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Consistency has never been an issue mate, so not sure what's happening there...

    Mal.
    I'm referring to other people, not yourself

  44. #44
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    As an experiment I just half filled the Mini hopper with beans, ground 18 grams into a container, then carried out my usual tap and tamp procedure, as usual the result was very good, no different to single dose.

    Perhaps its down to close encounters, though somehow I don't think so, I suspect its more to do with operator error.
    Your doing it wrong..jpg
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  45. #45
    NJD
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    I have changed to dosing directly into the portafilter and have had nothing but success . Beautiful shots of espresso from my freshly roasted Yirg!!! Still using the distribution chisel so I'll keep playing but now the coffee tastes great whilst fine tune and improve .

    Thanks all for offering advice its a great network of knowledge here.
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  46. #46
    Junior Member
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    I had trouble in the past manually distributing grounds using my finger. Would look at the puck after extraction and would often find a small crater in the same spot. Tried adjusting my technique numerous times, but the crater would return. Ended up getting a Pullman Chisel distribution tool. Problem solved! Few quick spins, a tamp and good to go. Looks great too.
    C2CE6B7E-8C8B-4F58-85AC-E9BCACE66B85.jpgD53C8166-5D31-47EE-8471-4AE174D53C51.jpg
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  47. #47
    NJD
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    Haha thats funny as I already use a pullman chisel . Yeah i weigh into tiamo cup then grind into the portafilter now and it has been better by far. Thanks for the suggestion guess it must just be my technique but I'm getting slightly better

  48. #48
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    The simpler you can keep the process the better the outcome, check out the technique of barista's in your area, no fancy tools, geegaw's or rituals involved, they dose, tap, tamp, that's it, sure some are better at it than others, but that's just down to experience/aptitude.
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  49. #49
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    I'm referring to other people, not yourself
    So was I mate...

    Mal.
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  50. #50
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by CoolBeans View Post
    Looks great too.
    They certainly do mate.
    Beautiful timber...

    Mal.
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