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Thread: Everything I was taught as a barista has changed many years ago

  1. #1
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    Everything I was taught as a barista has changed many years ago

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I am a trained barista, skills I used while at uni and at home. At home a switched to cold brew (now nitro) and I have stopped working professionally many years ago.
    However I am now in the market for an espresso machine for the wife (and me to play with alongside cold brew)
    While looking into machines I have discovered everything I was taught as a barista had changed. We were using too much coffee and too worried about tamp pressure and tapping in between tamping is out. Today it is all about a weighted dose of coffee and weighted output to get the correct espresso ratio of 2:1 so 16g of coffee with 32ml of liquid output or 18:36 etc. Weight is important because different beans at going to weigh differently vs volume and output will vary based on crema. Tamp pressure is not critical but consistentsy is (actually there are pretty cool adjustable levelers that get it right every time). Then dial in the shot time (grind size) at around 25 seconds. If you want to get more fancy use a naked portafilter to check your tamp consistency.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazzawill View Post
    Today it is all about a weighted dose of coffee and weighted output.
    Yes and no. You still have a palate and no amount of science gets to override that. You have have an amazing yield of disgusting, sinkable coffee- just as you did when learning.

    Coffee is Science v Art. Attend to only one and the result will more often than not be substandard.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member topshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    You have have an amazing yield of disgusting, sinkable coffee- just as you did when learning.

    Coffee is Science v Art. Attend to only one and the result will more often than not be substandard.
    That's a bit harsh!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazzawill View Post
    I am a trained barista, skills I used while at uni and at home. At home a switched to cold brew (now nitro) and I have stopped working professionally many years ago.
    However I am now in the market for an espresso machine for the wife (and me to play with alongside cold brew)
    While looking into machines I have discovered everything I was taught as a barista had changed. We were using too much coffee and too worried about tamp pressure and tapping in between tamping is out. Today it is all about a weighted dose of coffee and weighted output to get the correct espresso ratio of 2:1 so 16g of coffee with 32ml of liquid output or 18:36 etc. Weight is important because different beans at going to weigh differently vs volume and output will vary based on crema. Tamp pressure is not critical but consistentsy is (actually there are pretty cool adjustable levelers that get it right every time). Then dial in the shot time (grind size) at around 25 seconds. If you want to get more fancy use a naked portafilter to check your tamp consistency.
    Don't believe everything you read Bazza, everything has not changed, the basics are exactly as they were 10 years ago.

    For most of us making espresso is a simple process, sure you can get geeky if you want to, however for most it's a case of the simpler the better.

    Plenty of people experiment with gadgets (to make the process easier) in most cases they only add another level of complexity to a basically simple operation, in majority of cases the gadgets quickly make their way into the bottom drawer or appear in the for sale section.

    Having said the above, I am in favour of weighing and single dosing, both help to achieve consistency, I never weigh output, you quickly learn when the shot is shorter or longer than what experience tells you suits your palate.

    Tapping between tamping presents no problem, as long as you finish with a firm final tamp.

    Some of the thwarted scientists among us love to confuse the issue by describing outlandish convoluted processes and making extravagant claims for new cutting edge geegaws, take most of it with a grain of salt.
    Complexity.jpg
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  5. #5
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    Haha I remember tapping the side of the portafilter with the tamper when I was "taught" to be a barista during my uni days ..... Now over 30 years ago!

  6. #6
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    Yes and no. You still have a palate and no amount of science gets to override that. You have have an amazing yield of disgusting, sinkable coffee- just as you did when learning.

    Coffee is Science v Art. Attend to only one and the result will more often than not be substandard.
    Quote Originally Posted by topshot View Post
    That's a bit harsh!
    I'm assuming the double "have have" was meant to be "can have" which would read "You can have an amazing yield of disgusting, sinkable coffee- just as you did when learning." Which suggests that the numbers aren't everything, a statement backed up by the art vs science bit. Assuming I'm close to right, not as harsh as it would appear on first read!
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  7. #7
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    Or you could get a Decent Expresso machine, forget the old school theories, be in the know and control, make coffee to your taste, the way you want, rather than to suit the machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamianB View Post
    Or you could get a Decent Expresso machine, forget the old school theories, be in the know and control, make coffee to your taste, the way you want, rather than to suit the machine.
    G'day DamianB

    ... FWIW, although it is absolutely a huge step forward, the learning curve of a DE1 will take a quite a while for you to "be in the know and control... etc.".

    Getting a manual lever to play took me quite a while (ancient history now, so I cannot remember how long - certainly quite a few weeks). Taming a Strada to the point that I could get it to dance on demand took me 4 1/2 months of concerted effort.

    My DE1 is way more complex than either of those two machines in terms of what you can set / get. Another issue - like all machines the DE1 has a noticeable lag when changing flow / temp / pressure etc so the actual flow you observe is different from the graph of your settings on the tablet. Like all such toys being willing to learn its foibles via experience is the only method to really nail your coffee. There is no substitute for knowing your gear.

    I would add that the DE1 shares one other attribute with the Strada - it is very, very sensitive to different roasts. Perhaps I have been unlucky in hitting outliers (although I doubt that), however the best shots from the last three roasts - El Salvador, Ecuadorian and now Peruvian - have needed entirely different settings (particularly temperature and flow). I really did not that coming! A side note: now my favourite coffee roaster has closed, I am trying a whole bunch of unfamiliar roasts, which is not helping me when trying to figure out a new machine's quirks. I do not know the specifics of what these particular roasts are supposed to be like, whereas with a roast I already know I can get the best out of it in (very) few shots. Knowing the exact target makes it a lot faster to hit it. First world problem, I guess.

    So while at the easy end of usage the DE1 has dozens of presets which you can use to get a "one button cuppa", the other end can be "challenging", at least in the short term.


    TampIt
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  9. #9
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    One thing that the tapping the portafilter between tamps is good for is giving you a portafilter with lots of little dents in it. I had a laugh.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    One thing that the tapping the portafilter between tamps is good for is giving you a portafilter with lots of little dents in it. I had a laugh.
    Not if you use a Reg Barber tamper with a Delrin insert, works a treat.

    I believe Pullman also have tampers with handle inserts in their range.

    The top of a wood tamper handle won't damage the PF either, however the tamper handle will get pretty dinged up.

    Seriously! you would have to be a bit of a knuckle head to tap a PF with anything metal, if you don't have a handle insert the heel of your hand also does the job.
    Reg Barber Delrin..jpg

  11. #11
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post

    Seriously! you would have to be a bit of a knuckle head to tap a PF with anything metal
    Agreed. Thatís what lots of people (me included) used to do though. Some still do. Itís completely unnecessary to tap after tamping before tamping again so itís a simple fix - just donít do it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I tap to level, before tamping, always have, always will, works a treat, no leveling gimmicks, WDT,s, paper clips, fairy wands or incantations needed, simple.

    Unlike some, who are constantly chasing the latest and greatest machine/gadget to compensate for poor technique or understanding, I produce great shots repeatedly with a stock standard, well maintained E61 machine, along with decent grinder and tamper.

    The only accessories I use are scales to weigh beans, a wooden tamp stand and a dosing funnel.

    While we're on the subject of compulsive upgrading, no one will ever convince me that I need to spend between 5 and 10 thousand dollars on a machine to produce a quality espresso, and then another 2 or three thousand for a grinder of high enough quality to team up with the thing.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I tap to level, before tamping:
    Same. Just a couple of light taps on the side. With my hand now though, not something metal. I had a laugh.

    I do have to admit that Iíve just bought a cheap Chinese distributor to try. Iím not sure itíll make a material difference, but thereís only one way to find out.
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  14. #14
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Yep that was in vogue though back in the day (80s)

    Our portafilters looked like the had a hammer mill finish.

    And the fancy tampers are also a new innovation, pretty sure ours was about a kilo of stainless.

    That said I wouldn't dream of making coffee like I used to!

    Cheers



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