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Thread: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

  1. #1
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Ive been grinding into a small cup, and then transferring the grinds to the portafilter to avoid the occasional overflow from grinding directly into the PF.
    I decided that I could get the same result by grinding the PF about 3/4 full, banging it on the bench a couple of times to settle the grounds, then grinding the rest.

    Another bang or two and the tamper scrapes the sides of the basket clean.

    The only problem has been that the coffee is not as sweet, and (to me) not as good!

    A couple of shots with my previous method, (no banging on bench, but a slow manual distribution of grounds) and Im now convinced--settling the grounds by banging the PF detracts from the taste.

    Anybody else found this?
    Or any other way of improving the flavour by changing your technique?

    Greg

  2. #2
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Im a banger.

    Youre probably getting more coffee in by banging than the other way.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1225586383/0#1 date=1225588802
    Im a banger.

    Youre probably getting more coffee in by banging than the other way.
    I wondered about that--so I weighed the amount in my testing.
    The taste difference happens at the same weight.

    It could be a time difference though, I express for volume rather than a time, so I havent checked that as a variable.

    Greg

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Yep, it could be the delay from grinding until the shot is poured. Ive noticed that the quicker you can dose, distribute, tamp and then lock-in and pour.... The better is the end result. And thats not just for espresso either; seems to apply to all the methods of brewing I use here at home,

    Mal.

  5. #5
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Sorry, Mal, I wasnt clear that I was thinking of the brewing time.
    The time from grinding to espresso wouldnt differ by more than 5 or 10 seconds between the two methods. Unless that can make the slower coffee definitely sweeter?

    I certainly didnt expect the difference I am getting.

    Currently I am thinking that too much banging might change the distribution of the different sized grounds, or reduce the air in the puck, and so change the outcome.

    I do notice that grinding into the plastic cup lets the grinds fluff more from the static electricity and I think they take up slightly more room despite a consistent tamp.

    The further I get into this espresso thing, the more complicated it gets!

    Any thoughts are welcome.

    Greg

  6. #6
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by GregWormald link=1225586383/0#4 date=1225623869
    Currently I am thinking that too much banging might change the distribution of the different sized grounds, or reduce the air in the puck, and so change the outcome.
    No worries mate....

    I guess its a bit difficult to know how one persons tapping the PF on the bench differs from another but I never really "bang" the PF on the bench. Just a couple of taps after the initial fill, refill then strike level with the rim of the basket and tamp. Thats it.

    With regard to cutting back on the mess when filling the PF, have you tried the modified small yoghurt tub? You just cut the bottom off flat so that its a neat fit into the PF Basket and then trim the top so that it fits snugly between the PF and the bottom of the Doser/Discharge Chute. End result is no mess on the grinder or the bench....

    Cheers mate, :)
    Mal.

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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Hi greg
    some thoughts:
    1. you say that the difference in weight is the same. could be - but i wonder if your scale measures in sufficiently fine increments to indicate a "real" difference.
    2. i am a "banger" - i call it collapsing and i use it i guess for two (at least) reasons: a. i can pack in more coffee - updosing, b. it aids in distributing the lower portion of the ground coffee in the pf (just as you say - letting the air out - akin to "collapsing" a nearly full rubbish bin on the ground a few times - voila! more room at the top)
    3. i think in theory (assuming like point 1) with collapsing, youre going to get a higher dose of coffee in the pf. a higher dose with the same grind is probably going to equate to a lesser volume in the same time compared to a no-collapse dose.
    4. bang, collapse, whatever, consistently at first. i find that one tap is going to produce a different outcome to two or three taps. then you can start to experiment.
    5. as you experiment, you might find that collapsing once or twice is great while three times is "not so much" (borat line there). this might be that three collapses is too high a dose and theres little to no rooom for puck expansion during the shot. might lead to being prone to channeling too.
    6. and regarding sweetness (and here comes a fairly generalised statement which comes to me from the pros and prob needs some caveats), the finder you go, the more sweetness you get. so it makes sense that with your higher dose from collapsing, you may have coarsened up a little to offset the difference in time/volume, hence a less sweet outcome

    others?


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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    yeah good stuff aaron!

    Another thing is to think about how hard you bang/tap etc. Lately my routine consists of 2 downward taps. I think I have a pretty stable tap now. I vary my tap if I want to have a tighter pour. My routine is fill 2/3, bench/hopper tap it twice, fill, stockflethy distribution, lightish tamp, NO TAP with the tamper, then full tamp, then a twist. I dont shake the pf around the dosing forks either. I reckon thatll change your dose again.

    Thats my home technique anyway. Its a tad different if Im making a whole hit of coffees in a row.
    Oh and it varies on which tamper Im using too. Too many variables!!!

    Anyway, so the point Im getting at is that the hardness of the tap matters, as well as how many taps.

  9. #9
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Oh and it varies on which tamper Im using too. Too many variables!!!
    ...and then theres the weather. Ive been getting better pours on unsettled weather days. And the bean of course. For some reason, I always get better pours with cuppacoffee blends or SOs. Of course, Den might argue that that is no coincidence ::)

    Ive mentioned during recent weeks that Ive been having problems with the dose/distribute/pour. Ive tried the following:

    1. measure 18grams with scales. Worked fine with my old Gaggia Baby but my Levetta is bit more finicky about the dose.

    2. dose while rotating, tap twice after 3/4 full then top up. Use a straight edge to sweep NSWE then level off. Tamp lightly using tamper weight only - tap lightly on the side then tamp with around 20kg pressure. This is what I learned from JetBlack and it seemed to work pretty well during training and for about the first week. Then things started to go backwards.

    3. switched to Weiss distribution technique (fit yoghurt carton top to basket, stir grounds with a wooden skewer) then NSWE with the finger and tamp as per previous. I have been getting better results with this but it takes longer and still getting early blondeing. Oh, and when Ive finished stirring I would shake the pf to get the grinds distributed evenly before tamping

    I will see how I go after Chris runs his pressure gauge and Scace device over my machine thiw weekend but I will try without the tap on the side of the pf after 1st tamp. I have noticed holes in the puck occasionally so the pressure may still be to high but the tap on the pf may also be breaking the edge seal of the puck. I thought the second tamp would fix that anyway???

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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    flynn_aus,
    Just quickly, maybe try grinding finer, with a lighter tamp, not too light, just lighter than the 20kegs.
    It might subdue the pre-mature blonding.

    Its something that helped my pours a while back when I was fiddiling around.

    YeeZa

  11. #11
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Thanks Yeeza. Ive dialed really fine to the extent that Ive choked the pf and had to adjust it back a little. Ill take your advice and whip out the bathroom scales out again to just check the tamp pressure.

    Im still getting the blondeing in 20 seconds (or less) which has been my main frustration. I made myself a double ristretto yesterday, just over 30 mls which tasted great and suggested that I might have the grind about right . This morning I was getting a slow pour (thin streams from the spout - 60mls in about 30 seconds) when making two cups but blondeing quickly. Ive been suspecting fractured pucks which prompted to change to the Weiss technique but still happening.

    I think (or hope) that the problem is the brew pressure is too high. The OPV was adjusted back a bit in September but the manometer still shows 10.5 bar. Well see what Chriss gauges reveal on Saturday. As mentioned, Ive noticed pinholes on the puck even after taking great care with distribution trying all types of grinds.

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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Grind adjustment is such an ongiong affair Steve. The beans are a day older, and the weather has changed from yesterday...had to adjust mine quite a bit this morning.

    The quest continues! ;)


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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by flynn_aus link=1225586383/0#10 date=1225666797
    Ive been suspecting fractured pucks which prompted to change to the Weiss technique but still happening.
    Yeah I reckon the fracturing puck thing is the main problem of early blonding. Either updosing too much and ruining the puck in the shower screen when you lock in the pf AND/OR tapping too hard with the tamper against the PF too hard. Ive been really trying to get rid of this from my technique, and if I do do one its the oh so slightest, and only one. Its almost inaudible the tap, thats how slight, but enough to knock most of the grinds off the edge.

    Of course even with all this, and seemingly doing the exact same thing, I get the odd shocker that blondes out earlier than wanting. And then you can do none of the above, fill the pf full of clumps, no tamp, ram it in the group head, and bam, dream pour.... well one in many anyway ::).... and maybe not dream.

  14. #14
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by cuppacoffee link=1225586383/0#11 date=1225667825
    Grind adjustment is such an ongiong affair Steve. *The beans are a day older, and the weather has changed from yesterday...had to adjust mine quite a bit this morning.The quest continues! ;)
    You mean just when I think I have it right, Murphy is going to trip me up. :-?

    Im probably pushing the boundaries of this topic but what are the rough guidelines for grinder settings for
    Roast type:
    Bean age:
    humid/wet weather:
    Other:

    I think I will start another thread as I and perhaps others would love a clearer understanding.

  15. #15
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by YeeZa link=1225586383/0#12 date=1225668383
    Of course even with all this, and seemingly doing the exact same thing, I get the odd shocker that blondes out earlier than wanting. And then you can do none of the above, fill the pf full of clumps, no tamp, ram it in the group head, and bam, dream pour.... well one in many anyway *::).... and maybe not dream.
    Well thanks again Dan. I guess, like life, if it was easy all the time it would be boring.

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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by flynn_aus link=1225586383/0#13 date=1225668511
    Quote Originally Posted by cuppacoffee link=1225586383/0#11 date=1225667825
    Grind adjustment is such an ongiong affair Steve. *The beans are a day older, and the weather has changed from yesterday...had to adjust mine quite a bit this morning.The quest continues! ;)
    You mean just when I think I have it right, Murphy is going to trip me up. *:-?

    Im probably pushing the boundaries of this topic but what are the rough guidelines for grinder settings for
    Roast type:
    Bean age:
    humid/wet weather:
    Other:

    I think I will start another thread as I and perhaps others would love a clearer understanding.
    from my novice perspective

    bean age: as beans age, go finer
    humidity: with increased humidity, to achieve same time/voume pours, go coarser
    other: with decaf, go a fair bit finer compared to non-decaf

  17. #17
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by roknee link=1225586383/0#15 date=1225669315
    bean age: as beans age, go finer
    humidity: with increased humidity, to achieve same time/voume pours, go coarser
    other: with decaf, go a fair bit finer compared to non-decaf
    Thanks Roknee. Ill update the new thread with this. Cheers

  18. #18
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Quote Originally Posted by flynn_aus link=1225586383/0#16 date=1225669746
    Quote Originally Posted by roknee link=1225586383/0#15 date=1225669315
    bean age: as beans age, go finer
    humidity: with increased humidity, to achieve same time/voume pours, go coarser
    other: with decaf, go a fair bit finer compared to non-decaf
    Thanks Roknee. Ill update the new thread with this. Cheers

    but your forgot: "from my novice perspective" ::)

  19. #19
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    OK--latest report.

    I tried (Mals) trick with the yoghurt container cut-off and it works great for keeping the mess down and eliminating double-handling of the grinds.

    Interestingly, it also makes the grounds much fluffier and when I grind the right weight, the grinds will stand 5mm or so proud of the portafilter. I get fluffs rather than soft little clumps.

    Banging the PF still ruins the coffee for me (!!) so now I press the grounds straight down with my hand until I can use the tamper successfully.

    And maybe its my imagination, but I reckon the coffee tastes better. How could fluffy grounds work better?

    Greg

  20. #20
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Settling grounds in portafilter affects taste

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Maybe its the taste of your hand thats the difference.



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