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Thread: Clumping! does it matter.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Clumping! does it matter.

    Clumping! how much does it affect espresso?

    I've come to the conclusion that it has very little affect on whats in the cup.

    A while back people were obsessing about Stockfleth, weiss and other distribution techniques, most of them little more than balm for people who were unable to get distribution and tamping right.

    What do other experienced (home barista's) feel about the subject.?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    well if the clumps are evenly sized and distributed, no issue.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I dose into a macchiato cup, dump into portafilter (with dosing funnel at top), give a quick swizzle with the toothpick (to even the distribution and break any clumps....which I don't get that regularly) and then lock the portafilter. Easily repeatable, and gives consistent results for me with my gear. Do I need to break the clumps up? Probably not, but doesn't hurt.

  4. #4
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Thereís a few sciency types that have pretty much proved it matters little (Perger, Socratic, Rao/John Buckman etc.). Thereís other things that have a bigger detrimental effect on the puck than clumping. If you follow any of the Decent Espresso threads youíll see that theyíre finding that itís best to agitate the grounds the least amount possible. Distribute them as evenly as possible with a gentle tap on the side of the portafilter, then tamp. If clumping is bad enough that it makes this distribution difficult then it could be a problem in an indirect way I guess. Otherwise itís not a major issue. Grinding into a separate container first as Barry mentioned above can be a good way to avoid these sort of problems.
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    I can only think of three possibilities. Other CS'r's feel free to add more if you can.

    1) The clumps take longer to dissolve and make the pour uneven.
    2) The clumps promote channeling by forcing the pour to go around them (i.e. localised pressure hot spots).
    3) The espresso machine's power evens it out as the pour commences.

    All I know is any clumps (unless somehow mathematically 100% even) have shown up both in the pour and the flavour of the shot (if it is pretty bad) AND also in extraction ratio if I measured it. Mostly about a 10% drop, although a couple of bad ones topped 20%.

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    I think clumping has little or no impact on the shot. I think distribution is more important. Also doesn't tamping remove the clumps? I have a Macap M4D, considered very highly on this site is known to clump more than others and yet other grinders I've used which don't clump at all, provide the same taste. I actually think clumping is a ridiculously overrated problem. The M4D is living proof of that.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    There’s a few sciency types that have pretty much proved it matters little (Perger, Socratic, Rao/John Buckman etc.). There’s other things that have a bigger detrimental effect on the puck than clumping. If you follow any of the Decent Espresso threads you’ll see that they’re finding that it’s best to agitate the grounds the least amount possible. Distribute them as evenly as possible with a gentle tap on the side of the portafilter, then tamp. If clumping is bad enough that it makes this distribution difficult then it could be a problem in an indirect way I guess. Otherwise it’s not a major issue. Grinding into a separate container first as Barry mentioned above can be a good way to avoid these sort of problems.

    Leroy, John from Decent had an interesting post about grinding into a milk jug first here - https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...tml#post628444 - I remember it distinctly because of the two coffee cups he uses to illustrate his technique. The before version looked like a toilet bowl after a bad case of food poisoning.

    I am not smart enough to be able to measure the effects of clumping or not.

  8. #8
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Personally I notice a huge difference in the pour for some beans when declumping/using a distribution technique vs when I don't. I find the clumping promotes channelling in the puck.
    However it is sometimes a very minor difference for some beans and huge in others which usually depends of how much the grinds tend to clump.

  9. #9
    Senior Member topshot's Avatar
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    You will probably find clumping is caused by static electricity which can build up when grinding on very dry (read very low humidity), some days my Compak K10WBC will produce a little clumping, most days it doesn't, I grind through the dosser, which will break up most if not all clumps.

    I found clumping doesn't change the taste of my espresso when it happens, the clumps soon get ironed out when the grinds are tamped (30lbs of force will get rid of them!).
    The thing which will change the taste is varying distribution techniques.

    After all my years of making coffee at home, I never worry about it.
    Last edited by topshot; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:24 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    grind into a dosing cup, check the weight, give it a knock, set the dosing funnel on top of the portafilter, pour in the grounds....it's quite fast.

  11. #11
    Senior Member topshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Clumping! how much does it affect espresso?

    I've come to the conclusion that it has very little affect on whats in the cup.

    A while back people were obsessing about Stockfleth, weiss and other distribution techniques, most of them little more than balm for people who were unable to get distribution and tamping right.

    What do other experienced (home barista's) feel about the subject.?
    As Yelta said, get your distribution and tamping correct and clumping will not be a problem.

    The longer people muck around with their coffee grounds, (stirring, shaking in cups, etc) the more of the volatile compounds will evaporate from the coffee before they actually put the filter into their machine.
    The quicker, within reason the coffee is distributed, tamped and loaded after grinding. The better the end result will be!
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    I use the LWW blind tumbler to weight beans and dose on demand, it helps to break clump too
    BTMB-1.jpg

  13. #13
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Ah great topic, cheers for bringing it up Yelta, probably inspired from the other thread ay .

    My answer is.... I don't know, I just don't know, and I REALLY just don't know!

    I can see from both perspectives why each makes sense. On the one hand tamping you'd think would eliminate clumps, but on the other perhaps not. If you don't distribute well (like a very lopsided dose) and then tamp, it can very much appear like an even density puck after tamping, but it certainly won't be in the extraction.

    And it would make sense that clumps are harder for the water to penetrate through, thus channelling occurring. You can even see when pouring for filter, like Aeropress, how those clumps will float to the top and still remain quite dry on the inside. Although pressure is very different for espresso obviously...

    And yeah I've had mixed results when trying to declump vs letting the clumps stay. Sometimes I got much better pours from using WDT, other times my pours were the exact same if I didn't worry about clumps.

    I'm thoroughly confused about the topic hehe.

  14. #14
    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    I have gone through many grinders and currently have a Eureka Zenith 65E, In my personal opinion i think clumping does have a affect on the shot. I dont call myself lazy but i dont want to have to grind an amount then stir it around in a cup for carefully filtering it into the basket for its shot. All the grinders I have had prior to the Eureka have in my opinion had visible clumping of coffee. Me being me i just use to grind and tamp as i do now with the Eureka... Yet with this grinder Ive been pulling great shots and never visually seen major let alone minor clumping. when i was getting clumping from my old grinders i personally felt there was a difference in taste....Burnt, dark maybe??

    Where is in this Eureka not seeing any clumps, i dont seem to have any issues with my shots tasting burnt un desirable...

    Might just me, i dont know... as i said i just love to grind, tamp, pull the shot and drink..

  15. #15
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    Ah great topic, cheers for bringing it up Yelta, probably inspired from the other thread ay .

    My answer is.... I don't know, I just don't know, and I REALLY just don't know!

    I can see from both perspectives why each makes sense. On the one hand tamping you'd think would eliminate clumps, but on the other perhaps not. If you don't distribute well (like a very lopsided dose) and then tamp, it can very much appear like an even density puck after tamping, but it certainly won't be in the extraction.

    And it would make sense that clumps are harder for the water to penetrate through, thus channelling occurring. You can even see when pouring for filter, like Aeropress, how those clumps will float to the top and still remain quite dry on the inside. Although pressure is very different for espresso obviously...

    And yeah I've had mixed results when trying to declump vs letting the clumps stay. Sometimes I got much better pours from using WDT, other times my pours were the exact same if I didn't worry about clumps.

    I'm thoroughly confused about the topic hehe.
    Yeah great thread. Pity itís just spreading more BS.

  16. #16
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Yeah great thread. Pity itís just spreading more BS.
    Haha.. honestly I think it's one of those tricky topics.. If clumping affects good distribution then it's an issue, I guess we can safely say that (which may very well be the only issue with clumping, and not anything else!).

    But whether or not clumps 'remain' post-tamp and allow water to travel around them due to it being a path of least resistance I do not know. They do seem like dense little balls which water 'may' treat as too tricky to penetrate through, although usually a slight touch of these with your finger and the clump collapses so I wouldn't imagine it would even survive a tamp...

    It's possible it gets focused on far too much, yet many have found WDT to help dramatically. Again, possibly moreso a distribution issue in which clumps would affect..

    Has been talked about alot, but interesting to me, would love some sort of definitive answer like everyone XD

  17. #17
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    Has been talked about alot, but interesting to me, would love some sort of definitive answer like everyone XD
    Taste in the cup.
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    usually a slight touch of these with your finger and the clump collapses so I wouldn't imagine it would even survive a tamp...
    Yeah this. The 'clumps' have basically zero bonding strength. The slightest brush of your finger and they disintegrate, so when the tamping occurs it's a bit like a steamroller going over a cupcake.

    I just tap the portafilter on the tamping mat a couple of times and I have also gone back to tapping the side of the portafilter with the tamper - I think this forces the grounds to "settle". Nutation with a slightly convex tamper also helps to produce a very good puck right to the edges.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    Taste in the cup.
    Boom! Hehe good point.

  20. #20
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    Yeah this. The 'clumps' have basically zero bonding strength. The slightest brush of your finger and they disintegrate, so when the tamping occurs it's a bit like a steamroller going over a cupcake.

    I just tap the portafilter on the tamping mat a couple of times and I have also gone back to tapping the side of the portafilter with the tamper - I think this forces the grounds to "settle". Nutation with a slightly convex tamper also helps to produce a very good puck right to the edges.
    Yeah that's what I thought, makes sense.

    And ah nice, I used to nutate all the time, I must give it a go again and see what happens

  21. #21
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    John from Decent Espresso would be the the guy for the definitive answer on this. Considering he already uses a method to make sure there are no clumps in the portafilter, I would assume that they do make a difference. John will have all the graphs to show the effects of clumping, so over to you John?

  22. #22
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erimus View Post
    John will have all the graphs to show the effects of clumping, ...............
    So if the coffee tastes good and the graph says it shouldn't, then its bad coffee?
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    Don't get your knickers in twist mate...

  24. #24
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erimus View Post
    Don't get your knickers in twist mate...
    Ditto...........
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    So if the coffee tastes good and the graph says it shouldn't, then its bad coffee?
    Different not bad. You decided to go to the other extreme.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post

    Has been talked about alot, but interesting to me, would love some sort of definitive answer like everyone XD
    I formed my opinion years ago, I really think minor clumping has little or at least a negligible affect on whats in the cup.

    At the end of the day it comes down to personalities, some of us do obsess over minor/unimportant detail, much to the frustration of family, friends and work mates.

    My feeling is, if you are enjoying the fruits of your labour using a spouted PF, then, go to a bottomless and discover (shock horror) that you are a victim of the dreaded spritz that indicates (greater shock horror) channeling, so what.

    If you have to resort to special diagnostic devices to discover problems that cant be detected by by taste alone, perhaps it's not the drama that some feel it is.

    Not denigrating them that do agonise over the minutiae, if that's your thing go for it, however if its not affecting whats in the cup, why bother.
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  27. #27
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erimus View Post
    John from Decent Espresso would be the the guy for the definitive answer on this.
    I doubt it, would much rather seek the opinions of machine manufacturers with a proven track record.
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  28. #28
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    The discussion on this issue at times reminds me of the story of the guy who bought an expensive bottle of red to impress a friend after having read reviews on how good it was. Shared this bottle with his friend (who happened to have an educated palate), all the while reciting the virtues of the wine without realizing it was actually corked.
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  29. #29
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    The discussion on this issue at times reminds me of the story of the guy who bought an expensive bottle of red to impress a friend after having read reviews on how good it was. Shared this bottle with his friend (who happened to have an educated palate), all the while reciting the virtues of the wine without realizing it was actually corked.
    Brings a smile to my face, I have a friend who saves empty wine bottles with prestigious lables, then fills them with cask wine to serve to guests, they wouldn't have a clue.
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  30. #30
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    Great thread! My 0.02c worth

    I think its all to do with distribution and my taste buds have verified that. Get that right and clumping is irrelevant. An even density throughout the puck is what's needed. A slight shake of the group handle, followed by a few settling taps on the bench then a level tamp does the job. Dosing into a cup and/or using those distribution tools (did I just open a can of worms?) like OCD work well in this respect but whatever method you use get the distribution right.
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  31. #31
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    I was looking at my Orphan Espresso SS Dosing funnel earlier and thinking that Orphan could make a killing if they made a thin adapter to press fit inside the Dosing funnel which incorporated a mesh similar to a flour sieve. For those that are concerned about the clumps, it might be a simple solution.
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 2 Weeks Ago at 12:54 PM.

  32. #32
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I formed my opinion years ago, I really think minor clumping has little or at least a negligible affect on whats in the cup.

    At the end of the day it comes down to personalities, some of us do obsess over minor/unimportant detail, much to the frustration of family, friends and work mates.

    My feeling is, if you are enjoying the fruits of your labour using a spouted PF, then, go to a bottomless and discover (shock horror) that you are a victim of the dreaded spritz that indicates (greater shock horror) channeling, so what.

    If you have to resort to special diagnostic devices to discover problems that cant be detected by by taste alone, perhaps it's not the drama that some feel it is.

    Not denigrating them that do agonise over the minutiae, if that's your thing go for it, however if its not affecting whats in the cup, why bother.
    Very well said

  33. #33
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erimus View Post
    John from Decent Espresso would be the the guy for the definitive answer on this. Considering he already uses a method to make sure there are no clumps in the portafilter, I would assume that they do make a difference. John will have all the graphs to show the effects of clumping, so over to you John?
    Yes, but people donít bother to get the whole story. The reason they can be a problem is they can stop you from achieving good distribution. They donít form some magical dense patch in the middle of the puck after tamping. What John (and others using his machine including Rao, Perger etc.) has found is that the least agitation the grounds get once in the portafilter the better. Two of the worst things you can do are the WDT and lots of heavy vertical tapping on the bench.

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    Hi LeroyC
    is there a somewhere (hopefully single place) where I can go to read about minimal agitation, distribution ect? Hoping I don’t have to read through all the decent threads

  35. #35
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mb21 View Post
    Hi LeroyC
    is there a somewhere (hopefully single place) where I can go to read about minimal agitation, distribution ect? Hoping I donít have to read through all the decent threads
    Everything John posts is copied to everywhere that Decent have a presence- CS, HB, Facebook etc. Most of the posts about distribution have been this year with the most recent ones coming just after MICE. You might find them a bit more easily on the Facebook group so maybe try there. Interestingly Pergerís Ďbestí shot (by numbers anyway) was achieved with the very simple distribution technique followed by a light nutating tamp before the proper tamp.

  36. #36
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Ah cool, loving the direction this is taking, we're getting some great views and contribution.

    I know I'm definitely moving towards a simpler approach. Yes also not a fan of excessive collapses.

    Whilst I dose I move the portafilter around so that the coffee is distributed evenly throughout the basket.

    I'm currently dosing about 2/3 of the basket, 2x collapses, dose the rest, 2x collapses. Then just a quick spin of my distribution tool and tamp.

    The way I figure, the collapses settle the grounds and get rid of any air pockets. That sorts out the brunt of the puck (mainly the middle and lower sections), then the distribution tool helps level out the top section. It's simple and quick (for me anyways hehe).

    When I used to tap the sides of the basket I did find that if it was particularly clumpy, it was harder for the grounds to move around freely, thus distribution was harder.

    Maybe why I switched over to what I do now. Although I tend to mix it up from time to time and see what affects what

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    I haven't had any clumping issues at home for years (using a good grinder helps...). I used Weiss, Staub, nutating etc in the dim distant past. Not needed if your grinder doesn't have a static problem in the first place.

    These days I still do three progressive (i.e. gentle) tamps merely to level the puck and leave no stray air gaps. No tapping either (it creates channels if too exuberant - easy to see), which means I do not get the dreaded "naked p/f spray" either.

    Can't say I've missed either channeling or spraying as both tend to show something is wrong with the taste of the shot - and while the taste is good, I am a happy camper.
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    My Macap M2M sometimes clumps, but a few taps to even the dose breaks them up - tamping would break them down completely.

  39. #39
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    This has been an interesting thread to read.

    I have noticed the two opposing thoughts on clumping causing issues, if any.
    The older members have different thoughts on clumping than most of the newer members.

    Now why would this be?

  40. #40
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topshot View Post
    This has been an interesting thread to read.

    I have noticed the two opposing thoughts on clumping causing issues, if any.
    The older members have different thoughts on clumping than most of the newer members.

    Now why would this be?
    Before I say this I want to make it clear that Iím not referring to anyone in particular. In fact some of the older and/or long term members here are quite open minded and keen to learn compared to other forums. That being said the home barista world is full of myth and superstition. Itís not surprising really when you think about it as all we really do is chat about stuff. Thereís nothing very scientific going on here, thereís very few members that actually work in the coffee industry and most tend to move in the small circle of a single forum.
    Myths tend to form in two main ways. The first is that itís something that may have been common practice many years ago, but has long since been shown to either not matter or actually be poor practice. An example of this would be double layering a portafilter. The second is the Chinese whisper phenomenon when someone says something one time and it spreads like wildfire and before you know itís in the gospel. These are the ones that often come up time and time again as new members join a forum and read old posts and ask questions before getting to the part where something is shown to be an untruth.
    There can also be both over simplification of some things and unnecessary complication of others. Clumping and tamping/puck preparation kind of falls into both these categories and has a bit of myth and legend woven into it too. The myth that has long been disproven is that clumps form little dense pockets in the puck that are like little bits of concrete that water canít pass through. FALSE. The oversimplification is that clumping is a problem for everyone who gets and everyone needs to do something about it. FALSE. The unnecessary complication is the array of over the top routines that people think they need to go through to prevent and/or remove clumping.
    In reality itís going to be different for most people in their set up and situation. Clumping in and of itself isnít a problem in that it forms these little lumps of super hard coffee in a puck. However it may well be a problem if you get severe clumping as it might prevent you from preparing your puck properly and it can also be really messy.
    So after all that I would say that itís worth minimizing clumping if possible. Get yourself some sort of portafilter funnel like the ones from Orphan Espresso, Decent Espresso or a Coffee Catcha or the like as well. And avoid verticals tapping of the portafilter on the bench. Just tap it with your hand on the side until the coffee is relatively evenly settled in the filter basket. If youíre still having problems with channeling then the WDT or similar is a technique that does seem to suit some home coffee machines.
    At the end of the day people should probably try a few different methods in most areas of their coffee making. And then feel free to share it with others, but donít force it on people as what worked for you may not work for anyone else. And on the flip side people shouldnít take comments as gospel either, but rather just tidbits of information that may or may not be useful to them at some point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post


    At the end of the day people should probably try a few different methods in most areas of their coffee making. And then feel free to share it with others, but donít force it on people as what worked for you may not work for anyone else. And on the flip side people shouldnít take comments as gospel either, but rather just tidbits of information that may or may not be useful to them at some point.
    Sage advice - no doubt if applied to life in general the world would be a much nice place.

  42. #42
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Before I say this I want to make it clear that Iím not referring to anyone in particular. In fact some of the older and/or long term members here are quite open minded and keen to learn compared to other forums. That being said the home barista world is full of myth and superstition. Itís not surprising really when you think about it as all we really do is chat about stuff. Thereís nothing very scientific going on here, thereís very few members that actually work in the coffee industry and most tend to move in the small circle of a single forum.
    Myths tend to form in two main ways. The first is that itís something that may have been common practice many years ago, but has long since been shown to either not matter or actually be poor practice. An example of this would be double layering a portafilter. The second is the Chinese whisper phenomenon when someone says something one time and it spreads like wildfire and before you know itís in the gospel. These are the ones that often come up time and time again as new members join a forum and read old posts and ask questions before getting to the part where something is shown to be an untruth.
    There can also be both over simplification of some things and unnecessary complication of others. Clumping and tamping/puck preparation kind of falls into both these categories and has a bit of myth and legend woven into it too. The myth that has long been disproven is that clumps form little dense pockets in the puck that are like little bits of concrete that water canít pass through. FALSE. The oversimplification is that clumping is a problem for everyone who gets and everyone needs to do something about it. FALSE. The unnecessary complication is the array of over the top routines that people think they need to go through to prevent and/or remove clumping.
    In reality itís going to be different for most people in their set up and situation. Clumping in and of itself isnít a problem in that it forms these little lumps of super hard coffee in a puck. However it may well be a problem if you get severe clumping as it might prevent you from preparing your puck properly and it can also be really messy.
    So after all that I would say that itís worth minimizing clumping if possible. Get yourself some sort of portafilter funnel like the ones from Orphan Espresso, Decent Espresso or a Coffee Catcha or the like as well. And avoid verticals tapping of the portafilter on the bench. Just tap it with your hand on the side until the coffee is relatively evenly settled in the filter basket. If youíre still having problems with channeling then the WDT or similar is a technique that does seem to suit some home coffee machines.
    At the end of the day people should probably try a few different methods in most areas of their coffee making. And then feel free to share it with others, but donít force it on people as what worked for you may not work for anyone else. And on the flip side people shouldnít take comments as gospel either, but rather just tidbits of information that may or may not be useful to them at some point.
    Boom! Mic drop ;D

    Very well said. Just to not get too attached to any viewpoint or method and being open to other ways of doing things is key. But also being aware of misinformation and being able to challenge that. There are aLOT of bizarre beliefs, concepts and methods (almost as much as in the nutrition field!), and you have to be willing to look at it and just honestly give it go.

    Best method is practice, practice, practice. Try a distribution method for a few days or a week, then try another, and another and see what works for you. Making that the only variable change (leave dose and grind etc as it is).

    Last couple of days I've been experimenting with less vertical collapses and the coffees have been coming out so much better, just beautiful. I'm always experimenting from time to time and seeing what I can do to make this coffee better (however without just being hypercritical, and still enjoying what I'm making ).

    Just a curiosity Leroy, is it all vertical collapses you're not a fan of or just excessive collapses?

  43. #43
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    Just a curiosity Leroy, is it all vertical collapses you're not a fan of or just excessive collapses?
    It looks like pretty much everyone thatís experimenting on the DE1+ is finding that vertical collapses are more bad than good. Personally I tap the side of the portafilter gently a few times to spread an settle the grounds a little then do a single, gentle vertical tap onto the tamping mat which seems to knock anything thatís stuck on my OE funnel or close to the rim of the basket down without any detrimental effects. Like with everything it will depend on your set up, but Iíd be inclined the think that excessive vertical tapping is not good in any situation.
    simonsk8r likes this.

  44. #44
    Senior Member topshot's Avatar
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    Currans Hill, NSW
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Before I say this I want to make it clear that Iím not referring to anyone in particular. In fact some of the older and/or long term members here are quite open minded and keen to learn compared to other forums. That being said the home barista world is full of myth and superstition. Itís not surprising really when you think about it as all we really do is chat about stuff. Thereís nothing very scientific going on here, thereís very few members that actually work in the coffee industry and most tend to move in the small circle of a single forum.
    Myths tend to form in two main ways. The first is that itís something that may have been common practice many years ago, but has long since been shown to either not matter or actually be poor practice. An example of this would be double layering a portafilter. The second is the Chinese whisper phenomenon when someone says something one time and it spreads like wildfire and before you know itís in the gospel. These are the ones that often come up time and time again as new members join a forum and read old posts and ask questions before getting to the part where something is shown to be an untruth.
    There can also be both over simplification of some things and unnecessary complication of others. Clumping and tamping/puck preparation kind of falls into both these categories and has a bit of myth and legend woven into it too. The myth that has long been disproven is that clumps form little dense pockets in the puck that are like little bits of concrete that water canít pass through. FALSE. The oversimplification is that clumping is a problem for everyone who gets and everyone needs to do something about it. FALSE. The unnecessary complication is the array of over the top routines that people think they need to go through to prevent and/or remove clumping.
    In reality itís going to be different for most people in their set up and situation. Clumping in and of itself isnít a problem in that it forms these little lumps of super hard coffee in a puck. However it may well be a problem if you get severe clumping as it might prevent you from preparing your puck properly and it can also be really messy.
    So after all that I would say that itís worth minimizing clumping if possible. Get yourself some sort of portafilter funnel like the ones from Orphan Espresso, Decent Espresso or a Coffee Catcha or the like as well. And avoid verticals tapping of the portafilter on the bench. Just tap it with your hand on the side until the coffee is relatively evenly settled in the filter basket. If youíre still having problems with channeling then the WDT or similar is a technique that does seem to suit some home coffee machines.
    At the end of the day people should probably try a few different methods in most areas of their coffee making. And then feel free to share it with others, but donít force it on people as what worked for you may not work for anyone else. And on the flip side people shouldnít take comments as gospel either, but rather just tidbits of information that may or may not be useful to them at some point.
    Well said, there seems to a fair amount of myth and voodoo around making good coffee at home!

    The main thing is to get your process as consistent as possible (however you distribute / tamp etc) and don't be scared of experimenting, it's the best way to learn.
    The idea here is to have fun making good coffee for yourself, family and friends who would like to try the fruits of your hobby.

    Don't worry if some pours are not great, just learn from them!
    simonsk8r likes this.

  45. #45
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
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    Geelong
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    Quote Originally Posted by topshot View Post
    Well said, there seems to a fair amount of myth and voodoo around making good coffee at home!

    The main thing is to get your process as consistent as possible (however you distribute / tamp etc) and don't be scared of experimenting, it's the best way to learn.
    The idea here is to have fun making good coffee for yourself, family and friends who would like to try the fruits of your hobby.

    Don't worry if some pours are not great, just learn from them!
    Yep exactly, well put

    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    It looks like pretty much everyone thatís experimenting on the DE1+ is finding that vertical collapses are more bad than good. Personally I tap the side of the portafilter gently a few times to spread an settle the grounds a little then do a single, gentle vertical tap onto the tamping mat which seems to knock anything thatís stuck on my OE funnel or close to the rim of the basket down without any detrimental effects. Like with everything it will depend on your set up, but Iíd be inclined the think that excessive vertical tapping is not good in any situation.
    Ah that's very interesting... I'll have to have a look at their findings, very intrigued.

    I wonder if that's due to what's been talked about that ol' 'fines migration' thing... you'd think that would only occur from excessive collapsing though... I've reduced my collapses anyway (one after dosing about 2/3, and one after the rest of the dose).

    But I'd be interested to read up on that..

    Cheers mate

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