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Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
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LiquidCrystal
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Joined: 29 Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Oslo, NO
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Fri Oct 4, 2013, 5:44am
Subject: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

Hi. This is my first "real" post of sorts here.
During the last few weeks, I've been looking around my town for good coffee shops. I basically order a straight double espresso and then ask to watch it being made. Sadly, more often than not, I notice that the barista has (almost) no idea what they're doing - sometimes, they forget to level the ground espresso, sometimes they over-extract, etc.
When I /do/ find a professional etablissement for a change, though, the espresso tastes amazing (way beyond anything I'm able to produce). However, I've noticed, while watching these baristas, that almost none of them use techniques that are supposed to simplify espressomaking like the WDT or a "water dance" in order to control brew temperature.
While I can understand that use of the latter might be influenced by whether or not a machine is often used or has a direct temperature control, I am left wondering why I haven't once seen the WDT being used in a professional coffee shop environment. Is it simply because it takes too long or do those professional baristas just not know about it? Is it even a necessary method to produce (even) better espresso?
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,722
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Oct 4, 2013, 6:13am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

I don't WDT and never have yet I get good/great shots. I do level but even that may be a little OCD going on.
I have nothing to back up this next statement but it is what I strongly suspect about extra grooming.
You need to jump through bigger and bigger hoops to get around machines shortcomings as the barista gets lower and lower on the machine scale and into home units.

I have commercial grinders, tamps and machines, I am very consistent with my espresso. I have HX machines so I do pay attention to water temp more than I would need to with a DB. I just use the water to warm the cup so it isn't a big deal to me. I suspect that most commercial DB machines also have active heated temp controlled groups so there may not be a need for flushes at those shops. I have seen PBC at shops with HX machines NOT do anything to control the water temp and that may be due to training or lack of training and nearly always, at those shops, I do not like the result in the cup YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Frost
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Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
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Posted Fri Oct 4, 2013, 6:17pm
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

It's laughable to think of a barista in a cafe stirring grinds with a needle; send him home.
Trouble is if you start doing things like that and they work, you might think they are needed.
When it comes to messing with the grinds, I think less is better. The more you play the more it will separate the aggregate.
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z0mbie
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z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 346
Location: Online
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Posted Sun Oct 6, 2013, 3:33am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

Frost Said:

It's laughable to think of a barista in a cafe stirring grinds with a needle; send him home.
Trouble is if you start doing things like that and they work, you might think they are needed.
When it comes to messing with the grinds, I think less is better. The more you play the more it will separate the aggregate.

Posted October 4, 2013 link

Agreed. Pro baristas shouldn't have to rely on WDT. With enough experience you don't even need to touch the grounds. Personally, most of the time I do a quick shake and then tap on the table followed by .

Perhaps the OP sensed the barista was being sloppy?  A good barista is one that actually cares about what their customers taste. You can kind of tell watching how they prepare your drink.    I had a shot of espresso yesterday at Handsome Coffee Roasters here in Los Angeles and watched closely as he dosed and weighed two PFs simultaneously.  Then he leveled and tamp both and pulled the first shot. He tasted it then pulled the second shot, which he served me.   It was great.   Now this isn't to say ones the who work quickly are sloppy, per se.. It's just most baristas learn by rote and rarely think about what they're doing.  The ones that do are the good ones, ensuring your drink will be as you expect it.

Anyway, I don't the Handsome barista tastes with every order (that'd wasteful). While I didn't ask but I can safely assume he was doing one of many sporadic taste tests throughout the day to ensure quality.
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LiquidCrystal
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Joined: 29 Aug 2013
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Location: Oslo, NO
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Thu Oct 10, 2013, 4:03am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

I guess I just didn't realize the WDT was mostly a beginner's method to render making well-distributed shots a bit easier.
Are there any good articles out there on how to get from the WDT to a quicker and "more professional" method for even distribution? I know basics like rotating the portafilter so the grounds are dispensed evenly, but from what I've heard here there are certain strategies like tapping the portafilter in a specific way to level the grinds - are there any tutorials for that or is it just "trial and error"?
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jwoodyu
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jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
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Location: Michigan
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Posted Thu Oct 10, 2013, 5:28am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

Frost Said:

It's laughable to think of a barista in a cafe stirring grinds with a needle; send him home.
Trouble is if you start doing things like that and they work, you might think they are needed.
When it comes to messing with the grinds, I think less is better. The more you play the more it will separate the aggregate.

Posted October 4, 2013 link

Why in the would a pattern a new business on a failing one? Why pay for a private school that yields the same or worse results as the local public school? Why in the world would I use the same techniques as the coffee house knocking out drink after drink and who's primary goal productivity and to stay in business?

What is laughable is person spending thousands of dollars and dozens of hours to produce a product then holding up output of an hipster under employed barista as the gold standard by which the object of all the effort and expense is judged. What ever it takes to for the person to produce the best spro they can given their present situation is what they should be doing.

I totally agree with Wayne that good gear, good beans etc flattens out the learning a good deal but if you gave a total newbie the very best of everything and this  forum there would still be a learning curve.

In time kids will take their own training wheels off.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
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Posted Thu Oct 10, 2013, 6:28am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

Why do you rarely see a professional barista using a scale to weigh the dose? Because they have much more experience than the average home barista (and have no time to get obsessed with numbers). At a contest a professional barista came within 0.1 g of the desired dose by visual judgement alone.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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kolu
Senior Member
kolu
Joined: 28 May 2013
Posts: 28
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Expertise: Pro Barista

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Posted Fri Oct 11, 2013, 6:04am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

And, most importantly, you don't have time to do such things.
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TonyVan
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Posted Fri Oct 11, 2013, 8:37pm
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

LiquidCrystal Said:

I guess I just didn't realize the WDT was mostly a beginner's method to render making well-distributed shots a bit easier.

Posted October 10, 2013 link

As others here have pointed out, the reason for WDT is usually more about equipment as skill.  The grinders in most cafes will cast out a consistent powder that non-commercial machinery simply cannot replicate.  WDT is one technique designed to compensate in part for this disparity and improve the consistency of the eventual puck.  

Most would argue that it's tough to manifest any extreme degree of advanced technique in how a barista holds a basket under a doserless grinder.  For the most part, it's all about the grinder's capability at that stage. So even the best baristas can benefit from manual techniques like WDT when using less-than-ideal grinding hardware.
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lukeap69
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Dubai
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Musica Lux
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MDX
Posted Sat Oct 12, 2013, 1:10am
Subject: Re: Professional baristas not using the WDT or other helpful methods?
 

few of the OP's questions have been touched on this new video from HB

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD4nj4_hEDo

You will realise that he did not WDT or weigh the ground coffee although he used the stick (and finger also) to level the ground coffee.
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