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VST Refractometer: who's using it?
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:32am
Subject: VST Refractometer: who's using it?
 

Hey Everyone,

I'm wondering how many of us use the VST Refractometer?  Personally, I don't, but I've been curious lately...and am starting to formulate some questions...

First off, does it improve your skills in coffee prep over time...ie, could one possibly learn to make better coffee drinks (any or all methods) through it's use?

Second, is it something those with experience using it would recommend for home enthusiasts or would you say it's better left for the pros?

Is the complexity of the program something that is rather intuitive and easily interfaced with on occasion, or does one typically need to be immersed in it to remember how to use it well.

Does it lend itself most useful to certain prep method over others, or is it equally useful for all prep methods.  For me, I'm mot interested in Espresso and Press (both Espro press and Aeropress) methods. I have not yet ventured into the realm of siphon brewing, and don't really have an interest in pourover/drip.

Are there other questions I should be asking about it?

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 4:58pm
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it?
 

I considered buying one, and started a thread on H-B.  Another Jim made some excellent points, and after thinking it through I realized it didn't have a practical purpose for me.  

If you want to talk more about it with a non-owner, non-user, say the word.

BDL
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
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Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
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Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 9:06am
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it?
 

Thanks!  I was thinking, just after I started this thread (yeah, a dollar short and a day late)...I should have checked HB.  Thanks for the link.  I think Bob McBob's responses are also useful.  Though he's a proponent, I've come to the same conclusion as you...it's probably useful, but not for me.  Since I don't see myself being meticulous enough to gain the most benefit.  Maybe back when I was in undergrad, or when I was single without kids, but at this point in my life, I just have too many other things to spend my free time on.  Having said that, I'd still really like to see what Andy Schechter has to say...if he'll give me the benefit of a response.

 
.
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SJM
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Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 9:59am
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it?
 

Just FYI, I spent just a few days doing the poor person's imitation of a refractometer by drying and weighing pucks.  My methodology was not exacting, and one puck in the oven at a time doesn't smell up the house.  While my contributions to science are not of any use at all, it was rewarding to discover the basic extraction % and to make a small tweak in my process that made my shots better without changing any numbers.

It's simple and easy and....another way to look at/into your shots.

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 11:10am
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it
 

Susan,

I remember the thread well.  Your reverse method of measuring residue instead of brew solids generated some interesting numbers.    

However, there's a general problem going beyond your experiment. That is: What do you do with the information -- no matter how it was generated -- once you have it?

For non-espresso brewing, the answer is mess with dose and time, and keep on messing and measuring until you get maximum yield and %TDS.  

But espresso brewing times and doses are already so highly tweaked there really doesn't seem much practical a barista can do other than (A) Improve distribution technique (which you should take care of anyway); (B) Use a good basket (which you should be doing anyway), and dose it appropriately; (C) Use a volumetric espresso machine (which isn't as good as visually observing blonding if your distribution and baskets aren't perfectly consistent); and (D) Go forth and buy an EK-43.

Of those, B and D are where the rubber meets the road -- at least in the sense that you might be able to do something meaningful.  But I'm not willing to go to the time and trouble dose to the nearest 0.00g to get 0.1g accuracy; nor am I interested in an EK-43.  I'll leave those to Matt Perger and Ben Kaminsky.

My brewing and espresso results recently took great leaps forward, and perhaps that's blinded me to the further possibilities offered by accurate yield/%TDS data, but...    

Brew or espresso, once you get setup, what then?  I already have a pretty good sense of what to do when my coffee tastes less than its best based on the taste itself.  I might not be able to use measurement to confirm a maximal level of "perfection," but a really good cup is plenty good enough.  

Isn't it?


BDL
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SJM
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Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 12:26pm
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Susan,

I remember the thread well.  Your reverse method of measuring residue instead of brew solids generated some interesting numbers.    

However, there's a general problem going beyond your experiment. That is: What do you do with the information -- no matter how it was generated -- once you have it?
BDL

Posted January 23, 2014 link

Huh?
I have no idea what you are talking about....
I did an experiment.
I got what I considered relevant data.
I finished.
There is no "going beyond" for my needs.

What is your objection?

Susan
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,324
Location: Monrovia, CA
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Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 4:51pm
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it
 

No objection to your experiment.  As I said, it was interesting as far as it went.  What is it I said which made you think I found fault with what you did?

However, doing the same thing in the same or some other way (VST refractometer, for instance) wouldn't help me brew better espresso.  
  • Has it helped you?  
  • How?  
  • Do you still regularly perform the same analysis?

BDL
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SJM
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Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 1,721
Location: CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: SAMA (2), Maximatic, Cremina...
Grinder: K-10PB, Rancilio MD-50
Vac Pot: no like
Drip: no like
Roaster: HotTop   Huky en route
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 5:03pm
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it
 

You mean besides this:
However, there's a general problem...

But....I might have misinterpreted this.
And...I have nothing to add to this conversation.

Susan
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,324
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 6:31pm
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it
 

I might have misinterpreted this.

You did.    

BDL
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andys
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andys
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Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 7:47pm
Subject: Re: VST Refractometer: who's using it
 

boar_d_laze Said:

For non-espresso brewing, the answer is mess with dose and time, and keep on messing and measuring until you get maximum yield and %TDS.

Posted January 23, 2014 link

Before commencing your cross examination of Susan, you might take a few minutes to actually learn the subject matter. Your statement quoted above is nonsense.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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