NobbyR Senior Member Joined: 10 Jul 2011 Posts: 1,969 Location: Germany Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo Vac Pot: N/A Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe Roaster: N/A
Posted Thu Jun 21, 2012, 7:28am Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
The importance of tamping has indeed been overrated. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's superfluous, but compared to the quality of grinding its influence on percolation time and taste in the cup is minimal. Tamping with exactly 30 lb used to be the gospel, so a lot of people were actually practicing with a scale to adjust their feeling. In the end there's a physical limit to how hard you can compress the grounds, because when the coffee granules are compressed so firmly that they all touch and cannot move any closer without using a steam roller there's no sense in tamping any harder. And you can always compensate a lighter tamp by grinding finer.
In practice that means tamp until you get the impression that there's no more change in the puck, i.e. as hard as you can.
*** "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)
precision means being able to do it the same every time
if you're accurate, but not precise, you'll get it where you want some of the time, but not all of the time. if you're precise, but not accurate, you'll get it the same every time, but not where you want it. What you really need is both. classic examples to illustrate the difference are shooting arrows at a target with concentric rings. you want a tight grouping (precision) right in the center of the bullseye (accuracy). if you're tight grouping is in the outer ring, but in an area the size of a quarter, you have great precision, but lousy accuracy.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
mig Senior Member Joined: 8 Jun 2012 Posts: 14 Location: Santa Clara, CA Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Rocket Espresso Giotto... Grinder: Mazza Mini
Posted Sat Jun 30, 2012, 3:25am Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
Well I most definitely have not been paying enough attention to temperature. I found a helpful article on temperature management for E61/HX, and I am quite certain my cooling flushes have been too short. That likely explains why my first shot always sucks and the second is much better. I will likely invest in Eric's thermometer at some point but that almost feels like cheating, and my technique is still so poor that fine tuning isn't going to help yet. Gotta walk before I can run.
Can't wait until morning so I can practice again! Pulling shots at 3AM is probably a bad idea.
I think that is a silly attitude. Why not disable the speedometer and oil pressure gauges in your car then? Brew temperatures of 1 degree difference can be tasted by experienced users, and two degrees can be easily sensed. If nothing else, this thread has established that consistency is the key to improving your espresso. That means controlling all the variables you possibly can. Temperature is a big factor and the E-61 cooling flush sets the foundation for that first shot after the machine has been idling. I have been using Eric's thermometer for about five years and have found it indispensable. Every factor that you can control is one less variable to deal with.
Received and installed Eric's thermometer three days ago. Holy crap, my previous attempts at temperature management weren't even close. I wonder how anyone uses a HX without a thermometer? I guess its all about practice and learning the behavior of your machine. I feel the thermometer should be standard equipment included with every E61 machine.
So yay, I have now achieved reasonable consistency. Next up, fine tuning my shots. My previous attempts at adjusting the grind were all over the place but that was before I had any control over temperature or dose, so now I get to start all over again. Currently I am hitting the blonding point at ~25 seconds but only pulling 40ml with a 16g dose. Time to loosen the grind I suppose but then I worry that it will blond too soon. Well, there's only one way to find out!
This journey is longer than I anticipated but I feel like I am learning something new every day.
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