I can't wait to read the comments about this link.

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John P said:
(sigh) Doesn't a properly trained barista learn how to pull a single first?
Studying the classical techniques will greatly improve the mastery of the modern applications.
Pulling singles = kata Pulling doubles = kumite

Everyone wants to be a great fighter. Fighting is sexy. Fighting is flashy and hip. Fighting is .... easy.

Without a true understanding of the bunkai (techniques) in kata, you will only be a great fighter. You will never master the technique.
Ha! we have this magnet on our espresso machine back home!

Jared Rutledge said:


John P said:
(sigh) Doesn't a properly trained barista learn how to pull a single first?
Studying the classical techniques will greatly improve the mastery of the modern applications. Pulling singles = kata Pulling doubles = kumite Everyone wants to be a great fighter. Fighting is sexy. Fighting is flashy and hip. Fighting is .... easy.

Without a true understanding of the bunkai (techniques) in kata, you will only be a great fighter. You will never master the technique.
...and I'm not as smart as you are, Jared, so think how confused I was!
Something about "polish on; polish off". It was a popular movie about 20 years ago.

Whatever, anyway, I think that singles can work just fine on a lever machine...if you happen to like lever machines. I've always experienced better coffee from a basket which more or less is the same size at the top as at the bottom.

Meaning: If the machine offers pressure to a 58 mm opining and the basket is somewhere close to that, the espresso comes out better than when making a complex path through a slanted single.

Others will disagree with me; I'm only reporting on my experience.

And speaking of espresso from single baskets on a lever machine: I had one yesterday...and it was crappy.
John P said:
(sigh) Doesn't a properly trained barista learn how to pull a single first?

No.
(I could sigh too, if that would help.)

John P said:
Studying the classical techniques will greatly improve the mastery of the modern applications.

I totally agree with that statement. I'd also agree that pulling singles with a lever machine would be an excellent experience for a barista.

Surely you aren't suggesting that preparing a shot on a commercial semi-auto espresso machine using a single basket is "classical technique", though? If so, perhaps you could justify that idea a bit?
Simply put, knowing how to pull a proper single will improve your barista skill set... including your double shots.

I can't understand how so many barista are not trained how to pull singles. It's ridiculous. I don't think the ability to pull singles is really "classical" training, but apparently its foreign to many barista. Why is that? Have basic skills. Have a good foundation. Pulling singles should be a fundamental skill.

And as far as lever machines go.... fun.... improves understanding of pressure throughout the shot... much harder for than I thought it would be. At best I do a good shot five out of ten times and a fantastic shot two out of ten times on the lever. Of course only pulling about five shots a week on the Cremina probably doesn't cut it. I think I need to nap, and then practice a lot more.

Now go "paint the fence" and "sand the floor". !!





Brady said:
John P said:
(sigh) Doesn't a properly trained barista learn how to pull a single first?

No.
(I could sigh too, if that would help.)

John P said:
Studying the classical techniques will greatly improve the mastery of the modern applications.

I totally agree with that statement. I'd also agree that pulling singles with a lever machine would be an excellent experience for a barista.

Surely you aren't suggesting that preparing a shot on a commercial semi-auto espresso machine using a single basket is "classical technique", though? If so, perhaps you could justify that idea a bit?
You know, we could be drifting off a bit from what we first started to talk about. Oh well, that's actually a good thing to do sometimes.

To me, it's not so much about the "ability" or skill set necessary to pull off good single shots, as much as it is to ask "Why bother?"

That's where I'm coming from. (and I think Jared is too; correct me if I'm mistaken)

Part of what makes up our style of espresso is our dose and beverage size. When I drink Scotch I don't settle for 30ml and when I drink espresso I don't settle for that either. For me, Scotch and espresso are best at about 45 to 60 ml, depending on my mood.

Also, I have the impression that much of what is considered correct in traditional espresso extraction became misinformation once the pump machine was developed. I'm not familiar with many lever machines, but, those which I've looked at had pretty small group heads. Singles fit that dimention perfectly well; however, when necked down from 58mm there is an unavoidable increase in velocity in a single basket.

I'm open to being corrected, but, I still think that no matter how good you are at pulling singles, you'll pretty much always get better results with a straight walled douple.

Now I must return to polishing the car.
I usually get better results from a sloped wall ridgeless double basket versus straight wall double basket.
Fraser Jamieson said:
You know, we could be drifting off a bit from what we first started to talk about. Oh well, that's actually a good thing to do sometimes.
To me, it's not so much about the "ability" or skill set necessary to pull off good single shots, as much as it is to ask "Why bother?"
That's where I'm coming from. (and I think Jared is too; correct me if I'm mistaken)

...

That's kinda where I was headed too. I guess I just always figured that the path to awesome doubles was pulling doubles. Seems like practice pulling singles helps you learn to pull singles.

Am I wrong?

Maybe a little. OK, John, a master barista should be able to make coffee given any implement. We should all learn how to pull singles if we want to be masters. We should also know how to use a Lever, a vac pot, Vietnamese brewer, hand grinder, Cochema, etc. We all wanna be masters, right?

If we neglect the single, we neglect a part of the history. And we open ourselves up for looking like idiots when we're faced with having to pull shots with single baskets.

I think I understand.
John P said:
(sigh) Doesn't a properly trained barista learn how to pull a single first?

No. And the reason is that most baristi get trained in a commercial environment, and most commercial settings do not include singles. At least not in the US.

John P said:
Studying the classical techniques will greatly improve the mastery of the modern applications.


Well, studying the construction technique that allows you to pull a great single (and a decently pulled single will always taste better than a decently pulled double*) will teach you more about espresso, the coffee, and your technique, simply becasue it is less forgiving. You screw up one teensy thing, and it's blatantly obvious in the cup. Doubles let you get away with stuff...

John P said:
Without a true understanding of the bunkai (techniques) in kata, you will only be a great fighter. You will never master the technique.

Differing philosophies. I teach fighting first, and techniques afterward. First goals, and general desired end-results. Then, once they know whre it is they want to go, and why they want to get there, I teach them where to put their feet.
The Eastern doctrine of Kata teaches ignorant folk muscle memory and the discipline of follow. Western martial arts teaches motivated folk muscle memory through self-motivated discipline of lead.
Two schools, both effective, but with separate and distinct goals.

Your goal is the essence of coffee in the cup. Singles will give that to you more effectively and readily than doubles.
The goal of some of your competitors is top keep the line short and the customer happy. Quite often, doubles (and even triples) is the path to that particular enlightenment.
Buddha says that it is spirituality, not religion, that is important for peace.
Chris,

Wonderful thoughts.

And I agree, a properly pulled single will outshine a double.
I DO primarily pull doubles. However, for tasting, I always pull singles first.

Chris said:
John P said:
(sigh) Doesn't a properly trained barista learn how to pull a single first?

No. And the reason is that most baristi get trained in a commercial environment, and most commercial settings do not include singles. At least not in the US.

John P said:
Studying the classical techniques will greatly improve the mastery of the modern applications.


Well, studying the construction technique that allows you to pull a great single (and a decently pulled single will always taste better than a decently pulled double*) will teach you more about espresso, the coffee, and your technique, simply becasue it is less forgiving. You screw up one teensy thing, and it's blatantly obvious in the cup. Doubles let you get away with stuff...

John P said:
Without a true understanding of the bunkai (techniques) in kata, you will only be a great fighter. You will never master the technique.

Differing philosophies. I teach fighting first, and techniques afterward. First goals, and general desired end-results. Then, once they know whre it is they want to go, and why they want to get there, I teach them where to put their feet.
The Eastern doctrine of Kata teaches ignorant folk muscle memory and the discipline of follow. Western martial arts teaches motivated folk muscle memory through self-motivated discipline of lead.
Two schools, both effective, but with separate and distinct goals.

Your goal is the essence of coffee in the cup. Singles will give that to you more effectively and readily than doubles.
The goal of some of your competitors is top keep the line short and the customer happy. Quite often, doubles (and even triples) is the path to that particular enlightenment.
Buddha says that it is spirituality, not religion, that is important for peace.
I am deff one of those stories, I went to Italy and got the chance to work in a cafe there and was incredible disappointed by the skill and quality of coffee that was around.

Brady said:
Thank you for sharing this, Banks. It was an interesting perspective, and exactly what I think most of us should expect a traditionally-minded Italian espresso guy to say.

I do hope we all know and understand how what we're doing differs from the Italian tradition. This article is a good window into that.

If you compare what's being done at the shops that many of us would consider the best to a more traditional approach, you'll see the difference immediately. Triple baskets yielding a scant 1.5oz of espresso is a far different experience from a 2oz normale from a double basket. Intentionally. The description the guy gave was spot-on - syrupy body, replace the negative "sour" with a more positive "bright acidity" and you're there.

On the flipside, how many times have you seen stories from Americans returning from Italy complaining about the espresso? I've seen a few...

I would never say that this American espresso wasn't great. In fact, I love it and think it is very American. I'll also not criticize American baristas either. Not to be a prick, but anyone wanna put money on this Italian dude beating Mike Phillips at WBC? Not that WBC is the be-all-end-all... just sayin'. :)

Again, thanks for a good read, Banks. Hope you aren't disappointed if this doesn't turn into a flame war :).
Giorgio Milos , is at it again with pretty much the saem comments.
Milos is sorta right, traditions are traditions. All of us know that 7g is the base, to 30ml of water, 91-96C, 25-30 seconds. We call it the golden rule. Variations from that rule will give you tons of variations in the cup, and those pulls don't get the best out f a single origin coffee. Italian blends are designed and roasted for that pull, and will give predictable results. American (as well as Norwegian, British, Irish, Swedish, Japanese, Korean, Danish, etc.) are playing with blends, single origins, and techniques to pull the best out of each individual bean.
Some of what Milos says is right on, some is sour grapes, and some is just a cultural rut that runs so deep that he can't see out of it.
I might be just as chagrined at a Chinese attempt at a cheeseburger. I'd judge it, naturally, against the finest bowling alleys in the US, and the use of arugula and a premier Cru gruyere on a slab of ground filet instead of iceberg and cheddar on a slab of snout, tail and leftover bits might not seem 'right' to me because of a cultural bias.
The chinese chef, on the other hand, would be assuming that if meat is good, and cheese is good, and greens are good, then better meat would be better, better cheese would be better, etc... He'd be right, but it wouldn't be 'authentic'.

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