Despite the awkward suggestiveness of the title, I really do have a problem with spraying when pulling shots using naked portafilters. I've made sure that my tamp is consistent and I've adjusted the grind countless times. It got a little better when I made the grind finer (though it didn't eliminate the problem completely), but then of course the shot became overextracted. I've seen it happen with other baristas at other coffeeshops, but I was wondering if this was a normal occurrence with anyone else.

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Green scrubbies also wear out holes on a basket faster. I make all of our baristas clean them with hot water and a towel, strictly enforcing the "no scotch brites on the baskets" rule.
Baskets definitely make a big difference, we use Synesso baskets on our Aurelia. You can use any 58mm basket in any of the 58mm machines. The tighter tolerances of the Synesso make a huge difference. The Synesso Baskets are machined vs the inconsistent stamped baskets everyone else seems to use. I highly recommend calling Espresso Parts for one.

Brady said:
Wow. OK, I'm convinced enough to order a new basket for experiment's sake. Our baskets are definitely older, but I keep them clean and never considered they might be wearing on a micro-level. Will try this and report back.

As to your other questions:
We always clean and dry the basket first. I think our distribution technique is pretty solid - dosing rapidly while grinding fresh for every shot (Mazzer SJ with Schecter-Schnoz "mod" and recently-changed burrs), moving the PF around while doing so to make sure ground espresso drops into every corner. A quick thump straight down to settle the grounds into any little subterranean caverns, followed by a stockfleths-y level and a level tamp (standard tamper) to about 30lb with a little spin to polish on the way out. No taps. Loaded gently. Pulled promptly.
Jason Shipley said:
Baskets definitely make a big difference, we use Synesso baskets on our Aurelia. You can use any 58mm basket in any of the 58mm machines. The tighter tolerances of the Synesso make a huge difference. The Synesso Baskets are machined vs the inconsistent stamped baskets everyone else seems to use. I highly recommend calling Espresso Parts for one.

Brady said:
Wow. OK, I'm convinced enough to order a new basket for experiment's sake. Our baskets are definitely older, but I keep them clean and never considered they might be wearing on a micro-level. Will try this and report back.

As to your other questions:
We always clean and dry the basket first. I think our distribution technique is pretty solid - dosing rapidly while grinding fresh for every shot (Mazzer SJ with Schecter-Schnoz "mod" and recently-changed burrs), moving the PF around while doing so to make sure ground espresso drops into every corner. A quick thump straight down to settle the grounds into any little subterranean caverns, followed by a stockfleths-y level and a level tamp (standard tamper) to about 30lb with a little spin to polish on the way out. No taps. Loaded gently. Pulled promptly.

Hmmm... will definitely look into that. Thanks Jason.
I kind of read over everyone's replies quickly and yes, old burrs definitely sounds like a large culprit, but also Cindy, are you "tapping" your portafilter to distribute grounds evenly? Our shop uses naked filters and some of my co-workers had the same problem a couple of months ago. We watched each others methods of dosing and tamping and the difference seemed to be that they would "tap" where I do not. It may seem like your distributing the grounds to be more even, but it can create fissures that will bring out spraying. Hope this helps and let us know how it works out.
brett felchner said:
I kind of read over everyone's replies quickly and yes, old burrs definitely sounds like a large culprit, but also Cindy, are you "tapping" your portafilter to distribute grounds evenly? Our shop uses naked filters and some of my co-workers had the same problem a couple of months ago. We watched each others methods of dosing and tamping and the difference seemed to be that they would "tap" where I do not. It may seem like your distributing the grounds to be more even, but it can create fissures that will bring out spraying. Hope this helps and let us know how it works out.
A decently interesting read on the subject of "tap vs. no tap":
Tamping Science, Theory and Practice, Part One by Mark Prince.

If you have never read over the article I would suggest doing that.

I can't believe no one has done the holy-**** on 10lb/day 2 year old burrs, so I'm going to...

Even at 5lbs/day, THAT'S 3,650 POUNDS! At 10lbs/day it's 7300!!

THAT'S ABSURD! You should be changing your burrs at 800 lbs as a general rule. I don't want to sound like a jerk, but you seriously need to get on that. Burrs are DEFINITELY a major part in your problem. However, your problem runs far deeper than you think. You are missing out on tons of flavors and crema from your shots that newer, sharper burrs would produce.

And just to make sure we have covered all bases, as Alex mentioned:
General practice from end of one shot to end of another:
-Stop shot
-Remove PF
-Knock out puck
-Rinse PF (in case of naked, top and bottom)
-Fling excess water from PF (You can also have a towel on the counter that you knock the PF on a few times to catch the excess water between the basket and the PF itself, but this step refers to only the excess water between the two spots.)
-Use towel to dry PF completely, top and bottom of basket
-Dose espresso into PF (fresh ground, but we already covered that)
-Distribute (and we also already covered that you are correctly doing that)
-Tamp
-Clean off excess from "ears" and rim
-Lock in PF
-Immediately pull shot to prevent scorching of top of puck
-Pull until correct amount/until blonding occurs/etc
-Stop Shot, repeat...

Are you missing any of these steps? Each and every one is important to correctly pulling a shot of espresso. If your basket isn't rinsed after the shot, that's causing spraying. If your basket isn't completely dry before pulling the shot (good catch Alex) that's causing spraying. And your burrs are definitely a huge problem, whether they are causing the spraying or not.

Change your burrs, check the steps, drink 'spro, be happy.

-bry
I've heard different figures from different people; 800 pounds is one number I've been told; however, most manufacturers are saying 2,000 to as much as 10,000 pounds. Well, 10,000 I don't believe, but at 800 we'd be replacing them all the time.

I have yet to gain access to a naked filter, so maybe I'd be in for a surprise.

Bryan Wray said:
brett felchner said:
I kind of read over everyone's replies quickly and yes, old burrs definitely sounds like a large culprit, but also Cindy, are you "tapping" your portafilter to distribute grounds evenly? Our shop uses naked filters and some of my co-workers had the same problem a couple of months ago. We watched each others methods of dosing and tamping and the difference seemed to be that they would "tap" where I do not. It may seem like your distributing the grounds to be more even, but it can create fissures that will bring out spraying. Hope this helps and let us know how it works out.
A decently interesting read on the subject of "tap vs. no tap":
Tamping Science, Theory and Practice, Part One by Mark Prince.

If you have never read over the article I would suggest doing that.

I can't believe no one has done the holy-**** on 10lb/day 2 year old burrs, so I'm going to...

Even at 5lbs/day, THAT'S 3,650 POUNDS! At 10lbs/day it's 7300!!

THAT'S ABSURD! You should be changing your burrs at 800 lbs as a general rule. I don't want to sound like a jerk, but you seriously need to get on that. Burrs are DEFINITELY a major part in your problem. However, your problem runs far deeper than you think. You are missing out on tons of flavors and crema from your shots that newer, sharper burrs would produce.

And just to make sure we have covered all bases, as Alex mentioned:
General practice from end of one shot to end of another:
-Stop shot
-Remove PF
-Knock out puck
-Rinse PF (in case of naked, top and bottom)
-Fling excess water from PF (You can also have a towel on the counter that you knock the PF on a few times to catch the excess water between the basket and the PF itself, but this step refers to only the excess water between the two spots.)
-Use towel to dry PF completely, top and bottom of basket
-Dose espresso into PF (fresh ground, but we already covered that)
-Distribute (and we also already covered that you are correctly doing that)
-Tamp
-Clean off excess from "ears" and rim
-Lock in PF
-Immediately pull shot to prevent scorching of top of puck
-Pull until correct amount/until blonding occurs/etc
-Stop Shot, repeat...

Are you missing any of these steps? Each and every one is important to correctly pulling a shot of espresso. If your basket isn't rinsed after the shot, that's causing spraying. If your basket isn't completely dry before pulling the shot (good catch Alex) that's causing spraying. And your burrs are definitely a huge problem, whether they are causing the spraying or not.

Change your burrs, check the steps, drink 'spro, be happy.

-bry
Hey everyone,

Wow! I didn't expect this much feedback, but this certainly helped. I discussed this with my boss and he's getting together an order from espressoparts. Today my shots were decent with a noticeable decrease in spraying. I've experimented with tapping and not tapping, and the shot pulls slightly better when I don't tap.

Also, Brady, what do you mean by "thrust"ing straight down?

And Bryan, just to clarify--that's 5-10 pounds per week, not per day. Thanks for the shot-pulling rundown--according to your procedure, I'm doing everything fine. I'll check out that link on tapping later today.

Thanks guys. Any more suggestions would be awesome.
Heh, so it is 5-10/week. 104 weeks*7lbs= 728= Bryan looking foolish for previous large numbers and misreads.

I really don't buy 2,000lbs off of a set of burrs, though. Experience tells me when we start getting around 900lbs through I start getting frustrated at my shots.

I think this really depends on the type of grinder and burr size though. Oh man, starting a new thread...

-bry

Cindy Liu said:
Hey everyone,

Wow! I didn't expect this much feedback, but this certainly helped. I discussed this with my boss and he's getting together an order from espressoparts. Today my shots were decent with a noticeable decrease in spraying. I've experimented with tapping and not tapping, and the shot pulls slightly better when I don't tap.

Also, Brady, what do you mean by "thrust"ing straight down?

And Bryan, just to clarify--that's 5-10 pounds per week, not per day. Thanks for the shot-pulling rundown--according to your procedure, I'm doing everything fine. I'll check out that link on tapping later today.

Thanks guys. Any more suggestions would be awesome.
Fraser Jamieson said:
I've heard different figures from different people; 800 pounds is one number I've been told; however, most manufacturers are saying 2,000 to as much as 10,000 pounds. Well, 10,000 I don't believe, but at 800 we'd be replacing them all the time.
I have yet to gain access to a naked filter, so maybe I'd be in for a surprise.

How many pounds do you go through in a day at your estimation? I imagine it's probably a lot given the typical amount of business that a SC (guessing, given the description on your page) goes through.

A naked PF and spraying/channeling isn't the only indicator of needing to replace burrs, though. In fact, long before worn burrs start causing channeling they are causing flavors to be absent and crema to not produce at what it could/should/used to.

-bry
I'm going to guess 8 pound/day.
See you on the other thread!

Bryan Wray said:
Fraser Jamieson said:
I've heard different figures from different people; 800 pounds is one number I've been told; however, most manufacturers are saying 2,000 to as much as 10,000 pounds. Well, 10,000 I don't believe, but at 800 we'd be replacing them all the time.
I have yet to gain access to a naked filter, so maybe I'd be in for a surprise.

How many pounds do you go through in a day at your estimation? I imagine it's probably a lot given the typical amount of business that a SC (guessing, given the description on your page) goes through.

A naked PF and spraying/channeling isn't the only indicator of needing to replace burrs, though. In fact, long before worn burrs start causing channeling they are causing flavors to be absent and crema to not produce at what it could/should/used to.

-bry
You're only replacing your burrs every 3-4 months at 8lbs per day on a "replace after 800" schedule. It's really not that frequent, it's what we have found we have to do in order to keep our espresso to our standards.

-bry
Cindy Liu said:
Also, Brady, what do you mean by "thrust"ing straight down?


What I meant by THUMPING straight down is to take the full portafilter right after dosing and give it a quick gentle "drop", either in the grinder forks or on the tamp mat. This serves to settle the ground espresso a bit, but you have to be consistent every shot.

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