I'm sure that many of us have experienced time travel when visiting espresso bars. You order a drink and the barista pulls 2 clicks to dose, tamps using the plastic nose, taps on the side of the portafilter handle between tamps - techniques that have been discredited or fallen out of favor in recent years. Fundamental barista technique has changed pretty dramatically in the past decade, and many training programs haven't kept pace.
If you've been on the bar for a while, what changes have you made to your technique?
If you're a new barista, what do you see old-school baristas do that doesn't match the way you were taught?
What do you think have been major technique or equipment developments in the past 5+ years.
Two spins of the tamper to distribute the grounds. One press to level. One more to compact. 1/8 turn to polish-just cuz I like the look of the design from my c ripple.
Lance, if you and your customers like it then more power to you. A lot of shops started doing the 21g/1oz thing, which is a divergence from the 14g/2oz traditional pull, and did quite well by their customers. I think people are still doing that quite a bit. It seems that people are more accepting of the fact that no single technique/approach is going to produce great results all the time and that people are looking more to the taste of the extracted coffee for guidance rather than the technical parameters of the process of extraction. You bought the coffee, it's your machine and grinder, they're your customers to please or not, experiment and make the best coffee you can. Who cares if it's "correct"? If you and your customers like it then that's all you need.
The two biggest things I've changed since being trained as a barista:
Using scales! It blows my mind how much time I wasted worrying about the grind setting, and even tamp pressure/style, without weighing my dose in.
Tasting stuff! Tasting espresso to see if it's really dialed in to show off its best side, steaming milk with the conscious goal of maximizing sweetness, were definitely NOT part of being a barista when I started, at least not in my neck of the woods. It was all about appearance and going through the right steps, not actually tasting the finished product.
Myths I no longer believe: tamping with crazy hulk strength makes it taste better :-/