i seem to get conflicting points of view on this. until recently, i had been under the impression that leaving the puck in the portafilter is the way to go in order to maintain the temperature on the group head. however, lately, i've been told by baristas that you want to keep them clean. i've heard very good baristas say to both things.

let the suggestions fly!

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We just started doing puck out (well, making it mandatory) because of this thread. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to this little detail. I don't think our pucks ever sit in there for more than 15 or so, but still, why not get 'em out ya know... I told the baristas that we would be starting "A buck a puck" in two weeks so they had better get used to getting the puck out.

Oh, and after I rinse (bottomless, and I think we need to specify if we are talking bottomless or with spouts to clarify) I spin the portafilter and then... how to describe this... fling? launch? shake? spike like a football without letting go of the portafilter? all of the excess water out of the sides. This seems to work just fine for getting all the water out.

-bry
This works for spouted as well, with proper technique.

Bryan Wray said:
We just started doing puck out (well, making it mandatory) because of this thread. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to this little detail. I don't think our pucks ever sit in there for more than 15 or so, but still, why not get 'em out ya know... I told the baristas that we would be starting "A buck a puck" in two weeks so they had better get used to getting the puck out.

Oh, and after I rinse (bottomless, and I think we need to specify if we are talking bottomless or with spouts to clarify) I spin the portafilter and then... how to describe this... fling? launch? shake? spike like a football without letting go of the portafilter? all of the excess water out of the sides. This seems to work just fine for getting all the water out.

-bry
Jesse -D-> said:
You forgot to dry your basket, now I see why you have cicumnavigated the competitions. Tech judges would have a heyday with you picking you nose up there and all.
You're gonna wipe-dry your basket when you go to pull your next set of shots.

I wouldn't say that rinsing after EVERY shot is really necessary... unless a good amount of time passes between shots.

This all goes hand-in-hand with another important thing to consider: check your screens. If they're "pop" up like milkcaps, and you tend to dose more than 16 grams, chances are your screens are weak and need replacing.
Puck in! I think you lose more than you gain in taking the puck out and cleaning the PF after every shot. Obviously puck in contributes to temp stability, but the trick is to know how long a window you have before solidification of the grounds happens. My staff are trained to updose threee times with a courser grind, and consequently we have a longer window for solidification. In most cafes it probably takes on average a good couple of minutes for solidification to happen, so if you're in a cafe and coffee's are walking out the door, it sure seems to be delaying the coffee prep time considerably. Not good!
With puck out and washing PF after every shot seems to me like double handling, because even after cleaning the PF basket and locking it back in, the next shot will still have coffee grounds and condensation on the side of the filter basket in need of being wiped again.
Also, who wants a dripping PF while they are grinding and distributing fresh grounds. It makes a mess.
Annnnd there is also the arguement for puck in of how last shot oils help reduce channelling down the sides of the basket in the next shot. It seems much more pratical to leave puck in PF till next shot (keepin in mind our solidification window), knock it out for next shot with a swift dry wipe of the basket.
Obviously when the PF starts getting an excess of oil it needs to be washed. But just flushing the PF basket doesn't do the job we need, because there is oil build up below the basket that the average flush doesn't remove, sadly people often overlook this part of cleaning. It really needs a good scrub with some scotchbrite to get rid of the oil build up. Its for this reason I'm really tempted by the idea of just using naked portafilters.
I have a friend who follows the scotchbrite cleaning idea every 30minutes in a cafe that knocks out 1000+ coffees a day. So you can be quick and clean.

I guess what I'm trying to to say is... MiKe McKoffee can I have a job in your cafe??

and JavaJ can I be a modern Barista??
Allthough I am pro puck in, I did hear a funny in regards to this question. I had a diehard puck in guy try to convince me that people can taste more metallic nuances within puck out coffees. Because puck out means you have less coffee coating the walls of PF baskets, which APPARENTLY add's the undesired flavour. I had to laugh....

Can anyone make me a shirt that says "Puck In Diehard"?
I have never once needed to use a scotch-brite pad to clean any coffee residue from any part of the portafilter.

Maybe that has to do with keeping things clean rather than coffee-coated all day long. Just a hunch.

TIMBURR said:
Puck in! I think you lose more than you gain in taking the puck out and cleaning the PF after every shot. Obviously puck in contributes to temp stability, but the trick is to know how long a window you have before solidification of the grounds happens. My staff are trained to updose threee times with a courser grind, and consequently we have a longer window for solidification. In most cafes it probably takes on average a good couple of minutes for solidification to happen, so if you're in a cafe and coffee's are walking out the door, it sure seems to be delaying the coffee prep time considerably. Not good!
With puck out and washing PF after every shot seems to me like double handling, because even after cleaning the PF basket and locking it back in, the next shot will still have coffee grounds and condensation on the side of the filter basket in need of being wiped again.
Also, who wants a dripping PF while they are grinding and distributing fresh grounds. It makes a mess.
Annnnd there is also the arguement for puck in of how last shot oils help reduce channelling down the sides of the basket in the next shot. It seems much more pratical to leave puck in PF till next shot (keepin in mind our solidification window), knock it out for next shot with a swift dry wipe of the basket.
Obviously when the PF starts getting an excess of oil it needs to be washed. But just flushing the PF basket doesn't do the job we need, because there is oil build up below the basket that the average flush doesn't remove, sadly people often overlook this part of cleaning. It really needs a good scrub with some scotchbrite to get rid of the oil build up. Its for this reason I'm really tempted by the idea of just using naked portafilters.
I have a friend who follows the scotchbrite cleaning idea every 30minutes in a cafe that knocks out 1000+ coffees a day. So you can be quick and clean.

I guess what I'm trying to to say is... MiKe McKoffee can I have a job in your cafe??

and JavaJ can I be a modern Barista??
I first heard the "puck in" method way back when in Schomer's videos. From my practical perspective knocking a puck out that has been solidified to your PF when there are drinks to make is just one more step to add into my process. Yes I am going to have to dry out the PF when I remove it from the basket anyway, but that takes a lot less time than knocking out a puck, then cleaning residual coffee cake off the bottom of my basket. While the "puck in" method does have validity to temp stability, I find that if you aren't pulling shot after shot with a 30 second window maybe, coffee cakes. In a rush, I dont remove my PF until I am pulling another shot, but the second that rush is over, I'm getting that puck out of there, backflusing, removing crap from my PF, brushing the gasket and screen, etc.
I've found that leaving it in can allow the oils to solidify on the portafilter.

I think the air space of an empty portafilter is minimal enough that you can get away with keeping it clean, so I usually try and clear them. We've had a lot of talks about this at our cafe, and in terms of cleanliness its definitely the way to go.
Cleanliness trumps psuedo-science. Worst thing about stopping at a shop for an espresso based drink, is to see the person behind the counter take off the PF, knock out what looks to be a well aged puck, give a quick wipe with a dirty towel to the basket, and then reload for my shot. Since they don't even giggle the PF in place, I just know I'll be drinking someone else's coffee. Usually, that scenario is accompanied with a well-caked steam wand. First visit to the SCAA coffee lab-kitchen, the lab manager was showing me the LM's along the wall, and went directly into a well deserved fit when he went to make me a shot, and found all the PF's had never been emptied. It just ain't right I tell ya...... it ain't natural and it ain't right!
At our shop, we use single spout portafilters, and ditch the puck after every shot, then rinse.

I feel that this method gets the oils out of the portafilter, that could, over the course of a shift, go rancid. It also gets the grounds off the screen in the group head, which could migrate onto the top of the screen.

If you're worried about this leaving water in the portafilter, under the basket, we keep a dry bar towel on the bar just in front of the espresso machine so that the PF can be lightly tapped on the towel to pull the mass of the water out.

as said before, I'd rather have a bit of water in my espresso than someone elses rancid coffee oils.
VERY well said Mr. McGinness! I could not agree more Mike!

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
Immediately after every shot knock puck out and then flush group simultaneously rinsing PF. Then return rinsed PF to group. Oils and grinds bake on in well less than an hour, more like minutes. I use and teach the same whether only one shot or dozens to make in a row. Always rinse group and PF after every shot. Before next build wipe basket dry of course. Dirty groups or PFs pull dirty shots.

Some don't agree with rinsing the basket saying it'll cause channeling. Sure, if you don't wipe it dry! Since ALL our shots pulled nekkid, if channeling was an issue from rinsing and wiping between builds would be quite obvious, and it's not an issue period.

Any barista that doesn't adhere to this procedure will be gone at my cafe. No excuses.
puck out and rinse portafilter asap, I even do this when extremely busy.

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