The new Linea PB AV. I didn't really see this coming, what do you think? I haven't worked on a volumemetric machine for a long time, but it's an interesting thought. 

http://sprudge.com/la-marzocco-blog-ben-kaminsky-delivers-on-volume...

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This was an interesting piece.

I think his conclusion is logical and valid - using a flowmeter is a really good way to accomplish consistency in shots. For my money, flowmeters make way more sense than scales.

Is there a little bit of a disconnect with reality here though? Perhaps. Most of the fantastic shots of espresso that I've had were pulled on semiauto machines. That's probably more due to factors other than the flowmeter. The problem with volumetric dosing continues to be that it breeds inattention.

I'd like to see great bars that have volumetric machines experiment with using the dosing feature. It'd be interesting to see what happened. My bet is that consistency and quality would increase a bit, with less difference in results from barista to barista.

Regardless, this is an interesting discussion that I'm really glad to see happening.

Agreed.  Great tool, only downside is tendency to create lazy barista.

A volumetric that was easier to program on the fly (or that gave a live readout of water dispensed during extraction) would probably go over well with good shops.

I liked the setup that was discussed here a while ago: program one button for a pre-shot flush, one for your "normal" shot volume, one for a slightly longer, and one for slightly shorter. This way, most of your shots would be pulled at your shop's target - the one that generally produced the tastiest shots. Then, if you happened to get in a roast batch (or different espresso) that really wanted to go a little longer or shorter you could. For the most part though, you'd pick a volume and stay with it through your day.

I've thought about the real-time volume display thing before. The possible downside is that your baristas would watch the display and cut at a given volume instead of watching the shot. That seems like it would be worse. I think watching (and timing) the shot is the critical thing here. Frankly - if you botched a prep, it doesn't matter whether you're pulling with a semiauto or volumetric. It's a little more tempting to try to compensate for variations by changing the shot volume, when what really should be done is just dump the thing and start over.

The only way I could see it being used would be if the barista knew how set the flow meters and just made it part of his or her process of "dialing in". I think this would be similar to using electronic dosing grinders. I like the idea of the barista being well trained enough that there is a little inconsistency between baristas... as everybody has the ability to bring different characteristics out of the same coffees. I also work in a shop where we change our espresso up all the time. I think that if a barista can set up certain parameters as constants for his or her shift on bar then all of these are great tools. I just cringe at the thought of a shop owner setting the flowmeters to where they think they should be and telling their baristas that "shots are always 1.75oz". But the same way I dial in a Mazzer to give me 19 or 20 grams every time I hit a button, I don't see the harm in having volume as a constant that I set up for myself as well.  

Programming a Linea AV is already dead simple.    

As for a live readout, use a calibrated measuring cup and not shot glasses(which are horribly inconsistent).  Or do you want some kind of counter/display for the flowmeter impeller?  I'll try to remember to take a video of an an impeller readout live - from a machine that has this capability, I don't think you'll find the display useful though.  

Jacob Casella said:

Agreed.  Great tool, only downside is tendency to create lazy barista.

A volumetric that was easier to program on the fly (or that gave a live readout of water dispensed during extraction) would probably go over well with good shops.

I guess it's a matter of approach. If you own the sort of shop where your customers never know what to expect out of the espresso that comes over the bar because every barista wants to express their own personal take on the coffee (some being better than others, if we're being honest), then volumetrics are certainly not for you.

Now, if we're talking about the type of shop where that's what's claimed, but every barista pulls shots into shotglasses and stops at the same line, OR does there best to pull their shots to a given target weight, I think a reality check is in order.

Keep in mind, in my world "inconsistency" usually means that shot quality varies, and unless the hotshot is on the bar you're getting a sub-par drink. If all of the espressos are unique and also excellent then that's great - if not, a better training program (plus maybe volumetrics, dosing grinders, etc) might be a good idea.

Ryan Matthew Bugg said:

The only way I could see it being used would be if the barista knew how set the flow meters and just made it part of his or her process of "dialing in". I think this would be similar to using electronic dosing grinders. I like the idea of the barista being well trained enough that there is a little inconsistency between baristas... as everybody has the ability to bring different characteristics out of the same coffees. I also work in a shop where we change our espresso up all the time. I think that if a barista can set up certain parameters as constants for his or her shift on bar then all of these are great tools. I just cringe at the thought of a shop owner setting the flowmeters to where they think they should be and telling their baristas that "shots are always 1.75oz". But the same way I dial in a Mazzer to give me 19 or 20 grams every time I hit a button, I don't see the harm in having volume as a constant that I set up for myself as well.  

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