Now that I've got your attention.... :grin:

Brady and I decided that this weekend has been kinda slow on BX, so I thought I would generate some controversy. Please consider the following:

We performed an experiment at Counter Culture's Training Center during the Southeast Regional Barista Jam based on an observation made by Brent Hall. He mentioned that the 30 or so pounds of pressure exerted by the barista while tamping the dose in the portafilter was essentially negated due to the extreme pressure placed on the puck during extraction. In other words, your espresso machine has bigger muscles than you. Other than channeling, why bother then? So we tried it, dosing into the portafilter, leveling, and then, skipping the tamp, locking into place and pulling the shot. It worked.

Now, is it consistent? I doubt it, but that would depend on the barista, same as the tamping procedure.

The question that arises in my mind is this: have we given the proper importance to the leveling process, as this is where we deal with clumps and allocating the coffee evenly in the portafilter?

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Ok, maybe I am over-analyzing here. I am still getting a working knowledge of the process of extraction within the portafilter. In a tamped dose, as the water is introduced and pressure builds to start extraction, the water sits on top of the puck briefly. As the pressure hits max, the water is forced into the puck creating bloom as the coffee absorbs the moisture. The water keeps moving as the pressure remains constant, taking solubles out and into the cup. In an untamped dose, at least in my mind, the process would be a bit different. The coffee, due to its untamped state, would instantly become saturated, sitting briefly while pressure built enough to begin the flow into the cup. I realize we are talking about micro-seconds here, the difference in saturation/bloom time would be almost negligible, right? Do I understand the process correctly?
Very thought provoking thread.

Since reading this i've been experimenting with un-tamped shots with generally good results. I've noticed that dosing slightly higher tends to yield better results. I'm using about 20gr. in an 18gr. basket for un-tamped shots. Usually pulling bottomless. I've noticed that the very beginning of the shot pulls slightly faster than tamped shots. But strangely, un-tamped shots seem overall more even than my tamped shots. A single stream forms coming from the center of the basket more quickly than tamped versions. There seems to be fewer dead spots. All of this seems like it's not actually helping the shot necessarily, it's just what happens when the water is met with less resistance and there's more space between the grounds. Every time, my pucks are completely solid. I can knock them out and break them in half just like a normal puck. And saturation looks very even. This is a significantly messier process. The shower screen is about twice as dirty as it would be pulling tamped shots. So doing this regularly would require cleaning/backflushing more often.

The most interesting thing that i've noticed is that my espresso has quite a different personality without tamping. I'm using Hairbender from Stumptown and the characteristic chocolate/toffee/caramel simply doesn't exist. The dried/fresh fruit qualities are highly accentuated and the citrus is HUGE. It has been fun to see a different personality from an old friend, so thanks to all for inspiring it.
Regarding the new personality, gotta love when your 'spro goes all schizo on you just because you changed one or two variables!
That's a pretty big variable!

I'm actually quite enjoying the un-tamped spro. It hasn't been doing that well for milk drinks, but as a strait shot it's quite interesting.

Paul Yates said:
Regarding the new personality, gotta love when your 'spro goes all schizo on you just because you changed one or two variables!
One or Two? Usually one is enough to cause it all to go south fast. Two? "forget about it"....;)
I can't remember which school I was going to or were I was working. Might have been a materials testing lab just after I got out of high school. They drilled it into my head. Only change one varaible at a time then test. Repeat and test. Never more than one varible at a time, a golden rule back then and a great lesson.
Joe

Paul Yates said:
Regarding the new personality, gotta love when your 'spro goes all schizo on you just because you changed one or two variables!
Paul, in my limited experience with clumps, I would have to answer to the question above, yes and no. Seems with my Super Jolly I really don't get clumps as I would call them. Now I have never had much experience with a lesser quality grinder. So I not much of a clump expert. I received a lot of training watching very seasoned baristas at the Seattle Coffee Fest. At the booth of Dr. John, who by the way is now a member of BX, Yaaa, I studied his barista's leveling technique. He used a flat steel like a dinner knife to tap tap tap tap over the surface then swipe what was left off. Then he used the tamper. I now use a similar procedure. My shots are very consistent shot to shot. I do admire your taking time to explore the no tamp territory. I am learning more every day here on BX.
In our small shop I tend to have my hands full with day to day duties so it is fun to keep up with you guys here.
Joe

--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
Joseph Robertson said:
...I received a lot of training watching very seasoned baristas at the Seattle Coffee Fest. At the booth of Dr. John, who by the way is now a member of BX, Yaaa, I studied his barista's leveling technique. He used a flat steel like a dinner knife to tap tap tap tap over the surface then swipe what was left off. Then he used the tamper. I now use a similar procedure...

I believe that is known as "The Chicago Chop".

Regarding the changing of only 1 variable at a time, that seems to me to be pretty hard to do in coffee. Since things are so interrelated, you kind of have to go two at a time.
Brady,
I am a true novice in the coffee and especially the barista world so I will pay close attention when you or any barista with more experience than me can teach me something about this art form. Thanks Brady, I could use some classes at ABC.

Brady said:
Joseph Robertson said:
...I received a lot of training watching very seasoned baristas at the Seattle Coffee Fest. At the booth of Dr. John, who by the way is now a member of BX, Yaaa, I studied his barista's leveling technique. He used a flat steel like a dinner knife to tap tap tap tap over the surface then swipe what was left off. Then he used the tamper. I now use a similar procedure...

I believe that is known as "The Chicago Chop".

Regarding the changing of only 1 variable at a time, that seems to me to be pretty hard to do in coffee. Since things are so interrelated, you kind of have to go two at a time.

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