Naked Portafilter Spray?

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Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby jason dominy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:51 am

Friday I spent some time experimenting with the naked portafilter on a Rancilio Classe 10, seeing what things affect the appearance of the shot coming out the bottom, and one thing I saw occassionally perplexed me. Sometimes, part of the shot would kinda spray out, like a mist out of one little spot. Like out of a thin spray. What causes this, and what's the remedy.
Also, I have noticed that sometimes the shot starts out in two or three places before it meets into one. Maybe for the first five-8 seconds. (This is on a 17 gram shot, double basket.) Then, it goes into a nice swirl in the center, where you can actually see the black and gold mix. It looks good once it gets into the middle.
Just trying to learn this aspect of espresso making.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby scottlucey on Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:26 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone...

The spray: channeling. Flowing water searches for the fastest way to the end. The mist/jet of water you're seeing is a result of the brewing water finding the path of least resistance through the coffee.

All of your observations are of water finding the quickest way though your coffee.
Problems and solutions point to perfect dosing, perfect tamping, and a few other things like not banging the portafilter around and inserting it into the group head with ease.

These details in training are my favorite things about a bottomless PF, showing people just how hard it is to pull a perfect shot, and not one that brews unevenly. Another great thing is the ability to taste and associate good shot behavior with bad shot behavior.

go coffee!
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby phaelon56 on Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:23 pm

Scott nailed it - distribution issue. I was shocked at how often I got that when I first began using a naked PF. I was forced to modify my distribution technique and since then I almost never see it (literally.... one shot out of 100 if that). My shots taste better now as well.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby Sandy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:23 pm

scottlucey wrote:The spray: channeling. Flowing water searches for the fastest way to the end. The mist/jet of water you're seeing is a result of the brewing water finding the path of least resistance through the coffee.



and from my understanding of things, dosing, distribution and tapping the side of the pf can all attribute to channeling.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby Ryan Willbur on Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:49 am

All the above are correct, but I've also noticed something else which can create such a spray... a bad basket... Or one that is "stamped" or drilled with an inconsistency or flaw...

We changed all our baskets and for the awhile I thought we needed to revisit some serious espresso basics in our shop. Then, with a closer look, we saw some of the holes in the basket fell out of alignment, or we set too close to the edge.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby jason dominy on Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:00 am

Thanks all. I love learning more about espresso, and using this naked is really helping me tweak all those areas, dosing, distribution, and consistency in all those things. What's really cool is that everything I am learning about this is going into the Grind. Dose. Tamp. Extract 101 class I'm writing for the BGA certification. It's not just head knowledge, but real practical stuff that you can see and taste.
Normally, I dose over, settle, add if necessary, level, then tamp. No tapping. Nick Cho encouraged me to not tap anymore, and with my blue EP5 tamper, I wouldn't want to tap anyway. Any thoughts on the settle part? I have been weighing out my pucks, and they are consistently 16-17 grams.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby Ryan Willbur on Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:09 am

I wanna say that's a 100% taste issue. Settling or not may affect how the coffee rests or sits, pre-tamp, in your basket. However, it's also going to affect your dose. So, if you like your coffee where it is, excellent. But, maybe some days you'll find that you prefer more or less.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby jason dominy on Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:58 am

Good thoughts Ryan. Guess I've always thought for me, settling was best just in terms of making sure my dose was consistent, as long as the shot taste was where I wanted it, like you said. It's cool, more work for me to do, and play with! Love it!!
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby nick on Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:38 am

A related thought:
Be it the Mahlkonig K30, Anfim Super Caimano, Mazzer E-series, or other timed grinder, one of the benefits that I haven't heard baristas talk about is that you can have control over a dose that is below the basket rim.

In other words, through the more traditional finger-strike leveling (in conjunction with stuff like dosing, settling, etc.), a practiced barista can exercise control over their dosing... but finger-strike leveling is only effective if your pre-tamped coffee dose is above the rim of the basket. I've often trained baristas to be sure that there is no visible gap or space "below sea level" (with 'sea level' being the plane of the basket rim) before leveling and/or tamping, to help with consistent puck density throughout.

With timed grinders, however (assuming the time-mass correlation is reliable and constant), you have the ability to establish a consistent dose level even if it's below the rim of the basket. You'd dose as (laterally) evenly as possible, settle (or not) and then tamp. If your pre-tamped density distribution is good, you can tamp away.

More on topic: in my experience, because the coffee isn't being dosed into the basket with a truly even density-distribution with any grinder or grinder-doser that I know of, a settling tap (of the portafilter on the forks or counter or similar) is a critical step in reducing/eliminating channeling and uneven extraction. Skip it at your peril!
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby Mike White on Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:06 am

Nick I feel the same way. An additional benefit of this is that you don't "waste" anything by striking excess into the bin. Before settling with the "thump" though, I level and redistribute by tapping gently in the web of my hand between the thumb and first finger. I started doing this after noticing Danger Dan doing it, and have had success with it.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby jason dominy on Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:08 am

Thank again all. I started settling after realizing the crazy clumping of the Super Jolly made it hard to be consistent with dosing if I just leveled from there and tamped. Now, since I settle, dose if necessary, then tamp, I know I am more consistent. And I feel like I tamp with really even pressure each time, level tamps, but those sproradic sprays just kill me. I have started watching the make sure that when I level, I settle real well and even, then dose extra if needed. I think that before, I didn't settle enough, and it was leaving small pockets.
But, that's one of the joys of a naked portafilter. And Nick, I agree, that there is definitely one advantage to having a doserless to use, as long as it's not that clumpy Compak I've seen out there. I think that even this discussion, and the effects of the things involved not done properly, show the importance of a class like the Grind.Dose.Tamp.Extract.101 class. There's alot more ways to make bad espresso than there are to make good espresso. But, given good habit forming techniques, it can be easily achievable. And Mike, I have tried to use the web of my hand trick to no success. I think that clearly is a habit thing, as well.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby Robert Goble on Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:18 am

One thing to watch out for as well is accidentally knocking the pf against the group head while you lock and load. This can cause fissures in your puck and create channeling too.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby jason dominy on Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:52 pm

Robert, I agree on the knocking thing. I do have a tendency to do it occasionally, accidentally of course. I do need to watch that.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby nick on Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:04 pm

Yeah. Rough-entry when inserting the portafilter is arguably one of the worst things that ever happens. For the same reasons that a portafilter "counter-thump" is better than a side-tap, if you think about the force-vector and which direction the shock/force on things goes toward, with nothing above the tamped-but-dry puck to help cradle it from shock, it really is way too likely that you're gonna dislodge or break somethin up.
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Re: Naked Portafilter Spray?

Postby Brent on Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:24 pm

nick wrote:For the same reasons that a portafilter "counter-thump" is better than a side-tap, if you think about the force-vector and which direction the shock/force on things goes toward, with nothing above the tamped-but-dry puck to help cradle it from shock, it really is way too likely that you're gonna dislodge or break somethin up.


Not to mention the greater satisfaction gained from thumping the counter with a solid object :)
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