Are paddles on/off switches?

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Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Marshall on Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:47 am

Advanced pressure profiling seems to be the hot cutting edge of machine development. But, we've had paddle machines installed for years now, and everywhere I go, baristas are using the paddles as on/off switches.

Is anyone here taking advantage of their paddles' capabilities, or is it just too complicated with all the different blends and S.O.'s that pass through high-end shops? What market is Slayer going after, if simple pre-infusion paddles don't get used?
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby nick on Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:22 am

In my opinion, with heavy flow-restriction on these machines, the pre-infusion stuff is a fairly moot point. Paddle-type action (on the plumbing-side, not the switch) is most helpful to mitigate issues related to unrestricted flow.

If the pre-infusion side of things is a moot point, then the paddle switch is indeed, just a switch. It's a nice switch though.

I'd love to hear arguments, both theory and practical (taste experience), to the contrary. I've tried, and I don't see it (yet).
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Jim Saborio on Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:50 pm

Marshall,

I may be misunderstanding your question, but...

On our Synesso Cyncra (Nov 2008 build) there are only three distinct settings that our paddle wheel can be turned to: off, line pressure and pump engaged.

I believe the La Marzocco paddles offer a more analog range of pump engagement... at least that is what I think I observed on the only LM paddle unit I've used. If this is true, less than a third of the paddle's full range seemed to be dedicated to gradations between line and full pump pressure. With such a small range of adjustment, I'd imagine accurately employing a consistent pressure profile would be extremely difficult.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Marshall on Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:58 pm

Jim Saborio wrote:On our Synesso Cyncra (Nov 2008 build) there are only three distinct settings that our paddle wheel can be turned to: off, line pressure and pump engaged.

It's my impression (could be wrong), that most Synesso users skip the line pressure position and go straight to pump. My thought was, if baristas don't even bother with pre-infusion, how many will take advantage of pressure profiling?
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Dan Streetman on Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:15 am

Marshall,

you bring up a great point and you are definitely correct. We have played with our Linea paddle group here for probably a year now, and found the line pressure pre-infusion to have little to marginal effect on taste. As Nick pointed out with the flow restriction these machines have even opening the pump all the way still allows for a gradual saturation of the coffee. I know that when the Nuova Simonelli guys talked to us about the new machines in Head Judge training last year they mentioned that 90% of the coffee is saturated before the machine reaches full pressure.

With pressure profiling, I am not sure what to think.... I can see the value of giving the barista more control over the extraction process. Although if I put on my small coffee shop owner hat I could see this issue as a veritable nightmare. It would take a VERY HIGH level of training and skill to utilize that technology properly and consistently in a cafe setting. I have no doubt that there are cafe's that could utilize it and find a benefit from it, but they are already putting out great coffee.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Ryan Willbur on Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:11 am

From my experience, all those tools have a purpose. It was 3+ years ago that Philip Search introduced me to a method for espresso extraction that involved using a naked portafilter and using the line pressure on a Synessso until you could see coffee begin to bead out of the basket (about 5-7 seconds). Then, the pump would be engaged and another 20 seconds or so of extraction would occur. I've found that from a taste standpoint, this can really sweeten an espresso and round out some of the acidity.

A couple of times, at Silverlake, we've used this method with our second espresso (usually a single origin), but never on 'Cat. The main thing is time. We're too busy to have someone sit and wait for the espresso to start to peek from the bottom. I feel the same way about pressure profiling. It's an ideal tool to have, but I think it must be programmable. To find a profile that works and be able to automatically engage it, sounds ideal. But the profiling itself, needs to be done ahead of time.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby James Hoffmann on Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:15 am

I have little timers on my Hydra that allow a controlled and automated preinfusion time when you push the paddle all the way to on. With your line pressure you could time how long it takes to saturate the cake and then set the timers there. Right now my line pressure is a little low and I need to get that sorted before doing more experiments.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby IanClark on Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:11 pm

We use manually timed pre-infusion on all of our shots (with restricted Synessos). I find it definitely makes a difference to both taste and flavour clarity... even the pressure of pre-infusion has a strong influence on the profile (we have pre-pump pressure regulating valves to dial in pre-infusion pressure). Granted on the Cyncra this is sometimes moot. No doubt this is all systems/coffee dependent though and I don't question those who just slam it on.

Curiously, I think there's an argument in our situation that manual preinfusion makes shots taste better regardless of the actual influence of preinfusion on the shots. Having a barista interact with preinfusion aids in keeping their attention on how the shots are pulling and keeps them on top of dose tweaks. When you have a veritable army of baristas pulling shots this is invaluable!! I don't think it's inefficient either, given that we require immediate insert and brew -> cup grab -> 4 second pump (always using shot timers).

That said, I find the timers James speaks of very alluring.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Alex Negranza on Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:56 pm

Every cafe in Seattle with a Synesso that Ive been to except for 2 have used the paddle as an "on/off switch"

When I was working on a Synesso last, the in the fun advantage in the groups wasn't just the pre-infusion, but also the temperature variables capabilities for various coffees. I agree with Ryan that in general, I noticed a sweeter shot. But I've also noticed this on the Slayer. The difference I've noted most is in the body of the espresso with pressure profiling. I've tasted dozens of coffees off of the Slayer at various roast dates and theory approaches, and noticed a consistently more rich, syrupy body and a deeper development of flavors.

IanClark wrote:Curiously, I think there's an argument in our situation that manual preinfusion makes shots taste better regardless of the actual influence of preinfusion on the shots. Having a barista interact with preinfusion aids in keeping their attention on how the shots are pulling and keeps them on top of dose tweaks.


That is why I love the stainless steel bar across the back of Slayers. You can be anywhere on the machine and see the bottom of your portafilter. This allows the barista to adjust with every shot both the pre-infusion and extraction. You don't have to stop everything and bend over to see what the heck is going on with your shot. You can start a pressure profiled pre-infusion and walk over to your grinder, start dosing, move into position 2 for extraction, tamp and be on your way, all while watching your shots and taking mental notes. I don't think Slayer's going for a certain market, more so a certain mindset.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby gscace on Wed Aug 26, 2009 6:03 am

Dan Streetman wrote:Marshall,

you bring up a great point and you are definitely correct. We have played with our Linea paddle group here for probably a year now, and found the line pressure pre-infusion to have little to marginal effect on taste. As Nick pointed out with the flow restriction these machines have even opening the pump all the way still allows for a gradual saturation of the coffee. I know that when the Nuova Simonelli guys talked to us about the new machines in Head Judge training last year they mentioned that 90% of the coffee is saturated before the machine reaches full pressure.

With pressure profiling, I am not sure what to think.... I can see the value of giving the barista more control over the extraction process. Although if I put on my small coffee shop owner hat I could see this issue as a veritable nightmare. It would take a VERY HIGH level of training and skill to utilize that technology properly and consistently in a cafe setting. I have no doubt that there are cafe's that could utilize it and find a benefit from it, but they are already putting out great coffee.


Programmable pressure profiling has the advantage of precise duplication of a specific profile, without the need for barista intervention. So once the profile gets decided upon, the system becomes as easy to use as a non-proliled system.

On the other hand, development of the profile takes some work.

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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Dan Streetman on Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:45 am

Greg,

I agree... has anyone put a programmable pressure profiling system into production yet? I know that you and Mr Schecter have been working on this a lot, but I have not heard of anything from the espresso machine manufacturers.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby gscace on Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:09 am

Dan Streetman wrote:Greg,

I agree... has anyone put a programmable pressure profiling system into production yet? I know that you and Mr Schecter have been working on this a lot, but I have not heard of anything from the espresso machine manufacturers.


The 4-group GS2 at Intelligentsia's Venice location has one of my pump systems on 2 of the grouups. Terry has one also, and I'm struggling to finish one for another shop. LM had a very cool system installed on a machine that they showed at SCAA. Unfortunately all of the buzz was about the Slayer and as far as I know the LM system didn't get the level of interest that it deserved. One of my pumps was on an Aurelia at Simonelli's booth.

My system works well enough, but the operator interface is kludgey. In order to program it you have to go into the controller menus, which means it's not some slick interface. I'd like to develop some sort of labview driver for it that would let you program the thing more intuitively from a PC, but there's this question about my copious free time (ha) and my propensity for filling it 6 times over

Kyle Glanville, and the amazing M'lissa are prolly good folks to talk to regarding pressure profiling these days. They have the 4-group GS2 and can pull shots with or without profiling, so they are in a very good position to observe the practical effects of profiling. They pull way more shots than I do, with way more varieties of coffee (presumably).

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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Mark Dundon on Sun Aug 30, 2009 12:06 am

We are using our Synesso Hydra with a programmed preinfusion. It's not, pressure profiling, but preinfusion at line pressure 3 - 4 bar for a programmed time. We have used cyncra machines for a few years now and still have one cyncra at our city location. The differences we have noticed with preinfusion is most notable in raising body and reducing acidity. You can see how roasting could play a big part in really getting these machines dialled in.
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Cosimo Libardo on Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:07 pm

Dan Streetman wrote:I know that when the Nuova Simonelli guys talked to us about the new machines in Head Judge training last year they mentioned that 90% of the coffee is saturated before the machine reaches full pressure.


I have seen our name appeared a few times in previous posts, so I just want to clarify a couple of things that characterize the Aurelia technology. Aurelia can saturate with water, during pre infusion, from 40% up to 90% of the coffee cake.
We have allowed such a wide range because there are several factors that need to be taken in consideration: coffee origin & type of grinder used, water temperature, basket shape, how much coffee has degassed before beeing used.
Some of these factors determine shape and amount of fines produced (they have a direct influence on migration of the fine particles), some affect the initial flow rate as they have great influence on the amount of C02 and other gasses that are released by coffee as soon as hot water gets in contact with it.
These factors need to be taken in consideration when determining the desired pressure profile. With the SIS System Nuova SImonelli has defined a pressure profile curve designed to optimize extraction from its very first stage.

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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby luca on Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:44 pm

nick wrote:In my opinion, with heavy flow-restriction on these machines, the pre-infusion stuff is a fairly moot point. Paddle-type action (on the plumbing-side, not the switch) is most helpful to mitigate issues related to unrestricted flow.

If the pre-infusion side of things is a moot point, then the paddle switch is indeed, just a switch. It's a nice switch though.

I'd love to hear arguments, both theory and practical (taste experience), to the contrary. I've tried, and I don't see it (yet).


Nick, I'm kind of with you on this one.

I would love to experiment more with these machines without restrictors, though. Generally speaking, I think that flow restriction/preinfusion/whatever you wanna call it tends to make it easier to pull shots that look pretty and amps up the body some, but I also think that it kind of deadens the flavour of the shot. It's as though you just get this concentrated marmitey/chocolatey goop that is perfectly pleasant, but is a sort of a black hole for the enzymatic flavours that the coffee might be able to offer. I think that Alan Adler did some brix measurements and concluded that in general people associate lower brix readings with greater "clarity" in shots ... who knows; maybe the flow restriction is affecting that? Now, of course, that's my impression based on the machines that I have used and it's not as if I have gotten to seriously sit down and experiment with a lot of machines, same coffee and same grinder side to side. I do remember using a mistral that was pulling stunning shots, then had 0.6mms put in and pulled more generic shots. Anyway, if my gut feeling is right, I think that it leaves us with some thinking to do. Wouldn't it be counterintuitive to source the best coffee that you can and then make it taste more generic? The actual effect of preinfusion on the cup is something that I'd really like to hear more people's opinions about and, ideally, some experimental results on. Most discussion that I have read takes it as a given that preinfusion is a good thing. I'd like to know why.

Cosimo, can you comment on how the different preinfusion settings that NS has experimented with have affected the cup?

Marshall wrote:What market is Slayer going after, if simple pre-infusion paddles don't get used?


Hi Marshall,

I think that the idea is that ramping down the pressure at the end of the shot is supposed to give a different effect to ramping it up at the beginning. I have used the Slayer a few times now, with mixed results and I think that it's an interesting idea that is worthwhile investigating. The LM prototype looks to be much more practical for a shop in that you can program the pressure profile, then use the paddle as a switch to repeat it.

Cheers,
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Emily Oak on Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:36 pm

Dan Streetman wrote:Greg,

I agree... has anyone put a programmable pressure profiling system into production yet? I know that you and Mr Schecter have been working on this a lot, but I have not heard of anything from the espresso machine manufacturers.


having just come from a La Marzocco event/launch in Sydney on Thursday for the new 'Strada' pressure profiling machine (amongst other things) a specific piece of technology they mentioned was a USB style loading doc where pre-set/pre-determined profiles can be set and then uploaded into each group head and replicated automatically.

some pictures and video of the prototype here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/43733863@N ... 341493624/
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Re: Are paddles on/off switches?

Postby Cosimo Libardo on Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:17 am

Cosimo, can you comment on how the different preinfusion settings that NS has experimented with have affected the cup?


Hi Luca,
sorry for the very late reply. The question you have is very difficult to answer in a few words as the effects of pre infusion are heavily influenced by the parameters I had listed in my previous post: coffee origin & type of grinder used, water temperature, basket shape, how much coffee has degassed before beeing used...
Pre infusion and, more in general, pressure profiling have a positive effect on the final result in the cup when you correctly take all the above parameters into consideration, that is why we allow different settings. For instance with a very fresh (brewed 3 days after roasting date) dark roasted coffee from Kenya (more likely to produce fines) grinded with conical burrs (that produce hair shaped fines that tend to travel further down in the portafilter) you would have a very fine line between positive and negative impact of pressure. You would have an high content of instable gasses that would not suggest a long pre infusion time, at the same time you would have fines that suggest a deep pre-wetting of the coffee cake in order to avoid overextraction of the top part of the cake and underextraction of the bottom. This example is just an extreme situation but I believe that pressure profiling is not useful if the operator does not have datas about how coffee is interacting with the grinder he is using, what type of grinds is getting in size and shape and how the gas content is affecting extraction.
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