Τρίτη, 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

"Coffeeshots", EK43, innovation and my 50 cents!


 In my previous article (which is in Greek), I broke down the routine of Matt Perger among others. (Excuse me if you find weird my way of writing, but English is not my language) I am a big fan of innovation, annoying fan of innovation I would say, stating several times in the past, that the only reason that has a point and meaning to participate in a competition, is when you have something different to say. Perger (Kaminsky actually) had more than one. I analyzed  his ideas and for some I had my second thoughts, based on my theoritical background knowledge. Actually I still do with some, but I think that we are in a good route.
 I will analyse my thoughts. Thoughts and not opinions and I am open to a discussion.
 I will start soft-core. Nutate tamping. I agreed with this technique from the first day. You push the grounds not only vertical, but a little bit side ways and they can find space to come even closer. My only concern is consistency and even-strength tamping through all the "nutating"-cycle. It is hard to believe that a barista through a shift can consistenly tamp this way. Not impossible though.
 Espresso machines as filter-strength coffee brewers? Yes and no. I tried this with a not EK43, but the results were still extremely satisfying. So I agree with a few thing about this theory.
Temperature. Yes, it is more conistent from the water in a kettle (maybe the variable-temp kettle is off the comparison if you use it right and of course the upcoming Uber with the hose) but PID machines, after the first 100ml (more or less) have showed temperature surfing (I have seen a Synesso to rise temp in a video on Vimeo). But still more consistent and maybe this kind of temp-surfing can extract harder solids/sugars etc.
Perfect coffee bed. I don't disagree with that. No second thought about this claim.
Even water distribution. Not sure about that. I am satisfied by only one shower screen until now and how it distributes and delivers the water. And to be consistent with that, you must keep the shower screen very clean, even between every shot, you may need to brush or whipe the shower (I think flushing is not enough). Not only because you must keep the water flow unattached, but also keep the water clean as much as you can (water from a kettle, is at least cleaner from the water from a shower screen of a busy espresso machine).
And we get to my main concern...
Espresso machine brew water pressure! 9 bars are a lot! I assumed, before I tried it, that the pack won't hold  with that fast and strong water flow. I experimented and I observed my pucks. Most of them had bad cracks! What happens with these cracks? You don't end up with an even extraction as Perger claimed during his presentation. You have over-extraction at the area of the crack and under-extraction at the rest of the puck. Not so intense problem, like in a normal espresso shot, because this problem with these coars grounds is in smaller scale (lower resistance, these coarse grinds won't resist much against the water flow). The taste was still good (not perfect but I believe that was because of the grinder I used, I noticed corn flavour of the chaff) but the only reason I believe we must continue to investigate this, is that the enemy of good is better! I believe, from my theoritical point of view (because for now I have no access to an EK43 and a pressure-profile machine to experiment on this) that with a lower brew pressure, we can have perfect results. If I had access, I would propably give my recommendation number.

Already a huge fan. Love the idea of even ground size distribution for filter coffee. I was among the 50 people that watched Matt Perger's routine at Vienna from upclose (you can see me at the video) and when I realised what he just did, I immedietly texted a fellow barista and explained what I just saw and how great it would be for him to compete, brewing sieved coffee with a full immersion method (clever) and take the extraction levels of the "good" grounds to the limit.
EK43 for espresso? Hmmmmmm, not sure about that. I propably need to attend to a Ben Kaminsky seminar and compare his theory with mine. In espresso we have a totally different way of extraction. Pressure (as mentioned before) and time. Everything happens faster. Because of that, smaller fines in light roasts, are very difficult to over-extract. Actually, the most common issue in light roasts, is under-extraction for obvious reasons that occur on the bean structure and the sugars. Yes, even ground size distribution make everything easier. You get a bigger "window" of adjustments on your setting without getting over or under-extraction. Same with a VST basket for example, against a conventional basket (if you know to use the right tamping technique for VSTs). But I believe, with even ground distribution size, you lack in complexity. I am a fan of conic burrs and I find more complexity in the type of grounds that big conicals deliver. Every size, gives something different to the result. Compare this to coffees. You have a single origin coffee. Good but has only one character. Compare it with an ethiopian heirloom (blend of uknown varieties) or with a blend of equal-quality components. Even Geishas that deliver complexity, if you notice the beans, you will observe that they are not the same to each other at all. Is like you have multi-layer single-origins. The same happens, I believe, in ground coffee in espresso. On the other hand, I read that Colin Harmon noticed that is safer to use high-acidity coffees with this grinder and noticed more sweetness etc. Actually, I would like to compare his approach (and technique) to high-acidic coffees with a conventional grinder, with mine. I tend to squeeze these coffees to the limit and I think that I don't have sourness or soapiness, even with a light-roast Geisha (Esmeralda) I tried in the past. I never obeyed to rules like 25-30sec extraction for example. I had wonderful results in the past with 50-60 sec. extractions! Dripping extractions! Light roasts in this occassions are helpfull and you difficult can get over-extracted (PID is a helpfull tool for that, too).
My theory tends to disagree about mouthfeel too. Body of espresso if you prefer. I noticed that Perger, to achieve balance in his espressos, he delivered 50ml shots (more or less) in each cup. He did that, because he didn't have the smallest fines that deliver sweetness faster but in that way he managed to get more yield from the medium grounds, without getting overextracted from the smaller fines.. Great trick! But, if my maths are right, he got 10-15% (not sure about this number) more extracted solids with 30-35% more water. I think he lacked in body. Maybe, the main reason that espresso is popular to espresso drinkers, is it's body. Why to take that away? Not totally sure about this yet though, just an early conclusion without testing and tasting.
 What I would keep from EK43 for espresso? Zero purge. The main reason for inconsistency of grinders with timers, is their chute. Timers and burrs, don't have the responsibility for the grounds that stay in the chute, which differ in weight between doses. The variation of this difference, depends on the structure of the chute of each grinder.

 Some chutes also hold a lot of ground coffee in places that won't go away and they get stack, until a barista cleans the burrs (usually, once a day). EK43 is a great opportunity to study it's structure and apply it, to a new espresso grinder. What I'm saying? The ball now, is at the manufacturers side.
 About all that rant, that this grinder is not for espresso grinding in high-volume enviroments, I wouldn't like to call them immature, but I do (sorry). One opinion says that is not made to grind so much. Really? 98mm burrs not for high volumes? Actually, these burrs were made to grind a kilo, for example, non-stop! Without a break! Straight up! Espresso usage is 4-7 seconds grinding, every 20-30 seconds. I don't know what is more difficult for a grinder between these two for sure, but I think, everyone can assume. Another statement says that it takes more time and is labor-costing. What if you didn't have premeasured doses, make a modification and apply a timer, so you can have a full hopper, like a normal espresso grinder. Easy mod to be done and not for the first time obviously.
 For one thing I am not sure and that is the temperature of the burrs. This grinder isn't manufactured with these standards, like Roburs for example. A test on this, would enlighten me. I am very curious about the results on the burr's temperature on high duty espresso delivery. But again, if there is an issue on that, several modifications can solve that too.
 Straight delivery to the basket filter with no waste? Make a modification for that, again! If the cup makes a difference, it deserves that extra work. I have already two ideas for that...!
 Bottom line? Great times ahead! Grinders were always the biggest issue. Now, the manufacturers must step up. I can't wait on what is next on that! I want that next-generation grinders, yesterday please....

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