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espresso rules - Baristas
espresso rules
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From: cloisteredc Date: September 13th, 2007 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)


As a proponent of overdosing (see his article in the Feb/March 2006 Barista Magazine, in response to Australian underdoser George Sabados), it almost sounds as though your CEO was refering to Tim Wendelboe. In fact, if he hadn't won the 2004 WBC in Trieste, I would be almost certain it was him. Still, I haven't seen or read (including his technique outlined in the article) anything about such an outlandish method of dosing.

Other comments have already correctly pointed out that consistency and repeatabliity are the primacy concerns of the judges at barista competitions, ranking as a component of ultimate taste in the cup. I also can't see the judges refusing to consider this method a valid method of preparing espresso, as assuming that a regular tamp is still employed, it would meet the pressure requirements for this type of coffee brewing.

I think that the issue of consistency among employees of a single cafe is an interesting one. I was recently invited to a newly opened cafe, where my experience with the person on the espresso machine was somewhat disappointing. Speaking later with the roaster and manager, I was assured that a certain level of quality _was_ being obtained at this location, so long as you were served by the "right person."

Beyond this level of fluctuation, to what degree may two talented baristas really differ in technique, and still present a unified "taste" for the cafe. Among myself and my coworkers, we employ respectively: Stockfleths, Schomers, and a Staubb...and probably a few more thrown in elsewhere. This past weekend, Heather Perry of Coffee Klatch (and 2nd place, 2007 WBC) visited my cafe for a couple days. When we asked her to demonstrate her distribution and tamp, she obliged, emphasizing her simple leveling, 30 lb tamp, light knock with handle, and polish (it might be of interest that she also flushes the group of a GB5 for a full 5 seconds). She recommends and uses this for that single reason of repeatability of her shots, and consistency of several baristas.

Say two baristas are working the same machine and grinder within a very short period of time, where atmospheric conditions would not necessitate grind adjustment normally. If they weren't tamping at the same pressure, the grind would of course need to be changed between their shots. Does variation in distribution contribute to the same level of change in the end result? Should this level of uniformity be pursued in a commercial setting, or should two skilled baristas be left alone in their own methods, so long as everyone consuming the product is relatively happy?

Sorry to essentially repeat the OP's original questions! A lot of the discourse found on some other sites can focus towards the roasters, cuppers, etc and less on the barista in a daily setting. I'd like to see some more activity here!
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