I have recently changed a couple techniques in my dosing, tamping and shot making.
The DOSE: With the dosing, I have been using the Schectermatic Laboratories Schectermatic Shnozzola (tm) developed by the (in)famous Andy Schecter. I must say, Andy, this is a very simple and very effective modification for a Mazzer grinder. Everybody knows that the doser shoots hard left and makes a mess. This really tames the Mazzer. This mod has allowed me to let one chamber on the doser wheel “fill up” and then dose it to the portafilter’s triple basket. It puts about a 40% fill in the portafilter and then I tap the portafilter to the bottom of the Mazzer’s forks, settling the grinds (hoping to avoid channeling) and then proceeding to fill the portafilter up. Now, with the Scectermatic Scnozzola I have less (much less) than a gram of waste. If I am watching what I am doing, it is no waste at all. A 12 oz bag of espresso actually last me a couple days now. Wow, Andy you have revolutionized my dosing while effectively increasing my productivity, reducing cost to a bare minimum and streamlined my supply chain while providing monolithic output. All giving Mrs. Nikki more grocery and gas money. Andy, you are Superman! Thanks Andy!
The TAMP: When I took the beginners Espresso class at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham they really discouraged the timeless “tap” many baristas have been doing for years. Among Third Wave baristas (Google that and read up) many people use the tap (video) to get rid of channeling in the puck, therefore reducing bitters or sours in parts of the espresso puck, all making a great cup of espresso. Well, I started tapping the thing with the handle of my Espresso Craft Tamper and I am here to tell you, I am getting a better extraction! I am getting better espresso and that is what CCCOUNTS!
The Shot Making: I NEVER used the thermometer with the milk. I just thought it was cheesy, amongs other things, and rather Starbuxy to be using that thing. When I walk into a coffee shop and see a thermometer in the milk pitchers I immediatly put my guard up and my expectations down! IMMEDIATLY! The result is I have always had a very good ear and hand finely tuned to the point that I rarely over steam or under steam my milk. The very first time I steamed milk at the CCC training the girl just knew she was going to have to correct me and make an example out of me so when the milk came out … “perfect” (her words) … she said … OK, you try it (to another trainee). So, why in the heck am I stuck on a timer for getting the best espresso extraction? Today I pulled a lot of shots using the bottomless portafilter just trying to visually stop the pump when I saw the least bit of blonding going on.
The result where impressive. I would pull a shot with the timer and then pull a shot with “my eyes!” The difference is amazing in the taste and look in the cup. I bet I have really been missing some good espresso. The question I now have (your input is appreciated) is how in the heck can I “see” what is going on with a standard portafilter with a double spout. I mean, I know I can see it coming down out of the double spout but I imagine it will be harder to tell. Oh well, I guess I will have to try that, too.