Prufrocker: The Blog

Prufrock Efficiency Structures: Espresso

Competing in the barista competition this year and thinking about the K30 Vario Air that awaits you? Or perhaps you’re thinking about joining the Mythos 1 bonanza that has lead them to global sales figures that the good people at Barista Hustle have recorded at 18% of all users surveyed. Both grinders and many others... Read more »

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Espresso efficiency structures prufrock course coffee barista training scale certificate

Competing in the barista competition this year and thinking about the K30 Vario Air that awaits you? Or perhaps you’re thinking about joining the Mythos 1 bonanza that has lead them to global sales figures that the good people at Barista Hustle have recorded at 18% of all users surveyed.

Both grinders and many others like them allow you to latch on the portafilter during grinding so you can do something else constructive with this 5-6-7-8? seconds. So this has been available for a good few years but there are a few things you need to adopt in the workflow to get to a level of efficiency that keeps up with Costa! We’ll make you faster than pre-ground users and weighing in while you’re at it? Here’s what you need.

Pre-tared scales and evenly weighted Portafilter:
The Preferred and cheaper and sleeker space saving option 1.

Much like in horse racing where weights are slipped into the saddle to make each horse and rider equal you need a means of weighting all your portafilters the same. Even VST baskets have 0.2-0.3g variance so don’t expect portafilters, the last bastion of crappy design in the coffee industry coffee to weigh anywhere even close to each other. But, Simonelli users take note, certain designs allow you to pop off the end caps and add weights to hit an even target. I quite recommend Blu tac. Use coffee beans if you want a maraca effect.
Cable ties are an option, just something that won’t fall in the cup. Don’t use tape, I tried this, the glue melts too much. Knowing the baskets are slightly uneven, place the baskets in the same filters each day. If this doesn’t work for you then it’s the Two Scales option.

The less preferred two scales option that takes up bench space:
Two Scales
This is more suited to places that run with naked portafilters than spouts. Same idea. You simply pre-tare (zero) each portafilter with its corresponding scale and don’t switch them up. You might want to colour code a PF with a scale. Of course they’ll switch off usually after 60 seconds. This technique is for pressured times when there’s a queue. Or when you’re making coffee on your own. Or when someone called in sick or you entered you in a competition against your better judgement.

So the goal once you’re pre-tared and ready for action is that you’re able to grind whilst cleaning the second portafilter. You can use two hands of course. Colin Harmon toured the world telling us all this a while back so this is just putting a finer point on it. Then you swap the Portafilter (PF) out and grind into PF 2 when you are checking the weight of PF 1. K30 users will delight in the second button those things have. Button two must be set as close to 0.5 as possible, (0.2seconds gives you almost always 0.5g).

Here’s why the top up should always be 0.5g: The glory of 0.5 is that you will always hit your 0.2g margin of error. Let’s say you want 18g. And you get 17.3. So 0.5 gets you to your margin of error. You don’t need to reweigh. And so on right up to 17.7. Top up and this takes you to 18.2, you’re still in range so no need to reweigh. And we can rely on both these grinders to deliver within 17.3 and 18.2. It’s the reweighing three or four times that is really the difference between a careful and precise modern barista technique and the unfeasibly snail-paced.
Simonelli record the resolution of their Mythos as +-0.3g so this might just be good enough for your cafe. If you’re up at 24g like us, the impact of 0.3 on that coarser grind is less than when you’re on a lower dose anyway, so not weighing at all is more an more a option. We Prufrockers don’t quite think the tech is there yet. Close.

Needless to say you will further add to your efficiency if you serve split shots like most of the world except London; them down under; and a few renegades on the US West Coast.

One issue with the use of spouts. If you run water through the portafilter to clean them from time to time, you can have an excess of condensation and water droplets beading on the base of the portafilter. Particularly if like most people, the Teflon or chrome on your portafilter was rubbed away. So this process may work better with naked portafilters than spouts.

One last thing that will make you a good deal more efficient: in the words of two time world champion Stavros Lamprinidis, ‘Do you think it’s a screw?!’ Or in the words of Scott Rao, ‘No twist.’ In the words of boffins Socratic Coffee, ‘there is no statistical difference between a tamp of 5kg and 20’ and they were working from an old hypothesis of Gwilym’s, the very man behind our efficiency standards.

Watch how it’s done all you barista champions elect.
If you can deliver your espresso course in 90 seconds then you can relax and enjoy the company of your lovely judges and make them a better signature beverage.

Thank you for your time! Jem