Have you ever had one of those days, where nothing goes right?
It's almost as if you're in a parallel universe! Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong and when you go to fix it, it only gets worse...
Ever had that happen with your coffee?
You run a shot, it runs too quick. Adjust the grinder, the shot runs too slow, adjust the grinder, it channels... you get the picture...
If this sounds like you then take heart! You're not alone!
In fact, I'll go one further and say "good on you! Well Done!" why? because most people don't realise or even care if this happens. They'll just drink anything that comes out. But for those of us who do care, let's fix it.
This all too common and frustrating situation, is called "chasing the grind" and often boils down to one issue... inconsistency.
For the budding barista, the most challenging aspect of coffee is getting a solid routine. But what does routine have to do with this? Isn't the problem the grind?
Well it may be.... but more likely it is something much more basic. The dose.
The amount of coffee that goes into your basket greatly affects the flow of your espresso shot. This one aspect of coffee preparation, has more impact on your shot than almost any other and is the most difficult for beginners to understand and master. You can very easily have a difference of 5g between your highest and lowest dose. That's roughly 25% extra coffee for the water to flow through!
So I'm going to ask you a few questions...
How many times do you collapse (tapping the basket on the bench before you tamp)? Do you collapse only at the end or in the middle as well? Are you a jiggler of the coffee or do you solidly bang it down?
Believe it or not, each of those questions will have a bearing on the size of your coffee dose. And to be honest, whatever you answered to those questions is fine. As long as knew the answer.The key is to be consistent. To make fine adjustments, you need to be working with the same dose otherwise it'll just be a guessing game.
Let's go through the morning scenario again but this time with consistency in mind.
You run a shot, it runs too quick (you didn't collapse at all, underdosed but you didn't realise it). You adjust the grinder (finer to run slower). The shot runs too slow (this time you collapsed but the grind is too fine now), so you adjust the grinder again(coarser), but now it channels (This time you jiggled and collapsed, so too much coffee was in the basket and the water ran down the side).
Can you see how each time you change your dosing technique how it can effect your coffee? And then you change the grind as well just to confuse things further! Before you know it you're chasing your tail and your grind. This is often how baristas start chasing their grind and end up getting more and more frustrated in the process!
So before you decide to change your grind setting, pause and think...
Did I change my dosing technique?
Do I need to change my grind or was it my inconsistency that caused the problem?
the Home Ground Barista