So I started out, pretty much, always using a puck disk. Not for any magical properties, but just to reduce the mess, and a 3rd-party basket because.. well, internets.
And it worked. I always had really ‘perfect’ looking, dry pucks. Awesome.
Unfortunately, the same has not yet been said about my coffee.
Anyway, jump forward and I’m trying to dial in an ‘easy’ blend - the Fudge from Rave - and it’s still coming out too sour, despite trying various tests around a basic 1:2 in 25-35. So I decide to go back to ‘stock’ everything . I use same 17g in the ECM 21g basket that came with the bottomless portafilter, the same grind and no disk.
Whilst the shot is by no means perfect, it’s ‘balanced’. Yes, there’s still more acidity than I’d like, and the bitterness is starting to appear, but the two sort of make it much ‘smoother’ than I’ve ever managed before. Of course, the puck is a sloppy mess (likely somewhat due to 17g in a 21g), but this is huge from a results perspective.
So the next day, I try adding the disk back in - no other changes. It runs the same dose in 9 seconds less, and the balance has completely gone. Okay, so I grind one-notch finer on my C40-red, and it slows down to a more reasonable 27s, but still so much more acidity and not a hint of balance.
I go back to stock again, just to verify my previous result, and sure enough it’s still reproducible.
Now this is just adding back the disk (A shades of coffee 1.7mm - the 0.2mm made no difference) and when using the pullman basket (17-19) as well as the disk, the time was around the same as stock (but so much more sour).
For now, I’m going to stay at stock and just dose up 1g, to see if I can improve the wet puck - although at the same time I’d like to lower the strength, so I guess I’ll need to grind coarser a notch or two as well, to still get a similar yield/time and keep everything else in the same ballpark.
I’m sure most people will say “well, DUH !” but nobody ever seemed to stress that puck disks and/or ‘better’ baskets would make such a huge difference to the variables. Perhaps they mentioned in passing, but generally it seems to be that they’re suggested to be helpful in making things better (and they likely do in some ways) but not enough warning comes with them.
Maybe I’m still screwing other things up as well 🤷🏻♂️ I’m working through, changing one thing at a time and constantly gaining experience, but it’s clear there’s so much more to go.
At least I’m not having any (obvious) channelling issues to add to my woes.