new baskets

So everyone is excited about the news baskets hitting the market, in particular the VST baskets that are coming with the new LM Strada.

I have been testing the various prototypes of this basket as well as the new baskets from Espresso Parts.

I now have production versions and will continue to evaluate.

My first observations are:
- both produce noticeably better clarity in the cup,
- both enable FAR better consistency cup to cup
- the Strada baskets require slight changes to dose and grind size (reducing both) for optimal results
- the EP baskets seem to be better at handling coffees that respond best to updosing (while the Strada baskets seem better with coffees that require down-dosing)

I'm loving both - but am very glad that I have each.


Chris said...

Hi Chris,

My VST baskets are on the way, and I may yet order the EP ones too. I've been thinking about your post for a few days now, and I'm unclear as to what you mean by coffees that respond best to up- or down-dosing in this context. My previous understanding of these terms was that coffees that respond best to updosing (Hairbender, for example) only start to taste really great when pulled using 18-19+ grams for a double, therefore 'updosed' from the 14ish gram 'traditional' double dose. Down-dosing I think of mainly as a relative term, eg. "I'm going to down-dose the next shot" (drop the dose a bit), as I don't believe anyone really uses much less than 14 grams in a double basket. What most people would consider a down-dose is really basically a traditional dose, which is only a down-dose when compared to the common 'Third Wave' 18+ gram updose. Or like I said, that's how I was thinking of it.

Now, the two sizes of VST baskets supposedly hold 17-19 and 21-23 grams. Meaning, I believe, that if dosed relatively neutrally (not particularly overfilled, no tapping down when dosing or afterwards, some form of non-packing distribution and then leveling off) they will hold those respective amounts, with the +-1 gram variance accounted for by the grind setting, density of the particular coffee used, etc. (I believe this is not a particularly standard way to dose in quality coffee these days, which is why you mention that these baskets require a slight decrease in dosing method from your usual style, and thus also grind size.) Based on my previous assumptions, I would assume that neutrally dosing either of these baskets would still be an updosed shot, in that they will still be much more than the 14 gram 'traditional' dose. I would have also assumed then that Hairbender (for example) would taste fine using the 17-19 gram basket, neutrally dosed.

But based on your comments, now I'm wondering if by 'coffees that work better with updosing,' you mean those coffees work best if you try to increase the dose in the basket above neutral (by overfilling the basket, tapping during and after dosing to settle, using a compressive distribution method like Stockfleth's, etc.), and coffees that work better with down-dosing mean coffees that taste great with a neutral (or even slightly less, by using a scoop-shaped tool to level with) dose. So it's not necessarily that Hairbender requires an 18+ gram dose, it's that it requires you to attempt to increase the dose in the basket you're using above neutral.

Do I understand you correctly here?


chris said...

Yes. "up-dose" meaning use a dose that is above par (or neutral) for the specific basket and "down-dose" meaning a dose this is below par (or neutral) for that basket.

Chris said...

Interesting -- so perhaps we need to stop recommending doses for coffees, and start recommending headroom. :-)

Thanks very much,