distribution via the shake and bake - a fun, but silly distribution technique

One strategy that works surprisingly well, but is not very widely used is what I like to call the “shake and bake.”  It isn’t as good as some of the methods that take more practice (or the WDT that takes more time), but it is a simple technique that I have found works fairly well on my lever machine, but I have only used a few times on my pump and with much less success there.  The problem on the pump may be that I only use it when I realize I already made a major error because I was not paying attention and put the coffee in the wrong basket (perhaps I grabbed a triple and meant to use a double, for example).

Here is the technique – you simply fill one basket with coffee, invert another basket on top of it, and shake them around in hopes of ending with a fairly even distribution.  I think the time when this is likely to be successful is when using a cheaper and or clumpier grinder than the highest end grinders.  A Rancillio Rocky or even a Mazzer Mini, for example, might find its grind improved with a  technique like this.  This will not help as much if you have a grinder like a Baratza Vario or a Mazzer Super Jolly because it serves to fix a problem that the grinder does not have.  

On the other hand it is really fun to do even if it does not help.  Truth be told I think perhaps the reason I have better memories of this working on my lever than my pump is probably because I had the lever paired with lesser grinders for a while and the thing that has changed more than the machine is the combination of the grinders and my technique improving.   I also think a smaller basket may work better for this than a large one and my lever used a 51mm basket and the greater radius of a 58mm basket may lead to a worse distribution.

None the less, it is a fun way to distribute your espresso and may well help beginners or those with an especially clumpy grinder.  The next technique works better, but is a little messier, and is more likely to make you the subject of your friends’ ridicule for coffee obsessiveness – the W. D. T.

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