This is one in a series of posts on how best to distribute coffee in a portafiliter. The technique is called the Stockleths distribution technique- or perhaps more aplty the vaunted Stockfleths distribution technique.
This is a video that nearly every passionate home barista has watched many times I think. It demonstrates the move being done by world famous barista Tim Wendleboe. Yes it is true there are celebrity baristas and he is one of them.
He won the World Barista Championships in 2004. Here is a link to the video.http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3705485316541852747
The general idea, I think is that you want a quick, simple way to distribute the coffee evenly without much fuss or mess.
The first key is that he thwacks the doser and carefully postions the basket to start off with a fairly well distributed puck before he ever touches the coffee with his hands.
From there he uses his palm in a fairly even pressure and circular motion to get the grounds even more evenly distributed and then the final step is that he uses a very even pressure from his finger to finish the distribution.
This is a fairly hard move to do well and one that does not work as well with cheap grinders. It is nice though because it is quick and neat and you don’t always want to spend lots of time prepping the basket.
I think there are better ways for beginners (WDT) and for intermediates (to be written about soon) to approach distribution, but it is hard to think of a more famous and well thought out one (obviously striking the grounds off is more famous, but it is not as flexible).
The next technique I will write about is called the "Stockfleths for Dummies" and is an easier variant that does take a little more time, but is more fail proof.