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Right guys, we’re back blogging and this time I am going to be talking about a topic that I feel is often neglected. I have a huge passion for espresso and I have spent many years behind the espresso machine smashing out shot after shot and over these years I have seen the change in espresso preparation and one of the main changes has been coffee distribution before the final tamp.

When a barista or coffee lover jumps behind that machine it’s their time to shine and pull that ‘GOD’ shot and impress their customer but sadly one main factor often gets missed and this is the distribution of the coffee bed. When we grind coffee into the basket it gets layered into a common spot, which the barista will groom to spread the coffee as even as possible to improve the distribution. This technique has been used for many years and is still being used today but it tends to be inconsistent as well as messy. There is a great tool on the market that will change your world of espresso completely, well it has done so for me.

The OCD distributor has been around for a while now, the V1.0 and now V2.0 has recently been launched. V1.0 has a very similar design although adjusting the depth of the distributor was done by using spacers, which was a slight inconvenience. V2.0 has a new design which enables the user to adjust the depth in a matter of seconds by loosening the locker and adjusting the distributor to the appropriate depth for the dose being used. Now one thing to understand is that the OCD distributor is not a tamp, this is purely used to distribute the coffee grounds evenly across the basket and it will still require a tamp.

So, you may be wondering why it is so important to invest in this piece of equipment!? Well, the answer is simple. Espresso is a very fussy way of extracting coffee and the main aim for the barista is to deliver that same shot time and time again. When working on a machine in a busy café we look at certain parameters and we as baristas try to control them as much as possible – one of them being distribution. If coffee can be spread as evenly as possible across the basket then it will force the water to flow through the coffee bed at an even rate, essentially dissolving all particles of coffee at a uniform rate, which will result in a well-balanced shot of espresso.

I have been using the OCD distributor for just over 2 months now and mostly use it in the SCAE Barista Intermediate and Professional courses at the Artisan Coffee School. I have found that when using this tool, it has helped me deliver a consistent espresso and after doing several tests measuring strength and extraction I believe that it has increased the quality of my shots. I would encourage baristas to try out this tool to see if it suits your workplace, but if it does not then I would encourage you to focus on distribution techniques as well as a uniform tamp pressure. This is often a vital step that gets skipped unfortunately and is a big contributor to the final product. It’s amazing to see how the world of coffee changes daily and that there are people out there that are continuously trying to design equipment that will help us deliver a better quality product that is much more consistent.

Next month I will be talking about an interesting journey of sensory skills. A few of us at the Artisan Coffee School have just completed our sensory professional module and it was an amazing journey that we went on.

Cheers for now!