People are always looking to improve the quality of the espresso shots they pull. Everything from adjusting the grinder to ensuring the extraction time is just right, we try to control as many of the variables as possible. One of these techniques that is up for debate is the espresso distribution tool.
An espresso distribution tool (EDT) evens out espresso grinds, preventing different levels of compression and reducing channeling when extracting a shot. When you place espresso in the portafilter, espresso grinds tend to fall randomly in place. When you tamp these grinds incorrectly channeling is more likely to occur. Channeling is when water meanders through cracks and small gaps in your portafilter after you tamp them down causing an uneven extraction. The EDT helps prevent that by evening out the grinds before tamping, allowing for a more consistent pull of espresso.
The debate arises when coffee lovers ask if this tool helps pull a better espresso shot. I don't have any scientific evidence and I am sure it's out there somewhere, so if you have it please share. My experience is that the EDT helps preserve consistency in the shots I pull, especially when I am using a new blend I haven't tasted or worked with before.
For beginners, this is a great tool and you should use it. This will make it easier for you to learn while gaining skills and urge you to practice more, perfecting your craft. The EDT isn't the magical tool to add in your toolbox to get you barista superstar status only time and experience can help you get there. When you are ready try pulling shots without using the EDT. The best espresso I have ever had in the world by far was in Italy, made by a barista who didn't use anything other than a tamper and since that day I have been pursuing the perfect shot ever since.
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