Thanks to the efforts of one very enthusiastic and talented coffee guy, we have the opportunity to bring you the device of the year.
Mr. Greg Scace, The inventor of the Espresso Machine Thermofilter Temperature Device and Espressoparts.com are proud to join in an effort to get this highly acclaimed tool into the hands of espresso machines techs, engineers and coffeegeeks everywhere.
Aficionados know the importance of temperature when it comes to brewing espresso. The temperature of the brewing water must be kept within narrowly defined parameters in order to obtain the best taste. If one properly prepares the coffee and brews under the correct temperature and pressure conditions, then the customer experiences coffee nirvana. But if the brewing temperature is different from that required by a specific coffee and degree of roast, then sour or bitter tastes spoil the experience.
The brewing temperature must be the same time after time in order to produce consistent results. Unfortunately, the brew temperature produced by many espresso machines varies with frequency of brewing (duty cycle), making it difficult to produce top-notch drinks. Expert barista understand the shortcomings of their machinery, and compensate for them.
A person seeking to produce the highest quality coffee may have many temperature related questions such
- How do you know if your machine brews at the temperature recommended by your roaster?
- How do you learn to brew at the correct temperature over a variety of duty cycles?
- How can you easily and quickly learn the flaws in your machinery and then learn to compensate for
- When machinery is serviced or replaced, how do you know that your new equipment is performing properly?
- How can you diagnose problems when things don't seem right? These questions are easily answered with a portafilter thermometer (Thermofilter).
The Scace Device has three main components residing inside of a standard 58mm brew basket, the temperature sensor, an insert, and a flow controller. The sensor measures the water temperature immediately below the shower screen and above the coffee. The insert and flowmeter produce temperature and pressure conditions nearly identical to actual brewing conditions. The insert mimics a coffee cake in volume so that the same amount of water exists above the insert that exists above the coffee during actual brewing. And the inserts thermal properties are similar to those of a water-saturated coffee cake, insuring that the temperature measured by the Thermofilter will accurately reflect actual brewing temperature. The flow controller regulates the water flow rate through the pft. It meters the amount of water required to produce a double espresso shot in 25 to 30 seconds, plus the amount of water absorbed by a dry coffee cake. The flow resistance of the controller simulates an actual coffeecake, so that the water pressure builds to actual brewing pressure. The pft fits most commercial espresso machines, since it employs a 58mm brew basket. Just snap it into the appropriate bottomless portafilter in order to measure brewing temperature of different machines.
The Thermofilter is an excellent diagnostic tool. Measuring and adjusting the brew temperature is a snap with a Thermofilter, allowing one to quickly dial brew temperature to that which gives the best taste, as determined by the barista or specified by the roaster. Daily temperature measurement using a Thermofilter provides a quality check on your brewing equipment, insuring that your espresso machine is still performing as expected. Establishing a program of periodic temperature measurement can quickly uncover pressurestat performance changes, accidental set point shift, lime scale buildup, and other causes of temperature change in your equipment. A Thermofilter allows one to easily change out equipment with no quality loss. Using a Thermofilter, it becomes almost trivial to reproduce the desired brew temperature in replacement espresso machines. The Thermofilter improves understanding of espresso machine behavior. The brew temperature of all espresso machines is sensitive to brewing frequency (duty cycle). Depending on the type of machine, e.g. heat exchanger or twin boiler, the brewing temperature of a machine that has been idle for several minutes will be hotter or colder than desired for producing optimum taste. Typically, a flushing ritual is used to cool or heat the group so that the optimum temperature is achieved in intermittent duty. Using a Thermofilter, temperature data is easily obtained quantifying the effects of duty cycle on brewing temperature for specific machinery. Information gained by using a Thermofilter can be used to develop better barista techniques. Since temperature measurements may now be easily obtained and repeated, it is a simple matter to develop group flushing rituals specific to one's own machinery.
The Thermofilter enables accurate and systematic machine comparisons. Systematic test protocols, such as those adopted by the World Barista Championships (WBC) enable performance comparisons of equipment from various manufacturers. The results of these comparisons may be used as a basis for equipment selection. Within product lines, data obtained by systematic test methods employing Thermofilters provide a sound statistical basis for evaluating machine changes, enhancing the ability of engineers to improve espresso machine performance.
The Thermofilter elevates the art of espresso by employing applied measurement science. Very convenient brew temperature measurements are now possible through use of the Thermofilter. The results of these measurements enhance machine optimization for specific coffee blends, enable individual coffee shops to establish enhanced quality control procedures for their machinery, and increase knowledge of the thermal behavior of espresso machines. This knowledge is immediately useful in compensating for intermittent duty machine behavior. The Thermofilter enables performance comparisons of different espresso machines and technologies by use of systematic testing protocols. Accurate temperature studies will result in new machines with enhanced tuneability and stability that produce better taste than ever before.
The Holy grail of temperature devices? Well let's just say, that this is the start of something big. How Big? Nobody knows for sure, however new machines coming to market are being evaluated with this device and the current World Barista Championship (WBC) and United States Barista Competition (USBC) technical standards teams all use this device to test and evaluate the machines used in competitions.
If you do not have one, you will want one. As soon as you get one, you'll wonder how you set up machines without it. Let's start an espresso revolution. Viva Barista!
If you are interested in the technical aspects of this device or simply want to know what it is all about, please participate in an ongoing forum discussion @Home-barista.com
This particular version of the product is sold without a bottomless portafilter.
The device plugs into a digital thermometer, but this is not included in the price.The device will work with any digital thermometer capable of reading a type T thermocouple, however the best available Digital thermometers are built by Fluke and you can reference and purchase the different models available under the heading "Digital" here