We hope that everyone is having the best season possible! Below you’ll read our thoughts on the Puqpress, group head maintenance, and alternative milks. As mentioned in previous newsletters, we intend these quick words to be conversation starters and our hope is that it helps you gain the confidence you need to run your business as confidently and efficiently as possible. If there’s ever anything that you need, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things can get overwhelming when working on the espresso machine. Fortunately for us, there are baristas all over the world who have run into the same problems already and figured out some solutions. One such solution is the Puqpress, which has quickly become one of our favorite pieces of equipment. This small machine has an outsized impact on baristas’ quality of life.
From a strictly coffee viewpoint, the Puqpress adds a level (pun intended) of consistency that eludes humans. As baristas, our goal in tamping should be to replicate a simple piston; straight up and down, perfectly level, full compression of the grinds. The Puqpress does all that with a fraction of the effort of tamping. Your efficiency on the bar will skyrocket!
The other major benefit of the Puqpress is that it will help avoid repeat stress injuries. After a busy shift, a stiff wrist or sore elbow is not uncommon if the barista has imperfect tamping technique. The Puqpress will eliminate that as a concern altogether and keep your baristas healthy and pulling shots all shift long.
Do you have a Puqpress? Are you thinking about getting one? Is this the first you’re hearing about it? Holler at us if you have any questions and we can get you the specs!
Group Head Maintenance
Great espresso is the result of great coffee, properly filtered water, the skilled hands of a good barista, and equipment that is clean and in good working order. Even the best barista’s efforts will be limited if something isn’t right with the machine. This brings us to discussing group head maintenance. Other than the daily cleaning routines, here are some things to check on periodically.
Replace gaskets every 3-6 months. As soon as locking the portafilter into the machine doesn’t feel smooth anymore or you notice it’s getting harder to prevent leakage while brewing it’s time to replace them. Putting it off for too long will make replacements much more tedious and time-consuming, so don’t procrastinate.
Note: if you have portafilters that rotate too far to the right when engaging in the group head, the portafilters may be excessively worn. The easiest fix is to get thicker gaskets or use shims behind the gaskets. You can also just replace the portafilters, but that will be more costly.
Brew Baskets and Group Screens
These are often taken for granted and forgotten. Manufacturers recommend changing baskets and screens annually. We recommend inspecting them during daily cleaning and replacing them as soon as you notice any damage. Look for cracks, dents, mesh screens coming apart, or baskets with convex/stressed bottoms or clogged holes. When replacing them, replace them in sets. For example, if you have a 3-group machine, replace all three at the same time.
Especially important and often overlooked: make sure all your brew baskets match. They should be from the same manufacturer and have the same depth or dosage rating.
Odds and Ends
Is your brew basket falling into the knock box every time you go to knock out a spent puck? If your answer is yes, you just need new portafilter springs. The springs are inserted into a groove on the inside of the portafilter. Over time they lose their form and they don’t grip the baskets as tightly. Just pop the old one out, and put a new one in.
It’s also a good idea to keep a few extra group screws around as they tend to get lost during cleaning. Make sure to never overtighten the screws when replacing the screens, finger tight will be sufficient.
Make sure your baristas understand the importance of using all group heads equally. They should be alternating back and forth for even wear and tear, not just using the group closest to the grinders over and over again! If you’ve ever thought that espresso brews differently on one side, it’s probably because certain groups get neglected while the others get overused.
Inspecting and replacing these group head components is easy to do. The cost of replacing them is very small, so don’t hesitate. It can make a huge difference in espresso quality and make for happier baristas and customers alike!
Pacific Foods changed the alt-milk game when they released their Barista Series soy in 2002. It was the first product that could replicate the texture of whole cow’s milk.
Industry-wide, the growth of dairy alternative drink sales has been strong. 2018 saw a 400% increase over the previous year. Between 2014 and 2017, there was a 600% increase in people choosing a vegan diet. In many cafes, the addition of a third or fourth type of alternative milk has increased overall sales of non-dairy-based beverages. Alt milk is more than a trend. It is no longer a menu item that can be ignored, and really should be expanded beyond soy.
There are some practical considerations.
Yes, alt milk is more expensive than cow milk, but it is not as expensive as a missed sale. Reducing waste becomes key to controlling costs, and well-trained baristas are less wasteful.
While the Barista Series may not produce beverages the same way dairy will, it can still be used to craft a well-made drink. Take note that the latte pictures on the Pacific boxes were made using that type of milk. Training and attentive practice will improve the quality of your non-dairy lattes.
For more information on Pacific Foods Barista Series offerings, visit the Pacific Food Service website here.
If you would like to expand or improve your alternative milk service, please contact your Dancing Goats® Coffee customer service rep or trainer to schedule a training.