Since 2002, we have been developing barista tools with the aim of giving the barista maximum control over the variables between grinder and machine. Every barista knows that the smallest of inconsistencies in the preparation process can have a big impact on the result and that there are minimal variations between an acceptable and a great espresso. Therefore, the barista's goal is always to keep the conditions for each espresso shot constant in order to achieve a consistent (sensory) quality. Parameters such as water quality, water temperature, water quantity, grind, amount, etc. are among many that (can) influence extraction. A lot of these are beyond the barista’s control or are pre-set, such as the blend in the water filter. That’s why the individual barista's craft, such as the grinder setting and consistent tamping, is of immense importance. Minimising sources of error in this area has a direct impact on the quality of the extraction - and thus on the taste.
First we turned to tamping, because this is the most immediate point of contact for the barista. Even with the correct tamp technique, the problem with conventional baskets and tampers is always the same: since water has the unfortunate property of finding the shortest path of least resistance, even with the perfect technique, channeling at the edges will occur, since standard tampers and baskets are not designed precisely enough to tamp to the edge. Our primary goal has therefore always been to optimally adjust the tamper base to the basket size in order to achieve maximum surface coverage during tamping.
We have reached a milestone with the development of the Barista Original. It was the first individually adjustable tamper on the market, and we increased the cross-section from the usual industry standard of 58.00 mm to 58.40 mm. In conjunction with the use of precision baskets from different manufacturers, this has brought significantly better results. The extraordinary balance, low weight and TrueTamp rings have made the Barista Original a success from the beginning.
It soon became clear to us that we had not yet achieved the optimal value for extraction in terms of covering the basket cross-section - there were still small untamped areas at the basket edges that caused channelling. In long conversations with Master Barista Adam Metelmann, who expressed his years of dissatisfaction with the tools available on the market more than once, we developed a more far-reaching concept. The idea for our BigStep was born. While we kept the features introduced with the Barista Original - adjustability, compression zone, balance, customizability - we concentrated entirely on enlarging the cross-section. In our quest to bring the tamper base even closer to the basket edge, i.e. to produce with greater precision, we quickly encountered several fundamental problems. The first difficulty is of a physical nature: if the tamper cross section is built so large that it reaches exactly to the basket edge (which was our aim in order to eliminate channelling), a vacuum effect occurs when the tamper is pulled out after tamping: the coffee grounds are sucked out of the base again. In a way, the advantage of a maximised cross-section works against itself.
We were able to eliminate this effect with the BigStep like so: we maximised the tamper cross section at the base in the lower area by only a few millimetres in height and slightly tapered the area above it, resulting in the small step with a big effect. This allowed us to achieve a diameter of 58.55 mm without having the vacuum effect: the small edge is a big step in the development of a perfect system. Due to the fact that we were only able to construct our step a few millimetres wide, we wanted to improve the stability once again to make the BigStep as robust as the Barista Original. We therefore use even higher quality, even harder stainless steel of 440 degrees Rockwell to give the small, exposed edge of the BigStep maximum resistance.
After the solution of our primary problem, another hurdle immediately presented itself, which we had not necessarily expected. Strangely enough, our tampers did not fit perfectly into every basket provided for them - sometimes they were a bit too small and thus had too much ‘wiggle room’, sometimes they were even a bit too big and bumped into the edge of the basket. All a matter of a few tenths of a millimetre, but with decisive effects to the outcome. This is how the BigStep usually works in most precision baskets - but not in the way we think: the variance of the different baskets from different manufacturers as well as the tolerated fluctuations within their respective production lines are generally greater than those of our tamper. As a result, not every BigStep fits equally well into every basket. There was only one solution: we had to take care of an exact inner basket diameter for our BigStep ourselves. So, we started to manufacture our own baskets. In doing so, we of course greatly valued the importance of a constant inner diameter of 58.70 mm, which is optimised for our BigStep. This means that every BigStep tamper fits exactly into each of our baskets. At the same time, however, we also optimised the structure and arrangement of the holes. Every basket has exactly 876 holes, hence the name Filtration876. With a smaller diameter, precision-lasered without burrs or scratches and arranged exactly symmetrically, our baskets guarantee a previously unknown uniformity of extraction. Our baskets are - e.g. on multi-group machines - easily interchangeable - one basket is exactly the same as another. This makes inconsistencies due to basket variances a thing of the past. Our baskets are basically rimless and available in four sizes for different shot sizes. You can find more information on this and why there is no other basket like it in the corresponding category.
As mentioned, our tools serve as an optimal mediation between grinder, machine, and barista – one might think that we have succeeded with the development of the tamper and basket. But there is still one all too often ignored obstacle, namely the uneven distribution of the coffee grounds in the basket before tamping. This source of error, caused by (among other things) the dispersion of the grinder, is often neglected. If the ground coffee is ejected unevenly into the basket, the tamping, and thus the extraction, will be uneven, and distribution with fingers, as is often seen, is of little or no help here. This is because it varies individually from shot to shot and from barista to barista, and cannot be reproduced. In order to be able to tamp consistently, the portafilter must be perfectly prepared with the ground coffee - if there is a small mountain of ground coffee on one side and a small hole next to it, a tamper cannot level it out, as it is only intended to create and produce vertical impact. So, we need an even horizontal distribution before we tamp vertically. This requires a special tool that allows maximum sideways movement with minimum compaction. The chisel shape guarantees this perfectly. Correctly adjusted, it delivers maximum distribution with only 6% compaction - a peak value. The Chisel is perfectly adapted to the Pullman876 basket and with a few quick spins it delivers the perfect distribution. It is very easy and can be adjusted to different basket sizes and fill levels in no time at all.
The Pullman system is only complete with the Chisel - and guarantees the barista maximum consistency throughout their work process from grinder to machine. The result is the perfect extraction - which you can taste. What makes us particularly proud, is that the Pullman system is not only a system for professionals - it is a system for better flavour. And, incidentally, it makes the work much easier - with the Pullman system, even beginners can achieve excellent results right from the start: channelling due to bad and crooked tamps is a thing of the past.