By Craig Simon, Veneziano Coffee Ambassador
Distribution is always needed as no matter how centralised you get the mound of coffee in the basket, there will always be a section with a higher density of grinds. This results in water following the path of least resistants, in this case the edge of the basket and causing channelling.
Our philosophy here at Veneziano and what we teach our baristas, is to manually distribute each handle. This is due to the years of experience we have gained in coaching barista competitors, where the best results have always come from the barista perfecting manual distribution.
However, in a café environment where there are several baristas behind the jump, you cannot guarantee that every barista will have the same skill-set. In this situation, a distribution tool can make a complex job easier and more consistent. It reinforces the idea that distribution is important for high quality extraction.
There are several distribution tools on the market, my preference is for a tool with the least amount of downwards force on the coffee grinds during distribution. The sole job of this tool is to push the coffee out towards the edge of the basket and not down. My preference is the Saint Anthony Industries BT tool due to the shape of the surface distributing the coffee.
It’s wedge shape exerts minimal downwards pressure and moves the grinds around the basket like your finger would during manual distribution. It is also weighted nicely and spins with ease when you give it a twist. It looks stunning with a knurled stainless grip, locking ring and polished timber insert in the top.
Distribution tools work best when they do the least amount of tamping so you should use them to just groom the coffee grinds. Set the tool as shallow as you can while still grooming grinds all the way to the edge of the basket. If it leaves some ungroomed areas then you need to set lower, if there are divets in the groomed surface, this means it is too deep and needs to be set shallower.
Whilst you are trying to perfect manual distribution, using a tool like the BT wedge can help you to ensure consistency across your team in a café environment so that every cup of coffee tastes as delicious as the last. View the BT wedge range here.