How to Use an Espresso Leveler and Distributor
Do you spend a lot of time trying to brew perfect espresso?
Are you actively looking for ways to make consistently good shots?
An espresso leveler might be the missing tool in your arsenal.
This palm-sized distributor tool provides an alternative to tamping for more consistent results.
To ensure the coffee grounds have been distributed evenly, with minimal effort, an espresso leveler has a lot to offer coffee lovers.
Even if you aren't producing espresso on a commercial scale, an espresso leveler might deserve a spot in your kitchen, alongside your espresso machine.
This article will tell you why you should invest in this coffee tool and how to use it.
Here is what we will cover:
A Quick Overview
During the act of tamping, the chances of areas possessing varying levels of compression are very high.
Those varying compression levels are simply due to the margin of human error during the distribution of grounds, well before tamping or leveling.
When compression isn't consistent, pressurized water takes the path of least resistance, which equals less coffee and ultimately produces undesired flavors in espresso.
An espresso leveler is a coffee distribution tool that has proven invaluable in this situation.
The product features three fins, which fits onto the portafilter, and spins to even out espresso distribution.
Indeed, with enough practice, it may be possible to distribute or tamp evenly with regularity.
However, suppose you or your local barista experience an off day.
In that case, the resulting espresso could have inconsistent results as skills waver for various reasons.
Puck-style tools, however, now make it easier to avoid errors related to brewing espresso than ever before.
Now, even the newest baristas will have the confidence and capability of crafting espresso-based drinks consistently within the palm of their hand.
The Importance of Distribution
During espresso brewing, it's common for an individual to tamp the loaded portafilter by pressing it on the countertop's edge with an espresso tamper.
Generally, this method is done by visually gauging or sensing the evenness of the coffee's surface in the portafilter.
Nonetheless, the issue here remains with what lies just beneath the surface.
The biggest problem with brewing espresso is the human error of irregular compression, which causes channeling.
Channeling can be challenging to avoid.
Unless you realize the culprit, you might find yourself struggling with it every time you try to brew espresso.
What is Espresso Channeling Exactly?
Channeling may be described as uneven compression distributed throughout your portafilter basket.
Water finds the path of least resistance rather than evenly flowing through the entire bed.
This channeling leads to improperly saturated grounds, and poorly brewed espresso, resulting in an unpalatable, bitter flavor.
How to Avoid Espresso Channeling
As with any other method of brewing coffee, the goal is to produce a consistent brew every time.
You don't want to lose the espresso's clarity through channeling.
Espresso utilizes fine grounds, which easily result in channeling when not distributed evenly.
The first step to brewing a shot properly, thereby avoiding channeling, is utilizing a decent recipe.
Ensure proper coffee to water ratios, ranging between 1:1 and 1:2.5, between 20 and 35 seconds.
Coffee distribution is one of the most important aspects of brewing an espresso shot.
Getting this distribution right every time is why an espresso leveler is invaluable in making good espresso.
If the distribution isn't your problem, take a look at the fineness of your ground coffee.
Since espresso grounds are extremely fine, it is easy to experience problems when the grind isn't fine enough, is too fine, or distributed improperly.
Understanding the Purpose of a Tamper
By adding even pressure to your correctly filled portafilter, you can eliminate uneven compression throughout the espresso grounds by using an espresso tamper.
Even tamping with this tool helps avoid channeling.
Minimal channeling allows for a better cup of espresso.
Tampers have been used for a long time and are currently in use as of today.
Chances are, they will remain in use for the foreseeable future; however, that doesn't mean there isn't room for new coffee tools in the kitchen.
In and of itself, tamping does not churn out the perfect cup of coffee.
The practice of tamping is an attempt to produce consistent coffee but is dependent on how well you work with the tool.
Each time you tamp espresso manually, your tamping pressure must remain the same for consistent results.
How to Put an Espresso Leveler to Good Use
An espresso leveler is a tool that takes a lot of guesswork out of espresso distribution.
Set the leveler into the portafilter, and turn it as needed.
It is easier to ensure that a leveler's position is correct since it sits against the frame of the filter basket.
Also, the depth of the level can be precisely adjusted.
You can do this by rotating the top half of the leveler on most espresso levelers.
No force is required as with tamping, just a nice turn until it reaches the top of the basket.
The results are perfectly flat basket contents, with consistent espresso each time.
Many baristas find that they don't need to utilize a tamper once they have used a leveler.
If you want to follow up your use of an espresso leveler with a good tamp, by all means, be our guest.
For those of you who don't have time to waste, a leveler offers consistent results you'd be hard-pressed to find with a tamper, given the tamper's margin of human error.
That said, your workflow for making espresso is entirely up to you.
The Jack Leveler: the Best Distributor Tool Around?
Produced by Asso Coffee, the Jack Espresso Leveler, is quoted in many reviews and articles as the best high-end espresso distributor tool for baristas of all skill levels.
People cite its consistency, ease of use, and adjustable depth levels well ahead of some rivals.
It also comes in a variety of sizes and a customizable array of colors.
In addition to the standard 58mm size, it also comes in 53mm.
This size fits our Breville Barista Express and other prosumer espresso machines with smaller filter baskets.
At the time of writing, we haven't tried the Jack Leveler yet, but we would be interested to know if you have.
Hopefully, now you know what an espresso leveler is and how to put it to good use.
When we first used one, it was a game-changer.
Almost immediately, we were producing more consistent espresso shots.
There are plenty of options available for espresso levelers and distributors at every price range through the usual channels.
Now that you know all you need to know about espresso levelers and distributors, will you be adding one to your setup?