Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Recently, we got our hands on a couple of competition grade shower screens from Lamarsa Coffee Machine Company, which is the IMS La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen MA 200 IM and the Pesado La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen. We tried out extracting coffee from both shower screens to see how they differ in terms of espresso taste and the results were pretty impressive.
Shower screens are one of the many components that are often overlooked in the espresso extraction process. More often than not, a well-designed and well-cleaned shower screen, combined with good water flow rate, will produce better quality coffee. One that extracts a distinct clarity of sweetness and acidity, pleasant bitterness and good tactile.
What is a shower screen?
It is a circular metal component screwed onto the shower of the group-head within the espresso machine. The function of it is to help disperse or distribute hot water evenly onto the coffee bed during extraction. As hot water flows through the shower screen and comes into contact with the coffee bed, the coffee would swell up within the space between the coffee bed and the shower screen to create an estimation of 9 bar pressure to produce an espresso.
An example of what a shower screen (Pesado) look like;
Before we delve a little deeper into our findings, here is a compare and contrast specification table between an IMS La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen MA 200 IM vs a Pesado La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen :
Shower Screen Specification Table
IMS La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen (MA 200 IM)
Pesado La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen (QR 120)
In reference to the pictures above, we started by measuring the brew water flow rate of individual shower screens. We found that the IMS has a slower flow rate vs the Pesado. You wouldn't be able to see much of a difference from our pictures above. However, the difference was when we measured the amount of water dispersed. Within 30 seconds, the IMS yielded about 176ml of brew water as compared to Pesado, at about 180ml of brew water instead. This indicated that the Pesado has clearly a faster flow rate as compared to the IMS. We can attribute this to the different specs of size and technology, as seen in detail from the table above.
The inner of an IMS La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen (MA 200 IM)
The inner of a Pesado La Marzocco Competition Shower Screen (QR120)
Now, the part on espresso taste! We used our in-house blend called The Pit (Colombia, El Salvador & Ethiopia) to pull an espresso through the IMS and the Pesado. We tried both espressos and to be honest, we were blown away. Through the IMS, the espresso tasted sweet, juicy, and the body was light to medium. The consistency and texture of the espresso was like biting into a juicy watermelon. It had good clarity in terms of flavours as it brought out a bright and vibrant acidity. As for the Pesado, the espresso was heavier bodied and had a syrupy, creamy texture. A definite punch to the espresso with a well-balanced sweetness and acidity to it. “Kaw-ness” at its finest!
IMS & Pesado
Churning consistent, delicious espressos on a daily basis could be a monumental feat to follow but with the help of the ever-evolving technology in coffee equipment and apparatus, this will help ease the struggles of getting the best extraction out of the coffees brewed. These precision shower screens are definitely something to ponder about if you are looking to improve the quality of your espressos and push the boundaries of coffee calibration and coffee tasting. We hope this post comes as an enlightenment for your brewing experience or something new about coffee that you've just learnt!
Written by Haziq Ramlan
Pictures taken by Haziq Ramlan
Edited by JC & Rasyad Yosof
Proof-read by Rasyad Yosof