A clumpy espresso is a dumpy espresso. I’m certain I read that on a Home Barista forum once, and if I didn’t, lemme just log in real quick to post it before someone else does. Yes, clumps, the clingy little bits of fine espresso powder trying to keep you from achieving the God Shot. Baristas, both in the cafe and the home, have created all sorts of clever solutions for breaking up this little goofballs. (Remember toothpicks and the yogurt cup trick for the old Rockys?)
Those days are all but in the past now, with multiple tools available to manicure the brew bed revolving around Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT), so named after creator John Weiss whereby the espresso in the portafilter is stirred before tamping, breaking up the clumps. There are instruments that look like miniaturized versions of a mix between a whisk and a head massager. There are tamper-like devices that you give a little spin. But none of them, and I mean none, compare to the WDT maximalism and randomized chaos this is the all new Weber Moonraker. It’s the most insane espresso-making tool I’ve ever seen, and I absolutely must have it.
Befitting an implement sharing a name with one of the more gonzo James Bond films, the Moonraker looks like the espresso version of a spirograph or some ancient cypher needed to decode and unlock a hermetically sealed chamber of secrets (the secret is a perfectly uniform and unclumped espresso bed). It draws from the design of existing tamp-style WDT tools, with pins attached to a circular base that get spun around the coffee inside a portafilter. But per Weber, the extant WDT tools don’t fully declump, but create concentric circle grooves by “following the same track” in the bed where clumps can hide.
The Moonraker, on the other hand, is omnipresent chaos, “where watchmaking, astronomy, and physics all intersect with espresso tools.” Consisting of multiple cogs, each with their own pins—10 in total—set to varying depths, spinning the Moonraker “endlessly randomized and homogenizes the coffee bed” leaving no millimeter of the portafilter un-raked. In their tests, Weber finds that as low as two rotations leaves a perfectly prepared bed. But 10 spins. Clumps don’t stand a chance at 10.
Made of stainless steel 304, anodized aluminum, and chem-strengthened glass, the Moonraker clocks in at a healthy 300g for the standard edition, and an even weightier 405g for the Ultra.
But be forewarned, ye espresso lovers, the price tag on the Moonraker is not for the faint of heart. The standard, all-black version retails at $275, while the black and gold Ultra—the one that looks like something Nic Cage would use during the climax of a National Treasure movie—runs a mere $475.
The Moonraker is currently on pre-order via Weber’s website, but for those attending the SCA Expo this weekend, you can stop by their booth (#962) and take their latest must-have tool for a spin. Unless I get there first and steal it for myself of course. I’m certain it’s the key to unlocking the mysterious secret map inside Espresso Perfection that will lead me to D.B. Shomer’s hidden riches.
All media via Weber Workshops