Dose and tamp without leveling

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by woodchuck »

I have a Macap M4 grinder and a La Spaziale Vivaldi II. Lately I've been playing around with just dosing into the pf and tamping without leveling. I use a bottomless portafilter so I can easily dose out a pretty even mound of coffee by moving the pf around during dosing. Aside from the fact that I can't easily weigh the dose I have been getting good looking pours with great body and deeper chocolate undertones than I get with my usual routine. The coffee density is sure to be more uneven than with leveling but I do get some really stunning shots. On the other hand, on occasion I do get some "just as dramatic" failures with this routine as well.

I have seen this done with some of the higher end grinders but I have been getting good results with my M4. Will take some pictures when I get a chance.



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#2: Post by JmanEspresso »

Surely is no reason it cant be done, you see some the WBC competitors do it... Granted, we're home enthusiasts, not pros, and they're using Roburs/K10s, but still...

I bet adding a Nutating Motion/Staub Tamp would/could get rid of those "failures".

I use the WDT, but after I lift off the yogurt cup, I dont do any leveling or stockflething, Just WDT, Lift off Cup, Nutate Tamp, lock and load. Its been working for me a while now.

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#3: Post by SwingT »

on my vivaldi II, i get most consistent results from a nutating tamp.

I am using a convex tamper, as suggested by Mary at Chris Coffee. IMO, it helps keep the puck from contacting the nut that holds the screens in.

Considering how newbie I am and how limited my experience in this field is - I am quite happy with such consistent success.

ETA - I never was able to get consistency from WDT - probably wasn't doing it right or using right implements.

I am weighing each dose, in a yogurt cup cut down to 4 oz weight. Maybe it's because I'm so new and don't understand all the factors - but dosage seems to be somewhat important.

I seldom bother to level, usually if it's uneven in the basket I just start the nutating tamp on the side/area that needs leveling.

I'm using a Super Jolly.
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#4: Post by drdna »

It's a trade off. You want to do the least amount to the coffee to achieve the desired result. If the ground coffee falls into the basket perfectly evenly and the weight yields the ideal dose, then you are in luck.

The problem is going to be consistency. Without that, we have no idea what is going on in terms of temperature changes, timing, dosing, roast profile, .... well you get the idea.

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#5: Post by JmanEspresso »

JmanEspresso wrote:I use the WDT, but after I lift off the yogurt cup, I dont do any leveling or stockflething, Just WDT, Lift off Cup, Nutate Tamp, lock and load. Its been working for me a while now.
My method has changed recently. No more WDT.

Dose right into the PF from my doser, evenly, into a nice mound. Tap PF down twice. Tamp. Lock and Load.

No Leveling, just a nutate before a light tamp(15lb as measure by the B-room scale)

Bottomless shots reveal results that are just as nice as my old method. Except that this new method is a lot more fun. 99% of my shots are pulled with a spouted PF(single spout, LM PF), and I use my bottomless to dial in a coffee, and to keep things in check about halfway through the pound/container.

-Ive gone from using a bottomless portafilter, and doing the WDT, then leveling/stockflething, tapping, and nutating on every single shot, to using a spouted portafilter, and just dosing/tamping. I feel like Ive grown up. . . Espresso wise that is :)

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#6: Post by Marshall »

I stopped leveling and redistributing after watching the last Western Regional B.C. competition. I've gone back a few times to see if the old rituals might just make some little difference, and, no, they don't. I give a little shake midway through the grind to make more room (another barista comp trick), then finish my dose, tamp once, and lock it in.

I don't guarantee this works for every grade of grinder. But it works great with a professional or near-professional level machine. Less waste, too.
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#7: Post by The_Left_Hand »

I'm graduating away from espresso-voodoo more and more these days.
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#8: Post by Peppersass »

I'm heading down the same path myself -- as little fuss as possible.

The Baratza Vario deposits the coffee in a mound, mostly centered in the PF. I shake a little to even it out, tap the PF once or twice to settle the grounds, lightly tamp NESW (and/or nutating) to seal the edges, then set the tamper on the coffee and press round the edges to make sure the tamper is the same height above or below the basket edge all the way around (i.e., that the puck is level and not canted). Then I tamp straight down, 30 lbs. I don't polish anymore.

I find that, with most baskets, it's necessary to seal the edges. Otherwise I'll get a halo extraction or, worse, side channeling. If the puck isn't mosly level, I'll get channeling.

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#9: Post by cannonfodder »

This is very grinder specific. Having had a variety of grinders pass through my espresso bar I can say with relative confidence that if you try this with one of the entry level grinders, say a Gaggia MDF, you will have a meltdown shot. That is because the entry level grinders extrude the coffee out the grinder chute. You end up with dense lumps and clumps that will throw your distribution all out of whack.

The commercial grinders grind at much higher volume. The coffee blows out the chute into the doser, or down the chute on a doserless. When you do get clumps they are lighter and less dense than those from the extruding grinders, more like light static holding them together. Touching them, they will easily fall apart back to powder.

I have been light distributing and tamping for a while now. When I dose I rotate the portafilter so the coffee throws around the perimeter of the basket. If I do end up with a mound in the middle I will just give it a quick swipe with my finger to knock the peak down and bit and then tamp.
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#10: Post by TimEggers »

Using my Super Jolly I tend to grind, dose, level and tamp. Locks me pretty much into a similar dose, but for the few blends I pull it seems to work well. The more shots I pull the more I realize that 3/4's of the stuff I used to worry about, really doesn't matter. A point that lets me think about the coffee itself and not the hoops I jump through to pull a shot. And sadly really starting learn how little I know about coffee.
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