Down-dosing: how to level when the basket isn't overflowing?

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#1: Post by Adam_Sickles »

This is probably a very basic question, as I'm new to this. I've been following the discussion regarding the merits of normal-dosing/down-dosing, and am starting to dose by weight. I'm finding that if I grind only 16 grams into my ridgeless Marzocco/Synesso double basket, it's not overflowing and I can't level with my finger/chopstick, as there simply isn't enough volume to level off.

What am I not understanding?


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#2: Post by HB »

You're not missing anything. If you dose below the rim, leveling techniques like the Stockfleth's Move are of limited use. These threads offer some suggestions:
I weigh most doses, so leveling is less important, especially since I started nutating.
Dan Kehn

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#3: Post by malachi »

If you think "distribute" rather than "level" you can figure out a number of ways to handle low doses.
What's in the cup is what matters.

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#4: Post by trzynkaa »

Use the edge of the lid of a doser (or the edge of the top of a yogurt container) to screed the grind level below the rim of the basket...

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#5: Post by Peppersass »

Depends on the coffee, but with your big conical grinder and a low dose you may not need to do any special distribution at all. Try grindng directly into the center of the portafilter, then mash the mound straight down with the tamper. As Dan suggests, do a nutating tamp to make sure the edges are well sealed, followed by whatever kind of final tamp you prefer.

Assuming you have a bottomless portafilter and can see the results of your packing, if the above doesn't work for you then try WDT. That's the Weiss Distribution Technique, in case you haven't come across it on this site yet -- search for it and you'll get a ton of information about how to do it. WDT can leave some gaps in the top of the coffee bed, but they're typically shallow and fill in when you tamp, assuming you stirred vigorously enough to fill in evenly around the edges. You can fill those gaps with the tip of your finger or a doser lid, but it's probably not necessary.

Let us know how it goes.

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#6: Post by CafSuperCharged »

Probably implied above in texts or URLs, but the distribution of the grounds are key, in my opinion.
Next a very simple tamper can be used to just lower the surface of the grounds.
You could also knock the portafilter on the worktop so the grounds bed down and if the coffee is fine enough you do not actually have to tamp - the water/pressure will even out and pre-infusion is a little different, I guess, although I must add not to be sure about the taste implications.


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#7: Post by CafSuperCharged »

HB wrote:I weigh most doses, so leveling is less important, especially since I started nutating.
In the light of down dosing and the prevention of side-channeling, I wonder if actually those cheap Italian tampers/levelers that usually are several mm smaller diameter than the filter basket cause coffee to be pressed against the side wall of the basket more so than a full diameter serious tamper.


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#8: Post by michaelbenis »

You may find a thicker tamper such as the Reg Barber gives you a good visual guide.


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#9: Post by Vad »

I use WDT, and distribute the ground coffee with a straightened-out paperclip.

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#10: Post by Martin »

I dose by weight into the basket (starts out unevenly mounded)
Simply shaking the pf left right\forward back settles and evens somewhat.
Do a WDT stir in the basket.
Repeat shake.
Lightly compress grounds with tamper
Tap to clear sides

(if I could think of 3 more steps, I'd add them :D Seriously, this all becomes a single, "fluid" process)
Heat + Beans = Roast. All the rest is commentary.