How I Avoid Single Dosing

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
User avatar
Marshall

#1: Post by Marshall »

I've been writing for a long time that my Mahlkonig ProM grinder's dosing looks and feels consistent, as long as there are at least a couple of doses of coffee in the hopper. I was saying the same thing about my Cimbali Max Hybrid before that. The ProM's internal electronic timer seems steady, the volumes in my portafilter tamp down to a consistent height, and, most important, the drinks are consistent.

Today I finally bit the bullet and tested the validity of my sensory impressions.

I loaded up the hopper a bit past half way and simply took weight measurements of the total grinds, as each dose filled up the receptacle. I also stop-watched the first few grinds to be sure the timing was steady. It was, at 9.3 seconds.

Here were the results from first to the nearly-empty last.

17g.
16.9g
16.7g
16.8g
16.7g
16.7g

[the remaining irregular doses were with the bean column beginning to disappear under the hopper bottom]

16.5g
13.9g.
15.6g

I'm sure there is someone on this planet who can taste an 0.3g variation in dose out of 17g, but it isn't me.

So, I stand by my claim that this grinder works very well with no weighing and works best with a column of beans, rather than single dosing. No wasted beans. No wasted time or effort.
Marshall
Los Angeles

da gino

#2: Post by da gino »

Hi Marshal, A couple questions - what kind of coffee were you using? If it is a SO then a timer is fairly good at getting accurate doses, but usually a blend that isn't made of uniform size beans won't be as consistent (although for a given blend I do find the Vario and ProM more consistent at a given setting than the bigger grinders).

Also if you next wanted a 14 g or 18g dose how easy would it be for you to adjust the timing for that? I felt that was much harder to do on the ProM than on the digital grinders I've tried such as the Vario or the Titans. I found the ProM to work best on single dosing because of the non digital timer (which will probably be swapped out in a year or so on the next generation).

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#3: Post by another_jim »

The timer results with the filled hopper, roughly a 1/3rd gram, are in line with results using a filled doser. That is acceptable.

The second part is find out the time and grind settings required to get roughly 14 grams versus 18 grams at respective grind settings that produce regular flow shots. If the grinder is as consistent as a Titan, then once you know these four numbers (time and grind for 14, and time and grind for 18), you'll be able to use them and interpolate intermediate settings for most coffees without further ado.

If the ProM can do this then it is playing in the Titan league. (I'm not moving the bar here -- what everyone loved about the Titan grinders was this constancy of settings for different coffees or the same coffee at different ages. It's the property I most value about the Compak K10, since it allows me to use a lot of different blends daily very easily.)

This consistency is not just useful when changing coffees, but for changing dose and flow on the fly. If you know ahead of time what the correct settings are to get, say, a 15.5 gram ristretto, then changing dose and flow are trivial. if you do not know the settings ahead of time, it becomes a chore and therefore is done a lot more rarely.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
Marshall (original poster)

#4: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

da gino wrote:Hi Marshal, A couple questions - what kind of coffee were you using? If it is a SO then a timer is fairly good at getting accurate doses, but usually a blend that isn't made of uniform size beans won't be as consistent (although for a given blend I do find the Vario and ProM more consistent at a given setting than the bigger grinders).
A cheap supermarket "Kona Blend." I couldn't bear to throw out good coffee. There are at least four different bean varieties in it. I almost never brew single origins.
da gino wrote:Also if you next wanted a 14 g or 18g dose how easy would it be for you to adjust the timing for that? I felt that was much harder to do on the ProM than on the digital grinders I've tried such as the Vario or the Titans. I found the ProM to work best on single dosing because of the non digital timer (which will probably be swapped out in a year or so on the next generation).
It's easy. I don't think in terms of grams, but in grind and timer settings, which are easy to read from the dials and record (which I do, for later purchases of the same blends). Sometimes I'll weigh a dose from sheer curiosity, but it's not the way I normally think about my coffee, since I'm not sharing dosing information with anyone else. In other words, I think according to the grinder's control parameters and avoid unnecessary translations to weights.
Marshall
Los Angeles

da gino

#5: Post by da gino »

Hi Jim, the Pro-M doesn't have a digital timer on it, so while on an electronic titan or a Vario you can decide to drop x seconds off and estimate how many grams on average that will shave, on the Pro-M I found you were just turning the knob and hoping you'd shaved a fixed time off the dose.
another_jim wrote:If the grinder is as consistent as a Titan, then once you know these four numbers (time and grind for 14, and time and grind for 18), you'll be able to use them and interpolate intermediate settings for most coffees without further ado.

If the ProM can do this then it is playing in the Titan league.
.


I agree though that consistency is the key factor here, and ignoring the timer and focusing on taste, unlike Marshall even once dialed in I could never get shots nearly as consistent out of the Pro-M as a Vario or a dosered Super Jolly (the one I had was a major step down from those two) and those I find a small step down in consistency (at least before dialing them in) from the titans I've gotten to play with dosered or doserless (such as a Robur, an M7D, a K30, a K10, or even a Major or Cimbali Magnum...) so it is hard to put it in a league with the Titans for me.


Marshall your Pro-M must work much better than mine did based on your posts.

User avatar
Marshall (original poster)

#6: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

another_jim wrote:This consistency is not just useful when changing coffees, but for changing dose and flow on the fly. If you know ahead of time what the correct settings are to get, say, a 15.5 gram ristretto, then changing dose and flow are trivial. if you do not know the settings ahead of time, it becomes a chore is done a lot more rarely.
I'm not a professional coffee cupper. I am, like most coffee lovers, a consumer of other people's commercial roasts. I know the settings ahead of time, because I recorded them the first time I bought the same blend. I use just one blend at a time until it runs out, usually in 6 or 7 days. When my vendor changes the blends enough that I notice, I tinker and correct the settings and record the new information. I've always kept a record of grind and timer settings in my Outlook Notes.

For my personal use, "3 bars above zero grind at 11.25 timer setting" is all I need or want. If I become curious about what my favorite dose happens to weigh, then I might just weigh it. But my palate controls the dosing, not a scale, and with good equipment, I rarely need to make adjustments, anyway.

A grinder's theoretical capability of adjusting to 5 different single origins or blends a day is obviously of no interest to me, although it would not surprise me if the ProM did well at that.

By the way, although it may have sounded otherwise lately, I make no claims for the superiority of Mahlkonigs over other grinders. There are lots of great grinders out there. What I have been writing about is matching the grinder to one's actual home use, and avoiding the temptation to collect oversized trophies.
Marshall
Los Angeles

User avatar
F.M.

#7: Post by F.M. »

Any advice (or keywords to research) for getting consistent dosing out of a cimballi max, without wasting tons of coffee? I am coming from a rocky doserless, and was weighing per dose, prior to grinding. typically pulling 2 doubles per session.

This morning was my first day on the max (bought used in horrible condition, replaced flat burrs etc). Initial thoughts are that the hopper needs at least a half-pound to grind consistently, and the doser needs to be fairly full to get a consistent number of grams per pull on the lever. I ended up just levelling the basket and discarding the leftover grinds (not ideal).

It sounds like a digital timer is the most common solution. Any other options I should consider or research?

User avatar
Marshall (original poster)

#8: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

F.M. wrote:It sounds like a digital timer is the most common solution. Any other options I should consider or research?
I used a digital timer.
Marshall
Los Angeles

User avatar
cafeIKE

#9: Post by cafeIKE »

Marshall,

In the interest of science, care to weigh doses in actual use on real coffee?

User avatar
F.M.

#10: Post by F.M. »

Picked up some beans today at one of Seattle's premiere third-wave coffee roasters. Asked the cashier what dose they suggest..."Um...we level the top of the basket off- let me ask". Barista: "We level off to the top of a triple basket. Not sure what the weight is. Do you have a second, we'll find out". Shift manager: "Around 18-21 grams".

Just playing devil's advocate here....

Given the excellent reputation & quality of the espresso at this cafe, I have no reason to be skeptical. They clearly know their stuff. I haven't seen Baristas weighing or timing doses at any of the other seattle third-wave cafe's either. Another local third wave cafe uses Mazzer grinders with the timers, but when I asked, I was told they don't trust the timers as it's not an accurate measurement of either weight or volume. I have to weigh (pun intended) the value of the information from these cafes (with great espresso to back it up) against the ".3g variation is unacceptable" dogma I sometimes see on this site. Perhaps it just goes to show, consistency is more important that how it's achieved? Can these baristas be accurate to +/- .3g if they don't know their target dose to +/- 3g?

I'm not discounting any of the great information on this site.... just wondering if it's time for me to put the scale away for a while :wink: