These discussions (regarding the effects of pop-corning, columns, weights and so forth) needed no assistance from me to continue - having already quite a life of their own - and frankly I felt unequal to the task of contributing anything meaningful to the expertise already in print. So this current thread was just about one way of modifying this one product within the context of single dosing - as opposed to replicating the arguments for or against that practice.
From your and the other discussions, however, I did come away with a few settled beliefs:
- First, it's likely that whatever consistency is actually achievable (given the uncontrollable day-to-day age, humidity etc. variations) will take place with consistent weight.
- Second, the ideal weight to use is the coffee beans themselves since only they can seamlessly compose both the weight and the material. Only the beans are capable of controlling pop-corning all the way into and within the burrs.
- Third, people using columns for this task are pretty satisfied overall, and that likely stems from the gravitational pressure vectors in a column closely approximating those in a stock hopper filled to the same level. (This would also explain the preference for lighter weights upon such a replacement column, since we are trying to replicate just the weight of the column above the burrs, not that of the entire hopper contents.)
- Fourth - and I realize I'm more out on a limb here - burrs turning slowly at fewer RPM will cause fewer pop-corning inconsistencies. I believe I recall others commenting to that effect, but also (as an admitted thought experiment) mentally reduce the RPM to near the stopping point (similar to a hand grinder turned very slowly) and picture the reduction of pop-corning in that circumstance to the vanishing point. As a corollary, a conical burr set may also "auger" the beans into and through the finer teeth with more certainty, further limiting the incidence of pop-corning. "Proof" of these influences may be hard to come by, but perhaps not so, just being "convinced."
Of course that's an admitted compromise: I harbor no illusions that the result is exactly as it would be with a consistent column or hopper of actual coffee beans (see second point above). But I do believe any damage to taste in the cup has been reduced to practical insignificance, and is regardless overwhelmed by the advantage (to me anyway) of freely changing coffees shot-to-shot with zero waste.