Is a full doser always a sign of a bad cafe?

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ChrisC

#1: Post by ChrisC »

...split from Doser Accuracy by moderator...



As stated above, most home baristas grind only enough for one shot at a time, as we don't want coffee staling in our dosers, but I've seen several comments now that indicate that at least some folks here don't object to full(er) dosers in commercial environments. Even in a very busy cafe though I imagine some of that ground coffee has been in there for 5-10 minutes plus, and I've heard Mark Prince state that he's tested ground coffee sitting for between 1-5 minutes, and can clearly taste the difference with each minute that passes, and that as a result he tries to go from grind to pulling the shot in less than a minute. All the really good cafes I frequent grind for each shot and clear the doser, no matter how busy they are. The last time I tried an 'old school' Italian cafe where the doser was full when I ordered, the shot had crema but just tasted dead and dull, and I figured the staling grinds were probably the cause (although it could have been the beans, I don't know what their source is).

So, I guess what I'm asking is, are you guys okay with a shot pulled from a full doser (and if so under what conditions), or do you prefer a shot ground fresh just for you?

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cafeIKE
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#2: Post by cafeIKE »

A blend designed to suffer the indignities of a couple of the minutes in the doser, consistently pulled is preferable to a GP blend inexpertly pulled.

Shots pulled from full dosers tend to vary less than paddle-whacked shots, especially when pulled by multiple baristas.

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Compass Coffee
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#3: Post by Compass Coffee »

cafeIKE wrote:Shots pulled from full dosers tend to vary less than paddle-whacked shots, especially when pulled by multiple baristas.
Based on? I've seen many Third Wave shops and in Competition baristi using the grind per shot paddle-whack dosing pulling very consistent shots. I've yet to see a quality shop filling the doser with grinds.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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cafeIKE
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#4: Post by cafeIKE »

Compass Coffee wrote:Based on? I've seen many Third Wave shops and in Competition baristi using the grind per shot paddle-whack dosing pulling very consistent shots. I've yet to see a quality shop filling the doser with grinds.
Based on shots sampled all over the globe.

The creme de la crema may pull consistent shots by paddle-whacking, but the ROTM don't.

Just this past week, I had my first bad shot at Discovery Coffee. It was not pulled by Paul or Logan, paddle-whackers all, and it sucked. The only bad shot I've had there in a year. Paul pulled the next shot and it was sublime, as always.

On a recent trip to the eastern US, I endured a full 10 days of paddle-whacked sink shots before I found a shop that could pull a decent one. There the barista pulled from doser and I thought "Here's at least, I've got a chance" The shot, while not world championship class, was very enjoyable. Ditto every day after.

FWIW, NOT ONE of my friends who has patronized a recently opened LA shop has raved about the espresso. Several have been back more than once and all complain that consistency is non-existent. When there is a line at the bar, a doser could work wonders on improving consistency.

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HB
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#5: Post by HB »

cafeIKE wrote:FWIW, in a 15g basket a measured 15.0±1.0g amounts to very little more taste difference in the cup than normal shot to shot, day to day variation, if one stops the shot on color, not time. Light tamp, no taps, twists or twirls.
cafeIKE wrote:When there is a line at the bar, a doser could work wonders on improving consistency.
Not sure that I'm following you. Point 1: "anything within a gram is close enough." Point 2: "these pro baristas need a doser to get the measures right." Do you mean they're not consistently dosing within a gram? If so, that's surprising -- it's not difficult. Or are you saying they're dosing too much?

On a related note, I noticed the grinder at Murky Coffee in Arlington had a high-precision timer on it, though I didn't pay attention to whether they actually used it.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#6: Post by HB »

ChrisC wrote:So, I guess what I'm asking is, are you guys okay with a shot pulled from a full doser (and if so under what conditions), or do you prefer a shot ground fresh just for you?
One of the clear signs of a troubled cafe experience in the making is a doser filled with stale coffee. That said, if there's a line of people waiting for drinks, I wouldn't fuss about an auto-doser like the Kony that grinds every 12 pulls, assuming of course the drinks are good.
Dan Kehn

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Ardvaark

#7: Post by Ardvaark »

HB wrote:On a related note, I noticed the grinder at Murky Coffee in Arlington had a high-precision timer on it, though I didn't pay attention to whether they actually used it.
I believe the only way to start the grinder is with the timer, and it is wired to automatically shut off the grinder after the time has expired. Presumably, the intention is to make it very difficult to grind too much at once by accident. However, for what it's worth, I have never noticed a barista at Murky who doesn't level off back into the doser. Clearly, they're not that worried about a small quantity of "old" grind being dosed back out.

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Bushrod

#8: Post by Bushrod »

Huh, what? I could swear they level into the knockbox at murky Arlington. No old grinds into the doser. In fact, they seem to waste quite a bit.
Rich A

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Nick

#9: Post by Nick »

When we first started 5.5 years ago, we used Waring appliance timers (with 1.0 second resolution) to turn our grinders on and off. We haven't really used them for years, and have then hooked up to our decaf grinders only. Thanks for the reminder... those should really come off.

No leveling into the dosing chamber. Knockbox only.

Every so often, we get weird renegade barista techniques that creep into our baristas' repertoire. It's definitely possible that one or more of our folks were leveling off into the dosing chamber. They shouldn't be. I won't spare the rod.


There are a few good reasons for grinder-per-shot, and a few good theoretical reasons for the opposite.
a) if the grinds sit in the doser, they can dry up or absorb humidity, possibly throwing off the extraction rate a.k.a. throwing off the grind.
b) if a grind adjustment needs to me made, a full-doser won't allow the adjustment to be effective until the old-grind stuff is out of the doser... and by that time... you see what I mean.
c) on the other hand, there is evidence that, especially with very fresh coffee (within 1 week from roast), letting the ground coffee sit for a little while allows for some additional degassing that can yield better extraction result.

The problem is that the first two issues probably outweigh the possible benefits of the third.
Nick
wreckingballcoffee.com
nickcho.com

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cafeIKE
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#10: Post by cafeIKE »

HB wrote:
Not sure that I'm following you. Point 1: "anything within a gram is close enough." Point 2: "these pro baristas need a doser to get the measures right." Do you mean they're not consistently dosing within a gram? If so, that's surprising -- it's not difficult. Or are you saying they're dosing too much?
The two points are from different threads and the meaning expanded, but I'll endeavor to clarify.

Point 1 : This was a simple, unscientific test I ran for a week where I used 15.0±1.0g. Stopping shots on color, not volume or time, resulted in a shot taste variation little different from the previous week where 15.0±0.1g doses were used. No grinder adjustments were made over the two week period. The coffee was from the same roast, frozen with a couple of hours of roasting. The coffee was all days 4-8. Under those conditions, with that coffee, within a gram is close enough.

Whether Point 1 is related to Point 2 is undetermined.

Point 2 : Some pro baristas make consistent shots, regardless of how they dose. Some don't. The bad shot at Discovery Coffee was clearly overdosed as it ran very slowly and pulled too long to get a doppio volume. As the next excellent shot was pulled at the same grinder setting, a doser adjusted by the second barista may have given the first barista a fighting chance at pulling a decent shot. Both shots were pulled nekid and neither appeared to have any visual defects. In shops with a high throughput and staff not of championship calibre, a properly adjusted doser could help save the customer from sinkers.

Two weeks ago, in another shop, the poor P-W PBTC choked the machine twice before getting something resembling espresso. Presumably, it was not his first day on the job as he could talk the talk. In yet another shop last week, after a full dribbling minute, I told the P-W PTBC to either start over or return my brass. Her second attempt was a very ristretto 40 sec, which I implored her to end. Tolerable, but only just. Scenes like these rarely occur in shops with dosers used as designed.

The likelihood of getting a decent shot in a bar with a doser used as designed may be higher than that of paddle-whacked, except for exceptionally skilled baristas. Slightly stale is infinitely preferable to undrinkable.