And sometimes you have to updose

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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another_jim
Team HB

#1: Post by another_jim » Mar 05, 2009, 3:57 pm

Hi, I'm not Cardinal Ken; but I am a member of the congregation of the beatified 14 gram basket. And I'm confessing I've strayed.

I picked up a pound of Black Cat for tomorrow's espresso test. First I tried it on the Dalla Corte Mini. The shot was thin and tasteless, more dishwater than espresso. I was about to fire an angry email to DC-USA, but decided to try it on the trusty Semi first. More dishwater.

OK, an angry email to Doug Zell. I had just had a chocolate covered cherry of an espresso at their store, and now this? Obviously, I had been given some misconceived designer Black Cat, not the bar blend. An inspection of the package revealed "Black Cat Classic," the new name for basic Black Cat. It was the same coffee.

OK, desperation time. Crank up the dose, crank up the temperature, run a Schomer special. Lots of body, but unsweetened chocolate and unripe cherry. So back off a half gram and a centigrade. Bingo, a chocolate cherry, just as in the store.

I'd heard people say that down dosed shots make weak espresso, but never had the experience until now. So I'm uncertain what causes it. With East African coffees of any sort, or dry processed American ones, 14 gram doses yield a perfectly good espresso balance. Black Cat this year is composed of a washed Guatemala and a pulp Natural Brazil. It could be these coffees need to be juiced up against the shower screen to yield their oils.

Anyone care to say what coffees have to be updosed? I would say, with fair confidence, that washed or otherwise acidic East African coffees are downdose coffees only. But Black Cat makes it clear there are coffees which are updose only. Which ones are they?
Jim Schulman

terhune281

#2: Post by terhune281 » Mar 05, 2009, 4:04 pm

Since I received my gram scale several weeks ago I have been practicing my dosing and tamping. After counting "twelve one-thousand" on my doserless grinder I get to 14.5 grams of Ambrosia Blend from Caffe Fresco. The shot is weak and lacks crema. When the coffee first arrived I was dosing at 18.5 grams and it was nectar! Your post will make me give updosing another try. thanks, Carl

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GC7

#3: Post by GC7 » Mar 05, 2009, 4:40 pm

Jim

Funny timing but I was also a member of the weighing 14 gm doses and enjoying the results club until recently as well. I was reexploring SM's Liquid amber espresso blend which contains monsooned beans and some robusta because I'm playing with different coffees and blends with my new HotTop roaster. Aside from pulling shots at closer to 203* compared with a more standard 200* I found a very distinct and pronounced flavor profile improvement with a 16-17 gm updose. Only the updosed shots had clean sweet caramel and a smoky cream flavor that lingered in your mouth. Low doses were just bland and muddy.

I'm now experimenting more with all my beans though I can say that it didn't work with Ethiopian misty Valley SO that works nicely at 14 gm. I am thinking of breaking out the triple basket and underdosing that at 18 gm ristretto to see what I get.

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peacecup

#4: Post by peacecup » Mar 05, 2009, 5:44 pm

Welcome to the Peacecup school of basket dosing Jim!
PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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malachi

#5: Post by malachi » Mar 05, 2009, 6:16 pm

I'm finding some reasonably consistent correlation between acidity and dose.

Blends heavy in Naturals, Robusta etc seem to do well at low doses.
Blends heavy in high grown washed coffees seem to do well at high doses.

Now...
This might not be as simple as dose - it might be that the different doses allow for different grind size (not to open a whole other can of worms).
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

Address7

#6: Post by Address7 » Mar 05, 2009, 6:21 pm

Hi Jim - from a fellow Semi user, I have recently been exploring the chocolate-cherry blends. So far, I have played with Black Cat, Coffee Klatch Belle Espresso and PT's Bella Vita (currently in the house). To my buds, all of these blends taste best updosed and pulled tight. I don't weigh my shots, but I shoot for consistent headspace - I have a tamper which coincidentally produces what seems to be a good head space (expanded puck does not quite touch the screen) when the top is flush with the top of the basket. I like to use the triple to get a really concentrated punch of flavor, and a triple ristretto seems to work really well for all of these blends. I also feel somewhat comforted that both Intelligentsia and Mike Perry (of Coffee Klatch, in a personal email) have stated that an ~20g dose is their favorite way to prepare these espresso.

Although I liked Black Cat when I tried it, so far my favorite is the Coffee Klatch. To me, it is more intense cherry and chocolate than Black Cat or Bella Vita, with the other two about equal - still very good. Caveat - I normally drink short cappas (about 40/60 espresso to microfoam), so YMMV. I am still working with the correct flush time on the PT's, but I got the Klatch down to an 11 second flush (start to finish) prior to locking and pouring. I have been in contact with EricS to look into getting a thermofilter fitting for the Semi so that I can be more accurate and consistent with regards to temp; sorry I don't have numbers. But I will confirm something I believe you stated in another thread - with the Semi, the first shot is good, but the second shot is nearly always better.

Enjoy your experience, James

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another_jim
Team HB

#7: Post by another_jim » Mar 05, 2009, 9:05 pm

malachi wrote:I'm finding some reasonably consistent correlation between acidity and dose.

Blends heavy in Naturals, Robusta etc seem to do well at low doses.
Blends heavy in high grown washed coffees seem to do well at high doses.
East African washed coffees do well at low doses. I started all this dosing stuff in order to pull good shots from washed Yrgs. Rwandas and the rarer Tanzes and Kenyas that work at any dose usually work at low doses. It's the Centrals that seem to prefer high doses.
Jim Schulman

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malachi

#8: Post by malachi » Mar 06, 2009, 12:50 am

I tend to prefer the washed high elevation rwandas I've worked with updosed to be honest.

I actually don't think I've ever spent any real time pulling shots with washed yirgs. Really good washed yirgs are perhaps my favorite coffee brewed - and I guess when I find one I don't even think of using it for espresso. I guess I'll have to remedy that.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

Address7

#9: Post by Address7 » Mar 06, 2009, 2:44 am

Just a quick note on comparing my preference for pulling big triples tight with the Klatch Belle Espresso above with Jim's statement:
East African washed coffees do well at low doses. I started all this dosing stuff in order to pull good shots from washed Yrgs.
From the Klatch website:
Of course the bean featured in this blend [Belle Espresso] is an Ethiopian Natural Yirgacheffe that adds the citrus you would expect from a Yirgacheffe and wonderful fruit you might not.
I just thought it was interesting. I wouldn't know an East African washed coffee from Folgers if you asked me to choose blindly.

Theodore

#10: Post by Theodore » Mar 06, 2009, 8:47 am

another_jim wrote:Hi, I'm not Cardinal Ken; but I am a member of the congregation of the beatified 14 gram basket. And I'm confessing I've strayed.

I picked up a pound of Black Cat for tomorrow's espresso test. First I tried it on the Dalla Corte Mini. The shot was thin and tasteless, more dishwater than espresso. I was about to fire an angry email to DC-USA, but decided to try it on the trusty Semi first. More dishwater.

OK, an angry email to Doug Zell. I had just had a chocolate covered cherry of an espresso at their store, and now this? Obviously, I had been given some misconceived designer Black Cat, not the bar blend. An inspection of the package revealed "Black Cat Classic," the new name for basic Black Cat. It was the same coffee.

OK, desperation time. Crank up the dose, crank up the temperature, run a Schomer special. Lots of body, but unsweetened chocolate and unripe cherry. So back off a half gram and a centigrade. Bingo, a chocolate cherry, just as in the store.

I'd heard people say that down dosed shots make weak espresso, but never had the experience until now. So I'm uncertain what causes it. With East African coffees of any sort, or dry processed American ones, 14 gram doses yield a perfectly good espresso balance. Black Cat this year is composed of a washed Guatemala and a pulp Natural Brazil. It could be these coffees need to be juiced up against the shower screen to yield their oils.

Anyone care to say what coffees have to be updosed? I would say, with fair confidence, that washed or otherwise acidic East African coffees are downdose coffees only. But Black Cat makes it clear there are coffees which are updose only. Which ones are they?
I try a blend,named,"winter blend",from Square Mile Coffee Roasters .
I use about 15g,and it is mediocre,but when I go to 19+,the quality is way better.
So it seems,that you are right.
Espresso uber alles.