another_jim wrote:The habit of updosing in the US was based initially based on the requirement of making large milk drinks. When the better Seattle cafes started emphasizing straight shots from the late 90s on, the first generation of blends they used was based on this dosing practice. In a cafe, if 90 percent of the drinks being served are milk, then the blend needs to be tuned for that. Even if one has a second, straight shot blend, using a different dose for it would be a PITA.
Obviously, the time has come to reconsider this. There's no doubt that lighter roasted, more acidic coffees are better enjoyed at lower doses. Some machines develop severe taste problems if the puck hits the shower screen, which means the dose has to be well below the level of whatever basket one is using, and finger strike dosing won't work. Finally, some grinders seem to perform better at lower doses.
However, I'm not quite with Ken on this if I understand him correctly. I don't think substituting one rigid routine that's considered better for one that is considered worse is the way to go. I would prefer to get to the point where I'm comfortable with multiple baskets, multiple doses, and tasting the results. That way I can use whatever works best for whatever coffee happens to be up. This does have disadvantages, a rigid routine is going to produce more consistent shots than one with a lot of options and variations. It comes down to how much variation you want in your everyday coffees. If you are using the same coffee for long stretches, a rigid routine is going to work better; if you change blends a lot; you're better off being able to change baskets and doses as well.
I don't think there is anything "magical" about 14g, but at this point I think I'm prepared to say I prefer 14g to 20g. At the same time, I'm pretty sure even at this juncture that I'm not going to be constantly changing doses each time I roast or buy a new coffee; that truly fulfills the requirements for being a PITA.
So I'm not saying, choose 14g and do it exactly as I am proposing, and that is the be all and end all. What I am saying is that reducing the dosage significantly below the 20 or 18g we have been using is a very good idea, probably for all coffees. I am also saying that in the absence of baskets that will hold a lower dose and no more, dosed to the top which I think is the only really consistent way of eyeballing, that something else needs to be done to be consistent. I think a ramekin and a scale is one such approach, and I've found that surprisingly, at least for me, it doesn't seem to take much more time and is a helluva lot more consistent than what I've done before.
But to each his own on this, both as regards the amount of futzing around people want to do with the doses of each coffee, and the way that they get those doses in the basket consistently.