Basket Overdosing; time for a serious re-evaluation! - Page 10

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
Dan Streetman

#91: Post by Dan Streetman »

jumping in late here, and sorry if this has already been answered (I skimmed the last couple of pages looking for this topic)

but is there a correlation between evenness of particle size and relative coarse/fine particle size?

I guess what I'm wondering is, Ken said he was using a kompak k10, but what effect are the less consistent particle size grinders having in relation to this.

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Team HB

#92: Post by another_jim replying to Dan Streetman »

It's a good question, but we don't have enough laser sizing data to tell. We don't even know whether the large conicals are more consistent in terms of particle size.
Jim Schulman

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#93: Post by Ozark_61 »

It's amazing - I'm a Chinese medicine practitioner and was purusing some herbal markets in Guang Zhou last summer. A herb grinder that sells here for $400 was $40 on the street over there, and that was just the price that was quoted to a 'lo fan' (round eye = sucker, jack the price up). They make everything, and cheaply to boot.
RapidCoffee wrote:Amazing prices. How can they possibly make a profit? The shipping alone would kill ya.

"Our motto: we lose money on each unit, but make it up in volume." :)

Ken Fox (original poster)

#94: Post by Ken Fox (original poster) »

Ken Fox wrote:Here's a deal I just found on the internet; a 1000g x0.1g scale for $11 delivered, from Hong Kong. Or, using coupon code "BULKRATE" you can get 3 of them for $30.71, which will include a mandatory charge for registered mail.

I have bought one item from this website before, and have had no problems with them. The website is owned by a guy who split off from a partner who had another website that operated out of HK for a year or more. I believe they are reliable however the usual caveats apply. If you pay by Paypal you will only risk $11, so if there is a problem, it's no big deal.

I ordered 3 of these el cheapo 0.1g scales because I can't refuse a deal :P

They arrived in my PO box on Saturday but I did not get them until today, so it took 8 or 9 days enroute from HK to me in Idaho. The US Government does not usually charge duty on packages below at least $100, so there was no tax or duty to pay.

It is a small scale with a smallish platform, with a maximum weight limit of 1kg, but it will easily hold a ramekin or even a bottomless PF if balanced correctly. It takes two AAA batteries, which were not included, which is good, because sometimes one can receive very bad leaking batteries provided free with cheap Chinese electronics and it is better to just avoid that; I received an LCD flashlight once (from another company) that was ruined by the "free" batteries that were shipped installed within it. There is a protective top black plastic cover which must be removed to expose the weighing surface, even though the scale gives the appearance that it might work with the cover in place (it won't).

I compared this scale with my Myweigh i300, which will take a maximum of 300g of weight, and which cost 3x as much as this one, plus shipping. I weighed several small items weighing 150g or so, and the scales consistently differed by about 0.5g. Of course, there is no knowing which one is correct, but for our purposes it doesn't matter because we are going to Tare the recepticle for the coffee in any event, be it a ramekin or a Portafilter.

What I found was that the two scales, after Tare-ing, read EXACTLY the same, to the 1/10th of a gram, of a 15g sample of ground coffee.

So, for $11, there isn't much to lose, and even though I have no idea how long the thing will last, I think it will last a while and is well worth its price. The Myweigh is much larger, more sturdy, and perhaps slightly easier to use, but not enough so to feel that it is worth a price of more than 3x what this one costs, when one includes the shipping.

Happy weighing!

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955


#95: Post by atao »

so with the 14g or 15g underdosed shots, how many fluid oz of espresso are people pulling? i.e. are you pulling the same volume of as you were with overdosed baskets?


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Team HB

#96: Post by another_jim »

I stop shots when they blond; and the volume on low dosed shots tends to be a bit less. I'm not sure about this part, but I'm getting the sense that the best taste comes when the flow rate is about the same regardless of dose, and the shot time a bit less for lowered doses.
Jim Schulman


#97: Post by Richard »

atao wrote:so with the 14g or 15g underdosed shots
Underdosed in comparison to what?

With the Cimbali double baskets (58mm in diameter) in a Cimbali M21, I routinely dose Terroir's coffees in the range of 14 - 14.5 g, pulling ca. 1.5-1.75 oz in around 25 seconds. With the Spaziale double baskets (53mm in diameter), I find the dose working best in the range of 12-12.5g, pulling ca. 1.0-1.5 oz in around 20-25 seconds.

This seems to reflect what another_jim just wrote, "stop[ping] shots when they blond . . . low dosed shots tend[ing] to be a bit less . . . the flow rate is about the same . . . and the shot time a bit less for lowered doses."
-- Richard

Ken Fox (original poster)

#98: Post by Ken Fox (original poster) »

atao wrote:so with the 14g or 15g underdosed shots, how many fluid oz of espresso are people pulling? i.e. are you pulling the same volume of as you were with overdosed baskets?

Only in N. America would 14 or 15g shots be called "underdosed."

I'm finding that when my grinders are set correctly, that it takes about 25-30 seconds in most cases to pull ~1.25 to 1.5 oz, after which the shot blonds and I cut it.

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955


#99: Post by courghan »

Hello all,

I been have following this really interesting post and I feel I can share my "personal" espresso experience. I am Italian and I have been living in Dublin, Ireland, for the past 3 years. I started my home-barista experience last year and started using the techniques I could mainly read of on the web, which mostly indicates the 30lb tamp as the way to go. I did use to get good shots but also a low level of consistency and a point I started to think if it was worth all the effort (adjusting grind frequently, dosing, distributing, WDT etc...) for an espresso which at my place, in Rome, takes a few seconds to be made.
Then I went back home last week and, as a home-barista wannabe, I went to my favorite bars (in Italy a bar is where you go for breakfast and lunch) and looked at how the espresso was made. It looks so simple and tastes so good.
What they all do is a non-full basket and a very very light tamp! Most places actually just gently push the PF up onto the plastic built-in tamper in the grinders! I haven't seen a barista using a professional "tamper" is actually quite hard to find one to buy! So, I got some of my favorite espresso blend (Tazza d'Oro), roasted only an hour before and brought it back to Dublin where all the gear is...and I have to agree that a smaller dose, very light tamp and maybe a little polishing at the end does produce an much more enjoyable espresso than overdosing and 30lb tamp (IMO of course!) !
Some really experienced professional barista actually explained me that if the coffee is perfectly ground you do not even have to tamp as the bed of water between the shower screen and the puck will do all the job.
Although my reply may not be 100% "on-topic" I have to admit that maybe producing a very good cup of espresso does not have to be that hard...

I also want to say that virtually nobody drinks double espressos in Italy...that may also explain the difference in the blends and the taste the machines are designed to produce in the cup...

Ken Fox (original poster)

#100: Post by Ken Fox (original poster) replying to courghan »

You raise many interesting points. Before I comment I would first like to apologize to Andy Schecter for using this post, once again, to "repeat myself." I do this only because we N. Americans (and other home users who follow the N. American based boards) have been sold a huge bill of goods, a big ration of MALARKY, that we have adhered to since we got into this passion for coffee and espresso. It is going to take many more posts and threads like this one to overcome the tons and tons of horse poop that pass for espresso making instructions on the internet coffee sites.

Let me expound on what I'll call The Big Lie:

Like any big lie, there are a few nuggets of truth, that are hidden within and which seem to give credence to the rest of it, but in reality these nuggets of truth are like the edible bit of cheese you might cut out of the center of a piece of 8 year old cheese that has green mold (and maybe insects) all over it :P ; not enough to justify the purchase!

The central thesis of the big lie is that making espresso is difficult, requiring months or years of training; afterall, espresso making is a skill, kind of like brain surgery! And you wouldn't want your noggin operated on by just any old Italian bar man, would you? Speaking of those Italians (the theory goes), they are kind of lazy and complacent and they don't do any research on espresso machines because they are happy making the crap they have been making all these years, so why bother? And by the way, they use cheap coffee in their blends to save money and then they ship boatloads of the old stale crap coffee over here to distant shores, trying to sell it for premium prices with the mystique of being Italian and hence it must be good.

The nugget of truth in this story is yes, they do use fairly uninteresting and cheaper coffee in many of their blends and yes they do ship the stuff over here when it is already too far gone, too stale, to be worth using. Simply by using better coffees, many N. American roasters have been able to produce superior roasted coffees and blends; there is no question about that.

The malarky part is that espresso making is difficult and requires great skill and care. In fact, espresso making is very simple, so simple that when done properly, as the machines were designed to work, the basics could be taught in half an hour. No wonder the Italian barmen make it look easy; It is easy.

Where we went wrong in N. America, and in the enthusiast community was in cramming too much coffee into the PF baskets. This fits in very well with what I'll call the North American Ethos; this is that if 1 tsp of sugar is good, than 2 are better; if 4 months in an oak barrel makes a good Chablis, why not make the American Chardonnay with 12 months in the oak? If a portion of food that can be eaten by a normal person without becoming fat is good, why not serve him twice as much?

French people I have met, both in France and here in the USA, often say that everything over here is "trop," or "too much." They have a point, and this view is not just unique to French people, it is shared by most western Europeans. So why not use 43% more coffee than the Italians designed their espresso machines to work with? It's the American way! This is the mentality we are dealing with here. We have met the enemy and it is . . . . us :P

As a result of these myths, that we over here in N. America know better, and that a better espresso is made with 18 or 20 or god forbid 24g of coffee, people have to jump through all sorts of hoops just to get the espresso machine to force the water through all that coffee, without spraying coffee all over the counter or even on the ceiling! And the result is not really espresso, it is a caricature of an espresso. Like that plate of tasteless food piled high to the ceiling, it is uniquely American.

And if that is what you, my fellow home espresso enthusiasts, want to drink, I say, I hope to hell that you enjoy it.

Maybe we could, instead, take the best of both worlds and start to really make the worlds best espresso over here! All that would take is to use the better coffees we are willing to pay for, and then use the espresso machine to make espresso with the amount of coffee that it was designed to use in the first place! That would be my suggestion.

To those who doubt these ideas, I make one simple suggestion. Buy yourself a scale that can weigh out to increments of 0.1g, which seems like overkill but their accuracy is actually a bit less than it appears so this is the right sort of scale to buy. Adjust your grinder so that you can dose in the range of 12-15g per double shot. Dispense with all your former silly espresso making routines, and compare the results to what you have been getting previously, but give this approach enough time to really judge the results. You may need to use different coffees or blends than before, since many were designed for updosing, but I think you will be happy with the results of this technique, for which the machines were designed in the first place.

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955