Changes in dosing and leveling technique from 58mm to 53mm basket

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
CoffeeOwl

#1: Post by CoffeeOwl »

Hi!

I have a question: what are the necessary changes in dosing and leveling technique from 58mm to 53mm?
I have trouble in Dave Schomer's technique application with 53m portafilter: if I do everything as described, the shower screen cuts the top of the puck.
Thanks for help
Pawel

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

David Schomer is not a good guide for filling baskets. When starting, never fill the basket so the puck touches the shower screen. The puck should have no imprint of the shower screen on it after the shot, this is the dose for which espresso machines are designed. They sometimes work at higher doses, but it is hugely easier to start with the design dose.

If you are worried that your espresso won't be strong enough, grind finer and make a smaller shot.
Jim Schulman

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#3: Post by cannonfodder »

Try the nickel test. That will get you a good starting point.
Dave Stephens

CoffeeOwl

#4: Post by CoffeeOwl »

I just put two spoons of coffee into the double basket and then I try to level it with my finger, letting some coffee fall down. Then it turns out that I left too much in the basket.
If I take off some coffee with just part of my finger, it leads towards channeling.
When I put less coffee in initially, it's hard to level it - my finger doesn't touch the coffee.
I thought it's due to the basket and group design -it's a Saeco Aroma (53mm basket).
As I am thinking of buying a serious machine and La Spaziale is in the range, I decided to ask if the problem isn't specific to 53mm baskets (and La Spaziale also has 53mm basket)
During leveling the coffee in the basket the basket size is important, as one's finger goes deeper into a 58mm basket then 53mm one.

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HB
Admin

#5: Post by HB »

CoffeeOwl wrote:When I put less coffee in initially, it's hard to level it - my finger doesn't touch the coffee.
Jim's point is that if you dose to the machine's design (= a lot less coffee than Schomer would), there's no need to fastidiously level / redistribute coffee; a reasonable evenness while dosing and a few jiggles of the basket to even the grounds out suffices. I've tried "normal dosing" around 14 grams as Ken Fox et al advocate and indeed the extra headspace does increase the margin of error. Remember that with the lower doses, you'll need a finer grind setting.
CoffeeOwl wrote:During leveling the coffee in the basket the basket size is important, as one's finger goes deeper into a 58mm basket then 53mm one.
Another option is a curved leveling tool like Ian's (cafeIKE):

Image
From Which basket for a fill, level then tamp 14g dose?

Luca mentioned that some pro baristas are using such implements to consistently dose below the rim:
luca wrote:Yeah, from memory PB's levelling device was shaped like an exponential curve. Clever. The next logical evolution was a much easier to use set of different curved plastic pieces. I suspect that a lot of people had the same idea, but credit goes to 2006 World Latte Art comp winner Scott Callaghan for actually making the set. (Don't know if he had PB's influence or not.) We have a set of Scotty's levelling tools at work. They're great for consistency between baristi and between baskets. Someone mentioned earlier in this thread that their single requires a lower dose than their double. This is exactly what we've found. We're using tool #6 for the double and the more curved #20 (from memory) for the single. I guess I should really take a photo at some stage.

Cheers,

Luca
I haven't read an update on these curved leveling tools, but I bet you could fashion one yourself using cheap plastic bowl scrapers and a pair of heavy duty scissors.
Dan Kehn

CoffeeOwl

#6: Post by CoffeeOwl »

THANKS!

Maybe one day I will invent something too :-)

gscace

#7: Post by gscace » replying to CoffeeOwl »

Hi:

It's a pretty good question that you pose. I'm presuming you are specifically interested in dosing for the La Spaz S-1? Compared to the 58mm machines I have used, the spaz requires more headspace above the coffee. I use a tool for levelling that is as cheesy as it gets. I use a curved plastic picnic knife. The result is pretty much identical to Ian and Luca's much cooler tools in that the surface of the cake is concave and clears the shower screen. With the spaz you should be able to lock in the pf, remove it and see no imprint from the shower screen. If you get an imprint, the cake will be disturbed and you'll get off-center pours (bottomless pf) and channeling.

FWIW La Spaz USA sells 3 different dispersion blocks (the brass bit on which the two shower screens mount). My machine came with the middle thickness, which was 15mm as I recall. I bought a thinner one, which I think works better. La Spaz USA is very nice to deal with and will UPS-COD a new block to your house for around 25 bux including shipping and COD fee.

Thanks to James Hoffman for turning me on to this particular tweak!

-Greg

CoffeeOwl

#8: Post by CoffeeOwl »

Thanks for appreciation!
Is it ok to use the tamper for levelling the loose coffee (after it's quite level inside the basket) ?
I have seen one barista in a cafe doing it. She levelled the coffee with a tamper (very delicately) and then tapped strongly the basket twice from the opposite sides, then tamped lightly and polished and then tamped hard and with the final polish.

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Niko

#9: Post by Niko »

gscace wrote: FWIW La Spaz USA sells 3 different dispersion blocks (the brass bit on which the two shower screens mount). My machine came with the middle thickness, which was 15mm as I recall. I bought a thinner one, which I think works better. La Spaz USA is very nice to deal with and will UPS-COD a new block to your house for around 25 bux including shipping and COD fee.

Thanks to James Hoffman for turning me on to this particular tweak!

-Greg
Greg,
Are you referring to the one with the circular pattern of holes? The only three I know of is the thick original (star-like pattern), the middle one (circular pattern) which ships with all current machines and the "other" one for Pods with a star-like pattern like the old one.

As for O.P., dosing on the Spaze takes a little more trickery but very easily done with bare hands (with practice). I have learned to bend my finger in unnatural ways :D and do amazing leveling in the Spaz baskets.
...and Greg is absolutely correct in saying that the Spaz needs more head room.