Double Dose/Tamp

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by Peppersass »

As a newbie, I need to taste more shots pulled by experienced baristas. In my rural hometown, this simply isn't possible. So, while on the road this week I took the opportunity to locate and try a better cafe near where I'm staying in NJ. There were some posts on CoffeeGeeks about Americas Cup in Asbury Park, so I dropped in this morning. (I'm sitting there now.)

Had a very good double, much better than anything I've had at our home cafes, and am now sipping on a decent double latte. Microfoam has some large bubbles, but otherwise tasty. They roast their own blend here.

Anyhow, I watched the barista prepare the shot, and she did a double fill and tamp: she filled the PF, did a full-force tamp, filled the PF again, and did another full force tamp.

Is this a typical technique? Obviously it gets a big dose in the basket, but doesn't the dual-level tamping increase the chance of gaps and channeling in the puck?

Also of note, the barista didn't attempt any distribution other than filling the PF evenly from the doser. She also held the cup (a somewhat large cappa cup) up to the spout during the first half of the pour. Wasn't sure why this was necessary, unless she was worried about side spurting (but the PF had a double spout.) Another possibility is that the coffee cools off less with a shorter path to the cup.

The grinder and machine were both by Astoria. Machine was a dual group Sibilla.)

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#2: Post by Peppersass (original poster) »


I spoke with the barista and she said she holds the cup close to the spout to avoid the stream splashing hard into the cup and thus disturbing the surface of the crema. She says it looks nicer that way. There appeared to be more distance between the PF and drop tray on the Sibilla than most home machines, so perhaps that explains it.

As for her dosing technique, she said she double tamped because I ordered a double. Her procedure is to fill the PF full, then tamp for a single. If it's a double, she fills and tamps again. She didn't say so, but I suspect she's calculated that this results in twice the dose. She seemed to know her stuff. Said she's been working at the cafe over two years, and made espresso at home for a long time before that. Her advice to me was to work on repeatable 30 lbs tamping pressure and get a gram scale to check my dosing.

She knew that Silvia is temperamental and said the cafe's Sibilla is like a Volkswagen: anyone can learn to drive it.

Anyway, I'm still wondering whether that double tamp is a good or bad idea. Any comments?


#3: Post by tamptamp »

I'm not entirely sure exactly what happened there. Was she dosing 7 grams, tamping, then dosing another 7 grams on top of that? Does that mean she is pulling a 7 gram shot from a double basket? I can't imagine that would work very well.

In general, tamping twice is a bad idea whether adding more coffee or not. If you think of all the ways to mess up a shot just by tamping once, you compound that when you tamp a second time. It's the same thing with tapping the portafilter twice to updose: tapping it exactly the same way each time is very difficult, tapping it exactly the same way twice everytime is nearly impossible.

I would say she should add as much coffee as she needs before the tamp in order to minimize the possibility of a bad shot.
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#4: Post by another_jim »

Unless a "single" is a two ounce, 15 second shot from 7 grams of coffee, the description doesn't work. It could be that singles are made using the same grind setting in a matching single basket; but the use of a single basket is rare in US cafes (order a single, and mostly they'll just use the other spout for someone else's triple shot)

For your own procedure, I would advise acquiring habits that don't waste time. You can learn to dose once and tamp once, so why get into the pointless habit of doing it twice? Spend the time you save learning to dose accurately, since inaccurate dosing is the number two reason for bad shots, and how to produce a level, non-channeling puck, since bad packing is the number one reason for bad shots.
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#5: Post by RapidCoffee »

dgreen wrote:Her procedure is to fill the PF full, then tamp for a single. If it's a double, she fills and tamps again. She didn't say so, but I suspect she's calculated that this results in twice the dose.
This doesn't add up. If you get a single dose by filling an empty basket, then how can you possibly double the amount by filling a basket that's already at least half full? :shock:

For most people, filling a double basket and tamping yields a double shot dose, typically 14-19g depending on the basket (see e.g. this thread). The double tamp protocol will almost certainly result in updosing.

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#6: Post by cannonfodder »

I once watched a barista pound on the portafilter with the tamper like she was driving nails to settle the grounds before she tamped. But their coffee tasted like drip tray sludge as well. Some baristas do silly things simply because they dont know better. Lack of training and knowledge on the owners part most of the time. I subscribe to the keep it simple theory. Skipping the leveling after the dose is not necessarily bad. Some grinders simply dont need the extra fussing but then again, that barista may simply not know better but one has to question those assumptions if the drinks are enjoyable.
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#7: Post by Randy G. »

I seem to agree with most of the responses- just because you do something for a long time does not mean you actually know what you are doing. her two years might just mean she was taught wrong and have been doing it wrong for two years- or at least to say, there are certainly better ways of pulling a double. My immediate impression would be that puck fracturing between the layers might be a problem. but the entire process, and the double tamp, would not be necessary if the proper basket was being used. And even if we ignore the product completely, she is putting double the stress on her wrist than is necessary. If I was her employer I would be worried abut that. Lawyers love finding out those sorts of silly things in liability and workmans' comp cases
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#8: Post by misterdoggy »

My impression reading posts about singles and doubles is that you dose differently for a single than a double. The single basket can be one reason, but just the dynamics present different resistance, so the theory of using a single dose for singles and add the same again for a double is flawed.

My big question is how she made it work ? Anyone should be able to see if the pour is correct, even after 2 years of doing the same thing day after day all day long. You think she would have figured it out. ?