How to consistently dose coffee for a traditional espresso

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
sjjan

#1: Post by sjjan »

Lets take my own personal coffee amount preference for granted which is approx. 7 to 14 grams of coffee in the basket (approx. 7 for straight single espresso's and approx. 14 in a larger size basket making 2 espresso's) then my question is the following:

How can you combine an aim of using only about 7 grams of coffee for a single or 14 grams for a double with grooming methods suggested by many like Scott Rao such as the NSEW, Stockfleth's Move or WDT methods? These grooming methods can in my eyes hardly ever deliver you the coffee amount I would like in my drinks. I have tried many baskets and do not see why these methods are in use or promoted (even now in Barista training programs here in Europe).

Is my guess that these grooming methods were introduced to bring in consistency in making consistently dosed drinks correct? That it was probably the best method found to get a consistent amount of fresh grounded coffee in a basket/PF? After all, you cannot dispatch the lever anymore on the doser of the grinder if you grind on-demand for each cup.

Could it be that using a grinder like my Macap M4D doserless grinder could help me get approx. 7 or 14 grams of coffee in my PF which after simply distributing/straightening by hand or with a straightened paperclip and lightly tamped will produce consistent shots without any problems with tunneling and without having to use any of the grooming methods?

Another question: why do I get naked portafilters delivered with a deep basket meant for double espresso's? Can't I just make only one espresso with a naked portafilter?

Greetings,

Sjoerd Jan

zin1953

#2: Post by zin1953 »

sjjan wrote:Can't I just make only one espresso with a naked portafilter?
Sure. Why not? I use both single baskets and double baskets in a naked (bottomless) portafilter.

While I do not weigh the coffee in each and every basket I fill, I do pull out my scale every 3-4 weeks or so just to "double check" that I'm not developing any bad habits. The scale measures to one-tenth of a gram, and as long as I'm between 14.0-14.5 grams for a double, and 7.0-7.5 grams per single, I'm a happy camper. With that much in the baskets, there is plenty of room in either the single or double basket to use the various methods (NSEW, Stockfleth, WDT) you mention.

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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malachi

#3: Post by malachi »

sjjan wrote: How can you combine an aim of using only about 7 grams of coffee for a single or 14 grams for a double with grooming methods suggested by many like Scott Rao such as the NSEW, Stockfleth's Move or WDT methods? These grooming methods can in my eyes hardly ever deliver you the coffee amount I would like in my drinks. I have tried many baskets and do not see why these methods are in use or promoted (even now in Barista training programs here in Europe).
I'm confused.
Are you saying that, when you try using the methods listed, you end up with too much coffee in the basket? Too little?
Are you saying that you end up with an inconsistent amount (a different amount shot to shot)?
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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another_jim
Team HB

#4: Post by another_jim »

Here's a way to be consistent:

When you tamp, you should have your fingers on the tamper's edge. So use your fingers how to feel how deep you are in the basket. This will get you within about 1/3 gram, same as using a filled doser. When changing grinders or roast levels you need to recheck and recalibrate

It is completely impossible to become consistent at dosing any weight whatsoever without occasionally weighing, so you will need a 0.1 gram scale.

Personally, I use the pocket scale sold on Ebay. I leave it on the grinder forks, and have the basket on that. This lets me weigh doses without adding any time to making the shot (I've always used the basket, rather than the PF, for dosing)
Jim Schulman

Ken Fox

#5: Post by Ken Fox »

sjjan wrote:Lets take my own personal coffee amount preference for granted which is approx. 7 to 14 grams of coffee in the basket (approx. 7 for straight single espresso's and approx. 14 in a larger size basket making 2 espresso's) then my question is the following:

How can you combine an aim of using only about 7 grams of coffee for a single or 14 grams for a double with grooming methods suggested by many like Scott Rao such as the NSEW, Stockfleth's Move or WDT methods?
If you dose as you describe you will not need any fancy methods or any books to produce consistently good and classical espressos (assuming for the moment you are using good and fresh coffee that agrees with your taste). These techniques were developed to try to prevent channeling which naturally occurs when you try to cram 18 or 20 (or more) grams of coffee into a double basket. It is your espresso machine's way of trying to tell you that you have done something wrong, like the last time you ate a pepperoni pizza and went to bed immediately afterwards :mrgreen:

All you need to do is to have your grinder properly adjusted and the espresso will more or less make itself. When was the last time you saw a good Italian barista in a good bar do anything more than a perfunctory tamp? Have you ever seen any of these fancy "barista skills/behaviors" practiced by a self-respecting Italian barman? Yet Italy is the only country on this planet where you can choose a bar more or less at random and be (almost) assured of being served a drinkable espresso.

Do as the Italians do. Dose within the limits your espresso machine was designed for. Do a very perfunctory tamp (no more than 3 seconds allowed!) which will do everything you will need to do in the way of distribution and tamping. Voila! You will have a nice shot!

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

sjjan

#6: Post by sjjan »

Chris,

What I mean is that with the described methods and having tried a dozen different baskets I get most often way too much coffee in a double basket and with one single basket I could twice not even get the basket/PF again attached to the espresso machine as there was not enough headspace above the coffee. Also, the amount of coffee in the double basket is more than twice the amount of coffee in a single basket. I think these grooming methods are only suitable for those that want more coffee in their basket like some do in North America but now also in Europe. And it is suitable for situations like in a cafe where there is no timer attached to a grinder and a barista wants to grind to order and otherwise has no way to know how to dose consistent amounts of coffee in his basket.

What I see happening here in Europe is that barista's that join World or international barista championships see how North American barista's groom their coffee and most likely imitate it. Or they might work during the day in a cafe where there is no other way to get a consistent shot of coffee from the grinder other than using the grooming methods such as NSEW method when the doser on the grinder cannot be filled anymore with coffee to give approx. 7 grams of coffe per one click or move of the handle. Now you grind to order for each drink you make and you have no clue when you have approx. 7 or 14 grams of coffee in your basket and using a scale in a busy cafe is not practical.

So, I think the NSEW and other grooming methods being promoted should not be promoted for situations like in the home where you have time and can use a grinder with a timer to get a proper dose every time or when someone has a doserless grinder setup with a timer like the M4D (which is propably too slow for use in busy cafe's).

sjjan

#7: Post by sjjan »

Ken,

I agree with your observations.

Sjoerd Jan

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#8: Post by RapidCoffee »

sjjan wrote:Lets take my own personal coffee amount preference for granted which is approx. 7 to 14 grams of coffee in the basket...
Hi Sjoerd Jan, and welcome to H-B. Your introductory statement on this thread says it all: your dosing preference is 7g for singles and 14g for doubles. And that's fine. Enjoy!
sjjan wrote:So, I think the NSEW and other grooming methods being promoted should not be promoted for situations like in the home where you have time and can use a grinder with a timer to get a proper dose every time or when someone has a doserless grinder setup with a timer like the M4D (which is propably too slow for use in busy cafe's).
Ah, but this is another beast entirely. Now you are setting yourself up as an authority, telling the rest of the world what techniques to use and what the "proper" dose must be. IMHO this restrictive and proscriptive attitude has little to justify it. Even if busy Italian espresso bars have standardized on this methodology, that does not automatically mean it is the best for every coffee and every machine. Many practices that work well in a commercial environment do not necessarily translate well to home use.

Dose and grind are variables that can be used to manipulate the flavor profile in a shot. Ken has done us all a service by focusing attention on dosing practices. But insisting that every coffee, every grind, every basket, and every machine must use exactly X grams is a dogma that I, for one, do not subscribe to.
John

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sweaner
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#9: Post by sweaner »

I'm surprised that 14 grams in a double basket is way too much. When I weigh 14 grams it does not nearly overflow the basket, and I assume my baskets are similar to yours. When I try to cram 20 grams into a double I will run into this "problem."
Scott
LMWDP #248

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GC7
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#10: Post by GC7 »

I have found that a scale is the only way to at least initially train yourself to find and consistently use the dose that fits your own tastes. I learned that 14- 14.5 gm. is what gives me the best flavor profiles in the cup for every blend I've tried. That does barely gets to the top or above the rim of my double baskets yet it is simple to distribute (after wdt) with my finger and get good pulls without evident channeling time after time. Get a scale!

Good luck -