Newbie dosing & tamping questions

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

#1: Post by kav »

I've been having a great time pulling shots with fresh coffee on my new machine, but have a few super-newby (and probably too anal) questions that I'm feel safe enough here to ask you:

1. I just got a scale and realize that I've been hugely overdosing my Anita's 58mm double basket (22g). When I bring that down to 18g, there's absolutely no "heaping" pile before I tamp -- it's just barely to the top of the basket. Is this normal? Distribution seems dicier when the pile of fresh grounds isn't heaping.

2. My 58mm tamper seems to leave about 1mm wide by 3mm tall of untamped coffee around the entire edge of the basket. I've been just blowing this out into the sink (making a big mess). Should I stop worrying about this, or is it better to keep the basket clean to reduce grounds clogging the grouphead? Is this a second indication that maybe my double basket is too big?

3. When I tamp the basket out of the portafilter (which helps me right now as I try to get more consistent at dosing), and then snap the basket back into the portafilter, the "snap" of the portafilter's spring gives the full basket a pretty good jolt, which may (or may not) shake the tamp a bit loose. Taking the spring out would eliminate the usefulness of my knockbox. Any suggestions?


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#2: Post by malachi »

1 - are you using a triple basket? are you "settling" the coffee by tapping, shaking or rapping the portafilter?

2 - i flip the portafilter upside down over the knockbox to get rid of such loose grounds. if it really bothers you, you could get Reg Barber to make you a piston the fits exactly.

3 - dose with the basket in the portafilter.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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#3: Post by HB »

Adding to Chris' comments, allow me to weigh in with my unabridged twenty-five cents worth...

General comment first: Although there's slight differences from machine-to-machine, you can read Espresso Performance of the Andreja Buyer's Guide for a good overview. Chris' cribsheet for the Bricoletta also serves as an excellent outline for many machines, not just the Bricoletta.

Specifically to your questions:
  1. Heaping grounds? Distribution and measurement techniques abound. Weighing is repeatable with the same blend, but it will vary widely across blends. For example, the Daterra Reserve that I tried recently was much denser than Black Cat. In the end, most prefer volume measures and I recommend checking the puck-to-head clearance. Some machines like almost none, some like a lot. In my experience, Anita's big sister Andreja preferred about a nickel's worth of clearance (2mm).
  2. Untamped grounds along the edge? See Does a good center tamp take care of the sides? I'm a four corner tamper myself.
  3. Tamping the basket outside the portafilter. Some like this approach, others don't. During testing I'll remove the spring and tamp outside the basket so I can weigh each shot. Otherwise I go by volume alone; it isn't difficult to get within 0.3 grams by volume shot-to-shot. The key is settling the grounds the same way (one tap, two tap, etc.) at the same point (half full, three quarter full, etc).
Finally, here's some additional recommend reading from this site: And for more in-depth treatment:(That should handle any sleep-related issues as well.)
Dan Kehn

kav (original poster)

#4: Post by kav (original poster) »

Thanks Chris!

1 - It's the double that came with Anita. Maybe I'll ping Chris' Coffees about it and see what they say. I do have a triple too (came with the bottomless PF) but I haven't tried using it.

2 - Thanks, I'll give that a try.

3 - Yeah, this is probably only an issue until I learn to dose consistently, when I'll go back to dosing in the PF.

kav (original poster)

#5: Post by kav (original poster) »

Thanks Dan -- that clarifies a lot of things for me, especially about the density of the Daterra. I'd really prefer to dose by volume, rather than measure out beans or weigh a basket each time.

The suggested reading has been great, and I'd forgotten about the 4-corners tamp. Time to take another pass through it!