Updosing - what and why?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

Postby mathof » Feb 08, 2018, 10:18 am

I'm not sure what up-dosing is. Does it mean using more coffee in the basket (than is one's normal practice) and offsetting that by grinding coarser, while maintaining brew ratio? And what is gained by it, besides more liquid in the cup?



Postby *sigh* » replying to mathof » Feb 08, 2018, 12:07 pm

Yep, updosing is just using a large dose in the basket. In can be done for a few reasons. Sometimes there's too much headspace between the puck and the shower head, so updosing can help with ensuring you get nice even extraction. For example, 18g of a really dark roast generally will occupy more space then 18g of a light roast, so you'll need to adjust your dose to be correct for your basket. Baskets generally have a range, take the VST baskets, a 18g VST is really meant to use anywhere from 17-19g of coffee.

Updosing is also a really helpful tool when you're using not as fresh of coffee, you can updose and cut your extraction a bit shorter to compensate for the lack of freshness.

Updosing typically is not used purely to get a large beverage mass, its normally more of a method to troubleshoot shot issues.


Postby mathof » Feb 09, 2018, 7:09 am

Thanks very much for that. I think I also read somewhere that it is useful to improve extraction when pulling lightly roasted beans, although I don't quite see why that is the case or how it work.



Postby *sigh* » replying to mathof » Feb 09, 2018, 11:21 am

The only thing I can think of is just making sure you have your basket filled to the proper level. There are some light coffees I have to up dose .5-1g to keep the clearance between the headspace at the appropriate level which generally definitely aids in even extraction through the puck.

Not sure how else it would improve extraction, but that doesn't mean there isn't something else I'm missing, I'd be curious to know if there is something else.

User avatar
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Feb 09, 2018, 1:41 pm

All things being equal, a lower dose requires a finer grind; a higher dose a coarser grind. Since the extraction is dependent on grind fineness, a higher dose/coarser grind shot will be less extracted than the lower dose/finer grind shot. That's all there is to it.
Jim Schulman


Postby mathof » replying to another_jim » Feb 09, 2018, 2:44 pm

Thanks. What you say is in accord with my experience, although I can't say that I've often had occasion to search for lower extractions, particularly not with light roasts.


User avatar

Postby Peppersass » Feb 09, 2018, 3:28 pm

Updosing, as the term has been used in the recent past, is part of a technique for taming dark roasts, not light roasts. The technique involves updosing and pulling Ristretto.

As Jim points out, if you keep the brew ratio constant you must grind coarser to maintain the same flow rate. The coarser grind extracts less from the coffee. If you updose and use a higher brew ratio (i.e., pull Ristretto), you'll extract even less from the coffee and the flavors will be more concentrated.

Updosing was commonly used in specialty circles 7-8 years ago and earlier, when most espresso roasts were pretty dark. If you ran them at a 14g dose and 1:2 brew ratio, the result was often a bitter and roasty cup. Unlike Italian espresso roasts, there was no Robusta content to tame the bitterness. In an effort to compensate, baristas would updose and pull Ristretto. This tended to tame the bitterness, but wasn't effective for curing the roasty flavors, which are inherent in darker roasts.

At about that time there was a big shift to lighter roasts in order to reduce or eliminate the roasty flavors and allow subtle varietal flavors to come thorugh. But light roasts are harder to extract, so there was a corresponding shift away from updosing to lower doses, finer grinding, lower brew ratios, longer pull times and long, slow preinfusion (the "Slayer method").

FWIW, even further back in history, baristas regarded the dose as simply dictating the amount of brewed coffee to be produced. In Italy, a 7g single meant (and still means) one ounce of coffee in the cup, while a 14g double means 28g in the cup (1:2 brew ratio in both cases.) If they bother to change the grind you probably won't notice much because the dark roast won't offer up any subtle varietal flavor and the Robusta tames the bitterness.

User avatar

Postby slipchuck » Feb 09, 2018, 3:41 pm

another_jim wrote:All things being equal, a lower dose requires a finer grind; a higher dose a coarser grind. Since the extraction is dependent on grind fineness, a higher dose/coarser grind shot will be less extracted than the lower dose/finer grind shot. That's all there is to it.

I am definitely no expert but I find that if the grind is too fine, my shots start to turn bland

“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

User avatar

Postby Peppersass » Feb 09, 2018, 6:24 pm

slipchuck wrote:I am definitely no expert but I find that if the grind is too fine, my shots start to turn bland

This is probably caused by over-extraction of a lighter roast, which tends to diminish acidity and flatten the taste. If you over-extract a darker roast it'll do the same, but you'll get tell-tale bitter notes.

Contrary to what some in the refractometer camp seem to believe, more extraction is not always better. And I say that as an early adopter and proponent of using refractometers for what they're good at doing.

User avatar

Postby lancealot » Feb 09, 2018, 8:44 pm

Haha, this coffee stuff is crazy. Actually, the more experience I get, the simpler it becomes, go figure. Here's my story...

I am glad this question came up. My updosing saga went like this. I had 5 lbs of a medium roasted blend. I had pulled darker blends from this roaster before but not this blend. I waited 7 days to pull. At 18:36 it had an acidity I didn't like (sour). So I went about getting rid of the acidity by fining up my grind and pulling the same ratio. A few shots later, I found bitter and lost acidy. I didn't like JUST bitter and so I coarsened up the grind until I found a balance. But I didn't like this blend's acidity. So the next day I messed with reducing the dose and playing with the grind. No luck. Still couldn't get the acidity to become a flavor I liked.

Then, the next morning, I looked at the roasters recs: 20:40, so I up-dosed my double basket, coarsening my grind to get the shot time between 30-36 sec. Boom! sour acidity gone. Completely. But the pull was a little long in time so I coarsened again. Now the acidity was a nice fruit flavor and subtle. I was like "wow updosing." Then at 10 days post roast, I froze the remaining 4 lbs and enjoyed the coffee for the following weeks.

I moved on to other blends and just came back to the one described above. I was like, "i wonder why that updosing thing worked?" I thought through the little I know about extraction and couldn't figure it out. I thought, "if increasing the dose and coarsening the grind reduces extraction, why would the sour go away?" I looked at my notes, and went to pulling the coffee at 7 days, in the updosed amount. Agrgggg! Sour! Why didn't the updose trick work???? Well, 3 days passed, the coffee hit 10 days post roast and the sour transformed to a nice subtle fruit flavor. Go figure.

So I thought my updosing did something to the flavor, but i never made sense to me. It turns out that really, the beans hit the right age for the acidity to mellow out. At least, that is what I think now :wink: