Hi, I was just wondering if anyone has come across something similiar to me.  In the cafe we use a high dose, 20g at a brew ratio of 66% to produce very concentrated but quite harsh tasting shots.  The shots do however taste great as 12oz capps and americanos, even though as a straight shot, they're not too good.

With the same coffee we can produce lovely tasting straight shots at a much lower 14g dose, but these nice shots get completely lost when turned in the 12oz big capp or americano. 

Someone very smart told me that the 20g dose may taste well as capp/amer because of the large amount of coffee solids that gets extracted from the high dose which stand up to the large amount of milk or water well. 

They taste nasty as a espresso because the 20g shot is actually an under extracted shot, due to a coarser grind being used, compared to the perfectly extracted 14g dose.  (Both methods are done in the same size baskets using the same 66% brew ratio)

I just wondering has anyone else found the same thing, and is the answer to get all drinks tasting well,  to have 2 separate grinders, one running for espressos and the other dedicated for capps/amer set to different doses and grind. Or what approach would they take to get the 20g dose taste great as espresso as well?

Any suggestions or thoughts? I have many ideas on it but love to hear what ppl think.



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It begins with the specific flavor profile of the espresso you use. That will determine a lot.

I think it's best to create the best base possible. Espresso should always be dialed in to create the best tasting espresso. If you need to add additional shots, or recommend additional shots for medium and larger milk drinks, then do so and adjust your pricing accordingly.


+1 for what john said.  always always always have the shot taste great.

depending on our espresso, we typically fluctuate at any point between 18.5 grams dry and 19.5 grams dry.  Wet weights change accordingly to produce closer to 58-65% extractions.  We only use doubles in all of our drinks.  It helps that our largest hot espresso size is 12 ounces, and we only have a 16 ounce size for iced espresso beverages which translates to about a 12 ounce plus ice.  We find that the espresso shines through nicely in all the drinks.

I agree with the previous comments. Straight shot quality has always been my top priority. My old shop dosed 21 grams at ~75% brew ratio, resulting in sweet, rich, thick shots that were absolutely wonderful straight.

We did unfortunately make some larger sizes in milk/espresso drinks. For us, a double worked perfectly for 12oz drinks and two doubles was great for 20oz drinks. We also made 16oz drinks and had many debates over splitting shots vs. just going with a high or low dose.

All good comments guys, thanks a lot.  The guess the problem is that we've found the sweet spot to be at such a low dose of 14g.  No matter how tasty that shot is, it will just never stand up to the 12oz drink.  So I guess an answer like John P said, might be to up the quantity of shots in the drink.  In practice though in our very busy shop, it just wouldn't be possible to manage queues of ppl having to pull additional shots in every drink.  As well as the cost increase in the drink.

I might mess around again with the higher dose at differnt higher brew ratios to see if I can find a nice espresso, Eric's old place used high dose with a very high ratio, 75%.  I've never gone that high a ratio on it.  Will give it a try and see what happens. 

Daniel your nice tasting base that comes out well in the 12 oz is still at a pretty high dose of around 19g, still plenty of solids in there to cut through the milk, way more than the 14g.  I think I need to just forget the 14g dose altogether unless using something like a 8oz cup and try experiment more with higher doses and different ratios.  I'm sure there's more than one sweet spot in a coffee! Just gotta find it

Great suggestions, very helpful guys, thanks!

Granted.  Just letting you know what we do. 

Paul G said:

Daniel your nice tasting base that comes out well in the 12 oz is still at a pretty high dose of around 19g, still plenty of solids in there to cut through the milk, way more than the 14g.  I think I need to just forget the 14g dose altogether unless using something like a 8oz cup and try experiment more with higher doses and different ratios.  I'm sure there's more than one sweet spot in a coffee! Just gotta find it

hi paul

I have also encountered the issue you're talking about and a few suggestions come to mind,

1. consider extracting at a lower brew rario of 50% for example, I work with a coffee that tastes best at 19g and 65% ratio but that doesn't cut well through the milk and I found that extracting it at 50% makes for a good shot and gives more punch to milk drink as the milk to coffee ratio is lower.

2. consider getting a 20g or 22g VST baskets which are designed especially to allow proper extraction with those high doses.

3. yes have 2 grinders! we have that at my work now where we use different blends for espresso and milk drinks, this is by far the best option. 

good luck

Hi Gera,

Thanks for the post and the interesting points.  Vst baskets seem to be highly recommended by all in the know, and are not expensive either which is great. 

Have been testing out a lot of doses and ratios the last few days and another sweet spot for our coffee seems to be 17g at 60%.  Lovely shots and quite good in the 12oz but still doesnt quite get on par with the 20g capps. (almost!)

I will have my hands on a VST refractometer in the next few weeks (finally!), it should be great to see whats actually going on at all these doses, are they extracting well percentage wise, TDS readings etc. 

One thing I just wanted to check with you, you said yr coffee tastes best at 19g, 65% ratio for shots, but you found at 50%, it cuts through milk better.  Is that definitely right? I would have thought 50% ratio means yr putting more water through the shot, making it more diluted, leading to a weaker cappuccino? 

I could be wrong here, but my understanding is the lower the ratio, the less concentrated the shot will be, which means a weaker capp using 50% rather than 65%?

Thanks again for yr input, great to hear other opinions :)  At the moment the 2 grinder option is working great too.


hi paul

ye you are right a 50% shot is more diluted than a 65% shot, but not by that much. for a 20g shot you're looking at a 40g vs 31g shot weight or you can think of it as pulling a 60ml shot compare to a 45ml shot from that 20g of coffee. the big factor here is the coffee to milk ratio. 

a 50% and a 65% from 20g of coffee should still extract the same if you do them right (18%-20% or so of solids), the smaller amount of water will make the 65% more concentrated but when combined with the milk less of the coffee flavour tends to come through than with the 50% shot. makes sense? 


Hey Gera,

I'll have to try that one out, I get that there's more actual liquid beverage using the 50% ratio, but strength in a cappucino should come from the amount of dissolved solids in it, which like you were saying, should be the same for both ratios if both extracted properly at 20g.

Having more water through the shot shouldn't increase overall strength in a cappucino??  Could the reason the 50% ratio tastes stronger be perhaps that for some reason the 65% ratio shots aren't extracting properly, not hitting the 18-20% range? Have u ever had a chance to test the two ratios on a refractometer at all?  Could one of them be over or under extracting?

Cheers for feedback


hi paul

no unfortunately i dont have a refractometer though i would like to get one when i have the money :)

It is very possible that 50% espresso has a higher extraction ratio and more dissolved solids than 65%, for an easy test you can compare even a double ristreto (80%-100%) in a 12oz drink vs a double esp (50%-60%) and see which one tastes stronger. I bet that the double espresso would win every time.

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