This may seem like a dumb question, but how do I start adjusting gram dosings in espresso? What is a reliable way that you guys use in a cafe setting to know exactly how many grams you are putting in the portafilter? I ask because I keep reading over and over again the importance of knowing how many grams you use for what type of shot/basket/time ect. and I guess I just don't know how to do that. It seems like such a basic thing that I get the feeling it is an afterthought for some of you. So that leads me to wonder what I'm missing out on. How do I measure how many grams I use? And what does that mean for how the shot will come out? What are the benefits of adjusting the dosage? What are some things to remember that will make adjusting dosage easier in an effort to improve my shot quality?

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i think the main thing that helps me is just my technique. so i turn the grinder on, start flipping the doser, get a good mound, lightly settle against the dosing fork, grinder off, dose just a touch more, level it off slightly concave to the top of the portafilter basket, and then tamp. that usually puts me right at 18g for a double.

best way to work on your technique is grab a scale that measures to the gram, do your usual thing, and then weigh the dry puck. just pop the basket out of the portafilter, weigh it, then subtract whatever an empty basket weighs. if you get 14-19g, you're in the right range. just adjust your technique accordingly.

the biggest thing that helped me in the past was settling the coffee in the basket before i tamp. before i did that my doses were inaccurate, afterwards they were spot-on.

watch lots of competition videos at www.worldbaristachampionship.com too, see how they do it.
using a gram scale, tare the scale with an empty porta filter, then do your grind, dose, level, and place the loaded portafilter back on the scale... repeat until you achieve robot like accuracy... disregard any protocol, and let your tastebuds be your guide, observing the differences you get from varying throw weights...
these two pretty much covered it, only thing I have to add is a little common sense warning. If you have a cheap scale be really careful to not max it out with your porta filter or by trying to gauge your tamping pressure, it can permanently damage the sensors/springs and the precise gram measurements you need daily will be off. A nickel should weigh 5g.
Thanks for your help guys. But what is the BENEFIT of adjusting levels??? Is it just that some espressos taste better at certain dosages, or is it something more than that?
to answer that question, just work with your espresso. do a 15g double, then a 16g double, etc. find out what you like better, then stick with it.

obviously the accepted standard range is about 14-19g, but within that range you can make adjustments depending on what your taste buds tell you.

michael phillips at the WBC pulled a 17g double for his espresso, an 18g double for his cappuccinos, and a 19g double for his signature drinks. he found that each dose worked in its respective way.
Cool. Thanks. Good luck on your shop!
Please understand that I am not a barista but an interested home espresso maker. I am a bit anal about most things and when I first began my interest in espresso making I was puzzled by the same question. After a lot of research I decided to buy the Mahlkonig K30 Vario for the very reason of your question. This grinder dispenses doses by time/seconds. Obviously the more time the more grams of coffee it grinds and dispenses. With my handy food scale I measured how much time is required to dispense 7 gms and 14gms and programs two buttons accordingly. After some adjustments I have settled on 1.7 seconds for a single dose and 3.9 for a double. We prefer a bit stronger so these settings give us what we want consistently cup after cup without having to guess the amount of grinds in the portafilter basket.
Besides taste, what else is there?

Daniel Williamson said:
Thanks for your help guys. But what is the BENEFIT of adjusting levels??? Is it just that some espressos taste better at certain dosages, or is it something more than that?
In my short experience I am finding with every different coffee both the volume and the coarseness has to be adjusted.

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
Besides taste, what else is there?

Daniel Williamson said:
Thanks for your help guys. But what is the BENEFIT of adjusting levels??? Is it just that some espressos taste better at certain dosages, or is it something more than that?
Haha! Right you are, Mike. Right you are.

miKe mcKoffee aka Mike McGinness said:
Besides taste, what else is there?

Daniel Williamson said:
Thanks for your help guys. But what is the BENEFIT of adjusting levels??? Is it just that some espressos taste better at certain dosages, or is it something more than that?
Dosing is just one piece of the puzzle in adjusting the taste of your espresso. Other things to consider are grind, tamp pressure, extraction temperature, and - thanks to recent tech - brew pressure and preinfusion time. Dosing is a pretty big part, though, because it has perhaps the largest effect on your brewing ratio (the amount of coffee/fines extracted per volume of water) or, in the case of espresso, the quantity of espresso we can extract before the shot goes blond. For instance, a single ristretto is a shot pulled with a higher brew ratio because less water is poured through the usual amount of coffee so that there is little or no blonding, resulting in a generally sweeter, heavy-bodied espresso. A true double pulled with the same quantity of coffee, however, will result in a comparatively astringent, less heavy espresso as a result of the lower brew ratio and more blonding.

Consider this as you adjust your dose amounts. More coffee will usually result in heavier, sweeter espresso and less will give you less sweetness and body. Neither is objectively considered better than the other and it's up to you to decide what works best for your coffee. Different doses will bring different qualities. Some will use different doses for different applications such as straight shots vs. lattes and caps. Also, all things being constant, larger doses will mean longer shot times. This isn't a bad thing and I would encourage you not to let the times be a huge factor. It also helps to find out as much as you can about the coffee you're using as this can give you a good starting point. Unwashed, darker roasted coffee generally requires a smaller dose than washed, light roasted coffee but this is just a basic reference and, when it comes down to it, you'll probably just need to do a lot of experimenting on your own.

Again, though, dosing is just one of many things to consider and every change you make affects everything else. For instance, if you get dosing down and want to start messing with your temperature, it will change the taste and feel of the espresso all over again and you'll have to get back into finding the right dose for that temperature. The goal is to find the perfect combination of dose, grind, tamp, and temperature for the coffee you're using and there are a lot of competing philosophies and ideologies on how to do this. When it comes down to it, it's your bar and your palate so if a certain method takes you in a direction that you think is having a negative affect on your espresso, scrap it. It's a lot to toy with but it's also a lot of fun if you can keep from getting frustrated and the payoff will be a great shot of espresso that you can take pride in and the knowledge that you are using your coffee to it's maximum potential.
Hi
A single shot should be 8 grams and double 16grams.
A espresso should be single but a long black as we call it in Australia should be a double.
A latte should be single but a strong latte should be double.
More important is getting the grind correct because that effects the strength and taste
http://www.bluepod.com.au

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