Filling your Portafilter

All things beans. Discussions about green and roasted coffee beans - where to purchase them, how to roast them, how best to grind them for the S1/V2/Mini/Dream/Dream T. Also, discussions about grinder and roaster hardware.
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Filling your Portafilter

Post by boldstep » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:46 pm

Hi,
I'm curious in knowing people's approach to filling their portafilters for an espresso. I've noticed two major approaches to this: one is to just dose until the portafilter is filled with a heaping mound of coffee, level it out, tamp, etc. Using the technique it would seem that the amount of coffee (i.e. grams) in the PF depends on the grind but the volume is fairly constant. Alternatively, others weigh the amount of coffee (e.g. say 17.0g), level it out, tamp, etc. Using this approach, the volume changes depending on the grind but the amount of coffee is constant. I'd like to know which approach you use and why. Perhaps you have a different approach altogether! I'd like to hear about that too... thanks!!

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Post by zoey » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:04 pm

I weigh, grind, then dose the PF.
I level then tamp, tap lightly twice each at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions. Then, tamp again lightly.
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Post by JohnB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:54 pm

I've tried several different methods; weigh first, weigh after, dose into basket only, dose into p/f, ect. Now I weigh the beans allowing for some loss, grind for each shot, dose directly into the p/f, stir, tamp, pull shot.

Why? Because it works for me & simplifies the process. For a 16g dose I'll throw in 16.5g & call the resulting dose close enough. I drove myself crazy for the first 6-8 weeks after buying my 1st machine & it took all the fun out of it. Now I relax & do what works for me. Every shot may not be a God Shot but they are all definitely drinkable & thats fine with me.
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Post by bluesman13 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:44 pm

I'm sure Niko will weigh in here (<-- get it?)

I weigh in a dish, then transfer to the pf. I weigh because the Spaz is so sensitive to over dosing that I want to be sure not to do that. My usual dose is 15 grams.

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Post by boldstep » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:57 pm

Thanks for all your replies. So it seems most people weigh their beans...

Has anyone experimented with differing grams of coffee on the taste of the final shot (keeping extraction time constant by changing the grind)?

Steve, what do you mean by the Spaz is sensitive to overdosing? (I did get it by the way :lol: )[/quote]

bluesman13

Post by bluesman13 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:04 pm

boldstep wrote:Steve, what do you mean by the Spaz is sensitive to overdosing? (I did get it by the way :lol: )
[/quote]

Niko was the one who educated me on this. When I first got my Spaz, I attempted to overfill the basket and manually remove the excess.

Check out this witty reparte in this thread:
wforum/viewtopic.php?t=533&start=25

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Post by JohnB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:10 pm

I still don't see where the S1 is "sensitive to overdosing" or even what you consider overdosing. I do 18g doses regularly with no problems & hardly ever smaller then 16g. What do you see the machine do if you "overdose"?
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Post by Niko » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:18 pm

It's more prone to channeling when there isn't enough head space and the machine simply works better with a longer dwell since it doesn't have a true pre-infusion. Remember, these are European machines designed to be dosed with 14 grams for a double - not the monstrous American standards like most things :lol:
This all depends on the bean of course and if you look around, there are people who prefer to under-dose the machine. I myself stay somewhere in the middle, 15 grams is the most I cram in it these days which includes the little bit that gets lost (just like John mentioned). I only weight the beans before the grinder and the consistency is good enough for me as well :wink:

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Post by JohnB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:24 pm

[quote="Niko"]It's more prone to channeling when there isn't enough head space and the machine simply works better with a longer dwell since it doesn't have a true pre-infusion. Remember, these are European machines designed to be dosed with 14 grams for a double - not the monstrous American standards like most things :lol:
T/quote]

By "dwell" are you referring to the time it takes the water to initially get through the ground coffee? Exactly how does the machine "work better"? i.e. what problems have you experienced with larger does?
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Post by Niko » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:50 pm

Yeah, that's what dwell is.
In my experience, overdosing does "tend" to channel more easily than under-dosing PF. I have no problem either way, I can cram more or slightly less and get pretty much the same results depending on the bean. It sounds like you're on the same boat. I've talked with several people who seemed to agree with under-dosing the machine is better, I've tried it and agreed with them and then again I've crammed it like you and pulled longer shots :P
Wow, I should be in politics! :lol:

BUT.
...now hear this, these damn baskets are so different that some fit 16 grams to the top and some even more!
I own a particular double basket that falls in the freak department.
So depending which style of basket you own, we can be talking about apples when we really mean oranges :?

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Post by bbqnut » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:05 pm

Ask yourself the ultimate question: Do you weigh your water?

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

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Post by JohnB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:20 pm

So would a larger dose increase dwell time? I would think that tamp pressure & grind would dictate the dwell time more then the size of the dose. I'll play with some smaller doses (14g) tomorrow but I really like the flavors I get in my Americanos with a 16g dose. My 18g doses are strictly for Ristrettos & they do taste very, very good.
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Post by hlsheppard » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:58 pm

Wow - sounds like I'm the only one who just does it my feel!

I just fill the portafilter from the Mazzer to heaping, then I level N-S-E-W and tamp. Granted, I know I'm not "perfectly repeatable," but my shots never channel and they're damned good! :D

That's enough for me!

I use a triple basket with a naked pf most of the time. I also tend to overfill the basket, but that's just me... :oops:
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Post by JohnB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:33 pm

So how much does that hold? 21g+?
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Post by hlsheppard » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:19 pm

that's about right...
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Post by JohnB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:35 pm

hlsheppard wrote:that's about right...
I'm jealous!! Got to get me one of those. 18g is not enough!! :twisted:
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Post by hlsheppard » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:12 pm

JohnB wrote:
hlsheppard wrote:that's about right...
I'm jealous!! Got to get me one of those. 18g is not enough!! :twisted:
NO - you're feeding into the "monstrous American standards!" :tongue: :laughing3:

Here's a phone pic of a pour with Counter Culture Toscano (sorry for the poor quality)

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Post by bluesman13 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:52 am

hlsheppard wrote:
I use a triple basket with a naked pf most of the time. I also tend to overfill the basket, but that's just me... :oops:
a triple basket? where did you get one of those?

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Post by hlsheppard » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:13 am

I don't want to hijack the thread any more than has already been done... BUT it's a blem. triple that was from the first round a few years (?) back from Lino. IIRC, someone on the forum was kind enough to part with an extra one (for a price, of course :wink: )
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Post by boldstep » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:51 am

Wow that's a lot of coffee! I would be going through coffee beans very quickly. How many ounces do you pull from 21grams?

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Post by hlsheppard » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:04 am

2 ounces or slightly less. Tough to tell with the crema.
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Post by boldstep » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:22 am

Thanks. And do you find that by using 21g/2 ounce (compared to say a standard 16g/2 ounces), you get better tasting shots?

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Post by hlsheppard » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:08 pm

To me - they're just SUPER rich. Many other coffee-based drinks seem weak to me now.

Granted, that would probably not be the case with some of your gents' fine work... but around here? eeeeeek!
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Post by bluesman13 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:46 pm

Now you've got me thinking. I've been trying to pull shots as good as my local Mpls coffee shop to no avail. I've been using exactly 15 gr per double forever. I just tried bumping it up to 16.5 gr and I like it a lot better. I'm using Paradise Roasters Classico Espresso. Anyone else?

Howard, thanks for calling me a gent! I feel so, well, sophisticated!

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Post by JohnB » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:00 pm

16.5g is my standard dose with 18g for a Ristretto.
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Post by zoey » Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:26 am

16g for a 2oz pull. For my machine and my taste, anything more or less is not appealing.
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Post by JohnB » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:00 am

zoey wrote:16g for a 2oz pull. For my machine and my taste, anything more or less is not appealing.
Try 18g with a nice long, thick, drippy Ristretto pull & see what you think of the flavor. When I ask Espresso roasters like Intelligentsia & Pt's coffee how they pull their shots to get the flavors they describe on their websites they say they are using 18-21g doses.
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Post by bluesman13 » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:21 am

JohnB wrote: Try 18g with a nice long, thick, drippy Ristretto pull & see what you think of the flavor. When I ask Espresso roasters like Intelligentsia & Pt's coffee how they pull their shots to get the flavors they describe on their websites they say they are using 18-21g doses.
John,

that's the part that I always struggle with. The commerical machines are more amenable to over dosing. There was a thread on either CG or HB (actually there are probably lots) that was hotly debated about under and over dosing. Last night I went up to 17gr on the Spaz. I'm getting closer to the taste that I get from my local coffee shop. I don't take that lightly because my goal from the very beginning was to make espresso that tastes like my local shop. I asked them and they're are typically over dosing at 21 gr. So, I'm going to try 18gr on the Spaz and see what that goes.

thanks,
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Last edited by bluesman13 on Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by JohnB » Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:19 pm

Strictly in the interest of providing my fellow forum members info on overdosing with the Vivaldi I made an 18g Ristretto this morning & checked the clearance between the coffee & screen. Before pulling the shot I saw a very small indentation from the center bolt head in the puck. After the shot there was a more pronounced indentation from the bolt but little more then I see after pulling a 16+g double.

The 18+g figure is the weight of the beans before grinding but I did clean out as much as possible from the chute & doser when loading the P/F. I was grinding slightly finer then for a 16g shot but tamped normally making sure to pack all of the coffee into the basket. The shot ran approx 35 secs & produced a little over an ounce of Espresso nectar.
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Post by boldstep » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:41 pm

Thanks JohnB for the info! So how did it taste compared to the 16+g double?

Bluesman13: I also became curious about this subject when I observed my favorite coffee shop really overdosing their PF. It got me thinking perhaps that that is the key to their really exceptional espressos. I am going away on vacation for about 1 week but when I get back I will run a taste test with different number of grams for a double holding extraction time and number of ounces constant.... I'll post the results after I am done.

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Post by bluesman13 » Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:42 am

boldstep wrote:Thanks JohnB for the info! So how did it taste compared to the 16+g double?

Bluesman13: I also became curious about this subject when I observed my favorite coffee shop really overdosing their PF. It got me thinking perhaps that that is the key to their really exceptional espressos. I am going away on vacation for about 1 week but when I get back I will run a taste test with different number of grams for a double holding extraction time and number of ounces constant.... I'll post the results after I am done.
cool! Last night I made an 18gr double and it tasted really good. I made another one this am, and, I discovered a huge caffeine difference between a 15gr and 18gr dose!

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Post by Richard » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:17 pm

JohnB wrote:
zoey wrote:16g for a 2oz pull. For my machine and my taste, anything more or less is not appealing.
Try 18g with a nice long, thick, drippy Ristretto pull & see what you think of the flavor. When I ask Espresso roasters like Intelligentsia & Pt's coffee how they pull their shots to get the flavors they describe on their websites they say they are using 18-21g doses.
While these seem at first blush like generally helpful statements, they really can be made only vis-a-vis a specific coffee. Coffee is not all the same density; lighter roasted coffee is far denser than dark-roasted coffees. So for example, 19+ grams of a light, north Italian roast coffee can be stuffed into the Spaziale portafilter. But with a really dark-roasted coffee, 16 or 17 grams may be the limit.

And now to generalize, 18-21g doses are really not possible with a double basket on any machine; it requires a triple basket.
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Post by JohnB » Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:12 pm

I've done 18g doses with Black Cat, La Bella Vita, Terrior Calabria all in the standard La Spaziale double basket. Have you tried it yourself?
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Post by Richard » Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:16 pm

JohnB wrote:I've done 18g doses with Black Cat, La Bella Vita, Terrior Calabria all in the standard La Spaziale double basket. Have you tried it yourself?
Yes, with the Calabria. It's pushing the envelope and is all the basket will accommodate; the screw head of the shower screens is well into the coffee cake, dry. As I said, it all depends on the coffee and the roast. In the overall spectrum of espresso coffee, the Calabria is not on the darker end of the spectrum, though it is a the darkest end of Terroir's offerings, and hence is denser and occupies less volume than 18g of darker coffees.
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Post by zoey » Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:24 pm

I'll have to give 18g a try. It took me a while to get the grinder dialed in to do a 2oz pull at 16.5g (in 28 seconds consistently).

I just wonder how the heck you cram 18oz in?
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Post by Richard » Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:03 am

zoey wrote:I just wonder how the heck you cram 18oz in?
It's all about the coffee. With some coffees you will not be able to put 18g in the portafilter.

For illustration only, assume that for some lightly roasted coffee 3TBL=18g and it stuffs the portafilter. Now assume a darkly roasted coffee where 4TBL=18g; it will not fit in the portafilter.
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Post by coffeeowl » Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:06 pm

Richard wrote:
zoey wrote:I just wonder how the heck you cram 18oz in?
It's all about the coffee. With some coffees you will not be able to put 18g in the portafilter.
I agree. For example - best extraction with the current beans is when I put a hair less then 16g to the basket. The previous liked 15.5g and no more (at max)
boldstep wrote:Has anyone experimented with differing grams of coffee on the taste of the final shot (keeping extraction time constant by changing the grind)?
I don't think it's the way. I always end by color and what I noticed with the previos beans I had, that when I used a little bit more coffee and ended shot earlier in relation to the extraction blonding point, I had a tasty rich heavy ristretto, better then what I got stopping at the same point with my usual dose for normale. Hopefully you get what I mean :roll: :D :)
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Post by JohnB » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:28 am

Richard wrote: It's all about the coffee. With some coffees you will not be able to put 18g in the portafilter.

For illustration only, assume that for some lightly roasted coffee 3TBL=18g and it stuffs the portafilter. Now assume a darkly roasted coffee where 4TBL=18g; it will not fit in the portafilter.
I pulled a Ristretto shot this morning using 18.3g(beans) of Terrior's Calabria & the center bolt didn't even make a mark in the dry cake. So far everything I've tried fits but the darkest roast I've used would be Black Cat.
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Post by zoey » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:02 pm

Well, I tried to cram 18g of very dark and oily beans (mix of Columbian and Sumatra) into the PF. I had to tap it twice on the counter to get it to settle enough to be able to level and tamp it.

I could see an imprint of the screen in the puck and an obvious, perfectly shaped bolt head. The espresso was harsh, acidic, predominantly earthy with overtones of charcoal. No es bueno.

With my beans, at my grind, my machine seems to love 16.5g. It produces a lovely 2oz shot in 27sec.
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Post by JohnB » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:08 pm

How long was the pour? Did you grind finer or coarser then you would for 16g? I can't drink a 16g decaf espresso straight so I imagine that 18g would be even more unpleasant. I only do the 18g Ristretto once or twice a week & there definitely is a big caffeine hit. Still I like the richer flavors you taste in a thick, slow 1 oz shot.
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Post by zoey » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:21 pm

I didn't bother timing the pull because I didn't change the grind (I didn't want to mess up my 16.5g pulls). The pull was longer, but not horrible.

I see what you are getting at though.
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Post by Richard » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:39 pm

JohnB wrote:I pulled a Ristretto shot this morning using 18.3g(beans) of Terrior's Calabria . . .
Hey, I've been enjoying the Calabria since we last exchanged observations about it. Guess I finally learned more about how to handle it. The recent package I received seems roasted just a bit longer than before; there are hints of surface oiling on some of the beans, unlike the earlier batches I had.
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Post by chas » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:18 am

zoey wrote:Well, I tried to cram 18g of very dark and oily beans (mix of Columbian and Sumatra) into the PF. I had to tap it twice on the counter to get it to settle enough to be able to level and tamp it.

I could see an imprint of the screen in the puck and an obvious, perfectly shaped bolt head. The espresso was harsh, acidic, predominantly earthy with overtones of charcoal. No es bueno.

With my beans, at my grind, my machine seems to love 16.5g. It produces a lovely 2oz shot in 27sec.
I recently got the Professional Barista's Handbook based on a recommendation on this forum. It discusses exactly what you tried relative to dozing variations. The recommendation was that, for a fair comparison, you needed to eliminate other variables. The main variable here is that the increased mass of room temperature coffee in the PF drops the temperature gradient across the puck more when you up doze. The theory is that consistency depends on having the same coffee temperature when it exits the bottom of the PF. This requires that you increase the water temp when up dozing.
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Post by zoey » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:08 pm

I've got that book earmarked. I really need to get it.
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Post by Weska » Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:26 pm

increase the water temp when up dozing
Interesting notion, chas, and almost obvious once you hear it stated. Before that, well, we were waiting for an insight. I'll have to try raising temperature when making higher doses and triples.

Really, great stuff to think on.

And we fortunate Vivaldi owners can handle that temperature change with aplomb.
Vivaldi S1 pre-II
MACAP M4 doser
Gene Cafe roaster
(all euro-sourced, 220v)
Reg and Torr tampers
Espresso Gear Click Mat

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