Specialty coffee demands better than average, and so do your customers. What can you do to up your game? Simple – weigh your coffee!
Coffee is a natural product, and there are a multitude of factors that are highly changeable in the espresso making process. Using an espresso recipe is the very best way to ensure consistency of each espresso shot. Without a recipe, your shots will always be hit and miss as far as consistency is concerned.
All ground coffee is not equal; a coarse grind will yield more volumetrically than a fine grind. The out-dated skill of “eyeballing” your dose just doesn’t weigh up (haha), and is vastly inconsistent from dose to dose. Just as we use barista technique to control the evenness of the extraction, the espresso recipe is about controlling the level of extraction, as well as the flavour and quality of the espresso.
Weighing your espresso dose needs to become part of your barista technique. If you are an experienced barista, weighing your dose will not take long to incorporate into your normal routine. For beginners, this is a great way to help eliminate inconsistencies, and help to build up your confidence and speed.
The dose of coffee needed for each extraction is very specific and is determined by the size of your filter basket. Espresso baskets come in a variety of sizes commonly ranging from 15g to 25g. With only a very small variation of 0.2g on either side of your target weight for your particular basket, the use of good quality scales is a must. Ensure that you use a scale with accuracy to 0.1g, such as these.
Just like any skill, effective dosing by weighing is something that takes a bit of practice; the more you do it the easier and quicker it gets. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s just a matter of checking that your dose is correct and maybe making some small adjustments here and there. You will soon get to know how much you may need to add or sweep off to reach your target range.
Key points to remember
- Determine the size of your basket for your dose, and aim for a maximum variance of 0.2g either side of your target weight. For example, a 20g basket can go as low as 19.8g, as high as 20.2g or anything in between.
- Make sure your scales are accurate and weigh to 0.1g. Plug in or rechargeable is recommended for high volume cafes. (We recommend these scales)
- Don’t forget to tare the empty portafilter on the scales before adding coffee; this removes the weight of the handle so that you only have the weight of the coffee grinds. Note: your handles might be slightly different weights so make sure you tare each one in-between each extraction.
- Keep the surface of your dose smooth and flat when making adjustments.
- Dose is the first and crucial step in maintaining your espresso recipe. Without weighing, it’s very hard to achieve consistency and maintain the rest of the recipe factors, negatively affecting your brew ratio. (Further reading: Dialling in your brew).
- “On demand” or automatic grinders do a great job at getting you close to your target weight, but these are by no means consistent in the amount they dose each time – scales are still needed to make adjustments when using an automatic grinder.
- Practice makes perfect – don’t worry if you find weighing your coffee a bit difficult at first, stick with it and you will soon get the hang of it. Knowing that you are on your way to making consistently excellent espresso is well worth the practice.
Written by Summah Grant, Barista Trainer.