How Dosage Effects Espresso Making
Coffee is an incredibly complex beverage, and espresso is no exception. The process of making espresso is highly sensitive to variables like grind size, water temperature, and pressure. One of the most important variables in espresso making is dose, or the amount of coffee used.
In this article, we'll explore how dose affects espresso making, and what you can do to optimize your doses for great espresso.
Dosage is the amount of coffee, in grams, that you use to make one shot of espresso. Most home espresso machines come with a double shot basket, which holds about 18-20 grams of coffee. This holds true for our Casabrews 5700Gense Espresso Machine.
In order to get the perfect shot of espresso, you need to use the right amount of coffee for your basket size. If you use too much coffee, your shot will be weak and have an under-extracted taste. If you use too little coffee, your shot will be bitter and have an over-extracted taste. That is at least with all other variables being even.
When it comes to making espresso, understanding the coffee extraction process is key to ensuring a great cup of coffee. Espresso is made by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. Soluble compounds in the ground coffee beans are extracted into the water and pushed out with the pulling of the shot.
Extraction is affected by several variables, including
• Grind Size
• Water Temperature
• Pressure (bars)
• Dosage (grams)
As we’ve discussed elsewhere, grind size is a very important part. Too fine of coarseness could lead to over-extraction and too coarse to under-extraction.
But there is the chance that too finely ground espresso with increased dosage could be harder for the machine to fully extract your coffee grounds. So, it is important to account for all your variables in the espresso-pulling process.
The ideal water temperature for espresso extraction is between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Chances are that you shouldn’t ever really need to change the temperature as it is just best to keep that consistent.
Most portafilters come with a recommended dosage based on the size of the portafilter. For the Casabrews 5700Gense Espresso Machine, the recommended dosage of our single shot basket is 11-13 grams and for our double shot basket 18-21 grams.
When using a portafilter, it is almost always recommended to stay near the recommended dosage. Obviously, overfilling a portafilter result in the filter not fitting on the machine properly. But, if it does, it could create undue stress on the puck and break it during the pull. That means that part of your puck will be heavily over-extracted while most of your puck is drastically under-extracted.
The depth of the portafilter’s basket that you are using is also important to consider. The depth being higher or lower could change how you need to approach dosage.
Given a portafilter with a recommended 18-gram dosage, a taller basket will leave more room up above the coffee puck and a short basket will leave less room.
As we mentioned just above, too little space may create undue pressure on the puck. But too much space and your puck might not fare any better. If you’ve ever pulled off your portafilter and the puck was soupy, you likely passed way too much water through, or your puck had too much room between it and the show screen of the group head. Too much room will cause the puck to lose form and fill the entire basket bed.
Double and Single Shots
The Casabrews 5700Gense Espresso Machine recommends using the included portafilter baskets when brewing. There is a single shot and a double shot filter included. The recommended dosage for each is:
• 11-13 grams for a single espresso
• 18-21 grams for a double espresso
Final Rules of Thumb for Espresso Dosage
Here are a few general rules and tips to keep in mind.
Purge Coffee from Grinder When You Adjust the Grind Size
The grind consistency of your coffee is very important. If you are trying to make excellent espresso, pay attention to how often you adjust your grind setting. When you adjust your grind setting frequently you will need to purge it to ensure consistent grind size.
This is because when you change the grind setting, residual coffee is likely left in the grinding apparatus that was ground at the previous setting. When you change the setting, you need to purge this coffee out to ensure what you grind for your espresso shot is completely consistent.
Dosage Rule: Light vs. Dark Coffee Beans
Generally, the darker the roast of a coffee, the easier the extraction process is for it. This is because, during the roasting process, the beans were subjected to more heat and were cooked more. This makes extraction easier (and also why darker roasts look greasier than lighter roasts in the bag).
That means that you can use a slightly larger dose (compared to a medium roast maybe) while achieving the same level of extraction. It may also mean that you can lessen your pressure or amount of water or increase coarseness ever so slightly to achieve the same level of extraction (all other things being equal).
Lighter roasts are best pulled with a slighter lower dosage to accommodate the harder extraction reality. Larger doses of light roasts can create weak and thin-bodied espresso shots because lighter roasts start out as harder to extract and the increased dosage makes it even harder.
Variable Order of Operations
Modifying dosage is likely the last variable that you’d adjust. Modifying coarseness is a much more reliable way of adjusting how your shot is pulled. But in certain situations when you are close and you don’t want to change your grind setting, it may be easiest to then change the dose.
Dosage and Caffeine Content
The dosage amount that you use, yes, affects taste. But what some don’t think about is that it also affects the amount of caffeine that ends up being in your espresso. So, bear in mind, that as you use dosage as a variable for getting the right taste in your shot, you are also modifying the caffeine content of your shots.
So usually, you want to get the best-tasting shot with a reasonable amount of caffeine. So that is just something to think about as you work through adjusting your variables and is why a lot of times dosage is the last thing you change. You don’t want to make excessively caffeinated shots if you don’t have to.