November 14, 2012

Dosing by Volume

Depending on your degree of involvement in the whole specialty coffee thing, you may or may not be familiar with weighing coffee. Traditionally, it's been dosed in terms of volume - which any baker can tell you is less accurate. The solution here is, of course, to use a digital scale, which is neither expensive nor difficult to use.

But not everyone is ready to invest in more gadgetry, which is fine, since the difference in accuracy between the two methods needn't be large - provided you measure accurately. Or perhaps it would be better to say that you need to dose, rather than measure, accurately, since many coffee bags suggest an improper dose: 1 tablespoon per 6 ounces of water.

Now, those who measure by weight and indulge in a greater deal of specificity will notice inherently that there are problems with this method. But for my sake - and most others' - it does a good enough job - or it would, rather, were the dose not half of what it ought to be.

Of course, these same bags do say that you can adjust for taste - which, of course you can. Still, though, we're most people will not simply jump to a dose twice as high as the one suggested, and may not make their way there at all. They want to make their coffee "right", so they follow the directions, more or less.

Well, don't. Two tablespoons of whole bean coffee per six ounces of water (some people say eight, to account for water loss, but we'll not worry about that now) is, so far as I'm concerned, the standard volumetric dose for high quality coffee. Ignore any bag that says otherwise - unless, of course, you enjoy hot water, flavored with a faint hint of coffee.

This blog, for the most part, does not indulge in "how to's", since there are no shortage of them already, and in any case, I don't pretend you ought to listen to me. But I'm making an exception in this case, both because I think this problem (such as it is) is fairly common, and the solution uncommonly simple.

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