Monday, April 30, 2012

Doser vs Doserless Grinders

Espresso coffee grinders are generally available in two different methods of dispensing the coffee grinds into the portafilter handle. The doser version allows the ground coffee to end up in a compartment called the doser. The doser has smaller compartments which can pre-measure and dispense the coffee grinds by pulling on a lever. The doserless version allows the ground coffee to go directly into the portafilter (filter handle). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages of the doser are,
  1. Cleaner operation - since the ground coffee goes into the doser, there is less splatter of coffee grinds on the counter top.
  2. Less static - the doser usually produces less static in the coffee grinds. This is not to say there is never any static, but there is a lot less complaints of static with the doser grinders
  3. Excess coffee grinds - typically, one can overdose the amount of ground coffee into the basket, and this excess can be placed back into the top of the doser.
The disadvantages of the doser are,
  1. Leftover coffee grinds - Since you are not grinding right into a portafilter, the user may grind too much coffee. This leftover coffee could be come stale. As a work-around, many customers know for a certain setting that they can grind for so many seconds to achieve just enough ground coffee for a shot or double shot of espresso. Then, all the coffee is dosed out of the doser by pulling the doser lever until all the grinds clear. Please note every coffee bean grinds differently at different settings which can impact the grind time. Hence, you will need to experiment with what works best in your situation. Or, customers only put in a certain amount of beans in the bean hopper, grind it all, and then dose it all into the portafitler.
  2. Doser effectiveness - one of the weaknesses of the doser is the vanes that sweep the coffee out of the doser. There are always some leftover grinds and a brush is needed to sweep them out. For more effective sweepers, higher end grinder would be required.
  3. Variable coffee dosage - The doser model vanes that compartmentalize the dosage of ground coffee. These typically dose between 6.75-7.00 grams of coffee only when the doser is half full. When the doser is less than half full, the amount can vary downwards. The normal dose should be 7 grams. 
The advantages of the doserless are,
  1. Grind what you need - if making 1-2 cups every morning (or session), the doserless will cut back on the amount of coffee waste that would accumulate in a doser - especially if one is very fanatical about how freshly ground the coffee must be,
  2. Grinding for other coffee brewing methods - In most cases, a container can be placed underneath the doserless chute to grind coffee beans for other coffee brewing methods, such as french press, drip, etc. This ground coffee can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator, /li>
The disadvantages of the doserless are,
  1. Loss of heat in portafilter - The longer your hot portafilter stays off the machine, one can find as much as a 20 degree f temperature loss in the metal portion of the portafilter. The result can be a sour espresso. 
  2. Not for entertaining - Having to grind per every espresso shot, it takes longer to make multiple espresso. This slows down the process of espresso extraction. A workaround is you can grind all the espresso coffee beans into a container, and use a scoop to get the coffee into the filter basket of the portafilter.
  3. Messy - doserless coffee grinders tend to be more messy since the portafilter can overfill or some grinds get out of the filter basket while grinding.
When choosing between doser and doserless grinders, one needs to consider all the above parameters. In a home environment with little entertaining, the doserless may be a good option. In home with a lot of entertaining, the doser grinder may be a better choice. In a commercial environment, doserless grinders are usually a better choice for low volume, such as decaf beans. However, in a commercial environment where the barista needs speed, the doser model is the better choice.

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