Single vs double baskets
I have read through multiple threads on this topic and so I know it's been discussed ad nauseum, but I still don't understand a few things about the apparent superiority of using a double basket.
I am drinking 4-5 double shots/day (I have a 20g Pesado basket) and am thinking it might be a bit much. If I were to use single shots instead, I could effectively have an extra few coffees for the same amount of caffeine intake (or reduce my intake for the same number of drinks).
There seems to be a consensus that single baskets are difficult to dose consistently and effectively not to bother with them. Why are they hard to master and why is a double basket just so much better? Using a single basket rather than a double (i.e. and keeping only half the shot) means I am also using less coffee. So there's a benefit from a waste point of view.
Who uses a single basket out there and what's your experience? What sort would you recommend?
Hi Pgseye AKA Paul
Originally Posted by pgseye
its not that a single baskets is hard to master, it is more about consistency.
If you set up your grinder grind settings for a double shot (for example 20grams) that is gives you that perfect shot 30mils within 25-30sec
than you try to use the same grind settings for a single shot that has half the amount of coffee say 10grams you will not get the same shot poor it will be different
You will need to readjust the grind settings for your single shot using 10grams which will require you adjust the settings either coarse or finer when you want to use the single shot.
This takes time, especially in a cafe environment you have no time to waste like this, better of setting a double shot basket for that perfect shot for taste and when you want a single shot, only use one side of the group handle spout.
it is waste if your not using each shot each time but this is the only way to ensure consistency
second option which would be more expensive is to have a second grinder for your single shot basket
It seems to me completely different dynamics too. Any coffee sitting over the shelf in the single basket will extract differently to the centre. It is in fact the opposite of what IMS and VST are trying to achieve with their doubles baskets which is a straight through path for water and less resistance and more uniform flow.
I have only ever done a few shots as singles, they taste much the same but they do take some grind variations to get right so you can waste a lot of coffee.
It would depend on whether you like singles most of the time or just occasionally, in which case, as suggested above, it is less wasteful just to throw away half the double shot.
Edit: seems 30mls for 20 grams of coffee is a ristretto. Home Barista recommend a normal shot of 60mls which is 2 to 2.5 ounces. 28mls in an ounce so most people translate that to 60 mls. If you translated 60 mls to a single then it is 30 mls a reasonable amount. If you did that for a single on the basis of 30 mls for a double then it would be less than a tablespoon of coffee.
Keep editing. The other thing is this is generally done on weight not volume so 60mls in an espresso cup is fairly full but with a fresh roast a lot of that will be crema which will weigh a lot less.
Last edited by wattgn; 14th September 2016 at 05:27 PM.
The other thing you could do is get a good basket like a 15 gram IMS or VST basket. This will give less of a hit. I feel the same about the amount of caffeine, it can be excessive. I suppose the other way to do it is just to pull a ristretto which will leave much of the caffeine behind. It is wasteful of coffee theoretically but if you do 30mls for a shot then a ristretto will have much less caffeine than in 60mls.
I suppose going the other way you can have singles all the time and just occasionally when you want a double do two singles. It would be easy enough to do.
It is all a matter of taste though and taste varies and everyone seems to do things differently regarding length shots, whether they fill the basket to the top and the volume or weight in the final product.
Originally Posted by pgseye
I have used a wide variety of gear over the years. Luckily I am relatively insensitive to caffeine. (Too) many years of running an antique Turkish hand grinder into my stainless Ibrik, or using a 4 cup Carmencita (stainless moka pot) for one cuppa and/or using 18 to 28g doses (espresso & lattes mainly) in a series of traditional Italian espresso machines (mostly La Cimbali, La Pavoni, manual lever Electra and later some La Marzocco gear) must have some long term advantages... These days I base my efforts of the quality of flavour not caffeine content. Giving up smoking also helped my taste buds to recover some sensitivity.
Like so many other CSr's I always regarded single baskets as drawer stuffers. Strange - we adopt everything else Italian as the gold standard for coffee and yet a lot of CSr's reckon a single shot should be an 18+g not a 7g!
Anyway, about 4 years ago a couple of sets of VST baskets came into my life and added about 50% to the extraction rate (a fancy name for measuring the quantity of flavour you can get out of a cuppa). After a few months of bashing them into submission - they also have about 50% more flow rate, so all my decades of acquired habits and a lot of my gear became inappropriate* - I had dropped from my usual 20 to 28g "trad baskets" to the 15 or 18g VST - and it was often still way too strong for my tastes - especially as an espresso.
I started using the 7g for espressos and the 15g for lattes - my usual espresso machine stalwarts. Since then I have steadily moved to the 7 almost exclusively. I still have one “heavy smoking CS caffeine fiend” that needs the VST 22, however usually the 15g is plenty even for them.
Onto the question of finicky to use: One unique (to me at least) feature of the VST: When you stay close to the recommended dosage the baskets are interchangeable with only very minor grinder adjustments needed**. Reason: The size and the area of the holes are calibrated according to size (i.e. the 22g holes are bigger than 20g, 18, 15 and 7 - easy to spot by eye). There is no particular advantage in selecting any particular sized basket to set up a new machine / roast / grinder - just throw one in, dose (use scales with 0.1g or better accuracy for this stage!) and tamp it correctly and pull the shot. I often use the 7 simply because it uses less coffee, and it is probably already in the p/f anyway. After the setup, pulling the shots without stuffing around with scales or anything else is routine.
So – use a single? Yep.
Finicky? Not really.
Have at least a VST 15 and (say) 20 / 22 as well? Yep. Preferably the whole set if you also play with coffee in cooking (I make a traditional Russian coffee / cocoa dark rye bread, amongst others) as you never know which size will balance out the flavours to your taste.
* VSTs are brutal on showing up grinder shortcomings, tamper issues, machine cleanliness and flaws in technique. After that is sorted they also “inform” you (severely) as to poor roasts or beans. The first casualties were my tampers – curved bases just will not work properly with a VST – so out went a couple of beautiful expensive custom tampers and in came some Pullman 316s. Then the 7g needed a completely different tamper – enter a 316 prototype (pictured in centre). The grinder(s) were next... and on it went.
**minor grinder adjustments: Mostly I just vary the tamp and/or dose slightly these days. I cannot recall the last time I altered the grinder to suit a particular VST basket. Probably never after I finished my unlearning curve – newbies are really fortunate if they just start with VSTs, they pick them up a lot quicker than I did.
This pretty much sums it up, for the average home barista Precision basket are much more forgiving and produce excellent espresso.
Originally Posted by TampIt
Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts | Talk Coffee
In my opinion single baskets are not worth the effort.
So there you have it, two totally different schools of thought.
An interesting discussion. I used TampIt's 7g VST basket the other day and it took a few shots to get it right. I just filled the basket to the top as I normally do and I got shots, that to my taste, were the same as with the normal 20g basket.
I think the single has got something going for it provided you pull a full shot which for a single is about 30mls else there isn't enough to drink. It certainly is a more efficient use of coffee. Half the people on the forum use 20g of coffee, pull a ristretto then throw away most of the remaining coffee in effect.
It is all a matter of taste, but for me, I might try the singles again. Everyone is against them but I can see the point.
The only point there I disagree with TampIT is his specially turned tamper. A good idea maybe but not many will drink a single if they think to do it right they need to get an engineer to make a tamper for them.
I think really the single has to work with normal tampers else it will just be a novelty for a few. I would encourage people to try the singles and see what they think.
My taste is perhaps a little different than most, I have a couple of Lungo's in the AM and 60ml double shots in the PM, a single basket simply doesn't do it for me, 18 gram Precision basket dosed with 18 grams for both, a couple of clicks on the grinder between each.
Thanks for the input everyone. I am going to give a single a whirl. I didn't even consider the need for a smaller tamper but I guess that makes sense - unless you overdose and use the standard tamper?
I might look into the IMS 'The Single' basket - seems it will accommodate a standard 58 mm tamper due to its design.
I'd be reasonably confident IMS / VST baskets have been designed with a standard tamper in mind.
Originally Posted by pgseye
It worked quite well when I used the VST 7g basket. The dynamics are interesting though. The flow is through the centre. The coffee on the ledge isn't going to contribute too much to the cup. The ledge though has the purpose of allowing the correct tamp pressure in the middle of the basket. I just filled mine to the top and smoothed level with my finger. I would guess this is close enough to 7g and I will be getting a scale this week so will find out. My bet is it is meant to be filled to the top or near enough. Of course grind of the coffee and the type of coffee can affect the volume so you could do it to volume or to weight. My preference is volume as it is so easy and quick to do it the standard way. My double shots on the M4D take a nominal 10 seconds in the grinder to do 20g (general thing). That does coincide with the full basket and so my bet is 7g will be close to a full basket on a 7g VST too.
Originally Posted by wattgn
Sorry to give you the wrong impression re a single basket tamper needing to be specially made. I have posted about this elsewhere in CS.
As long as the "tamper substitute" is a flat base that fits "in the hole", it will work with a VST 7g single. If it is too small then resorting to nutating, Staub, Weiss et. al. tamping is almost a necessity.
I used a juice bottle as a 7g tamper for a few months (Smartwater 600-ish ml "Lime and Guava" if I remember correctly, about 1/3 full of H2O to balance it) - it picked up more grounds, but otherwise worked OK. Ditto a Berri 2.2l grape juice bottle - at MrFreddoFrog's place - as it was the nearest thing that fitted.
BTW some single baskets have walls with very shallow slopes (i.e. the one that came with my La Pavoni, or the standard SB 6910 basket) and they are effectively untampable. If you use a naked, they channel and spray everywhere. Avoiding those would be a good idea.
A quick note: If you have coffee "over the ledge / shelf" of the 7g VSt, it is overdosed. Using the specified 7g +/- 1g dosing a standard tamper will not get anywhere near the grounds. That also means that there should be no coffee "over the shelf" to affect the flow.
PS: I prefer to use 316 as a material because it is easy to machine and it does not pick up any coffee grounds. Makes cleaning easier. I also avoid tamping rings for the same reason. See Pullman Coffee Tampers No longer a sponsor - Commercial link removed to see a photo of a standard Pullman tamper complete with tamping rings, my Pullmans are plain.
Last edited by Javaphile; 15th September 2016 at 02:54 PM.
Reason: Commercial Link(s) Removed - No longer a Sponsor
I got my scales today in the mail. Great.
Originally Posted by TampIt
You are quite right about the weight. I knew you would be as you use scales yourself but I had to see it for myself. On your 7g VST basket, it is 16.9 grams. I couldn't believe it.
I think though single shot baskets are useless unless you want to experiment with objects to tamp with or you have a properly sized tamper that fits the single basket in question.
I returned the VST 15 gram basket as I liked the design of the IMS basket better which is the 18gram one.
I found using the scales that 18 grams measured exactly is pretty well a full portafilter, maybe very slightly less. I'd be confident that I can eyeball this volume wise without using a scale with a bit of practice.
The singles basket are in a world of their own and I can see why. I think a waste of time except for those willing to experiment and find a tamper. I have to admit it makes me wonder why they include a singles basket with new machines. Useless as tits on a bull if you want to get a properly extracted coffee using a standard tamper, and without wasting coffee of course (why put 17.6grams in for a single).
The IMS basket does seem to extract better, a stronger brew but whether it is better or not than a standard 20g basket that came with the Wega, I'm not so sure. It did definitely require a finer grind, as predicted. The standard basket is about the same size.
An interesting experiment. I can see having scales is essential for figuring it all out. I'm not convinced the exact 18gram is important. I'd prefer to do it on volume and dispense with the scales. A full portafilter is close enough. Well I can experiment with that, for sure. The average capacity is listed as 16/20grams. This is for the IMS B70 2T H26.5M basket I am using.