What is Single Dosing? Why You Should Stop Filling Up Your Hopper – Pronto

In single dosing, you first weigh out the coffee beans you need for the brew you’re doing. But why bother? Learn the top 3 benefits and top 2 things to watch out for.
Niche Zero coffee grinder for single dosing
Photo by Mike Marquez on Unsplash

When it comes to the world of grinding you coffee beans, you’ve got two methods to pick from. The first method is the most commonly seen. Simply fill the grinder’s hopper with beans until it’s full. A full hopper allows you to grind on-demand. Then press the button whenever you’re in the mood for a cup of joe, and you’ll get your ground coffee.

The second method that isn’t quite as common, but is becoming increasingly trendy, is the single-dosing approach. What is single dosing? That’s what we’ll look into today.

What is Single Dosing?

Instead of leaving a full hopper of beans to sit there, you don’t. Instead, you leave the hopper empty

Single dosing is a technique in which you first weigh out the exact amount of coffee beans you need for the brew you’re doing. Then, you put that dose of coffee into the grinder and grind only that portion of beans. 

In other words, you weigh out what you need, pour it into the hopper, and grind it out. 

Simple isn’t it? If you need 30 grams of ground coffee, you weigh out 30 g of coffee beans.

Advantages of Single Dosing

It may seem like an added step to weigh your beans beforehand, especially if you’re coming from the full hopper method where you can grind as much as you want, as you like. But trust me, this is an absolutely fantastic method in making coffee. 

roasted coffee beans in a paper filter

1. Preserve the Freshness of Your Coffee Beans

You want the best-tasting coffee. No question there. To get that, you need to keep the coffee beans fresh (psst – check out our guide for our top tips on this)! 

The hopper of a grinder is not built to be airtight. If you just let your coffee beans stay in the hopper over the course of a few days, the beans will lose flavour and aroma due to oxidation. 

With the single-dosing approach, after dosing out what you need, you can properly store the rest of your coffee beans in an airtight container for the week ahead. You’ll only take out what you need. The freshness of the rest of the beans will be locked in for longer. 

2. Easily Rotate Between Different Coffee Beans

What happens if you’ve got three bags of different coffee beans, all with different grind sizes, and you want to try them all at the same time? You’re not going to buy 3 grinders for this, are you?

The single dosing approach allows you the freedom to switch back and forth between various beans whenever you like! You can change the beans and grind size immediately in between doses, for your next coffee.

You won’t have to worry about finishing your existing hopper’s worth of beans, or having to go through the hassle of emptying it out to swap it with a different coffee. 

With single dosing, you can have some lovely fruity Ethiopian beans in the morning, a bold Brazilian espresso in the afternoon, and a light Aeropress blend to finish it off! 

3. Consistency and Taste

With a full hopper where you grind on-demand, you may be tempted to just eyeball the amount of ground coffee coming out. When it comes to coffee, even a slight variance in the dose can lead to a drastic taste difference. 

This is the reason I always recommend weighing your dose instead of relying on scoops or estimating.

With single-dosing, you have to meticulously weigh each portion of beans you’re using. Doing this will give you a consistently delicious coffee every single time. 

an Acaia scale for espresso

Who is Single Dosing Better Suited For?

Single dosing isn’t for everyone. For instance, if you have a large household that brews multiple batches of coffee at any time throughout the day, you’re probably better off with using a full hopper. It’s a lot faster (just make sure you’re still weighing your dose for accuracy and consistency).

But, if it’s just you brewing only a cup or two per day, this technique will suit you very well. 

If you’re a coffee adventurer who likes sampling different coffee beans as you please, single-dosing is your best friend.

Cafes will for certain use the full hopper, grind on-demand approach for their standard coffee beans. However, if they have a rotating single origin on offer, or decaf coffee beans, you may see them use this single dosing approach too. It really helps keep the beans fresher, and subsequently, fresher tasting coffee.

Things to Pay Attention To

Bear in mind that grinders are not created equal. Some grinders are just not made for single-dosing, and if you try to use it, you’ll get some weird results that will frustrate the living daylights out of you. Here are 2 things to bear in mind:

coffee beans in a grinder hopper

1. Grind Retention

If you weigh out 20.0 g of coffee beans, you should get 20.0 g of ground coffee out. Right?

But this doesn’t always happen. It may come out reading 19.5 g, for example. This is because some coffee grounds get stuck to the burrs or chute of the grinder, failing to make its way out into your portafilter or brewer. 

If you’re looking to get into the single-dosing routine, you’ll need to make sure your grinder can handle grinding only one portion of beans. Some grinders, especially commercial ones, need a full hopper to function properly. They rely on the weight of the beans above to press down on the burrs, to grind uniformly. 

No matter how good your grinder is, there will always be a small amount of retention. So you’ll want to get a grinder that has as little grind retention as possible. 

  • A retention of 0.5 g or less is excellent.
  • A retention of 0.5 – 1.5 g is considered average.
  • Anything above a 2g gram variance is not ideal. 

To overcome this, weigh out an extra 0.5 – 1.0 g of beans to factor grind retention in. If your dose calls for 20.0 g of ground coffee, chuck 20.5 g into the hopper.

2. Popcorn Effect

As mentioned above, some grinders need the weight of a full hopper of beans to push said beans evenly through the burrs. If you attempt to use this type of grinder with a single dose, you’ll see some beans hit the burrs and bounce off. They’ll jump up and down in the hopper – “popping” like popcorn. 

This can result in an uneven grind size coming out. Coffee Ad Astra did a study on this. Have a read here: Grind Quality and the Popcorning Effect.

Grinders built with single-dosing in mind, such as the Niche Zero, won’t have a significant issue with this. Whereas larger grinders that are designed to be used the traditional way, such as Mazzers and Eureka grinders, may face this concern. 

Dose Away!

That’s it for today’s article. Single dosing does bring about some massive advantages – no arguments there. But, the approach won’t fit everyone. Find a grind technique that works best for you. But if you tick the boxes as per above, give it a try. It’s a fun little way to boost your coffee routine.