I've competed in a couple barista competitions, I've done fairly well, and I've noticed something odd. Most of the winners of Barista competitions these days are dosing close to, if not more than, 20 grams into the portafilter. I am a fan of this dosing style; my go-to is 20g into the portafilter and extracting in a 1:2+ ratio (20in and 42-44out +/-). That's not what's odd to me.
What's weird is that in my entire tenure as a barista I have been made to feel like I was wrong for doing so high. Yes, I know back in the day I pulled facemelters at 24g in, 18-20g out in 42sec. Yes, see also Bear Pond.
So why does the larger dose get a bad rap?
Why do most people pull 17-18 gram doses shots in their shops? I get that the ratio can be 1:2 still, that sits well. But why does the competition of all competitions lead baristas to make coffee in a different way? Why do the winners of the Barista competitions never do this? Pete Licata 20 to sometimes over 21grams in. Babinski 20ish grams.
If the SCAA standard for espresso calls for 14-18g dose in, shouldn't the USBC scoring results reflect that standard? Are the scoresheets pushing them to dose higher? Or are we saying that the coffee actually tastes better that way?
I know personal preference has to come into play and that's understandable. I do find myself getting annoyed that this industry can sit back and follow whoever taught them to dose between 17-18.5g. Perhaps I just want justification for being the weirdo who always liked shots with heavier doses.
So, why do I like the shots I like? Typically, my favorite shots are 20g or a bit more in, 38-45g out. I find that the flavor, body and finish are more pronounced this way. I find shots pulled this way to leave a lasting finish which to me leaves a lasting positive impression with the consumer. I find this style to show more pronounced flavor in Americanos and also feel a bit more stable in milk.
Shots pulled in the1:2 ratio at the 17-18g range are still very tasty. To me they are a bit thinner (even at the same overall brew ratio), have more pronounced acidity and are lighter in flavor overall. I don't consider them to be better or worse than the shots with higher doses, just different. I do however see less room for variance in lower doses. If you are off that perfect volume in the cup the flavor can get wonky quite a bit easier than in an up-dosed extraction.
So why do you dose what you dose? Because you settled in a long time ago and haven't tried other ways? Because you were taught to? Because you like it the best? Because your business wants to save that gram or two per dose? Whats your thought process?
I am genuinely curious about this and wonder what the general barista population would say. Again, this is not an opportunity to claim a right or wrong side for me. Ultimately my question is: If we are making coffee for our industry standard competition one way and making it for the general population another...are we giving the world our best?