dosing techniques NSEW
One more possible distribution technique is the N.S.E.W. (also known as North South East West). It is a slightly more sophisticated version of the finger swipe.
The NSEW technique starts the same as most techniques – you start by filling your basket with the dose you desire and then you run a straight finger across the top in four directions always with the motion of the finger perpendicular to the direction the finger is pointing. The result is that the finger pushes the grinds one direction, filling in any empty spots, you pull it back in the opposite direction. Then you turn the finger ninety degrees (or equivalently turn the portafilter ninety degrees leaving the finger fixed) and run the finger across in the two new directions perpendicular to the original direction. The result is a reasonably good distribution.
The biggest flaw is that it is not clear how to adjust this if you want to dose below the level of the basket. If you want to dose above the level fo the rim you could always tap once to settle the grounds.
The biggest advantage is that you can get ignore the dose (in other words how many grams are in the basket) and just do this process and get a fairly even distribution with a relatively repeatable dose. This does not help if you want to play with the dose, but if you are willing to settle for a dose in some sense dictated by the basket and you do not insist on being accurate to the last .1 gram, it can be a good approach.
Down dosing using this technique can be attempted by either using a curved implement in the four directions or by curving your finger to imitate a constantly curved implement. (See the post linked below for dosing tools info)
I found that this works well, but it is not quite as good or flexible for me as some of the others such as the Stockfleths for dummies (described in the post below).
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