Doser vs Doserless Grinder—Key Differences & Why It Matters

Clint Doerfler
Clint Doerfler
 | 
Updated: June 29, 2022
       
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If you’re new to the specialty coffee scene, you’ve probably noticed a few different available options with espresso grinders.

One of which is the doser vs doserless grinder debate.

While one type won’t produce a better espresso grind than the other, each has its advantages, as we’ll discuss.

Espresso machines not only require a precise grind size, but it’s also crucial to get a proper dose to pull off a great espresso shot.

And that’s where dose comes into play here.

Doser Grinders

The doser container on the Rancilio Rocky
Doser container on the Rancilio Rocky. The grounds go in this staging area before being dispensed into your portafilter.
As the name implies, doser coffee grinders have a dosing container that collects the ground coffee before it’s dispersed into the portafilter.

This dosing container is usually divided into six segments that rotate so that you can dispense around 6 - 7 grams of ground coffee (single shot) with each pull of the lever (doser mechanism).

The advantage of a doser grinder is that it delivers precise, pre-measured doses quickly and easily, which is especially beneficial in high-volume settings such as coffee shops and restaurants.
Front view of the Rocky. You pull the lever on the side to dispense your coffee grounds.
Front view of the Rocky. You pull the lever on the side to dispense your coffee grounds.
But if your doser espresso grinder also grinds for other brewing methods, just be aware that you might get some cross-contamination of grounds in your doser container.

Because grind size directly affects extraction, you’ll end up with a less than ideal shot of espresso if you’ve accidentally mixed in grounds meant for drip coffee into your espresso grinds.

The following are the pros and cons of a doser coffee grinder:

Pros

  • Fast and convenient dosing
  • Ideal for high-volume situations
  • The doser will help keep your counter clean and prevent ground coffee from being spilled
  • If you overload the portafilter, you can just dump the excess coffee grounds back into the doser container

Cons

  • If you grind multiple types of coffee (like French press coffee), there can be some cross-contamination of your coffee grounds
  • Unused ground coffee sitting in the doser may get stale between shots
  • They’re less precise than doserless grinders, so you might not get the accurate dose of coffee you need

Doserless Grinders

Profile of the Rancilio Rocky doserless grinder. The chute feeds directly into your portafilter.
Profile of the Rancilio Rocky doserless grinder. The chute feeds directly into your portafilter.
As you might have guessed, a doserless model doesn’t have a dosing container. This means that you grind your coffee beans directly into your portafilter basket (or container).

The advantage of doserless grinders is that there’s no possibility of mixing different grind sizes or bean origins since the ground coffee goes straight from your coffee grinder into the filter basket.

They’re also less likely to stale your freshly ground coffee since you’re only exposing the grounds to the air while you’re grinding them.
Rocky doserless espresso grinder - front view
Most home users will choose a doserless grinder for its versatility.
However, a doserless grinder may require a little more work upfront, since you’ll need to get your dosage right by setting the grinder’s timer or by manually dispensing the coffee grounds into your portafilter.

This will require weighing your coffee beans with a reliable scale and/or adjusting the grind settings.

Pros and cons of doserless grinders:

Pros

  • No cross-contamination of coffee grounds since you grind directly into your portafilter
  • You’ll always have fresh coffee and no waste since you’re only grinding exactly what you need
  • There’s no stale coffee between shots since you’re not grinding into a doser container

Cons

  • A few coffee grounds may go rogue from the static electricity (a natural byproduct of the grinding process)
  • Not great for mass production. Making many espressos will take longer when grinding per espresso shot
  • Because the portafilter may overfill and/or some grinds escape the filter basket while grinding, doserless coffee grinders can be messier
  • Might require a little more upfront effort to get the dosage right

Doser vs. Doserless Grinder Video

Here is a useful video that further illustrates the differences.

So Which is Better? Doser or Doserless Grinders?

Your situation will dictate whether a doser or doserless grinder is better for your needs.

If you’re grinding coffee for different brew methods and in small quantities (not for an entire line of impatient customers), then a doserless grinder is probably the way to go.

However, if you’re mainly grinding coffee for espresso and you need a quick and convenient way to dose your grounds at high volumes of repetition, then a doser grinder is a better choice.
Clint Doerfler
From a very young "growth-stunting" age, Clint Doerfler has had a deep-rooted love for coffee. As a result, he founded Coffee Gear Gurus® to share his passion for incredible home brewed coffee with others. When he's not watching true crime shows with family or playing music, he's devoted to helping fellow coffee feins make amazing coffee at home - regardless of their experience.

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