So you got yourself a DeLonghi Dedica Espresso machine and you want to learn how to use the correct grind size for the perfect shot of espresso.
I have been using my DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe for enough time to share my experiments with you. I’ve pulled enough bad espresso shots until I finally got the hang of it. But I also realized that it’s not really that complicated if you understand what you are doing.
So in this post, I will share my tips on how to grind coffee for your DeLonghi Dedica, and this information will apply to any Dedica (Deluxe or Arte), DeLonghi Stilosa or any semi-automatic pump espresso machine.
– The grind size needs to be fine. Using coarse or medium coffee grounds will result in a weak espresso shot.
Grind Size for DeLonghi Espresso Machine
Let me remind you again that the info I will list below will also work for DeLonghi Stilosa or any Semi-automatic espresso machine with a 51mm portafilter size.
Espresso Grind Size
Coffee grounds used to brew espresso should always be a fine grind. In texture, it looks and feels a lot like fine sand.
The exact grind size will always depend on what brand of coffee grinder you are using. Which is why it’s hard for me to tell you exactly what grind size to use. Instead, I will show you below what it should look like.
The grinder I use is the Baratza Encore. But it’s not set to default. I have followed this tutorial to adjust the burrs so they can grind even finer, and always set the grinder to 0. That’s as fine as it can go. Following the Baratza Encore manual’s advice to use grind setting 8 for espresso simply did not work, the grinder’s burrs had to be adjusted so it can grind finer than it does at 0.
When using a pressurized basket, don’t use really fine coffee grounds. This type of basket is designed to give pressure to coarser types of coffee (like store-bought espresso blends). If you set your grinder to the finest setting and use a pressurized basket, the espresso machine won’t be able to pour out the coffee. It will start to drip then stop. So make your coffee grounds slightly coarser to work with the pressurized basket.
Refer to this table for the suggested Espresso grind size. These are the default manual suggestions, but you’ll want to experiment to get the best size for your beans.
|Espresso Grind Setting Range
|Baratza Sette 270
|Breville Smart Grinder Pro
|Comandante C40 (manual)
|0.15 – 0.30
Dedica’s Basket Size in Grams
It is highly recommended that you use a scale when adding coffee grounds to your basket. Here’s why:
When it comes to coffee grinders, even the best of them, there’s always some coffee grounds being retained inside the burrs. So 12 grams of coffee beans in, is not always 12 grams of coffee grounds out, maybe times some grounds will get stuck and screw up your ratio.
Always measure your portafilter weight then tare the scale. Once you fill the basket with the coffee grounds, put the portafilter back on the scale to get the true measurement of your coffee grounds.
Grams of Coffee for a Single Shot Basket
The single-shot basket holds between 7 grams to 8 grams of coffee grounds. I wouldn’t do the full 8 grams so you don’t overfill it.
Grams of Coffee for a Double Shot Basket
The double shot basket holds 12 grams of coffee grounds. Don’t add more than that so you don’t overfill the basket.
Grams of Coffee for a Bottomless Portafilter
A bottomless portafilter is where things start to get a bit complicated. But you’ll be able to use it without issues in no time.
A 51mm bottomless portafilter can hold between 16g to 18g of ground coffee.
Because it holds more coffee grounds, a bottomless portafilter can produce a more concentrated and overall better shot of espresso if you use the right grind size and tamp it correctly.
If you intend to use 18 grams of coffee grounds, use a slightly coarser grind. If you use 16 grams, you’ll have to grind finer, because the compactness of really fine coffee grounds compensates for using less coffee grounds in the basket.
Overall, finding the right dose and grind size for a bottomless portafilter is a trial-and-error process. Variables like the type of beans you are using, the roast level, and the grinder you are using all affect your results. But as a rule of thumb:
Smaller dose requires finer grinds, larger dose requires coarser grinds.
Personally, to make sure that I get the best shot out of my bottomless portafilter, I use an espresso distributor, which helps in leveling the coffee grounds evenly before tamping.
Also, I use a stainless steel tamper that I purchased separately instead of the plastic tamper included with the machine. A stainless steel tamper has more weight to it, which helps provide a stronger tamp. Better yet, if you’re in the market for a new tamper, use a spring-loaded tamper that applies even more pressure to the coffee grounds using the springs inside it and not your force.
Portafilter Size and Tamper Size
DeLonghi Dedica comes with a standard 51mm portafilter. So the tamper size is 51mm, too. Out of the box, DeLonghi Dedica includes pressurized portafilter baskets.
A pressurized filter basket is the type of filter that creates pressure inside the basket itself. It has a single hole in the bottom of the basket, which means the pressure comes from forcing water through the coffee grounds and the espresso coming out of this single tiny hole.
What’s the point of a pressurized filter basket?
- It’s a great tool for beginners. It allows you to use pre-ground espresso, which isn’t the finest coffee ground out there, but it works with pressurized baskets.
- Also, it will still work great even if you didn’t tamp hard enough to level the coffee correctly.
A pressurized portafilter doesn’t give you the best espresso shot, but it gives you a decent espresso shot that does not require precision in coffee grind size, tamp or amount.
When you are ready, you can upgrade your portafilter to a bottomless portafilter. This is a portafilter that uses more coffee grounds, has full holes in its basket, and has no spout, so you get to see exactly how your espresso is being extracted.
But on the other side, a bottomless portafilter required precisely fine ground coffee (store-bought pre-ground espresso won’t work). It will also require that you level your coffee grounds and tamp correctly so you don’t run into espresso extraction problems.
Best Bottomless Portafilter for DeLonghi Dedica
To ensure that the bottomless portafilter you are buying is compatible with your DeLonghi Dedica (or Stilosa), look for the following:
- Size: 51mm
- 3-ear design (the prongs coming out of the portafilter that attaches to the machine)
- The handle design is up to what you prefer.
To make it easier for you, here are my recommended bottomless portafilters for DeLonghi Dedica
Possible Issues with the Dedica Portafiter
Portafilter Wont’ Turn
If your DeLonghi Dedica portafilter won’t lock into place, that means you have overfilled it with coffee grind.
As you can see in the photos, filter baskets are not meant to be filled to the top. You have to leave some space on top, which is where the brew head will be attached to saturate the grounds with water.
If you fill the basket to the top, you leave no room for the portafilter to attach, which is the exact reason it’s not rotating or locking into place.
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Best Grinder for DeLonghi Dedica
When of the best things about DeLonghi Dedica is its price point for the quality it provides. But when it comes to espresso grinders, they can get quite expensive.
You don’t have to buy a high-end espresso grinder (over $500) to use with your DeLonghi Dedica, but you do need a quality conical burr grinder, especially if you’re going to be using a bottomless portafilter.
Here are my recommendations for an entry-level conical burr grinders
Breville Smart Grinder Pro
This is one of the most popular conical burr grinders for home use. Breville Smart Grinder Pro has an impressive 60 grind settings, and can do true espresso fine grind as well as medium to coarse grind for other coffee brewing methods.
Breville Smart Grinder has an LCD display that will help you select the correct settings, from the grind size or the amount (you can select how many shots you are doing, for example). But I still recommend that you do individual dosing every time instead.
The best part is, Breville Smart Grinder Pro includes a portafilter cradle which allows you to grind into your portafilter directly, hands-free.
Baratza Encore ESP
This is the new and improved Baratza Encore ESP (Which stands for Espresso). Unlike my own Baratza Encore, the Baratza Encore ESP can now provide a fine grind perfect for espresso.
Baratza Encore ESP has 40-step adjustment, 1 to 20 is used for espresso, while 21 to 40 are medium to coarse grind which is perfect for pour over or french press brewing.
Fellow Opus is another high quality grinder that can do true espresso grind, while also providing grind settings for other coffee brewing methods like pour over or french press.
Fellow Opus has 41 grind settings and features anti-static technology, which will prevent coffee grounds from sticking to the bin or flying out.
Recommended Pre-Ground Coffee For Your Dedica
If you prefer to buy pre-ground coffee to grinding coffee beans, you’ll find a lot of high-quality coffees to choose from.
You’ll want to pay attention to the grind size on the package though. It needs to be made for espresso brewing.
Also, I don’t recommend using pre-ground coffee with a bottomless portafilter. Most of the time, these pre-ground coffees at grocery stores are not made fine enough to work with a bottomless portafilter. But they should work fine with a pressurized one.