A public service announcement from our technical department regarding the care & feeding of your burr grinder:
Never adjust the grind finer without turning the grinder on. The motor needs to be on & spinning as you adjust the burrs more closely together to ensure that beans are not compacted in the burr teeth, clogging the burrs or carrying grinds into the grinding chamber threads, thus jamming the burr carrier. This can damage and/or break the grinder and is not something that is covered under any manufacturer or retailer warranty.
So if you’re going to tweak your grind to go a little finer, kick on the grinder first and, if you have beans in the hopper, make sure it’s grinding normally as you move the burrs closer together. This will ensure that you don’t clog/jam the burrs and potentially damage the grinder.
Where do espresso machines and coffee makers go to die? Not in the landfill, if we can help it! At Seattle Coffee Gear, we launched a recycling program last year in an effort to keep as many fully assembled machines from landing in the trash. Many of these are pretty complex — they have circuit boards, electrical wiring and miscellaneous metals that are best kept out of our ground water supply.
Our partner in this venture is Uesugi USA, a Japanese company that (as luck would have it) have a US presence here in the Seattle-area. We pulled Henry into the mix and headed out to their facility to talk about what they do and see how they take these machines apart, break them down to their components and funnel them back into the commodity supply chain as cleanly as possible.
No, there weren’t any wrestlers present, but there was a high concentration of coffee related ninjas on the floor. Last week, we were lucky enough to head down to Anaheim, CA, for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Main Event, which is a specialty coffee industry educational and trade show that covers everything from coffee growers to roasters to equipment suppliers to mad skilled baristas. This year, it also hosted the United States Barista Championship — with Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia defending and re-securing his title. He’ll be heading out to compete with the rest of the national barista champs from around the world at the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) event this summer in the UK.
But back to the show. We attended a few different lectures, talked with many of our vendors on the trade show floor, watched Midwest Barista Champ Mike Marquard compete in the USBC semi-finals and even headed to a little partay that Intelligentsia, La Marzocco and Espressi (makers of the MyPressi TWIST) were throwing at Intelligentsia’s roastery in L.A. Yes, Grammy got her groove on.
In this video, Gail talks to us about what she learned from the lectures we attended, discusses some new products we saw and even shares with us her new love for TWIST-inspired cocktails.
If you’re anything like us, you probably used your gear’s user manual for one of three things:
To ineffectively swat at flies, yet one day you accidentally killed one and couldn’t bear to keep the gut-stained book around.
To prop up the uneven handmade bookshelf lovingly made by a friend/parent/spouse/sibling/child that never sits right on the wood floor.
To start a fire in the fireplace to enjoy while sipping on a delicious glass of chai spiced wine. (Guilty!)
Or, maybe you just recycled it by accident. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that now you have no wisdom to guide you. We created our manufacturer manual repository over at Brown Bean to connect you with the source code. We have manuals for a lot of models both current and historical, so if you’re looking for tips on how to perform maintenance or need to find out what that error code means, check ‘em out.
Don’t see your model there? Leave a comment here and we’ll see if we can’t track it down and add it to the repository.
March 2010’s version of Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter, The Grind, is live and direct in someone you love’s inbox. Is that someone you? Well, it should be. We should all love ourselves — truly, madly, deeply.
So give yourself some sugar and, while you’re checking out this month’s newsletter — which features a yummy mint & Irish cream latte recipe, tips on the Baratza Vario display panel upgrade, a blog showcase and info on some of the new products we’ve got — sign up to receive next month’s missive. What you won’t find online is our Grind Special, available only via the email version of the newsletter, and we know how much you love a good deal, baby.
Baratza recently released an upgraded display for their Vario grinder, which now has memory (so it retains its programming even when the grinder is unplugged) and sleep mode functionality. If you have a Vario that was manufactured before March 2010, you can purchase the upgraded display separately and easily install it yourself. Vario models produced from March 2010 forward will have this new display as standard.
We filmed Henry as he installed the upgraded display in our older floor demo model. Questions on how to program the sleep mode? Check out these instructions.
One of the most popular questions we receive on a regular basis is around keeping the grinder chute free of clogs. Often, people will clean the burrs regularly, but forget about the chute and they’ll have inconsistent grind results because of that. It’s pretty easy to keep this area clean — watch as Gail demonstrates how to take care of a few different models of burr grinders.
One of our favorite online stomping grounds, Home-Barista, is running a holiday Wish List Giveaway contest to promote awareness of their website and others in the online coffee and espresso community. If you’ve got some time to kill or are looking to pick-up some brand new toys, check out the full details of the contest on their site. They are also a rich information source for more technically-minded home espresso enthusiasts.
We’re participating as sponsors this year and so will be offering three different levels of prizes:
One of the main questions people ask themselves while they’re researching a grinder is whether or not they want to get a stepped grinder — which would allow for easily changing between two disparate grinds like espresso and french press — or a stepless grinder — which gives you excellent control over very minutely dialing in the coffee’s grind.
The Vario was released earlier this year as a hybrid grinder that allows for both easy changes between different grinds and for slightly tweaking the grind to produce better shots. If you find that you’re stuck between two steps on your grinder, the Vario may be the solution. In this video, Gail talks to us about the machine’s features, functionality and demonstrates how it’s used.
Shopping around for a grinder, but don’t have the opportunity to see how it grinds? We took a few different models and produced some of their finest and coarsest grinds so you could see how they compare together.