Category Archives: Grinders

Crew Review: GSI Outdoors

GSI OutdoorsHappy Monday fellow campers! In case you forgot, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and while we’re excited about the extra time off, we even happier that it is the unofficial kick-off to camping and hiking season. After all, just because you’ll be spending more time outside doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up your caffeine habit. In fact, we think that coffee and camping go to together pretty well. There are a slew of products, such those produced by GSI Outdoors, that allow you to take or make your coffee wherever you go!

GSI Outdoors GrinderWith this lightweight and compact gear that is conductive to backpacking and camping, you will be able to brew up nearly any type of beverage you prefer. For instance, there is the Commuter Java Press, which is like insulated thermos with a French Press inside. However, instead using a rod, the press component of this carafe is plunger with a filter built in, so your brewed coffee ends up inside the middle channel. The other unique feature of this press is that, unlike regular French presses, there is a gasket as part of the filtration system, which will help keep your grounds from leaking in around the edges of the screen. GSI Outdoors has also created a cute little percolator like device they call the Stainless Mini Expresso Maker that brews espresso. It works much like the Bialetti. You put the water in the bottom, the grounds in the filter basket, but instead of brewing the espresso into a top portion, the espresso comes out the spigot and into the matching cup. There is also the Collapsible Java Drip, which is a silicone drip coffee maker that compacts down to the size of a Frisbee-like disk. It’s nice our people enjoy Chemex-style brewing since it allows you to bring it on the road and the lid won’t melt so you can use it as a trivet for anything hot. Finally, there is the Java Mill, a hand grinder that collapses down for storage. Surprisingly, this grinder actually has conical ceramic burrs that you can adjust so you can get the grind fine enough for Turkish coffee or coarse enough for French press.

All of these products are made from recycled materials, so things like your old yogurt containers have now been transformed into something you can use for years to come instead of sitting in a landfill somewhere. Thus, while you are out enjoying the environment, you are also helping save it for future generations. With all this great gear don’t be surprised if people in nearby campsites start wandering over for coffee or if people accuse you of glamping (glorified camping). Watch as Gail and Brendan prepare for an SCG camping trip and test all of these delightful products out.

Crew Review: GSI Outdoors

Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A

Mazzer Mini Type ABaratza Forte APIt’s time for another grinder matchup! In this two part series with Brendan and Gail, we got the Baratza Forte AP and the Mazzer Mini Type A together in a room and had them duke it out. This was somewhat of an easy comparison, since while these two electronically controlled grinders are similar in price; they are very different in functionality.

In the first corner is the Baratza Forte AP, which is a 54-millimeter flat ceramic burr grinder, with a removable hopper (you can also increase the size of the hopper by purchasing an extender), burr removal tool and portaholder. One of the features we love is that you have the ability to measure your dose by weight (when the grounds bin is in place) or by time (when the portaholder is in). In addition, there is an amazing range of settings on the Forte AP, as you can make both macro and micro adjustments to your grind. We tried out the finest, midrange and coarsest grind settings and were impressed with how fine and coarse the Forte could actually go. This well-rounded grinder is less commercial than the Mazzer Mini, and is a great option for home users who are looking to brew different types of coffee, from espresso to drip, at any given time. We have also seen the Forte used at pour over bars, as the option to dose your coffee by weight makes it a perfect fit.

In the other corner is the Mazzer Mini Type A. With 64-millimeter flat steel burrs, the burrs on the Mazzer are slightly larger than those on the Forte AP.  However, like Forte, the Mini Type A comes with a removable bean hopper that you can get in a variety of sizes (short, medium or tall). On the Mazzer, your dosage is always monitored by time, which you program, and there is a stop on the grind adjustments, so you can only take it down so far. However, with the Mini Type A it’s likely you wouldn’t be changing your grind setting very much, and when you did, you would probably be adjusting them in small increments so this isn’t a deal breaker. We tried playing with the finest, midrange and coarsest grind settings on this grinder as well, and found that the finest and midrange grinds were pretty similar to those on the Forte AP, but slightly more consistent. The coarsest grind wasn’t as good as the Forte’s, but again a bit smoother. The consistency of the Mazzer Mini Type A make it ideal for commercial setting dealing mostly with espresso, which is what it was designed for, a even a high end home use.

So which grinder won this round? Check out our videos to find out and to hear Brendan and Gail’s thoughts as they play around with each grinder.

Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A Part One

Comparison: Baratza Forte AP and Mazzer Mini Type A Part Two

Commercial Tips: Choosing a Commercial Grinder

Commercial GrindersWhether you’ve decked out your café with the latest and greatest espresso machines or are just starting to put together your shopping list of equipment, one of the most important things you’ll need is a commercial grinder. However, even though having a good grinder is a crucial aspect of your shop (in fact, some people would say it is even more important than your espresso machine) it can be hard to figure out exactly which one you should choose. For instance, what type and how big of a grinder do you need? Or what is the difference between all the various burr-set sizes, burr shapes and dosers anyway?

When deciding upon a grinder, the first step is to think about the type of shop you have and then calculate how many drinks you are expecting to serve per day. Based on our caffeinated mathematics for stores here in Seattle, a donut or bagel shop serves about 20-50 drinks, a coffee shop will serve around 200+ drinks and restaurant or a bar can expect to serve 10-50 espresso beverages a day. Of course these numbers can fluctuate depending on how big your store is, where it is located, etc.

Once you have determined how many people you will be serving, you can start thinking about what type of grinder to pair with your espresso machine. If you have a smaller sized bakery or donut shop with a one-group machine like a Rancilio Epoca, you’ll get something like the Mazzer Mini, which is a 58mm burr-set grinder that is perfect for doing 20-50 drinks a day. If you have a slightly higher volume store, such as a small to medium sized coffee shop that makes about 120-200 drinks a day you will need to move to a bigger grinder. Generally, if you are making this number of drinks you will have a two-group espresso machine such as the Rancilio Classe 7 or Nuova Simonelli Appia, so you will want to pair it with a 64-65mm grinder like the Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith or the Mazzer Super Jolly.

What is the advantage of having bigger burrs? You won’t have to wait as long to get a shot. With a smaller burr-set like 58mm, it will take you about 8-10 seconds to get a double shot of espresso, while with a 64-65mm burr-set it will take only 6 seconds. Thus, if you have a small volume café, it is ok to go with smaller burrs since you won’t experience as much of a time crunch. However, you cannot use a smaller grinder at shop at that is doing 150 drinks a day, as it will slow you down too much.

Does your shop fall somewhere in the middle? You can try getting a commercial grinder equipped with a doser. This allows you to make multiple drinks at once by grinding for them and then fill up the portafilter back to back. Another good rule to keep in mind is that 75 drinks a day is the limit for a smaller 58mm burr-set grinder, and 200 drinks a day is maximum for a mid-size 64-65mm burr set grinder. Finally, if you are making more like 300 drinks day rather than 200, you will need to get a large grinder to get your doses out even faster. For these grinders, you will be looking at something like the Mazzer Major, a 83mm burr-set (which is the biggest flat burr grinders get) grinder or even moving to a conical grinder such as the Compak K10.

Still have questions? Check out this video as Brandon and Kaylie describe picking out a commercial grinder in more detail.

Commercial Tips: Choosing a Commercial Grinder

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder

Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E GrinderEureka! That’s right, we’ve found the prefect high-capacity grinder — the Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder. While this grinder is indeed a great discovery, the name comes from the brand Eureka, which was bought by Nuova Simonelli many years ago. This grinder is basically the same as the Nuova Simonelli MDX and still has as a 65mm burr set and identical internal features. The only difference in the Eureka Zenith 65E is that it has an electronic front on it. Nuova Simonelli created this machine because they really wanted to get into electronic grinders, and it is their answer to others on the market like the Mazzer Type A grinders or the Rancilio KRYO 65 OD.

As such, the big feature on this grinder is the new electronic doser, which is really easy to use. You have two programmable dosing options available to you, enabling you to decide whether you want your coffee to be dispensed by volume or by time, which can be adjusted at the push of a button. If you know an adventurous barista, you can lock these adjustment settings, so they won’t play around and make changes to your grind. Another unique feature on the Nuova Simmonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder is the resettable digital dose counter, which we actually haven’t seen on any of the on demands yet. In fact, people frequently ask how they can reset the counter on a Mazzer and there is no way of doing that.

In addition to these upgrades, Nuova Simonelli has carried over two of the most popular features from the MDX. One is the stepless micro adjustment dial, which allows you to adjust your grind finer or coarser by simply turning a knob with your finger instead of having to struggle to change the setting with a big lever as on other grinders. The second feature is the ability to open up your grinder and clean the burrs without having to recalibrate your grind. Not only does this make cleaning and maintaining your grinder a breeze, but it also makes the process quicker – you can probably the job done in-between shifts at your café.

To learn more about the features on the Eureka Zenith 65E, watch as Brandon explains what makes it different from other grinders on the market in this video. Just don’t blame us if find yourself shouting “eureka!” too by the end.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Mythos

Nuova Simonelli MythosWhile we’ve reviewed other Nuova Simonelli commercial-class coffee grinders like the MDX and Eureka, we had never had the opportunity to spend quality time with the oft-mentioned Mythos. So when we visited Nuova Simonelli’s US headquarters in Ferndale, WA, we couldn’t wait to get our paws on one — let alone three!

Currently, the Mythos has a couple of variations that will soon evolve into three distinct models: The Basic, the Plus and the ClimaPro. The Basic is a straightforward dosing grinder that has an expansive bean hopper, programmable dosing functionality and the Mythos’ unique vertically-aligned burr set. The Plus has everything the Basic does, but adds a mechanical tamper to the mix. Finally, the ClimaPro features a smaller profile and a heating element in the dosing chute, which maintains a consistent temperature and, therefore, grind consistency amidst ambient temperature changes.

Watch as Brandon guides us through these three grinders, showing us how they work and compare with each other. He also talks about which type of business would benefit more from each of these styles of Mythos grinders, so you’ll be able to select the right model for your coffee-oriented business.

If you’d like to learn more about these specific models or pre-order a model, please contact Brandon and he can work with you to do so.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli Mythos Grinders

Crew Review: Breville Colors

Breville ColorsEvery time we walk into a recently built or remodeled kitchen, we’re immediately struck by the drab uniformity of brushed stainless steel. We definitely think it has a place when it comes to certain large appliances like your stove or refrigerator, but if you have the opportunity to give your kitchen a little pop of color or deep accent, why not go for it?

Breville was picking up what we’re laying down because, after years of brushed stainless finishes on their popular suite of products, they’ve introduced a little variety into the mix. Enter Black Sesame and Cranberry versions of the Barista Express, Infuser and Smart Grinder. Functioning in the exact same way as their silvery counterparts, these gem-like versions will give your kitchen a possibly much-needed counterpoint. In addition to their gleaming, painted metal finishes, they also sport a polished stainless steel front that gives them even more pop — and eye candy!

If you’ve been interested in their machines but have wished for some style variety, then perhaps these new, limitedly-available hues will fit your bill. Watch as Gail shows them off.

Crew Review: Breville Colors

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Major Commercial Coffee Grinder

Mazzer MajorEach time we provide an overview of a new coffee grinder like the Mazzer Major, we feel the need to also get down to the nitty gritty and show you how to take it apart, care for it, look for signs of wear & tear, then put it back together again.

A lot of our day-to-day work involves helping people get the most from their coffee gear, and one big way that you can do that is by keeping it enviably clean. Especially if you are running a coffee-oriented business! Day in and day out, you’re serving up delicious coffee to your adoring customers and you want to make sure that it’s fresh and fully represents what you’re all about, right? Taking care to regularly clean your grinder’s bean hopper, burr set, grinder chute and doser chamber (if applicable) will go a long way to improving both the consistency and the flavor of your espresso.

In this comprehensive how-to video, Brandon guides us through how to perform regular care and maintenance on the Mazzer Major. Watch him take it apart, assess the internals, clean and then re-assemble this popular commercial coffee grinder. If you own or work for a business that uses a Mazzer Major in your operation — and you’re not performing similar maintenance on a regular basis — might we recommend that today’s the day you change that trend? Follow Brandon’s guidance and you’ll see how simple it is to do so.

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Major Commercial Coffee Grinder

Crew Review: Mazzer Major Commercial Coffee Grinder

Mazzer MajorAs you move up the ranks of Mazzer’s much-beloved grinders, the step up from the Mazzer Super Jolly is the Major, which is a serious force to be reckoned with! Featuring a set of 83mm flat stainless steel burrs that are the stuff of coffee bean nightmare and legend, the Major also has a low RPM motor, enabling you to dose out your coffee quickly with minimal temperature increase.

For cafes that are producing high volumes of espresso each day, an investment in a Mazzer Major will pay for itself almost immediately, especially if you’re upgrading from a smaller model such as a Super Jolly. The increase in efficiency alone will have you and your crew singing its praises, while its beefy motor and high grade components mean it will be a trusted co-worker for years to come.

In this video review, our commercial equipment guru Brandon gives us the rundown on this popular coffee grinder. You’ll learn about its tech specs, functionality and see how well it performs. And if you have any other questions not covered in this video, you know that we always love hearing from you!

Crew Review: Mazzer Major Commercial Coffee Grinder

 

Coffee Grinder Compare: Rancilio KRYO 65 vs. Mazzer Super Jolly

Coffee Grinder ComparisonIf espresso prep is a primary element of your business, then choosing the right coffee grinder for the job is essential. In fact, you may recall us harping on this concept before, but your coffee grinder truly is the most important piece of equipment. The grind is the thing.

To assist in your consideration process, we have produced another grudge match between two fairly similar-grade commercial coffee grinders: New kid on the block, the Rancilio KRYO 65, versus one of the more popular mainstays, the Mazzer Super Jolly.

Watch as Brandon guides us through how they compare, specifications-wise, and then perform a few functional comparisons: Do they produce the same volume of coffee in 5 seconds? Does the KRYO’s aluminum fins make a difference in the grind temperature or consistency? Watch as we put these two mid-range coffee grinders to the test!

Compare: Rancilio KRYO 65 vs. Mazzer Super Jolly Commercial Coffee Grinders

The Reluctant Barista Dials in a Coffee Grinder on the Last Frontier

IMG_1796Lots of Seattle Coffee Gear fans watch our YouTube videos to learn more about coffee and espresso with our hands-on tutorials. But what if you don’t have internet or wireless service available? This summer, I carefully hand-carried a Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder to Homer, Alaska, a location often highlighted as part of the current ‘Alaskan Reality TV Show’ craze. Let me tell you about the reality I faced as I tried to help my family dial in their new coffee grinder without the SCG Crew there to help me.

First of all, my family lives on twenty acres located ten miles outside of town. Fair to say, it is a little remote. Tom Bodett calls Homer The End of the Road: Electricity is a new arrival at the house and my mom still cooks on a wood stove. Internet comes via satellite service, which is comparable to the dial-up systems of yore in terms of both speed and reliability. My step-dad unpacked this nice hand-built Italian grinder on the coffee table and fished around inside the box for instructions. I laughed a little at the old-fashioned notion of reading a user manual and pulled out my smartphone. The joke was on me when I had no cell reception and such limited wi-fi that I could navigate to YouTube, but not play a video! Then, the joke was on him because the poorly translated Italian-to-English instructions left us scratching our heads.

I love the Rancilio Rocky grinder. It is a home grinder, but it’s made with commercial parts, so I knew it would be the right grinder to reliably produce the daily espresso needed to make my folks an Americano and a cappuccino. I reached deep into my memory bank to help set up this burr grinder. The one thing I clearly recalled was to make sure beans are ground through it as the burrs are adjusted lower so they do not grind against each other and cause damage. I wish I had seen Teri’s excellent video on how to dial in a Rocky before I left Seattle. We did find a written blog post by Kat years ago and used it to guide our efforts.

The part that frustrated me most about dialing in the new grinder was not the physical adjustment, but rather the amount of espresso beans used and time it took. Compared to the Baratza Virtuoso I have at home in Seattle, the process was night and day. By the time I ran through the recommended ¼ pound of beans on the Baratza I found my grind. With the Rocky, it took a full bag of beans plus the stopwatch app on my phone and multiple taste tests that left us all wired. The Rancilio instructions say that this process will never need to be repeated but I know from watching Kat and Gail’s videos that any time you get new beans or a new machine, re-calibration is required.

The Rancilio Rocky grinder is an excellent coffee grinder and the fuss of a more temperamental set up is rewarded with an ideal home espresso grind. My parents wanted a grinder that could be carefully maintained and serviced to last many years. In the greater scheme of things, an evening spent hopped-up on espresso shots was family bonding time and not actually wasted. Plus each morning thereafter was like Christmas as we raced to see who would get to use the new grinder first.

What is the takeaway from this cautionary tale? A) Don’t count on modern technology to work in the wilderness B) Be more patient than I am C) We put a great effort into creating the perfect home espresso station while there’s still no thought of indoor plumbing. And that is the reality of life on the Last Frontier.

homer