Category Archives: Grinders

Crew Tip: Rancilio Rocky Doserless Adjustment

Rancilio Rocky GrinderIf you own a Rancilio Rocky doserless coffee grinder, you sometimes might wish you were blessed with as many arms as Blinky is with eyes … how else do you hold down the adjustment lever, turn the hopper and then also run the grinder when you’re making the grind more fine?

First off, let’s cover why you should do this. Whenever you’re adjusting a burr grinder to a finer setting, you’re essentially bringing the burrs closer together. If you do that without running the grinder at the same time, you run the risk of compacting coffee beans in the grind chute and even warping or permanently damaging the threads. This is such a costly repair, it really means that you’re looking for a replacement grinder.

To avoid such horror, you need to run the grinder as you bring the burrs closer together. On the Rocky model that includes a doser chamber, this is easier, as you have an on / off button to use. The Rocky without a doser, however, simply has a rocker switch that must always be engaged in order to grind. So how do you manage all three at once? Watch Teri as she demonstrates her trick for adjusting the Rocky doserless more finely when you’ve only got your own hands to spare!

SCG Crew Tip: Rancilio Rocky Doserless Adjustment

The Reluctant Barista: Baratza Grinder Groove

baratzaThere are many reasons why I remain a reluctant barista. Over the past year, my caffeinated knowledge has greatly improved and my skills have marginally improved but there remains a hole in my espresso education: Coffee grinders have me particularly perplexed. I understand the working parts, I have even taken them apart (and put them back together again) for cleaning purposes. However, when I see a fluffy pile of fresh coffee grounds and compare it to another pile, it all looks the same to me. Sure I can tell French press coarse from Turkish fine but the micro-adjustments have me stumped.

So, here I stand with the full line of Baratza coffee grinders in front of me. This is a quality coffee problem to have, except I only know how to use the Encore grinder! It is a sturdy little workhorse that pairs well with my Technivorm coffee maker. Instead of regurgitating RPMs and clump tests — which really isn’t my style — let’s start with what’s in it for you — which really is my style. How will you get your groove on with a Baratza coffee grinder?

Entry level/Drip Coffee = Encore. This is my not-so-secret weapon for successful office coffee. The Encore has an on/off knob, a pulse button and an adjustment ring on the collar. This is great for coffee preps like drip, pour-over, AeroPress, French press, Siphon and Chemex. It can also be adjusted finer for espresso grind if you are using a pressurized portafilter.

Mid-level/Multiple Brew Preps = Virtuoso. The Virtuoso is very consistent. It has an on/off knob, a timer, a pulse button and an adjustment ring on the collar. The particle size uniformity makes it well suited for coffee preps like espresso in addition to drip and manual brewing methods. This versatility is great for anyone who enjoys multiple brew preps.

Mad (coffee) Scientist/Espresso = Preciso. More fine-tuning options and a little bit faster output make the Preciso a conical burr home grinder with commercial functionality. There are 40 step adjustments multiplied by 11 micro-adjustments within each setting. I can’t even do the math or my brain will explode! Suffice it to say, if you enjoy playing around with different coffee and espresso blends, then this grinder is optimized for your caffeinated brewing adventures.

Pro Version/Multiple Brew Preps = Vario. So where does this grinder fit? The 54mm ceramic flat burrs provide accurate, fast-grinding performance. This is a professional-grade machine with optimal consistency within a very small footprint. It has 230 distinct grind settings from fine grind for espresso to coarse grind for French press. With a digital timer and three programmable buttons, the Vario has accurate one-touch dosing. Small cafes and roasters report a solid track record with the Vario and the Vario-W model, which adds weight-based functionality.

Cafe Version/All Purpose = Forte AP. While the Vario does a great job, the brand new Forte models are bigger, beefier and have digital touch screens. The AP features 54mm ceramic flat burrs which stay accurate longer than metal burrs and grind finer. The weight and time based functionality provides repeatable grinding results. Designed for long lasting cafe use and abuse, the AP shines for espresso and can grind for coarser settings also.

Cafe Version/Pour Over Preps = Forte BG. This model features 54mm flat steel burrs. Why offer a choice of burr sets when ceramic lasts longer and grinds finer? Metal burrs reduce ‘fines’ in the mid to coarse range of grinds. Pour over preps require particle consistency, which is harder to achieve in the coarser grind settings. The Forte BG is a specific solution to a problem that high end/Third Wave coffee bars have had — they demanded the highest quality burr grinder available for everything but espresso. The BG can still technically ‘do espresso’ but it has been designed to tackle mid-range particle quality and quantity.

forte grindsOnce you have selected a grinder for your intended usage, then you can dial it in. This had — up to now — been my downfall, then I realized I was rushing it. It takes time, patience and a pound of beans … and that’s asking a lot from an impatient person like myself. I tried the Forte AP since it is new and fancy (and I love new and fancy) and I paired it with the Pasquini Livia G4 Automatic espresso machine because that is also new and fancy. The process involves picking an initial setting and noting the results with each incremental change. Instead of visually inspecting the grind, this is a combination of timing the espresso shots and tasting the results. Word to the wise: Just sip — otherwise you are in for a sleepless night! I filled a frothing pitcher with discarded espresso shots before I felt comfortable with the right setting for particle size and dosage.

One final note before I leave you up to your elbows in coffee grounds … Sadly for me, this process needs to be repeated if you change your beans or the machine you are using. Grinders are not universally calibrated so there is no cheat-sheet to tell you what number or setting will be optimal. This is a situation where trial and error, er I mean to say, highly scientific methodology is the only way to help any grinder find its groove.

Crew Review: Rancilio KRYO 65 Commercial Burr Espresso Grinder

Rancilio KRYO 65Can’t sacrifice quality for quantity or vice versa? The Rancilio KRYO 65 feels your pain and was designed specifically to alleviate it.

Featuring 64mm stainless steel burrs, an aluminum fin collar to dissipate heat more evenly and a simple worm-drive adjustment mechanism, the KRYO 65 is built for high capacity coffee shops that need to produce consistent, excellent espresso. It also features a doser chamber for you to grind and dose quickly during a particularly mad rush, which also has the virtue of keeping things (relatively) clean.

If your cafe’s pace means you need to craft a quality espresso-based drink each minute, the KRYO 65’s speedy delivery (14 grams in about 4 seconds) will get you where you need to go. Watch as Brandon shows us its tech specs and features, including an internal tour of the burrs and grind shaft, plus a demonstration of of its grind quality.

Crew Review: Rancilio KRYO 65 Commercial Burr Espresso Grinder

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

Nuova Simonelli MDXCaring for your Nuova Simonelli MDX is an essential element of producing excellent espresso, and it’s easier than you think! The MDX features a burr configuration that adjusts the bottom burr instead of the top during calibration, so cleaning it doesn’t mean you’ll need to completely dial in your grinder again. It also has a super simple method for removing the front doser chamber for cleaning, so you can also keep this area in tip-top condition.

In addition to regularly running a product like Grindz through it, you should completely disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Nuova Simonelli MDX every so often to ensure optimal performance. The frequency of this is dictated a bit by how busy your cafe is — many businesses do this weekly, while others do it monthly. You’ll know which is the best schedule for your coffee shop once you start doing it regularly and can gauge how much coffee is building up in the burr chamber.

Recommended tools include a vacuum of some sort and a firm-bristled brush, like the Grindminder; other than that, a little soap and water for the bean hopper and doser chamber keeps everything squeaky clean. For guidance on this procedure and tips on how to care for the grinder once you’ve taken it apart, watch Brandon’s in depth video.

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli MDX Grinder

Nuova Simonelli MDXWhen we first met the Nuova Simonelli MDX a few years ago, it seemed to fall into the same class as other similarly sized commercial-grade grinders did: It ground coffee quickly, uniformly and easily, so that you could extract a shot of espresso in under a minute from start to finish. But as we got to know it a bit better, we found that some its unique features made it a particularly learned choice for coffee connoisseurs and crafters alike.

First, unlike other grinders that keep the bottom burr stationary and move the top burr up and down during calibration, the Nuova Simonelli MDX does the opposite. The top burr remains stationary while the bottom adjusts up and down during calibration. This means that when you remove the top burr during cleaning, you don’t lose your grind setting and post-cleaning dial-in is a snap.

Next, the adjustment mechanism on the MDX is pretty tight: A smooth moving knob on top of the grinder versus a sometimes-jerky adjustment collar. It’s super simple to dial in the grind using the knob, leaving very little guesswork around where your grind setting is.

Other than that, though, it’s a fairly standard mid-sized commercial grinder — removable bean hopper, stainless steel flat burrs with a ~1100lb. bean lifetime, front doser chamber to capture ground coffee on the fly. In Brandon’s crew review video, he goes over all the Nuova Simonelli MDX’s features and specs, then demonstrates its grind consistency and performance.

Crew Review: Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

Crew Review: Baratza Forte AP & BG Coffee Grinders

Baratza Forte APThere’s a lot to love about Baratza grinders in general, but the Baratza Forte models take all of that love and kick it up to a higher level. Seriously.

Featuring a high grade metal casing, sophisticated programming (by either time or weight variables), an upgraded bean hopper with a gate valve (for easy bean removal!) and an LED screen, both the Baratza Forte AP and BG models are solidly commercial grade.

What’s the difference between the two of them? Primarily the burrs: The Forte AP has flat ceramic burrs and the Forte BG has flat stainless steel burrs. This translates into the AP functioning as more of an all-purpose grinder, geared toward an espresso through fine drip range, while the BG is built specifically for pour over preparation and, therefore, isn’t meant to grind in the espresso range. Other than that, the AP also comes with a solid metal holder on which you can rest your espresso machine’s portafilter, because you’ll now be able to calibrate the grind and program the weight, then automatically update your programming to grind the correct weight directly into your portafilter.

To find out more about these grinders, check out our first look review of them. Gail goes over the features and specs, then demonstrates their grind consistency and performance.

Crew Review: Baratza Forte AP & BG Coffee Grinders

Breville Compare: Smart Grinder vs. Barista Express Grinder

Breville Grinder ComparisonThere’s definitely something appealing about having a little coffee station on your countertop, no? Breville’s Barista Express‘ relatively unique design offers just such an experience: A traditional espresso machine with a grinder integrated into the case, offering you a one-stop home coffee makin’ shop (as it were). We’ve heard rumors that this configuration is Breville’s best selling model, which makes sense given that, as of this writing, it’s the only one of its kind in the US.

A common inquiry we receive, however, is concerning how well the grinder actually performs. It’s true that the previous generation Barista Express (the BES860XL) included a grinder that didn’t go quite fine enough for our tastes, and owners often had to employ the dual wall / pressurized baskets in order to get a good shot. With the recent upgrade to other elements of the Barista Express, we wanted to know how much of an improvement Breville made to the grinder itself … and how that compared to their popular standalone grinder, the Smart Grinder.

In this video, Gail examines the burrs of these two different grinders and then compares their grind quality and consistency, both at their finest and coarsest settings. If you’re considering one of these pieces of Breville gear for your coffee setup, watch Gail find out how they measure up against each other to get a little insight into how they perform.

Compare: Breville Smart Grinder vs. Breville Barista Express Grinder

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder

Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee GrinderHave you ever walked into a coffee shop, seen a particularly grimy coffee grinder and wondered if you should stick around? We definitely have! Caring for your Mazzer Super Jolly has a variety of benefits, not the least of which is communicating to your customers your commitment to fresh and delicious coffee.

We know that taking it apart and caring for each component can be a bit daunting, however, so we’re here to guide you. Watch Brandon disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Mazzer Super Jolly, while also discussing with us common issues, best practices and considerations you should take into account when caring for your grinder. If your business moves swiftly, we highly recommend that you take this on at least once a month, if not weekly. Your grinder (and customers!) will thank you for it, later.

 

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder

Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder – Crew Review

Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee GrinderWhile we often consider the Mazzer Super Jolly to be a relatively large coffee grinder in the home espresso space, it’s certainly more petite than others you might see down at your local cafe. Its larger size is attributed mostly to its bigger motor and burr set, which will produce finely ground coffee in a matter of seconds — essential in a fast paced production environment.

Watch as our commercial manager, Brandon, takes us through this popular coffee grinder — we learn about its features and specs, take a look at the burrs and discuss which businesses should consider the Super Jolly for their cafe setup.

Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mahlkonig Pro M Series Coffee Grinders

Mahlkonig Pro M EspressoIn the final installment of our home grinder cleaning series, Gail guides us through the Pro M series by Mahlkonig.

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to use the Mahlkonig K30 Vario during a class we took at the annual SCAA exhibition … and it blew us away. The grind consistency, dosage speed, programming functionality — it left nothing to be desired. When we were contacted by Mahlkonig’s US counterpart about a home-focused grinder that they were working on, we were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get our paws on it. Since then, they have released two variations of the Pro M series — the All Around and the Espresso — which both feature high grade ceramic burrs and provide excellent grind quality. The Espresso version even features a digital user interface screen!

Their internals are designed in a way that some people find a bit intimidating, so we’ll often receive service calls from folks with clogged grinders because they haven’t been taking them apart and thoroughly cleaning them often enough. Once you see how the machine is built, you’ll understand why this level of maintenance is required with the Pro M grinders, and it’s really not all that difficult to get the grinder apart, clean it and then put it back together again.

Using the Espresso version (since there are some electronics involved), Gail demonstrates the process for us in this how-to video. If you haven’t been performing this level of maintenance on your Pro M, watch how it’s done and then you’ll be able to clean it with confidence!