Category Archives: Grinders

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.



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