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Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
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jwoodyu
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jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 857
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Fri May 20, 2011, 8:24am
Subject: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

I was using my virtuoso for regular and my Baratza vario for decaf. To my utter shock and amazement I liked the results much better with the vario all other things equal like temp, time etc. I prefer it for both regular and decaf. Am I tasting the difference between flat and conical burs do you think? I am holding out for a K10 Fresh but this gives me pause and I may go with the K8 Fresh instead based on you feedback here.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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SteveRhinehart
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SteveRhinehart
Joined: 27 Dec 2009
Posts: 855
Location: Syracuse, NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: 1970s La Pavoni Europiccola
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Hario Skerton
Vac Pot: Yama Tabletop 3-cup
Drip: Chemex, CCD, Kalita Wave,...
Roaster: Flavorwave/Stir Crazy
Posted Fri May 20, 2011, 9:36am
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

Unless it's the Virtuoso Preciso, you're probably tasting the difference between a grinder meant for espresso and one that isn't. Though, to answer your overarching question, there are those that do in fact prefer one over the other, all things being as close as possible. David Schomer of Vivace just blogged about his findings with conical burr systems (actually in a hybrid burr commercial grinder). If you're thinking about different burrs in your next grinder, see if you can get out and taste test for yourself. There is more to it than simply what the burrs look like, as the stability of the mounting system is just as important, and as Schomer touches on, the grinds' path to the basket can make a difference as well.

Me? Haven't had enough experience with conicals to really measure in, so I'm not really skewed in any way other than enjoying my flat burr results.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 8,042
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon May 23, 2011, 5:45am
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

What Steve said.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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EricBNC
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EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
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Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Mon May 23, 2011, 12:37pm
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

I like the results from my flat burr grinder better than the conical burr for espresso but 38mm conical vs 64mm flat might have more to do with the difference than the shape.  The conical is brighter for espresso while the flat brings out a sweeter taste with the same beans - limited exposure here but this is what I am finding.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Mon May 23, 2011, 12:52pm
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

Grinding burrsets are individual and so it doesn' make sense to me to offer such a generalization.  I can assure you that the K10 is a different animal from either a Vario or a Virtuoso (or Virtuoso preciso if you prefer).  


For example, if you set a Rocky on the counter next to a Mazzer Major.  
Would you taste the difference in shots?  Of course you would.  


Now, what if I tested by Vario against a Robur (or K10 or M7K or Doge Conico or Elektra Nino)?  
Can we taste the difference?   Who wins?  


CLICK FOR LINK

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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EricBNC
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EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
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Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Mon May 23, 2011, 1:04pm
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

My comparison to the K30 flat burr grinder is based on my results using the La Pavoni PBC with the Tre Spade 38mm conical burr set - a respected quality conical burr set from all information I can find as well as from my personal experience.  My results using this burr set (coupled with a worm gear adjustment) are superior to the Virtuoso for espresso but not superior to the K30.

The results from the K30 probably matches a Super Jolly, which is matched according to many by the Baratza Vario.  I expect the Vario then probably does produce better results than the Virtuoso - good vs. very good maybe?

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,476
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Mon May 23, 2011, 4:54pm
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

FWIW, owning both a Mahlkönig K30 Vario and a Baratza Vario, there IS a difference between them, with the edge definitely going to the K30.  Now, having said that, taste is a very subjective thing, and just like Person A may prefer Wine X over Wine Y, while Person B prefers Wine Y over X, so too can preferences in grinders vary by taste among the tasters.  This doesn't mean there won't be a general trend in preference, but it does mean that YMMV . . .

;^)

Cheers,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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jwoodyu
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jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 857
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Tue May 24, 2011, 4:12am
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

JonR10 Said:

Grinding burrsets are individual and so it doesn' make sense to me to offer such a generalization.  I can assure you that the K10 is a different animal from either a Vario or a Virtuoso (or Virtuoso preciso if you prefer).  


For example, if you set a Rocky on the counter next to a Mazzer Major.  
Would you taste the difference in shots?  Of course you would.  


Now, what if I tested by Vario against a Robur (or K10 or M7K or Doge Conico or Elektra Nino)?  
Can we taste the difference?   Who wins?  


CLICK FOR LINK

Posted May 23, 2011 link

Great read there and thanks for posting the link. I would indeed like to see the results with your Robur v Baratza Vario in the mix.

The best thing that happened to my espresso making was 1.) finding coffeegeek.com and 2.) tossing the Jura super auto in the trash can. Sure I got plenty of different recommendations regarding which brand and model of machine to buy from the coffeegeeks. The call was clear though to get out of the super. What I am making now is worlds better than before and has spoiled the whole family on drinking espresso in all but a few places.  It's like "the first hit is free kid" kind of thing. I am looking for that next good hit in the quality of my shot, if its out there. I understand it is subjective and I may have reach the place in the curve were there are no more clear and universal "big hits" to be had. Spending three times the money for a K30 to just "edge" out my Baratza would make me sad. Spending 2 - 3k on something like new Compak or a Robur to edge out my Baratza would make me sick as he** even if have to work a little harder at it with the Baratza.

Parsimonious or poor as the case maybe the purchase of several costly grinders, reselling them and the unavoidable loss is not really an option so some generalization necessary to narrow the field. Given that dossers as well as 220 volts are none starters, for me, what grinders if any should be considered when looking for that next big jump, not edge up,  in my shot quality?

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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JonR10
Senior Member
JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Tue May 24, 2011, 5:53am
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

jwoodyu Said:

I would indeed like to see the results with your Robur v Baratza Vario in the mix.

Posted May 24, 2011 link

The Robur burrs' cutting surfaces are indistinguishable from the M7K, Doge Conico, Compak K10 and Elektra Nino.  We were unable to taste any difference at all between the M7K and the Robur.  

A doser Robur can be purchased new for less than $1800 right now, and a Conico for under $1200. (IIRC)  

jwoodyu Said:

Given that dossers as well as 220 volts are none starters, for me, what grinders if any should be considered when looking for that next big jump, not edge up,  in my shot quality?

Posted May 24, 2011 link


None.  Shot quality from a Vario can be tough to beat and if you're looking for a BIG jump then it may be tough to find.  

On the other hand, the large conical grinders are certainly a step up in shot quality and (on the best shots) will show both better clarity and better depth and body.  The large conical grinders are just plain easier to work with as well, so your consistency will be improved (this could possibly be a dramatic improvement).  

The large conical is extremely convenient for my usage style (single dosing).  I have found that I rarely need to adjust the grind because I can tune in the extraction by varying the dose.  I also like having a doser grinder because it was easily modified to sweep very cleanly, clumping is not an issue, and it is VERY easy to access the chute to "bump and sweep" so that I can grind with virtually no waste (i.e. I can load 20g into the hopper and end up with 20g in my basket).  

So I guess I have to ask why a doser is a non-starter for you?

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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TheMadTamper
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Joined: 2 Nov 2010
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Location: US
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Salvatore SES; Izzo Duetto...
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC, K8 Fresh,...
Drip: /Pod: Bunn MCP
Roaster: /Other: Blender - BlendTec...
Posted Tue May 24, 2011, 5:55am
Subject: Re: Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?
 

I'm largely repeating what others have said, but, yes, there is absolutely a profile difference between conical and flat burrs, but, again, for the difference to matter, the grinders must be of the same general class.  Some will definitely prefer one or the other.  The generally believe version is that the conicals are, indeed, brighter and bring out the citrus, fruits, and "sparkle" at the high end, while flat will generally bring out the cocoas and caramels.   I happen to like brighter espresso, so conical is a great fit for me.  But in the machines you compared, one is definitely superior to the other (the Vario) so you're effectively comparing bad conical to decent flat.  (The Virtuoso isn't "bad", but for espresso, it's mismatched.)

I suspect a lot has to do with a particular blend, too.  The difference can be enough to change your list of favorite blends a little.  Some of the all-chocolate blends such as Black Cat seem bland to me on the K10, and it's made me move some lighter roasted blends with more subtlety to the top of my list.  I suspect blends like Black Cat, Redbird, CCC Tuscano, Klatch House Espresso all preform better on a flat burr where the chocolates are enhanced.  I happen to like complexity over "chocolate bomb" espresso so I tend to prefer things like CCC Afficianado, Rustico; Metropolis Redline; Fresco Flossie's, Luna; Klatch Worlds Best, Belle; Zoka Quatro (shipping is expensive on that stuff...).  Not that any bean really performs "poorly" on a top-end grinder, but I would say some may be better matched than others to be paired with one flavor profile over another.  That of course is also influenced by personal tastes, and brewing equipment.  To me, "chocolate bombs" are bland to begin with, and a bright grinder doesn't do anything to make them more exciting.  For big fans of the "chocolate bomb" profile, they may not be as uninterested as I am in the result.

Unless you hate citrus and fruit notes in espresso, I can assure you you won't regret saving up for that K10 :)  One thing to check, if you haven't already done so, is how the grind retention performs in relation to chute sweeping, etc.  I know the old K10 Doserless wasn't able to be swept as cleanly as the doser version.  I know the Fresh sets out to work on that a little, but it looks like the burr assembly is still mostly a straight-forward doser-K10 with a chute attached.  You may want to ask those with a Fresh, if you haven't already, how clean the chute can be swept and how much retention there is.

If it's as "easy access" as the doser version, it's great.  I vac it out each session and it leaves behind only what's plastered onto the burrs and sweep rotors, and once a moth I just unscrew the burr carriage and scrape those down.  If it were still that easy and had dosing attached to it, I'd be envious :)
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