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Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
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docdvm
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2009
Posts: 83
Location: Ottawa Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Giotto, Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Versalab
Drip: Bunn VP-17
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 8:07pm
Subject: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

Posted a topic on espresso machines discussing some of the top of the line machines and whether they would make a significant difference compared to a Giotto. A poster suggested that the grinder I have is not adequate and not well matched to a Giotto. It was suggested that I upgrade the grinder. When I purchased this grinder 3 years ago (I believe) it was thought to be a more than adequate piece of equipment solidly built with 64 mm burrs like the SJ albeit a different burr. The criticism was that it was overpriced and that the timed grinds were not necessary. Probably that is correct since I weigh the coffee anyway. Still I know that with the present Guatamalan a double shot gives me 16 gm. I can then manually top[ off with 2 gm. to get the 18 gm I like in my triple basket.

So what is wrong with my grinder? I get small clumps but I basically rotate the basket when grinding so that I get an even mound and then just tamp load and pull. My naked shots look nice with no channeling. When I tried various distribution techniques I had more issues. So it seems to me that the grinder is consistent, no?
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dana_leighton
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dana_leighton
Joined: 11 Jan 2002
Posts: 1,937
Location: Little Rock, AR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Isomac Relax; Caferina...
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Roaster: Poppery I w/PID controller
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 9:06pm
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

docdvm Said:

A poster suggested that the grinder I have is not adequate and not well matched to a Giotto. It was suggested that I upgrade the grinder.

Posted October 18, 2011 link

That's not what John (TheMadTamper) said. He said that IF you were thinking about spending tons of money on a high-end machine, you need to think about upgrading the grinder first.

So what is wrong with my grinder?

Probably nothing. It's an adequate grinder for espresso. BUT if you're expecting your shot problems to be solved by an upgrade from a Giotto to a GS/3, you're not likely to find any joy down that route if you keep the same grinder. The best bang for your buck is in getting into the Titan class grinders with larger conical burrs, whether you're using a Giotto or a Speedster.

On the other hand, if you're not able to get a good shot with the Giotto and a Mini, I'd seriously question the other variables before the grinder or espresso machine.

PS: it might be seen as bad form to start a new thread to vet another poster's advice, rather than keeping it in the same thread.

 
Dana Leighton - Espresso hack and CoffeeGeek moderator
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 10:49pm
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

I think you have a great set-up.

dana_leighton Said:

...He said that IF you were thinking about spending tons of money on a high-end machine, you need to think about upgrading the grinder first...

Posted October 18, 2011 link

+1

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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__________
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Espresso: Awaiting spare parts ;o(
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Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 3:08am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

docdvm Said:

So what is wrong with my grinder? I get small clumps but I basically rotate the basket when grinding so that I get an even mound and then just tamp load and pull. My naked shots look nice with no channeling. When I tried various distribution techniques I had more issues. So it seems to me that the grinder is consistent, no?

Posted October 18, 2011 link

Fashion moves on, and while lauded a few years ago, they are now dismissed by some of the coffeegeek fraternity.  However, don't fret - soon all the grinders currently at the height of fashion will be superseded by industrial roller mills, requiring you to build an addition to your house to accommodate them, but producing the only espresso worth drinking ;o)
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EricBNC
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EricBNC
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Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 3:56am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

dana_leighton Said:

... The best bang for your buck is in getting into the Titan class grinders with larger conical burrs

Posted October 18, 2011 link

This is debatable advice - the giant conical is a good choice but is not the only "final" destination.

A grinder like the K30 produces a different shot profile but not an inferior shot.

 
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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GDK
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Joined: 17 Feb 2011
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: MiniVivaldi II, preinfusion,...
Grinder: Baratza Vario W
Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 6:24am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

Agree. I definitely prefer the chocolate, caramel flavor (personal preference) over brightness and if there is even a small chance flat burrs will accentuate that, then I am a flat burr person - forever ;)
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 6:54am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

Thanks Dana, Norbert, you both got it right!

Mike, there's nothing "wrong" with your grinder, unless you happen to dislike the results you get from it.  A Mini-E and a Giotto is a setup many would sell their ears for.  But you have expressed a certain dissatisfaction with the output from your equipment up to the point of seriously considering some extremely pricy espresso machine upgrades to improve your shots.

While the Mini is a fine grinder, it's now far from the presently acknowledged "top of the line" as well.   New grinders have outpaced it for lower price points than what they used to at a time where the SJ was the next best thing, for substantially more money.  So your present equipment situation is that you have an HX espresso machine that represents, more or less, the top of the line in prosumer HX machines (suitable for home, office, or small restaurant use.)  A machine which can produce shots, with of course a bit of flush/temp management skill, shots that will compare well with any other espresso machine, no matter how pricy.  Will a very trained WBC judge be able to detect issues with a shot from it when compared to magic machine X?  Maybe.  But the general point is any upgrade in machine from where you are, all the way up to a top of the line commercial machine, in the handful of cases where it does show a difference in your shot quality, will be pretty subtle.

The Mini on the other hand is easily outpaced by a number of grinders.  Namely the large conicals, but even the "semi-titan" grinders would show dramatic improvement (such as the Mahlkonig K30, Compak K8, Mazzer Major, Mazzer SJ, Versalab M3, etc.)  But unless you strongly prefer the flavor profile of flat burrs, and especially since you weigh per dose, something like a K10 or a Versalab (if that's your sort of thing) would be ideal for you, IMO.

So an upgrade to a large commercial espresso machine MAY show improvement in your shots.  A switch to a saturated group (GS/3) or a lever (Bosco, Pompeii) will certainly give you DIFFERENT shots.  But the differences will still be somewhat subtle compared to the more dramatic change a grinder upgrade would give you, even on the machine you already have.  And the grinder upgrade costs quite a bit less than a GS/3 or even a Pompeii.   And it will give you better coffee than the Mini even if you still buy that GS/3 or Pompeii later.

A common phrase around here is "grinder is more important than machine".  I like to point out that's only a half truth and prefer to correct it as "your coffee is only as good as your weakest link."  Whether your weakest link is your machine, your grinder, your beans, or your skill, that weak link determines the maximum quality your coffee can be if all other variables are perfect.   Right now, your Giotto is not your weakest link.  Either your grinder, skill, beans (home roasting skill?), or your skill (temp surfing/distribution), are your weak links.

Upgrading the machine will still leave the other weak links right where they are, and you'll never use the full potential of that machine.  Upgrading the machine first from where you are would be a costly way to yield minimal, if any, improvement.  Upgrading the grinder on the other hand should show improvement you can immediately taste.  For less money.  

Now, it's your money, and you can spend it however you'd like.  If you have a yearning for a new big bad espresso machine, you won't be happy until you get it.  If flushing is driving you nuts and you just don't feel you'll ever learn temp management, then maybe some brute force tools WILL help you.  However the temperature differences from "close but not perfect" temp flushing are also subtle.  Perfect temp is ideal, but, again, unless you're WAY off, the grinder difference would show more difference in the resulting shot than a few degree difference.  Sure the temp difference (2-3F, 1.5-2C difference) will have an effect.  But before worrying about a few degrees in the result, you want to make sure everything else is up to that level of scrutiny.  Blends are also handy when uncertain about temp, since most blends won't be "good" versus "bad" on a temp difference but will just show different character at the different temp.

Now, if you upgrade the grinder, perfect your shots on the Giotto your roasting technique whatever.  You may still choose you wish to use your machine differently and thus a DB or lever is for you.  That's fine.  You may even notice a slight improvement again if you do that, though doubtfully as radical as the grinder difference (again lever being somewhat different overall, it would show more stark difference without being definitively 'better'.)   And that grinder improvement will be put to even more good use on that GS3, Pompeii, FB/80, Aurelia, or whatever you should choose to buy :)

One way or another, if you believe you must buy something to improve your coffee, the grinder is your absolute next upgrade if you want maximal improvement for the money.
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TheMadTamper
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Joined: 2 Nov 2010
Posts: 1,246
Location: US
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Salvatore SES; Izzo Duetto...
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC, K8 Fresh,...
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Roaster: /Other: Blender - BlendTec...
Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

__________ Said:

Fashion moves on, and while lauded a few years ago, they are now dismissed by some of the coffeegeek fraternity.  However, don't fret - soon all the grinders currently at the height of fashion will be superseded by industrial roller mills, requiring you to build an addition to your house to accommodate them, but producing the only espresso worth drinking ;o)

Posted October 19, 2011 link

That is a truly Marshall-worthy quote ;)
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TheMadTamper
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Joined: 2 Nov 2010
Posts: 1,246
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 Wed Oct 19, 2011, 7:14am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

GDK Said:

Agree. I definitely prefer the chocolate, caramel flavor (personal preference) over brightness and if there is even a small chance flat burrs will accentuate that, then I am a flat burr person - forever ;)

Posted October 19, 2011 link

True, there's always the desire for flat burr flavor profiles.   Though Mike also showed a strong desire for a spring lever espresso machine, suggesting he may be interested in the brighter profiles of a conical as well.  Or at least thinks he may be.  Then there's the whole rabbit hole of "pairing a bright grinder with a dark machine, pairing a dark grinder with a bright espresso machine, pairing bright with bright, dark with dark ,etc."  That kind of talk is best left to the David Schomer's of the world.... :)


EricBNC Said:

This is debatable advice - the giant conical is a good choice but is not the only "final" destination.

A grinder like the K30 produces a different shot profile but not an inferior shot.

Posted October 19, 2011 link

While I don't know how it compares in specific taste to the K30, I can say that with the K8 (flat), the profile IS somewhat different from the K10, but the difference is very, very subtle.  I can taste it, mostly because I'm very familiar with the output of a certain blend in the K10, so I can taste the difference when it's altered by the K8.  But if I were doing simple A-B testing without having had the flavor profile ingrained in my head from months of daily use of that combination, I would have a much harder time picking out the difference, assuming I could at all.   Yes, it's darker, more chocolate flavored.  The bean in question (Paradise Nuevo) has two different sets of flavors at different temp ranges (there was a fun recent thread at HB discussing it with nearly unanimous results.  ~197F gives it a great chocolate/caramel result, ~202F (roaster recommendation) gives it an uncomfortably dissonant cognac/tobacco result (that happens to work very, very well in milk, but is unsettling as a shot.  I've found ~200F puts it right in the middle where it's neither unsettling nor exceptional for either use.) Regardless, the idea is, out of the K8 I much prefer it at the 197 profile.  Out of the K10, I find the edge toward brightness makes the 197 less interesting, but makes the 202 cognac/tobacco far MORE interesting as a shot.  But that's such a subtle difference that it takes quite a bit of familiarity with that blend to identify, and I'm not sure I could easily or at all pull apart the differences on a blend I only have one bag of (however I would have more good shots out of the K10 due to the conical forgiveness factor...)

E61's happen to make for dark machines, and I enjoy shots from both my bright (K10) and dark (K8) grinders with it, though I prefer the brighter K10 for most beans probably because it's the brighter tones I wish to emphasize in most of the beans I buy.  But the K8 (and thus probably the K30) isn't terribly far off, either, and is still pretty forgiving.
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docdvm
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2009
Posts: 83
Location: Ottawa Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Giotto, Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Versalab
Drip: Bunn VP-17
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 11:26am
Subject: Re: Mazzer mini E Type B an Entry level grinder?
 

Amazing the info you can derive from so many knowledgeable people. I have gone from considering a new machine to getting anew grinder. When I bought the Mazzer I thought I was buying the best home grinder on the market. At that time the Versalab was the best grinder at a significant cost and then the Robur or SJ. At 64 mm. burrs I thought it would produce good fine grind and solid build to last my lifetime. Maybe I should have sprung for the Versalab then. So what would you expect in taste from a Versalab versus the SJ K10 or would you recommend another grinder. I do not want a plastic built grinder like the Baratza Vario  I prefer the build of the Mazzer.
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