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Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Sat Aug 31, 2013, 8:21pm
Subject: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Hi, getting more and more frustrated with my Vario.  I order beans from various reputable roasters and spend a lot of money on my espresso.  I can set my Vario on Q (micro) the first day I open the bag of beans (Post roast 4 days).  Some of the times it's perfect.  Other times they will be gushers and I waste a lot of beans trying to dial in the grind.  To show you how crazy it is---one time= Q, the next time C or D.  I could see O or P, but C or D ?   It should not be that inconsistent.  I have recalibrated it twice.    Sooooooooooooo, can anyone out there tell me their favorite CONSISTENT grinder that is $400 or less?  Thanks.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Sep 1, 2013, 9:41pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Chanty Said:

Some of the times it's perfect.  Other times they will be gushers and I waste a lot of beans trying to dial in the grind.

Posted August 31, 2013 link

Sounds to me like you're not measuring your input dosage. You should be weighing your dosage in your portafilter for better shot consistency.

I personally use a Digiweigh scale, but any scale with a 0.1 gram resolution and a maximum weight rating of 1 kilogram will handle taring your portafilter quite nicely.

Adjust your shot times by dosage first, then only if you can't get anywhere near the dosage you desire, then you adjust grind. Ideally, you should be aiming between a 14-19 gram input dose
for a double shot, but that's just personal taste. Only very experienced baristas can judge dosage by sight. I had the same problem when I first started out.

In a pinch, to get better consistency, grind until you get a "Mountain" of coffee in your portafilter and then use the flat edge of a knife to level off the coffee in your portafilter after you tap it
with the heel of your hand.

Chanty Said:

can anyone out there tell me their favorite CONSISTENT grinder that is $400 or less?  Thanks.

Posted August 31, 2013 link

I don't think that replacing your grinder is going to solve the issue until you can ensure that your dosages are kept consistent first.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Sun Sep 1, 2013, 9:59pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Thank you for that post.  I don't own a scale (never have).  So I'm going to try the "in a pinch".  I've been grinding my own beans for probably about 6 years now, and to be perfectly honest with you I have always used this system:  Fill up 1/4 measuring cup where the beans are a tiny bit mounded out of the cup.  When that grinds into my portafilter, the ground coffee is mounded like a small mountain.  I then tap the portafilter a couple times on the counter, and use my finger to remove any excess coffee.  I then tamp it firmly.   For the most part, I get great shots (dripping out slow, but steady dark reddish brown then tiger striping).  This has been more of a recent issue.   Since I didn't have a scale,  I somehow figured out that 1/4 cup (a little mounded over the cup) worked the best.  If there was more than that little mounded in the 1/4 cup, and the coffee was almost up to the top edge of the portafilter--it would choke the espresso machine.   If it was not enough & too low in the portafilter, too fast.  Since I had this part to a "science" (doing it this way for years now without any real recurring issues); I figured it had to be 1.  Bad humidity issues (and maybe some beans are worse with retaining moisture from what I've read) and/or 2.  Finicky grinder.
I have a Gaggia Classic espresso machine & use a double shot basket.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Sep 1, 2013, 10:30pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Since you have been doing this for a while, you really should consider the idea of upping the budget on your grinder if you are considering buying a new one.
Your grinder could be finicky, but you need to consider spending a bit more than $400 if you want to surpass what you have now..

If anything, you shouldn't buy a new grinder for consistency, (Although it does help) you should be buying a new grinder for taste!

Save your pennies... I'm considering upgrading from my Mazzer Mini Electronic to a Mahlkonig K30 Vario, for both consistency, convenience and taste.
However, that won't be for at least another two years as it was hard enough justifying the Mazzer to my wife to begin with!  

----

Your measuring cup method isn't really the best way to do it. A lot of grinders work on the idea that the weight of the beans in the hopper push down and change
the grind fineness. At least, that's the way how it works in my Mazzer. As well, popcorning beans play havoc with grind fineness, at least in my experience. There are
some people on this forum who do single dose, but they single dose by weight and grind retention. They also put a cloth in the hopper to prevent popcorning. There are
some grinders, like the Mahlkonig ProM that take well to single dosing, (At least from what I've seen) but one of these would be well outside of your budget.

Tapping the portafilter on the counter increases the chances of channelling, which is probably what you are experiencing. Channelling can be deceptive because it
makes a shot happen a lot faster than it should. If you mess with the grind setting to compensate for it, it makes it very difficult to dial in the grinder. So, stop tapping!
Instead, just use a dosing funnel, even out the grind with the heel of your hand and to reduce the chances of channelling, use the Weiss Distribution Method. (WDM)

I've noticed some blends are much more prone to channelling than others. The way to combat this is to use a heavier dose and a finer grind.

So, don't be afraid to put a few days worth of shots in the hopper. I do it all the time and I really don't have problems.. Although, I find that as time goes on, I have to
increase my dosage to compensate for the aging beans. Good luck!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Sun Sep 1, 2013, 11:04pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Thank you so much.  You have given me much to digest.  Really appreciate your time!
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Sun Sep 1, 2013, 11:14pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

qualin,
I just wanted to mention I got the "tapping the portafilter on the counter" from the WDM method.  I re-read that method & it says after the coffee is ground into the portifilter, use a needle & stir the coffee around to break up clumps or air pockets, then tap the portafilter on the counter.  Then remove excess coffee with your finger.  You said flat end of knife.
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Intrepid510
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Dec 2010
Posts: 355
Location: California
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Sep 2, 2013, 2:55pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Are you frustrated with the beginning of a new coffee or the following day or both?

The only way you are going to have a better time at the beginning of the bag is buy a large conical grinder, Pharos hand grinder being the only one in your budget.

Otherwise you could buy a Super Jolly or something used, but I don't believe that would solve your opening of the bag problem just any day to day problems as it's a little more robust. However, from hearsay flat burr grinder and small conicals are going to vary a lot from bag to bag because of their grind. Whereas a large conical grinder is going to be able to grind all beans closer to the ideal regardless of oil/age of the bean.

Someone chime in if I pooched the explanation but the rule is fine.

 
Less water, more grounds.
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Mon Sep 2, 2013, 3:47pm
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

qualin,
I'm getting really excited about the possibility of my ignorance being the issue, not the humidity, etc.  I tried adding a little more coffee to my Gaggia Classic double basket portafilter today & using the heel of my palm to level off the coffee mountain on my portafilter.  Then I did not tap on counter, but just tamped down.  I ended up bringing my grinder micro down from I to L.   So I need a scale to weigh the grams of coffee I think we all know, right?   Here's my question.  How do I know how many grams of beans for a double basket Gaggia Classic portafilter?  I hear 14g - 19g.  That's a 5g difference.  HELP!!!!!!!!!  & thanks!!!
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Tue Sep 3, 2013, 12:20am
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Chanty Said:

How do I know how many grams of beans for a double basket Gaggia Classic portafilter?  I hear 14g - 19g.  That's a 5g difference.  HELP!!!!!!!!!  & thanks!!!

Posted September 2, 2013 link

Well, before I compose my reply, I should say that there is no law that says you have to dose a certain dosage. You can dose anything you like as long as your machine permits it. A good guide
to that is that if you can't lock in your portafilter, or if the coffee touches the screen, you probably are updosing too much. (Beware, Overdosing the machine can result in a fractured puck and channelling!)

A typical Italian espresso is comprised of a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans and is always usually a 14 gram dose, at least according to the standard. "New Wave" coffee shops typically use single origin Arabica
beans and they typically keep their shots between 18-19 grams, depending on the blend they are using and the baristas taste. These are two completely different approaches.

Regardless, A shot made with 14 grams of coffee tastes quite different than a shot made with 19 grams of coffee, so there is a lot of personal taste involved. Only when I find that I can't compensate for a fast or
a slow shot, do I adjust grind. Think of adjusting the grind on a grinder as changing a channel on a TV and adjusting the dosage is like adjusting the fine tuning control.

Also, something to think about... As coffee ages, it will get "Looser" which means that you will need to use a heavier dose to compensate or you may have to make small adjustments to the grinder to grind the coffee finer.
Some dedicated baristas like to make regular minute changes to the grind as the beans age. I personally prefer starting out with a lower dose and then updosing over time as the beans age. This way, I can get a range
of flavors out of the blend. I've found that some coffees, I can start out with a 16 gram dose and by the time I'm almost out of beans in the hopper, A good shot requires a dosage of 19 grams instead.

Of course, this approach may not work for everyone, if only out of personal taste...

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Tue Sep 3, 2013, 12:35am
Subject: Re: Grinder that is not so finicky with the grind that is $400 or less
 

Wow, will I ever stop learning about coffee?   I really appreciate the time/effort you have taken in your replies to me.  I have saved them.  Thank you so much!
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