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Do I need a stepless grinder?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Do I need a...  
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MarkPod
Senior Member
MarkPod
Joined: 19 Mar 2005
Posts: 369
Location: Toronto ON
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: BrewtusII
Grinder: Macap M4 Stepless
Roaster: i-roast
Posted Sat Mar 19, 2005, 7:15pm
Subject: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

I was drawn to this site while searching for tips on how to build my own blend.  I have learned so much over the past few days – My thanks to all posters! By the way, JonR10’s photos of espressoporn are some of the most beautiful things I have seen!

I have a Gaggia MDF grinder which will give me a good 22-30 second shot with 40lb of pressure using beans up to 5-6 days old.  After that, I have to use a 70lb tamp, or switch to a finer step setting on the MDF, which then requires a 5lb tamp for a decent shot.  Also, I have to modify tamp pressure throughout the day, rather than grind, as the steps are too far apart to achieve consistency using the grinder.  

My conclusion is that the MDF achieves a nice grind, but that the steps are too far apart to be able to stick to a consistent 30lb-40lb tamp.  Are the Rocky’s steps close enough that this is not a problem, or do I need to go directly to a Mazzer or other stepless grinder?

Thanks,  Mark.
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kdkrone
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Nov 2004
Posts: 151
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus; Olympia...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Sat Mar 19, 2005, 7:31pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

Well, I'll tell you....

We purchased a Rancilio Rocky in November and it raised the quality of our espresso tremendously.  I considered the Mazzer Mini, but we needed equipment that would fit below a cabinet that gave only 15 1/2" clearance.

That having been said, if we remodel the kitchen, I will probably purchase a stepless grinder as there are those days when one step is juuuuust a titch too much....  There are price considerations, of course, and,  I must add that I have not ever used a stepless grinder; I just wanted to relate my experience with a stepped one.  And the experience with a stepped one is quite, quite good with that little caveat....

P.S.  See the first post in this thread--I just noticed it--regarding a Mazzer    "One Month With Brewtus"
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singforsupper
Senior Member
singforsupper
Joined: 22 Feb 2005
Posts: 539
Location: NY State
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Fiorenzato Bricoletta
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Vac Pot: -
Drip: French Press
Roaster: Caffe Fresco-Tony Sciandra...
Posted Sat Mar 19, 2005, 8:04pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

We have a rocky and quite frankly the distance between steps is just under 1/8 inch.  Does anyone really adjust a stepless less than 1/8 inch at a time?  If so, does it make one bit of difference?   I chose the rocky over the MM and saved $150-$175 after talking to several top baristas (at espresso bars highly rated on here) who said the same thing.

 
Coffee, I must have coffee,
And if anyone wants to give me a treat,
Ah!, just give me some coffee!

~J. S. Bach Coffee Cantata, BWV 211~
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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 Sat Mar 19, 2005, 8:54pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

MarkPod Said:

My conclusion is that the MDF achieves a nice grind, but that the steps are too far apart to be able to stick to a consistent 30lb-40lb tamp.  Are the Rocky’s steps close enough that this is not a problem, or do I need to go directly to a Mazzer or other stepless grinder?

Posted March 19, 2005 link

Hi Mark - and welcome to CoffeeGeek!   :-))  
(I thank you kindly for your compliment)

I wish I could answer your question about Rocky, but I have never used one.  Even so, I have seen posts from others who have used some simple tricks to make the Rocky more stable with much finer adjustment steps.  You might want to check out these posts:

"Great Rocky tweak"

"Re: Is a home HX machine really capable of a "God Shot"?"  

"Stepless adjustment on Mazzer Mini-how important to making a good shot"  

It is my opinion that for the same money as a Rocky there are some other grinders that are also very capable and very well built.  Have a look at sumocomputer's reference page Coffee Grinder FAQ & Guide

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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GaryH
Senior Member
GaryH
Joined: 24 Oct 2003
Posts: 2,530
Location: San Jose California
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Zaffiro
Grinder: Macap M4 Doserless
Vac Pot: none
Drip: yes
Roaster: none
Posted Sat Mar 19, 2005, 11:59pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

MarkPod Said:

My conclusion is that the MDF achieves a nice grind, but that the steps are too far apart to be able to stick to a consistent 30lb-40lb tamp.  Are the Rocky’s steps close enough that this is not a problem, or do I need to go directly to a Mazzer or other stepless grinder?

Posted March 19, 2005 link

I've owned a doserless Rancilio Rocky for two years and within the first week of ownership I made mine stepless because on the Rocky a one click dial change results in approximately 10 second change in pull time. So when the the pull time for a 2oz espresso is 20 seconds, grindng one step finer results in a 30 second pull. Since I grind for each shot I don't need a lot of room in the hopper so I made the hopper very short. The step setting knob has been removed and the Rocky can now also be set inbetween settings using the two hinges that lock the hopper in place. This also resulted in much reduced upper burr slop. The blue bungee cords are used as a handle to transport the Rocky.

GaryH: rocky.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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Inukshuk
Senior Member
Inukshuk
Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 201
Location: Historic Bucks County Pennsylvania
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 and...
Grinder: Rocky DL
Drip: Krups Moka Brew
Posted Sun Mar 20, 2005, 8:23pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

MarkPod Said:

...that the steps are too far apart to be able to stick to a consistent 30lb-40lb tamp.  Are the Rocky’s steps close enough that this is not a problem, or do I need to go directly to a Mazzer or other stepless grinder?

Posted March 19, 2005 link

In a word, yes...the Rocky's steps are close enough to adjust as age of bean and other factors change, and at most fine tune with a slight tamp adjustment. I've never had a one click adjustment on Rocky change the pull more than 3 to 5 seconds, however if you're not going to be having needs other than espresso from your grinder (and have the extra cha-ching) certainly don't hesitate going to the Mazzer.
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KittJ
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 324
Location: Chappaquiddick Island

Espresso: PID Expobar Brewtus IIIR;
Grinder: Mazzer: Mini & SJ
Drip: Why??
Posted Sun Mar 20, 2005, 8:34pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

singforsupper Said:

We have a rocky and quite frankly the distance between steps is just under 1/8 inch.  Does anyone really adjust a stepless less than 1/8 inch at a time?  If so, does it make one bit of difference?   I chose the rocky over the MM and saved $150-$175 after talking to several top baristas (at espresso bars highly rated on here) who said the same thing.

Posted March 19, 2005 link

The Mazzer and the Rocky use differently shaped parts to move the burrs closer together, so the 1/8 turn reference is not relevant.  Moving the Rocky a notch adds 10 seconds at espresso fineness, one notch on the Mazzer adds 3 seconds.  On a Mazzer you can move half a notch or any other distance you want.  I can't think of any espresso fans who went from Mazzer to Rocky.

On the other hand, you can get from espresso to french press a heck of a lot faster on a Rocky than on a Mazzer.  So if you have to make many different grinds every morning, you may not want to use a Mazzer.  But that is an entirely different issue and screening criteria.

The cost differential is actually in Mazzer's favor at the moment.  You can get a used Mazzer Super Jolly for less than $200 for a few weeks more.  A lot of geeks got them last month for even less.  See the Threads on the Mazzer grinders.

Mazzers are your last grinder.  Investing money in anything else is putting off your Mazzer because you don't want to tie up that much money in a grinder at this moment in your life.  With access to used *$ grinders, that rule need not apply for a little while.  Every now and then, you are in the right place to get lucky.  Be sure to take advantage of it.
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kaanage
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 1,452
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezerra BZ99, Gaggia...
Grinder: NS MCF, Imat Lux, Cunil...
Posted Sun Mar 20, 2005, 11:02pm
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

Remember that you can adjust dose as well as grind and tamp. If the shots are running just a bit fast, try dosing up a bit and tamp to the same force as normal.

One thing about this site is people tend to advise you to throw money at problems. Sometimes there are other ways - a guy on alt.coffee found a way to halve the size of the steps on his MDF with a fairly straightforward mod.

As for comparing step movement, you need to know the thread pitch as well as the distance between steps to compare the burr movements.

Greg

 
do'in it on the cheap
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cp
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Jan 2005
Posts: 46
Location: Beaumont, Tx.
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Isomac Relax
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Mon Mar 21, 2005, 11:30am
Subject: Re: Do I need a stepless grinder?
 

I find my Rocky to be extremely accurate with repeatable results.  Fine tuning my shots has never been a problem for me.  The only thing you have to remember when fine tuning and timing shots is to get all the remaing grounds out between adjustments as not to skew your testing times.  I've yet to run into a situation where I thought I needed an "inbetween step" adjustment.
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Zaphod
Senior Member
Zaphod
Joined: 17 Oct 2003
Posts: 54
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Lever
Grinder: Rocky
Drip: Simple plastic cone
Roaster: Soon!
Posted Mon Mar 21, 2005, 11:59am
Subject: proper technique
 

All of this is, of course, opinion but there tends to be agreement by most experts on the following:

The *only* variable one should use when tuning shot time is grind setting. Adjusting dose or tamp pressure does work to some extent but in a perfect world it should only be grind setting.

I'm anxiously awaiting my mazzer and getting ready to dump the rocky. It's a really good deal and if it'll fit in the kitchen then you should probably go for it.

Good luck
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