So here's the first sorta scoop for the 2007 SCAA - and no, it's not La Marzocco's GS3 prototype (hey, I'll get to that soon). I say sorta because in a way, a Brit and an Irishman got to see it long before I did.
Elektra. Not the first name you may think of when it comes to grinders. After all, their current lineup of grinders are mainly rebadged or custom made for them by Macap (no small deal that - Macap grinders rock).
I should preface something here - one of the missions I set this year for SCAA Long Beach for myself was to talk to as many grinder manufacturers as I could about where I hope grinders will be going in the near future.
That said, some time ago I remember having a short conversation with Dr. Fregnan, owner of Elektra SRL, about grinders and various barista "needs" for changes in the technology. He said "can you wait until the SCAA? - you may be pleasantly surprised!" And since then, James Hoffman and Steve Morrissey, who both visited Elektra outside of Venice a few months back contacted me raving about this new grinder Elektra had.
So I was excited! And one of my first stops on the show floor was Elektra's booth - and there it was. I didn't catch the grinder's name (I'll try to get it tomorrow), but I did catch many of its standout features.
First, the doser. There is none as you can see. It's a chute design, but not like any I've seen before. The chute is actually open to the air on the top side - so it's like a long piece of metal formed into a slide. Second, you may notice no "kicker" knob or bar - the kind of thing normally found on some chute grinders to kick out the remaining grinds. Why? Because it doesn't need one.
This grinder has several patents - some which apply to the transfer of coffee from the conical burrs inside, spinning at only 500 rpms. Some apply to another kick ass feature - a built in automated fan hooked up to temperature sensors to keep the motor almost frigid (I couldn't hear the fan, but felt its vibrations). The key patents involve one key thing - no coffee left behind. The chute is like glass for coffee - it just slides - no residue, no clumping, no oily stuff gumming up the works. Serious work into static, "anti static", and making coffee move along metal as if it were a puck going along ice... all of this went into the engineering of this grinder. And it works.
Next up - distribution. You may notice the swing out tamper built into this thing. Normally, a 3rd waver would tuh tuh this thing. In the case of this grinder, it actually is useful. Why? Because coffee is distributed near perfectly into the portafilter's basket. I was doing it repeatedly. Perfect central cone of coffee in the basket.No need for manual distribution of the coffee grounds.
Third - the no coffee left behind mentality? Normally, a big problem with grinders is clumped up grounds under and around the burrs - happens with the first grind, and continues to happen with additional grinds. You end up with a near brick-like remains of coffee inside the grinder.
This grinder? Almost eliminated.
Lastly, the timer functions. It's a timer driven grinder. But it's timers on steroids. Extremely precise controls, all digital, and with variable settings. Extremely easy to change for different ambient temperature and humidity variables. Dr. Fregnan's engineers have been putting their brains to work, and this grinder is the result.
It's a shame that many people here at the show don't know about the grinder. I just ran into Instaurator from Michel's Espresso before sitting down to write this, and he had no clue - but he headed over with some of 49th Parallel coffee to try it out. I am curious as to what he thinks.
Much of the show's grinder "buzz" is around the La Marzocco concept grinder, and deservedly so - but Elektra deserves a serious look. If any top shelf pro cafe owner wants to give this a spin, let me know - I'll try to make the connection with Federico Fregnan at Elektra and you, and you be the judge if this is a grinder that will make all the difference.
BTW - I'll try to get more deets tomorrow on this amazing product.