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Struggling with new burr grinder
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AustinJerry
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Apr 2013
Posts: 20
Location: Austin, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 6:27am
Subject: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

Hello, my name is Jerry, and I am a coffee addict.

Being a long-time drip coffee, grind my own fresh beans kind of a guy, I became interested in trying a French Press.  I always do the research before undertaking new projects, and one of the more useful articles I read was a 10-year old post by Mark Prince here on CoffeeGeek titled "How to use a Press Pot".  Thanks, Mark.

One of the strong points of the article was getting the right grind, and how a burr grinder is the best way to achieve this.  I have been using a blade grinder, which seems to have worked well for drip coffee.  Again, after doing some research, I decided to purchase the Bodum Bistro burr grinder, which arrived several days ago.  

The next step was determining the right coffee/water amounts.  Following the advice of several sources, my target was to use approximately 8 grams of ground coffee per 4 Oz cup of water, or 16g for a two-cup press with 8 Oz of water.

The Bodum grinder has a rotary selector to set the grind time, from 5 sec to 20 sec.  So, I took a couple of practice runs to see if I could determine the dial setting that would result in exactly 16g of course-ground coffee.  I weighed the empty grounds receptacle, ran the grinder at several different timer settings, averaged the results, and came up with an estimate of the amount of ground coffee the grinder would produce at various settings of the timer.

So, on to putting this research into practice!  I set the timer to produce 31g of ground coffee for a pot of drip coffee.  According to my tests, a 13 sec grind should produce this amount.  So, I ran the grinder 13 seconds, and the result was 20g.  The following day, using the same amount of grind time, the result was 16g.  Obviously, consistency is not a feature of the grind process!

So, my question is, why can't I find a "set it and forget it" time for the grinder that will consistently produce the same amount of ground coffee each time?  Or should I resign myself to weighing the grind results each time to make sure I am getting the right amount of coffee?  Is this inconsistency typical of all burr grinders, or is the Bodum grinder less than adequate?
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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
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Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 6:53am
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

Timed grinding is never 100% accurate as far as the dose is concerned. There's always a little variation, especially when factors like different beans, aging or humidity come into play. For espresso this variance can influence taste, because a change of 0.2 g can already make a difference there. I'm not sure, however, if French Press is equally dose sensitive.

 
***
"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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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,051
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 8:38am
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

An easy way to do this is simply to grind the coffee you need based on weight. if your within a gram or two you won't notice the difference in french press.  Keep in mind that a small amount of coffee will always be left in the grinder.  If you want to set and forget you can try cleaning out the shoute after each use.  

You could grind, weigh and repeat until you get the amount of grinds you want.  Another way (This is what I do) is keep the hopper empty as well as the shoute clean and only grind what I need.
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RoyceRuiz
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Joined: 31 Mar 2012
Posts: 116
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 8:42am
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

Hi Jerry, welcome to coffeegeek.  Glad to see you are choosing to upgrade your coffee.  As said previously, timed grinders will never be consistent, especially with each different batch of beans but even with the same beans.  The hardness or softness of beans can vary greatly even within a batch and can slow down or speed up the grams per second ground in your grinder.  The best solution is to keep you hopper empty and weigh your beans every time, then add them to the hopper and grind them all (this will also help to keep your burrs clear of old, stale coffee).  If you really want a "set it and forget it" grinder you will need a weight based grinder.  The minimum that I know of is a refurbished Baratza Encore with a refurbished Esatto attatchment (about $220 for the pair but you will need to check Baratza's website for refurb availability, I think that they post new refurbs every Thursday).  As stated above, the French Press is a little forgiving regarding brew ratios but a 4 gram difference as you expressed will be tasted in the finished cup.  You really need to weigh every dose to be consistent.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,962
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 11:04am
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

AustinJerry Said:

...I have been using a blade grinder, which seems to have worked well for drip coffee...

Posted April 16, 2013 link

yeah, you might want to revisit this after a while.  I think you'll probably realize that blade "grinders" (more like, bean hackers) are best used to grind spices for cooking, and are actually severely inadequate for any method of coffee preparation.

Having said that, I completely agree with the responses you've gotten thus far (though I must admit, I skimmed them).  I didn't notice anyone mentioning how beans change with temperature, humidity and storage time (maybe because I only skimmed the posts?)...and these are reasons why you won't get consistency in timed doses.

It's been a while since I've read Mark's article.  did he mention what fresh actually means in terms of coffee beans (specifically, how long they remain fresh after roasting)?  Just curious...yeah, I know I could read the article again.  

:)

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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AustinJerry
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Joined: 16 Apr 2013
Posts: 20
Location: Austin, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 12:11pm
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions.  I think the approach that sounds best to me is to keep the hopper empty, measure the appropriate weight in beans, and then grind all of them.  This also allows me to continue using my airtight container, which seems to do a better job of keeping the beans fresh, rather than leaving them in the hopper.  Being a single guy, it's difficult for me to use up a pound of beans that quickly, so keeping them reasonably fresh is a priority.

I think I know now why I have had trouble trying to get a consistent weight by setting the timer.  When I was practicing with the new grinder, I was using a leftover batch of beans that I didn't like very much, and since they were several months old, I'm sure they were dry as a bone.

I'm looking forward to learning more about this hobby, so I'll be reading up on the many interesting discussions here!  Talk to you soon.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,672
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

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 Tue Apr 16, 2013, 1:08pm
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

I can't comment on the timed consistency of the Bistro grinder you have but I have found that in "better' grinders such as the SJ, with a constant load of beans in the hopper (there is even a plate in the throat of the hopper to keep pressure constant) and a digital dark room timer, I am able to keep a very constant dose when grinding by time.

Also as has been said, the beans, age, roast and more affect the grind both in dose and fineness. I check the dose against the timer with a scale and have been pleased with the results. That said, I now have a commercial grinder with an internal scale so even at 3 am when I wake up, the grind is consistent and the dose is correct without thinking about anything.

YMMV!

 
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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RoyceRuiz
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2012
Posts: 116
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 2:06pm
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

Jerry, as was alluded to in an earlier post and is somewhat confirmed by your last response I think that we are concerned with the freshness of your beans.  The question about whether or not Mark's article explains what fresh beans are did not state what exactly they are.  Fresh beans to me (and many others) are beans that are less than 2 weeks after roast date.  I will continue to use beans up to 3-4 weeks maximum after roast if stored properly but almost never will my 12 oz bag of beans get past 14 days old.  A thing to keep in mind if you buy from the grocery store is that all beans sold in most (about 99%) grocery stores are stale before they even ship them to that store.  Fresh beans properly ground and brewed are the key to drinking one of the best beverages on earth.  Good louck with your quest to upgrade your coffee.  Let us know what coffee you buy and where you buy it.
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AustinJerry
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Apr 2013
Posts: 20
Location: Austin, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 2:32pm
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

Well, I have been using Starbucks French Roast beans.  I'm sure there are better choices, but I do enjoy a dark full-bodied roast, and at least Starbucks is reasonably consistent.

There are quite a few places here in Austin that advertise that they roast their own coffee, so I am about to start exploring the options.  I am retired now, so I have plenty of time for the hobby.  Ideally, I will find a place that publishes what they are roasting and when it was roasted.  I also would like to find a place that will sell quantities smaller than a pound at a time.
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RoyceRuiz
Senior Member


Joined: 31 Mar 2012
Posts: 116
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue Apr 16, 2013, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: Struggling with new burr grinder
 

We all started out at various places.  I started with a blade coffee crusher and Mr. coffee with dark roasted super market beans, moved on to a fake burr grinder (a step you fortunately skipped), added a better roaster (still dark but local and fresh roasted), switched to french press, started enjoying lighter roasts done right, switched to a good grinder,  started preferring single origin bright and acidic coffees, had my first awesome shot of espresso at a good shop, started using a v60, etc. etc.  You've started down a path that, with an open mind, will take you further and further into truly great coffee.  Just keep exploring and use your time to try lots of coffee from good shops that you see recommended in the regional section of these forums.  Try pour-overs, siphon coffee and espresso from these shops to learn what you like.  Try all different kinds, especially single origins roasted a little lighter.
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