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Burr size -- Does it really matter?
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Burr size --...  
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psychobrew
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Posted Wed Jun 8, 2011, 6:56pm
Subject: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

What's the real difference between a quality 40mm burr set and a quality 60mm burr set?  Is it only speed or is the drink from a larger burr set somehow better?
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JonR10
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JonR10
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Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Jun 8, 2011, 7:11pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

Here's a link, but if you look around the forums there are literally thousands of posts talking about this subject exactly.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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psychobrew
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Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 11:00am
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

I did try searching.  All I found is the larger burrs have cooler operation (which can be countered by reducing speed on smaller burrs), longer life (but more expensive), faster, and possibly a more fluffy grind though I can't confirm that.
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 1:05pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

psychobrew Said:

I did try searching.  All I found is the larger burrs have cooler operation (which can be countered by reducing speed on smaller burrs), longer life (but more expensive), faster, and possibly a more fluffy grind though I can't confirm that.

Posted June 9, 2011 link

You can only counter the heat so much by reducing speed.  They're still metal (or ceramic in a handful of cases.)  The burrs themselves still generate, AND absorb heat.  And the smaller the surface the more of that heat they retain with less mass to sink that heat to.  And generally, the larger burr machines also have more metal in the chamber to spread that heat around too.  Heat is a significant detractor to flavor.  

Additionally, in most cases, smaller burr machines are meant for lower volume use, and thus have lower power motors, with less torque.  This means that the rotational speed is usually NOT slowed down, but rather sped up.  Bigger burred machines generally have bigger motors with more torque allowing the burrs to maintain constant speed regardless of rotating more slowly.  Additionally, when talking about flat burrs vs flat burrs, the wider diameter means a greater differential in speed between the relatively slower inner section (the crusher/cracker portion of the burr) and the outer section (the actual grinding portion.)  Small grinders like, say, the iSteel have pretty weak motors.  Bigger units like Mini have relatively better motors, and behemoth grinders like K10 and Robur have colossal motors that consume most of the interior of the already huge chassis.  So ironically, the biggest burrsets are the ones with motors that can maintain constant speed at lower RPMs.

Now, purely theoretically speaking, if you were to take a burrset from a Mini-E, strap it to a huge 15lb Robur motor and calibrate it for 150RPM, slow as it would be, you'd probably have something there... though a $1800+ grinder that grinds a pound an hour at max operation and uses only a "somewhat decent" burrset wouldn't have much of a market :)
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JonR10
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JonR10
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
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Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 1:47pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

psychobrew Said:

I did try searching.  

Posted June 9, 2011 link

A quick look in the grinders forum shows the following topics, all comparing different grinders and/or burrsets
These thread titles were in the first 100 topics:

"Baratza Virtuoso Preciso VS Cunill El Cafe' Tranquilo"
"Rancilio Rocky vs. Ascaso i-Steel I-1"
"Baratza Vario V's Mahlkonig Vario"
"WWYD?"
"Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?"
"Better espresso - Vario vs. Preciso"
"KitchenAid Proline grinder w/mazzer mini burrs"
"First grinder: Virtuoso Preciso or I-Mini?"
"Grinder help me decide Compak K3 or Mazzer Mini E"
"'Upgrading' Maestro Plus burrs?"
"Considering: Mazzer SJ (used) or Ascaso I-1 (i-mini or i-steel), or Rocky"
"Racilio Rocky vs. Baratza Virtuoso"
"virtuoso preciso vs rancilio rocky"
"research on grind/grinders..."
"MD40 vs. Rocky??"


And you could also go through the topics at Home barista looking for a few similar ones there
http://www.home-barista.com/grinders/

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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JonR10
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JonR10
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Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
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Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

And in case you missed the first link I gave Click THIS

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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psychobrew
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Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 4:19pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

JonR10 Said:

A quick look in the grinders forum shows the following topics, all comparing different grinders and/or burrsets
These thread titles were in the first 100 topics:

"Baratza Virtuoso Preciso VS Cunill El Cafe' Tranquilo"
"Rancilio Rocky vs. Ascaso i-Steel I-1"
"Baratza Vario V's Mahlkonig Vario"
"WWYD?"
"Do you prefer flat burs or conical? Can you really taste the difference?"
"Better espresso - Vario vs. Preciso"
"KitchenAid Proline grinder w/mazzer mini burrs"
"First grinder: Virtuoso Preciso or I-Mini?"
"Grinder help me decide Compak K3 or Mazzer Mini E"
"'Upgrading' Maestro Plus burrs?"
"Considering: Mazzer SJ (used) or Ascaso I-1 (i-mini or i-steel), or Rocky"
"Racilio Rocky vs. Baratza Virtuoso"
"virtuoso preciso vs rancilio rocky"
"research on grind/grinders..."
"MD40 vs. Rocky??"


And you could also go through the topics at Home barista looking for a few similar ones there
http://www.home-barista.com/grinders/

Posted June 9, 2011 link

I actually started that first thread.  I'm not trying to compare different grinders, just trying to understand all the advantages of a larger burr set.  For example, if you took a grinder with a 60mm burr set and modified it to work *properly* with a 40mm burr set, what differences would I actually experience?  Would the quality of the product be lower simply because the burr size is lower or wou7ld I just have to wait longer to get the grinds (all else being equal).

I guess you could say I'm trying to geek out on the specs.  Measurbating if you will.  I want to understand more than just grinder x is better than grinder y.  I want to understand why and what it is about the parts that really make them better if they are in fact better.
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psychobrew
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Joined: 19 May 2011
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Location: Maryland
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 4:28pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

TheMadTamper Said:

You can only counter the heat so much by reducing speed.  They're still metal (or ceramic in a handful of cases.)  The burrs themselves still generate, AND absorb heat.  And the smaller the surface the more of that heat they retain with less mass to sink that heat to.  And generally, the larger burr machines also have more metal in the chamber to spread that heat around too.  Heat is a significant detractor to flavor.  

Additionally, in most cases, smaller burr machines are meant for lower volume use, and thus have lower power motors, with less torque.  This means that the rotational speed is usually NOT slowed down, but rather sped up.  Bigger burred machines generally have bigger motors with more torque allowing the burrs to maintain constant speed regardless of rotating more slowly.  Additionally, when talking about flat burrs vs flat burrs, the wider diameter means a greater differential in speed between the relatively slower inner section (the crusher/cracker portion of the burr) and the outer section (the actual grinding portion.)  Small grinders like, say, the iSteel have pretty weak motors.  Bigger units like Mini have relatively better motors, and behemoth grinders like K10 and Robur have colossal motors that consume most of the interior of the already huge chassis.  So ironically, the biggest burrsets are the ones with motors that can maintain constant speed at lower RPMs.

Now, purely theoretically speaking, if you were to take a burrset from a Mini-E, strap it to a huge 15lb Robur motor and calibrate it for 150RPM, slow as it would be, you'd probably have something there... though a $1800+ grinder that grinds a pound an hour at max operation and uses only a "somewhat decent" burrset wouldn't have much of a market :)

Posted June 9, 2011 link

Great info.  Thanks.

Generally speaking, how quickly does the heat build up enough to make a difference on a grinder with a 40mm burr set?  Within 7 grams ?  14 grams?  Specifically, grinders like the Baratza Preciso and the Ascaso I2 Steel.....
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JonR10
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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 Thu Jun 9, 2011, 4:44pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

psychobrew Said:

I'm not trying to compare different grinders, just trying to understand all the advantages of a larger burr set.

Posted June 9, 2011 link

Ahh....but the answers you seek are indeed contained within those threads.  

Grinder motors and chutes and timers and sweepers have no effect on quality in the cup, the only thing that really affects THAT is the burr size, geometry, material, and rotation speed (OK - you got me, rotation speed is linked to motor).  

The first link (and last link) I provided gives direct head-to-head blinde taste testing for a wide range of burr types, so that is boiled down to pretty much just what you're asking.  The rest of these grinder comparisons have 2 sides : physical characteristics (usage patterns and build quality, etc.) and taste in the cup.  

For example, you would be hard pressed to distinguish any differnce IN THE CUP between the Mazzer Super Jolly, the Mahlkonig K30 Vario, and the Ceado E7 because all three have similar 64mm burrs.  The differences between these grinders is in build specifics and usage characteristics.  

But if you put up a Mazzer Mini with 58mm flat burrs against a Mazzer Super Jolly with 64mm flat burrs then it is easy to taste the difference.  I firmly believe it has much more to do with cutting profiles and geometry than heat transfer, but as far as I know there isn't much evidence to support that statement.  I remember reading about someone measuring heat of grounds but I can't find that right now to reference....but as far as I can recall it seemed that coffee didn't get heated much by commercial grinders.

Hopefully, that's a more direct answer to your questions.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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psychobrew
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Joined: 19 May 2011
Posts: 93
Location: Maryland
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Jun 9, 2011, 5:18pm
Subject: Re: Burr size -- Does it really matter?
 

JonR10 Said:

Hopefully, that's a more direct answer to your questions.

Posted June 9, 2011 link

Yes.  Thanks!

Keep in mind I am a complete noob, but now I have have something to think about when reading the other threads.
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