Mikespresso Senior Member Joined: 15 Jul 2012 Posts: 16 Location: India Expertise: Just starting
Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012, 9:26am Subject: Shortcomings in high end grinders
What do you think are some of the shortcomings in high end coffee grinders to get rid of which you would be willing to consider paying a little more. I know this is going to differ for everyone but could turn out to be nice little discussion. Some issues that I would like manufacturers to get rid of include the coffee powder that is left behind after every grind. Even if this is little under 5 g per shot worth of grind it does add up to quite a lot of coffee getting wasted and good coffee is surely not cheap. Another is where the on/off switch is located. If only manufacturers were to look more into the ergonomics of their machine!
CoffeeMills Senior Member Joined: 21 Feb 2012 Posts: 32 Location: USA, Canada Expertise: Professional
Espresso: la Pavoni Professional Grinder: Mazzer Mini Drip: Gravity Cone Roaster: 49TH //
Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012, 11:09am Subject: Re: Shortcomings in high end grinders
Thank You for your concern, as many of us desire the "perfect" grinder. There are coffee grinders & There are espresso grinders Most coffee milling systems are designed to pulverize beans into consistent particles, then remove all grinds before they overheat. Heat can damage a roaster flavor profile instantly, so replacing burs does a lot of "cool" things. If a grinder gets too hot, start looking for a higher capacity grinder with a chute that is cleanable. Leftover dust associated with grinding cannot be avoided, but rather minimized. Grinders constructed of thick metal instead of frail plastic reduce static electricity build up. Vacuum out hopper chambers frequently and run Urnex Grindz tablets every now and then to clear rancid bean oils. This seems high maintenance, but consider the mortar and pestle alternative. On/Off switch designs come and go. The plastic grinder shown is an example of what to avoid when searching for espresso milling systems.
Posted Fri Aug 24, 2012, 11:14am Subject: Re: Shortcomings in high end grinders
Most of the"high-end" grinders are designed for commercial use so many of the factors that we, as home baristas would like, don't enter into it. A grinder with speed enough for commercial use and zero retention (straight-though path) would be nice.
+1 for "keeping it real", too many forget that most of what we call "high end" grinders are actually commercial grinders - often entry level ones.
Hands down, I want to see programmable weight based dosing on a commercial unit. All grinders should include a pulse button (a pressure switch, not an on/off switch) to allow the operator to make small adjustments to the dose on the fly. I would like to see improvements in hopper design, specifically air tight sealing between the hopper and the lid, the hopper and the gate mechanism, and between the hopper and the grinder throat (all of this is happening now...but slowly).
Other than that I guess low internal retention is nice at home and in a shop.
TonyVan Senior Member Joined: 24 May 2010 Posts: 273 Location: Pacific Northwest Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: GS/3, La Pavoni Grinder: Macap M7K, Rocky Drip: Kone
Posted Sat Aug 25, 2012, 10:21pm Subject: Re: Shortcomings in high end grinders
There are many, many threads on this topic here and on other sites, but they all seem to boil down to a few essential points:
Big commercial grinders in general provide a high grind quality that just isn't replicated otherwise: it's not just about their speed, capacity or build quality. There may be excellent smaller grinders giving better dollar-value, but in absolute terms, the big machines really are in another class.
Commercial grinders are usually very large, so you need to be prepared to live with a really big grinder and/or perform hopper modifications that either shrink or eliminate the hopper in favor of a single-dosing or limited-capacity arrangement.
The large-capacity hoppers on commercial grinders and their consistent fill of 1-3 pounds of beans are overwhelmingly believed to be an essential design factor and assumption in their grind consistency. So trying to use a commercial grinder with a few ounces of coffee - or single-dosing - with the stock hopper will not deliver the results you paid for. You CAN get great single-dosing or small-hopper results with small amounts of beans, but to accomplish this almost everyone believes that modifications (replacement cylinder hoppers, weights etc.) are required to mimic the original design's loading expectations.
Since commercial units are assumed to be grinding shot after shot in quick succession, retention of ground coffee in the grind path - and sometimes quite a bit of it - is accepted with little or no concern in that environment. But given the more occasional duty cycle at home, this can mean a lot of wasted stale coffee. So in choosing a commercial-style machine for home use, there's a premium on being able to quickly and easily brush out or otherwise clear the grind path of the complete dose.
Unfortunately, the quantity of home-use buyers for this type of high-end machine is limited enough, in commercial terms, that the numbers just don't support building an "ultimate" machine for this small market. So those of us looking for this kind of capability are required to make the best available choice from products designed for a different environment, and then domesticate the giant with careful modifications. This CAN be done, however, and with superb results.
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