Pharos - Removing Grounds

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Postby DWardCA » Mar 10, 2012, 2:20 am

Anyone have any tips for getting the coffee grounds out of the Pharos?

I spend more time emptying the machine than I spend grinding. I find they clump up and in order to get them out I need to use a paperclip or something. I have tapped the machine with a mallet, clacked the burrs, but it still seems stuck in there. I'm thinking it must be the humidity in my apartment - but it shouldn't be doing it that much. I'm grinding at 3/4 of a turn from zero.

Thx in advance.

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Postby time8theuniverse » Mar 10, 2012, 4:42 am

I hit the center axel with the bottom of my palm or on one of the rubber feet on the bottom. Sometimes I hit the middle plate if i think there still some grinds inside. I have abit of a rhythm to it.

Its very dry where I am so I don't have as big a problem with the grinds clinging.
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Postby Boldjava » Mar 10, 2012, 8:12 am

DWardCA wrote:Anyone have any tips for getting the coffee grounds out of the Pharos?

... I'm thinking it must be the humidity in my apartment - but it shouldn't be doing it that much. I'm grinding at 3/4 of a turn from zero.

Thx in advance.

Lack of humidity. I notice a huge difference in grinder static when our home humidifying unit needs to be refilled with water.

Boil some water in a pot while you are putzing away. Let the steam permeate the area in which you will be grinding. More humidity=less static in the grinder=less bean retention. Once the furnace is shut down for your Canadian summer (July and August), you will face less of this.
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Postby allon » Mar 10, 2012, 9:33 am

I knock around the top of the grinder, then thwack the rim of the top plate with my palm (the meaty part of the thumb) with a mostly downward stroke around the rim a few times, then repeat.

The thwacks are sharp enough that the shaft and inner burr stay still (inertia) and the body of the grinder moves down, causing the burrs to clack sharply. It's a practiced move. I weigh the beans in and grinds out so I know when I'm done.
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Postby CoffeeMac » Mar 10, 2012, 3:42 pm

The biggest hassle with the Pharos is getting the grounds out. I tried many techniques, most of which would involve losing lots of grounds and making a mess. I finally came up with a decent technique that keeps hassle, loss and mess to a minimum. I got a 2oz plastic Nalgene bottle from REI and put a hole in the lid that would friction-fit the bottom of the Pharos funnel, which sticks out a bit from the bottom plate. After grinding, I pull the plug from the funnel, attach the Nalgene bottle, and proceed to do the Pharos Shake Dance to extract the grounds. It's still a pain, but at least all of the grounds end up in the bottle (and then the portafiliter), rather than all over the counter or floor.


I believe the Pharos has a fundamental design choice/flaw that will forever make grounds extraction a challenge: The second bearing is below the burr. It will be difficult/impossible for an after-market modification to work around this IMHO. To fundamentally correct the problem, both bearings should be above the burr, allowing a grounds jar to be attached at the bottom. This is what OE did with the new Lido grinder (38mm conical burrs). I'm not sure why they didn't take this approach as well with the Pharos. My take, based on some of OE's comments in their videos and other postings, is that one of the design goals was to keep the grinder very symmetrical, with the burrs being equidistant between the two bearings. This may have some benefit in keeping the burrs aligned or in keeping the overall esthetic in line with the designer's vision, but creates a fundamental ease-of-use issue in getting grounds out.

Having said all that, I have to say I am still happy with my Pharos purchase. It's nice to have a quality backup grinder, to be able to grind "off grid" while traveling, and to explore Titan-class flavor profiles.

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Postby Bak Ta Lo » Mar 10, 2012, 3:49 pm

Love the Nalgene bottle! I am going to try it!

I found the trick to get the flow started is a strong side to side shake, in the horizontal plane, not vertical tapping. The grinds seem to dam up sometimes over the pour spout, and a strong side to side or swirl motion will get the flow started. Once the flow starts a few more shakes gets 80-90% to come out very easily, no banging. If it is being more stubborn, I will quickly flip the grinder upside down and give a little quick shake, turn it over, side to side shake, and then I get the last 2-3 grams. (This all takes less time to do that it took to type it out.)

On another note, I have ground over 20 shots today, and one big change I have made is not going after the last .1 to .3 grams anymore. I was getting 17.6 to 17.9 back from a 18g load, and then chasing that last bit with 10-15 seconds of extra banging and tapping, I decided it is not worth it. I now put in 18.5 grams each time, grind, dump to my flexible plastic cup, and then fill my double basket with OE funnel on the scale. I fill to 18.00g and then stop, tamp, and shoot. This has made the shot preparation easier, faster, and it looks much more elegant to anyone you are showing the grinder to, that extra 10 seconds of banging to get that last .1 to .3 grams looks crazy to some people, but I totally understand the feeling to want to get it all. I have found stopping the banging, tapping, shaking, poking and such has made me enjoy the grinder more, and keeps my routine from getting side-tracked by quests looking for the wooden hammer of Pharos. :D
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Postby DWardCA » Mar 10, 2012, 6:56 pm

Bak Ta Lo wrote:... I have ground over 20 shots today ...

Your arms must be pretty beefed up by now :) I broke a sweat doing one grind ..

I too like the bottle idea .. Though not sure what bottle I can use around here that won't come flying off when I start doing the shaking....

Thx tho

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Postby CoffeeMac » Mar 10, 2012, 7:29 pm

Though not sure what bottle I can use around here that won't come flying off when I start doing the shaking....

I was able to get a pretty tight friction fit on the Nalgene bottle, but I still have to hold it while I shake. My original plan was to cut some threads into the outside of the funnel nozzle so I could screw on the Nalgene bottle top, but the tap & die sets for that diameter were too expensive. I decided to limit my expense for this project to $1.55 for the bottle...

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Postby opother » Mar 10, 2012, 7:54 pm

I spank the sides of the plates on a couple of corners while tilting the grinder at different angles.

I don't have to spank it too hard and have become proficient to the point where getting almost all of the grinds into the intended container with minimal mess and fuss is second nature. In the begining it was akward but after emptying the Pharos for a while I got pretty good at dosing without making a mess.

I use a paint brush or sponge to wipe up any small amount of grinds that fall on the table. The amount of stray grinds is always very small (at times barely noticable.) I could use my hand alone to clean it if I wished.

I find spanking the grinds out to be a fast, simple, and predictable procedure that doesn't take much longer than click clacking a doser. The only disadvantage I notice is not being able to dose directly into a portafilter.

Since I use a round flexible (I can squeeze it when pouring) plastic cut in half 1 pint welches concentrated grape juice container to fill the portafilter getting the all the grounds in both the container and portafilter is easy.

This is not so when I use a square shaped solid wooden drawer that comes standard in most of the other wooden hand mills.

They are like badly designed coffee decanters, no matter how hard you try, grounds dribble over the edges all over the place when pouring and even when just pulling out the drawer, when there is static they jump right out of the drawer too, trust me on this, a pull out drawer is not much of an advantage.

I think the Turks solved the problem pretty well a long time before before we did as noted with a turkish mill (metal with a removable bottom catch) but they are not designed like the Pharos and are best for very fine grinding only (turkish) the way they like it.

I am sure the Turks would have made a grinder like the Lido too if they got a craving for coarse ground french press coffee but I a guessing they didn't see a need to.

I can live with spanking the Pharos it if it means the huge burrs will be better aligned to produce high quality grinds when using all that torque to turn them.

I still find the ideas in this thread interesting and have the attitude of never say never. We might just find a good idea on how to make a spank free Pharos but as for me it is not an important issue. I am still open to ideas though.

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Postby sweaner » Mar 10, 2012, 9:19 pm

I have used 2 different methods. When I grind for drip at about 1 turn, I bang the grinder gently onto a pad on my counter. I think this loosens everything. I pull the plug, hold the grinder over my CCD, and use my hand to bang on the black plastic over the funnel. Most of the grind simply flows out.

I also have a plastic Rubbermaid container that fits onto the bottom of the grinder, being held in place by the rubber feet. I use this like the above Nalgene bottle.
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