Add "unimodal" burrs or (and?) flow control kit?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
transit

#1: Post by transit »

Hi there, first post here but as many I've been reading a lot for a few years now.

For the last couple of years or so my preferences have been shifting from medium roasts to lighter ones.
When I bought my P64 (one year ago) I was a bit torn between burr sets and finally changed my order to get HU (I considered more an allrounder)
Actually I'm not a huge fan of 1:2.5+ ratios, I like texture etc.

Anyway, I recently bought a darker roast (medium dark blend) by curiosity. Not to my taste at all, even though I found it quite pleasant in milk drinks. And I find myself pulling shots almost exclusively from lighter espresso roast and even filter roasts (darker roasts belong to my past I would say). Shots are good but sometimes seem to be missing a bit of sweetness/subtlety or presenting a bit of harshness (especially with lower doses).

Sorry for this long an intro, but finally here is my question (as title puts it):
To get incremental improvements in my already good cups, would it be better to try another burrset (SSP MP) in my P64 to get something more balanced and clearer or mod my LMLM (already has .6mm gicleur) with some needle valve kit ? Or getting both would be something to consider too?

As I understand it now : MPs would push me towards higher ratios whereas "slayer shots" will let me stay in the shorter end of them with improved sweetness and good texture. MPs would be more finicky to dial in and needle valve more versatile maybe? I've read many things about MPs sometimes contradictory i.e. "super easy, everything tastes good" / "awfully finicky" / "had to change my water, pressure, basket" etc. (This has kept me off)

Or maybe some will consider I should stick to my current setup as it is. I don't feel the need nor want to be on the fringe of experimentation, I just want the best out of the beans without too much fuss.

Any input will be very much appreciated.

Cheers!
T.

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Jeff
Team HB

#2: Post by Jeff »

I'll expand in the morning, but here's some initial thoughts.

Buying better beans is probably the surest way to improve your cup and skills.

64 MPs are "cheap" to try. They're around $180 and sell for a good chunk of that if you don't like them. They can't fix greens or roast defects.

erik82

#3: Post by erik82 »

Light roasts require better quality beans so that's the starting point. Having great beans you still need to have a roaster that is capable of roasting them in a good way. Try Tim Wendelboe and see if you like that. Their beans have superb quality and are super clean.

Going from 64mm to 80mm burrs is also a large upgrade and you maintain the versatility. For me that's the sweetspot and going to 98mm makes it more like a one-trick pony but that's my opinion. Those 64mm burrs just don't do it for me although they're pretty good.

I also want somewhat more texture and really like light roasts. I almost never go past 1:2.5 due to lack of texture. I've had numerous upgrades in the last 15 years but in the end it came down to buying better beans, lowering brew pressure to around 7 bar, having the ability to do longer PI's and having a superb 80mm burr grnder.

transit (original poster)

#4: Post by transit (original poster) »

Thanks guys for those first thoughts.

As for the beans I use, they are very good I think and well roasted (which is not that common where I live).
I mostly buy from KB cofffee roasters because they are good and close to me (geographically) - though they are not international celebrities.
I recently bought a microlot from Rwanda roasted by Sumo (Ireland) which was amazing too and I'm going to continue exploring european roasters for sure.

Erik, I should have specified that I'm not going to get another grinder for the years to come (space, cost, etc.) I'm not yet in the 15y of upgrades zone though :)

I could try to lower the pressure first indeed. I'll see what Jeff wants to add.
:)

erik82

#5: Post by erik82 »

Not saying you need a new grinder just sharing my thoughts on where you can win the most. Getting the right gear (for you) in the end takes a couple of years and really depends on personal preference.

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Jeff
Team HB

#6: Post by Jeff »

I looked at the KB site and it appears that they take some care in describing their beans, which is a good sign.

Speaking in general, my experience with mainly US-based roasters seems in line with what a Q-Grader whose opinions I respect said, that most "specialty" coffee has either or both green or roast defects. I don't recall the percentage they stated, but I wouldn't argue with 2/3, 3/4, or more. Again not addressing KB but coffee in general, it is likely that a lot of "quality" coffee will have defects of one sort or another. Even roasters with a good reputation can have poor coffee. There is one US-based roaster that sent me a bag of filter roast that was pretty clearly baked. Usually I'll forgive one bad bag from a roaster before I move on. These are things I don't want to taste at all, certainly not highlighted in detail.

Where this is going has to do with what burrs you might want, especially about how "revealing" they are of the coffee. I'm just getting used to how the 64 MPs work to dial in, where they "like" to dial in, and how they then present the coffee.

For reference, I drink almost exclusively light-roast espresso with half of my beans coming from La Cabra, Tim Weldelboe, and now Coffee Collective subscriptions over the last couple of years. I switched off La Cabra because of getting burned out on naturals, not any issues with quality. I don't care about getting crema or a thick shot. I do enjoy being able to taste two or three layers of flavor without having the "notes" suggesting what I should taste. I don't mind flavorful acidity in my espresso and I find "comfort espresso" to be pretty generic to unacceptably bitter.

My initial feelings are that, for me, the 64 MPs don't do well with "18 g in , 36 g out, in 25 second" shots. The better shots that I am getting tend to be with significantly higher flow rates than classic espresso. This might be 1:2 or 1:2.5 in under 20 seconds from pump on, or 1:3 or so with 25-30 second extraction. I'm finding the espresso to be "bright" or "acidic", depending on your perspective. The Coffee Collective Ethiopian I am pulling right now is only three weeks off roast and was harsher in its acidity than I enjoy closer to two weeks when I opened it. On a different grinder, it was more subdued in revealing my arguably poor choice to pull it sooner than I probably should have.

I don't know that I'd want to be pulling a darker omniroast or a comfort espresso with them and revealing all the roast flavors and potentially defects. I don't think I'd want to be pulling less-than-great coffee with them for the same reasons.

My experience agrees with Erik's that getting away from "9 bar" shots can benefit well-roasted coffees. I'm running around 4-6 bar in the basket for most of my profiles, maybe with a brief peak a bit higher. One rough estimate is that there's a 1-bar drop, so 6 bar in the basket might be 7 bar on the gauge.

If you're pulling well-roasted, good quality beans, then it might be worth trying for a while to see if you like the 64 MPs. I can't say that angels will descend from the heavens and imbue your espresso with ethereal spirit. You might also want to consider the 64 Cv2 ("lab sweet") burrs. I haven't tried them yet.

transit (original poster)

#7: Post by transit (original poster) »

Well guys thanks very much for these detailed info.

I couldn't tell about defects as I have no pretentions to be able to detect them etc.
I just find beans that are (with my current skills and setup) good to me, and that I found really superior to most of the things I have tried for the last few years roasted aroung here. Like you, I find classic blends (not even speaking of italian ones) to be boring ("coffee" flavors in the bad way) or awfully bitter. That's why I don't use them, only recently I tried out as I said: by curiosity.

Your last post Jeff is both stimulating my curiosity and making me fear the hassle with MPs (letting the angles apart). I'll think about it (again!).

But what about a needlevalve kit? this part has not been evoqued directly. Erik, you mentioned, long PI though. I'm not looking for massive crema not the thickest shot, buy like Erik over 1:2,5 it's not to my liking (because of texture/dilution and because it's too much liquid for me to enjoy).

About KB, I think they are pretty serious. Lots of naturals and experimental fermentations though - sometimes it's a bit too funky for me but overall I find them very good. I would be curious if you guys try them - and potentially tell how bad they are in comparison... but that would be another story.

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Jeff
Team HB

#8: Post by Jeff »

transit wrote:Lots of naturals and experimental fermentations though - sometimes it's a bit too funky for me but overall I find them very good
This tells me that you're tasting with your mouth and nose, not to justify your eyes, wallet, or others' impressions of your "good taste". This is a good thing. I wish more did that!

Of the two, I would go for trying either 64 MP or 64 Cv2 burrs (or Option-O's cast, when they ship) for the following reasons:

I think you're going to want to try one or the other in the near future, no matter what. You wouldn't be asking if you weren't wondering and I can't see people all of a sudden saying, "Naw, they don't make a difference at all." any time soon.

It is a relatively inexpensive thing to try (acknowledging that those burrs alone cost more than many people's coffee grinders). At worst (financially) you decide to keep both to trade back and forth. That's around 200€. If you decide on only keeping one, if the used market is like here, you might get within 10-20% of your purchase price back in your wallet.

I don't have the 64 Cv2 burrs in hand yet, so I can't give any first-hand advice there. Option-O is coming out with their design on a cast burr for the Lagom P64. There's some discussion at SSP Lab Sweet 64mm as well as probably somewhere in the last year of Lagom P64 Flat (Option-O)

I don't know the details of the Linea Mini kit, but I'm imagining that it is comparatively expensive and might take your machine out of service for a couple days. It has the potential of improving your coffee as well.

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Jake_G
Team HB

#9: Post by Jake_G »

I know the 64 HU burrs really well and I know flow control fairly well, as well.

I agree with the earlier suggestions to try 7 bar extractions before moving to flow control. I spent a good amount of time (2 years or more?) With 64HU burrs and a couple flow control machines. One was a plumbed in and out commercial HX machine that required a fair amount of pre-shot rituals to get the temperature just right and the other, my current GS/3 with flow control added between the HX and the coffee boiler, so the panel gauge more closely represents the brew pressure.

I have since upgraded to 98mm HU burrs, which many state are closely emulated by the 64MP burrs (which I also have in my Super Jolly right now). After spending a good long while with the 98HUs, I found that I was rarely exceeding 6 bar of pressure when using flow control. Earlier this year, I pulled the flow control out and set my brew pressure to 6 bar and I really can't tell you what it is I might be missing out on, compared to profiling my shots. This is why I recommend the free option of lowering your brew pressure with the 64HU burrs as a first step. It is free and easily reversed. Give it a go for a while and see how you like the shots. The HU extract pretty quick and give great body and texture. Reducing the brew pressure and bumping your brew temperature up will likely give you the lion's share of what you're looking for with exploring lighter roast espresso. Especially if you like shorter ratios.

Cheers!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

transit (original poster)

#10: Post by transit (original poster) »

Very much appreciated inputs!

I'll follow this route. Lower pump pressure first, then see in septemper/october if I want to try new burrs. I wanted to try Option O's cast burrs actually, but told me a couple of months ago they add issues with production... Let's follow incremental steps from free to more expensive if need is felt.

Jake, this is really interesting. I had read through your flow profiling thread before, seeing you get rid of it without seeing much difference is surprising!

Thanks again guys ! I'll see how it goes.