Grinder to build a sensible workflow (~$1000 budget)

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

#1: Post by duccio »

Hey guys,

I am on the market for an espresso grinder and would love to hear seasoned home baristi's thoughts.

So I got ECM Synchronika for a month and I am going through about 4 lbs bean now.
Up to this day, I use a Taiwan-made Molar X to grind my beans.
A bit bio of Molar X: 83mm conical burr set at 30RPM
Yes, it is a very unique design that has a very specific workflow and cup profile in mind.

I had been doing pour-over and siphon for two decades.
Until now I started doing espresso, I realize some concepts can be applied here but the margins for error are really thin in espresso.

Some background so you guys can understand where I am now:
I have a friend reviewing my pulls and giving me feedback.
He has been tremendous help to get me where I am.
I am getting the hang of it.
However, there is a limit for how much you can do through video and calls.
So here I am.

So I know the ropes of dialing in.
I understand the concept of shape, fineness, roast quality of coffee all factor in in "creating an even resistance to pressureized water (D.C. Schomer)."
Target brewing time, ratio...

WORKFLOW
So here is the workflow of preparing the coffee in the PF:

1. Dosing:
- the clearance under the chute and the base of Molar is too low to dose the coffee directly into PF (especially mine is angled handle)
- Weber Workshop Blind Shaker is critical in my current workflow: it receives the coffee from the chute and keep the coutner clean

2. Distribution;
- Shake the Blind Shaker to even out any clump
- Tap: vertically on the tamping pad, sideways with my wrist while sitting the Blind Shaker on top of the PF
- Drop coffee into PF by pulling the plug
- Grooming with Stockfleth-ish methods to make sure the surface are as even as possible

3. Tamping:
- I use the ECM tamper comes with Synchronika: it may not be the most hyped about tamper, but it is heavy and solid handle feeling
- "Doorknob holding" straight down the coffee pack with a twist
- Blowing out the fines not getting tamped on the side wall

PROBLEM & REVELATION
Here are things I have hard time to overcome and why I think a new grinder would help:
1. Dosing:
- Blind Shaker is possibly still an integral part of my single dosing workflow
- But very much would like to experiment with direct dosing into PF

2. Distribution:
- I have hard time achieve 18 gram in my BaristaPro 18g basket
- I always have to use 20.5 or 21 to get that nice pile I can work with to groom the surface
- It is usually 19.6 - 20 grams after grooming
- I tried to grind 18.5 grams and there is very littel or no pile I can work with; oftentimes the surface after grooming is below the brim of the basket which is harder to be even
- My friend think it could be the shape / texture / structure caused by conical and the speed
- This is almost validtaed today when I braved to grind for espresso on my Baratza Forte (BG!): I can immediately tell the coffee are so much more fluffier. So I can start with 19 gram and get to 18 gram in basket after grooming (once it was 16 gram!)
- But also one big change of workflow is I didn't tap as suggested by my friend. There are channeling. But on my way grinding finer, the channeling is minimum and flowrate is coming to the target time. Reminder: I have to tap and tap, meticulously grooming to eliminate the channeling with Molar X.
- So I see that a different grinder could totally change the structure of coffee in PF and workflow
- However I cannot pursue further since Fore BG cannot go finer and the stepped adjustment is not suitable for dialing in espresso

3. Tamping:
- Without "artificially" tapping, shaking, and distributing ( I experimented with ECM Distributor and found it is close to useless besides cosmetic), I do get a very responsive feedback from coffee's "bounceness" when I tamp. It makesit so much easier to make decision of how hard to tamp and understand the quality of roast work of the coffee.

IDEAL GRINDER
I want to start over with a "ideal grinder" to ahieve some learning mentioned in the "PROBLEM" section.
I would describe this "ideal grinder" as:
A. Single dosing with a receiver (Blind Shaker)
B. Possible direct dosing into PF
C. Normal grinding speed: achieve "regular" shape and texture of coffee ground
D. Dosing with impeller: reduce problem of static and retention
E. Nice looking - purely subjective and nice to have

My budget is around $1000
The short list I have here is:
1. Niche Zero: no one ever said a bad thing about it. I need it for espresso only.
2. ECM S-Automatik 64: seems solid build and check all the boxes, and of course, matching my Anthracite Synchronika!

I am aware there are many optoins out there.
I'd appreciate any recommendations and thoughts on building a sensible workflow.

Thank you for your time
Cheers

BruceWayne
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by BruceWayne »

Don't buy a new grinder, buy/make a cheap WDT tool with 0.4mm pins and use that instead of the Stockfleth grooming.

Get a portafilter funnel that is flush with the basket and magnetically attaches. It helps with both grooming and grinding directly into the portafilter.

A 58.5mm leveling tamper that doesn't leave coffee on the sides of the basket would be my next suggestion.

Finally, you have a really expensive single dosing setup, don't grind more coffee than you intend to use in a dose.

duccio (original poster)

#3: Post by duccio (original poster) »

Hey BW,

I ended up getting an Eureka Atom Specialty 65.
I dialed in on my third pull-I did it with no shaking, no tapping, no WDT.
I just wiped off the excess coffee, measured at 18.4 grams (finally that is the dosage the basket was designed for), and tamped.
I was suspicious but stunned when I saw it.
In espresso workflow, grinder indeed makes heaven or hell.

Indeed, I am looking at the oversize tamper.
The ECM one is solid.
But the gap around the side wall is a nuisance and ergonamic could be improved.
I am looking at Pesado and Pullman.
Any other recommendations?