Upgrade grinder then espresso machine? - Page 3

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

#21: Post by boar_d_laze »

+1 with Dan. A good machine delivers things other than appropriate temperature and reliable pressure which make for quality in the cup. Just temper my +1 with the proviso that Dan's speculations as what those other things are and how they function are more informed than mine.

Silvia does the pressure alright but is lousy on temperature and somewhere between lousy and not very good on everything else. That's not to say Silvia isn't better than the department store machines and you can't get decent espresso with the occasional good shot. But delivering the good shot, even with the best beans and techniques is problematic, as is really looking into what the beans have to offer.

Machines which do everything better are unsurprisingly better in that respect as well.

On the other front, the doser questions were more along the line of reexamining prejudices and conclusions than to suggest a particular grinder or type.

As it happens, I'm a doser kind of guy. Thwacks are only as loud as you hit the thwacker. Don't whack, and it won't thwack. Old fines actually in the path are displaced (or at least diluted) with new ones with the first shot everyday. Some dosers stay cleaner than other, and mine wipes particularly well; but any good one can and should be cleaned with a brush as part of your daily janitorial ritual. The performance argument for them is that in many cases, dosers make for fluffier and more consistent delivery. In my case, it's probably twenty something years of habit more than anything else.

BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

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spiffdude

#22: Post by spiffdude »

Just a side note that the static grid on the mini-e will PREVENT you from cleaning out the chute of old grinds whereas the mini with doser offers an unobstructed access to the chute (once you get rid of the finger guard).

Doserless does not always equate to less wasted coffee. Depends on the models and how you use them.
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

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uscfroadie

#23: Post by uscfroadie »

fizguy wrote:I don't plan to change coffees frequently or single dose. I think I am wary of dosers because I have never used one, and have preconceived notions that they will be noisier to use (thwak thwak), that each dose will include stale coffee from the day before.

I like the idea of the mazzer mini e with the grid and metal funnel...it seems to me that this would help to reduce clumping.

My main issue with Rocky is the size of the steps. I don't have enough experience to know how a different grinder would effect the taste. Perhaps a machine upgrade first would help me to understand more fully what I am looking for in a grinder.
A machine upgrade would definitely address your initial problem - serving multiple drinks easily - while you continue researching what grinder will work best for you. Is there anyone near you that has a grinder you are considering so you can try it first-hand?

Also, all grinders are prone to clumping. Even the Rober-E if you watch enough videos, but what's so bad about clumping than it being a purely esthetic thing? It's coffee that has been ground, and a brush of a finger or even a light tamp makes it all disappear.

I'd say take your time on picking a grinder. I've owned a Mini, SJ, Macap M4d, and a Vario. The Vario works so well it's hard to ever consider upgrading, but if I do I'll get it's big brother with a short hopper (K30 Vario).

Just my $.02
Merle

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EricBNC

#24: Post by EricBNC »

boar_d_laze wrote:+1 with Dan. A good machine delivers things other than appropriate temperature and reliable pressure which make for quality in the cup.

BDL
I guess I am not enlightened yet - temp stability is a problem on small boiler entry level units. Too hot, too cold, or each depending on where in the shot pull you measure. A lever (LaPavoni) is praised for its shot quality (Cremina too) but they get too hot after a couple shots. Temps matter - Shot quality is affected by temps - why flush an HX if this is not the case?

Reliable pressure - I waded through the link and this seems to be very important to the quality of the shot. +1 with Dan, as you say.

So help me out - you use two terms I am not familiar with, and you mention other things besides resolve and staying out of the way are delivered by a good machine but give no details. What are these other qualities?
LMWDP #378
Author of "The Bell Curve: Instructions for Proper Herd Mentality"

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HB
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#25: Post by HB »

Speaking only for myself, my point is that based on a few performance metrics, some declare one espresso machine superior to another (e.g., better temperature control, better pressure control, etc.). Temperature management is unquestionably an important measurement, but it's not everything. I alluded to this point in How to choose an espresso machine and grinder at the "right" price:
HB wrote:Q. Why are the "second tier" and above espresso machines so much easier to use than entry level equipment?

A. Consistency. The brew temperature is more predictable. Some entry level espresso machines have brew temperature range of nearly 30°F (commonly referred to as the "deadband"). This means the brew temperature may be 182°F for one espresso and 202°F the next. The second tier's temperature tolerance is 10x smaller and the third tier's almost another 10x smaller. Brew pressure is regulated for some entry level espresso machines, but not all. Advertisements claiming "15 bar" brew pressure are meaningless; this refers to the maximum pressure the pump can generate with no flow of water, which isn't a useful comparison for those wishing to brew espresso (for a more technical explanation, see I still don't get it: Why adjust the OPV?). Another important distinction between entry and second/third tier espresso machines is how evenly and gently the water is initially diffused across the surface of the coffee puck. Grouphead designs that combine effective, even distribution, good brew pressure control, and predictable brew temperatures are considered more forgiving of errors in barista technique.
There's no objective measurement of "forgiveness factor". It requires hands-on experience. Unfortunately some buyers decide what espresso machine to purchase based on a specifications sheet. To me, that makes no more sense than deciding what car fits your needs based on comparisons of specifications (though of course they're a good place to start, e.g., if you have a family of six, you can safely eliminate all two seaters).
Dan Kehn

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TrlstanC

#26: Post by TrlstanC »

When I upgraded from a Gaggia Carezza and a PL53 to a Duetto II and K10, I actually got the machine first, and the grinder about 6 months later, so I was able to see what impact each had. I also still use my old setup occasionally (we'll take it on vacation) and I've done some blind taste testing with different combos of equipment. If the goal is the best possible espresso, the grinder definitely makes the biggest impact, but that's not the only reason to upgrade. I'd say there are three things to consider:
  1. Quality - this pretty much comes down to how much better your best shots are going to get. It might also be noticeable as the average shot getting a little better.
  2. Consistency - for me this is about reducing the chance of getting a sink shot, and increasing the number of shots that are close to the best I can get (we could also go for consistent mediocrity, but that's not as much fun)
  3. Usability - some equipment is just easier and cleaner to use. To some extent this overlaps with the other two, if for nothing else than because we all get lazy sometimes and don't want to jump through all the hoops to get the best out of our fussy equipment.
Here's the impact that my machine upgrade had (as best as I can tell):
  1. Small increase in quality - the very best shots from my Gaggia and the very best from the Duetto were pretty similar, although the Duetto's temp stability made a bigger difference with trickier coffees. That will probably be true of everything though, you'll see a bigger difference on more difficult coffees.
  2. Big increase in consistency - especially when pulling shots back to back.
  3. The only negative about usability with a big machine is warm up time, although a timer will take care of that for regular usage (but if I forget to turn on the machine and guests want coffee with dessert we're either waiting a while or drinking french press). Everything else about the machine is a huge improvement in usability. It's much cleaner, easier to keep filled up, and of course no waiting to steam. Pulling more than a couple doubles with the old machine was a real chore, but the new one can pump out shots one after another.
Here's the impact that my grinder upgrade had (as best as I can tell):
  1. Definitely an increase in quality. The best shots aren't a lot better then the best with my old grinder, but they're definitely better, again it's more noticeable with trickier coffees. Even with "comfort food" blends the flavors come through cleaner. I think this change is why so many people on this forum recommend a grinder upgrade first, and if you're looking to get the best possible espresso, I'd agree.
  2. Consistency is tough to judge. On one hand if I grind 10 shots with either grinder, there won't be much shot to shot difference. On the other hand on different days, or even switching coffees, I don't have to adjust the K10 nearly as much.
  3. Not having to adjust the grinder could also be considered the best improvement in usability. Other than that it's a mixed bag. The big grinder holds on to more grinds, and I get better results single-dosing, which is also a little more work. I don't really need the doser (just one more thing to clean), but it is much faster and a lot quieter. Depending on what grinder you're upgrading from and to, and how you use it, it may be a big improvement in usability, or actually be a little more fiddly.
Everyone's situation is different, and depending on what your budget is, different combinations of machines and grinders might work out better. Although, it's probably likely that upgrading either one will just make you want to upgrade the other that much sooner :)

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boar_d_laze

#27: Post by boar_d_laze »

EricBNC wrote:I guess I am not enlightened yet - temp stability is a problem on small boiler entry level units. Too hot, too cold, or each depending on where in the shot pull you measure. A lever (LaPavoni) is praised for its shot quality (Cremina too) but they get too hot after a couple shots. Temps matter - Shot quality is affected by temps - why flush an HX if this is not the case?

Reliable pressure - I waded through the link and this seems to be very important to the quality of the shot. +1 with Dan, as you say.

So help me out - you use two terms I am not familiar with, and you mention other things besides resolve and staying out of the way are delivered by a good machine but give no details. What are these other qualities?
You remember me as writing "resolve," but I wrote "resolving power," meaning to use the term as it's used in optics, that is as an ability to reveal detail.

Maybe I was ambiguous. I didn't mean to imply that temp and pressure aren't important, as I think they're critical. However, I don't think they're the only important things.

A good hypothesis explains observed the data and predicts not yet observed data. I'm just barely at the observation stage, and don't know enough to satisfy either prong. What makes a Casa better than a really good machine -- say an Evoluzione or VBMDD-- at the next price level down? I don't know. But it's unambiguously better in the cup.

You're free to speculate about the roles of line-pressure pre-infusion, brew path mass, group design, horizontal boiler orientation, HX placement and geometry, etc., but Fudd's Fuhst Waw of Cuewessness wequies me to wemain vewwy vewwy quiet. Heh heh heh heh.

BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

kamali

#28: Post by kamali »

I just did an upgrade to HX about 2 months ago. I had a Rocky grinder for about a year. What you enjoy is the first morning shot. Its a whole new world. you will never want to go to a coffee shop again. I mainly drink cappuccinos and the froth and ease of pulling consecutive shots is a pleasure. Its much easier and faster... it also causes friends to coming over more often :D

Just tonight I upgraded my grinder and got rid of the Rocky. I bought a Mazzer Mini. I used to also be a doserless fan, but I think I like the doser. The grind is so smooth, no clumps. and wow what a change going to stepless. its so sensitive.

I would definitely upgrade machine first, then the grinder.

fizguy

#29: Post by fizguy »

So here is the story so far:

I was set to upgrade the grinder, probably to a mazzer mini e, but received an unexpected cash bonus at work for some new technologies I helped to developed which added up to pretty much exactly the cost of a new brewtus IV. I decided that it was too much of a sign to pass up. :D

So new Brewtus is on the way and I will continue to put $$ away and get the grinder some time in 2012.