Upgrading to ECM Synchronika and need grinder/accessories advice - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
DustinT (original poster)
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#11: Post by DustinT (original poster) »

I appreciate the advice very much.

Right now I have an ECM V-Titan 64 waiting to ship. I've been over this all weekend and I can't see a strong advantage one way or the other. The Titan doesn't have the brand name of some of the other options but I also don't see a performance difference so far. Dunno, feels like rolling the dice to some extent but the good news is that I'm not super picky...

Finley72
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#12: Post by Finley72 »

I read in your post that your are set on a hopper grinder. Having owned various hopper grinders over the years I now will only have a single dose grinder. Espresso is about consistency and single dosing allows for this. Hoppers have bean weight and as the bean level changes in the hopper your shot times will get faster and you will be chasing grind settings. There is also retention as well in most..... Single dose takes longer, however I've chosen consistency over faster workflow.

DustinT (original poster)
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#13: Post by DustinT (original poster) »

Thanks! It seems I am a contrarian here so perhaps I should explain myself fully and I really hope you'll give me your honest thoughts after.

I've been into beverages, like high end whisky, scotch and coffee for years. I enjoy very much the better quality and varieties out there. However, I have never been motivated to chase every last nuance of flavor. Whether it's making the perfect old fashioned, or the ultimate flat white, I want it to be made very well, I want it to be to my preference, and I want to buy something to make it that will last (nearly) forever.

I'm here for the drink, not the recipe or the science behind it. I recognize there are quite a few truly dedicated people out there who have achieved, and will achieve, a level of understanding and skill that I can only imagine.

The Breville Oracle Touch was a massive step forever and produced sweet, creamy milk based drinks when it worked. While I've had better shots at speciality coffee shops what I was making on the Oracle was considerably better than Jura, Starbucks and indeed most cafes. I used good (not great) beans that were freshly roasted locally and I was very happy with the results. Indeed, I was never left wanting.

This purchase is intended to do a few things. One, it shall not break. Two, it needs to bring that classic Italian cafe look into my home. Three, it needs to produce 3-6 consistent, high quality milk based drinks with a minimum of fuss for many years every day. Four, It needs to be easy to use, quick and low fuss.

I do hope that explains a little more behind my thinking and priorities. With the Titan, I've seen single doser mods that simply drop into the top and provide bellows to clean out the machine so that can be added later. Then, if I got serious about single dose I'd probably by a Niche (or whatever the top SD is at the time) and put it on the counter next to my daily driver.

Now, have said all that... What do you HB experts thing? I imagine you have met plenty of espresso lovers like me and I'm curious what advice you would give them.

Cedo
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#14: Post by Cedo »

I would say retention is an overblown problem for many of the home machines. Many people here seem to push for niche, option-o and weber single dosing grinders regardless of people's needs. I bet many if not most cannot taste the difference of a gram or two of retention. And in terms of consistency I have been making consistent shots without any of the above grinder brands.

I can't really make a recommendation for a specific grinder in terms of long term reliability since I don't usually own my grinders for super long. I have used several of the mainstream brands like baratza, eureka and ceado and they are all capable of making good milk based drinks. If possible try them out in the store to see which workflow you like the best, also size and aesthetics. And chances are the popular brands in your area will have better support too.

For wdt I 3d printed one and used 9 thin acupuncture needles. A dosing funnel is also useful for wdt to keep everything clean.

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Jeff
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#15: Post by Jeff »

I have a Compak K10 WBC which was one of the few titans that could be modified for single dosing, as it was known in 2010. It served its purpose well, though was a complex routine to get fresh grinds for every shot. You "only" wasted around a gram a shot, about 5% of your coffee. Many contemporary grinders are 5-10 g every time you change grind or after a break of more than a few minutes. It also involved vacuuming the grind chamber out at the end of each session.

For me, even using an E61 HX on comfort roasts, retention is quite noticeable on changing grind and also on returning to the machine after some time.

Cedo
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#16: Post by Cedo »

Jeff wrote:It also involved vacuuming the grind chamber out at the end of each session.
Why would you vacuum it every session to increase total retention? Even specifically built single dose grinders have significant non zero total retention. Do you do that with your single dose grinders too? The typical exchange is much lower than the total retention and that's what goes into your dose if you don't vacuum it every time.

Cedo
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#17: Post by Cedo »

Also when people say they can taste the difference is one thing to taste the difference when you drink the two shots separately it's another only able to tell in a side by side test.

Blind side by side tests can be fun but like the op I don't optimize my equipment or workflow to chase after incremental gains that can only be tasted in a side by side test.

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Jeff
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#18: Post by Jeff »

The issue is stale grinds. I find them to adversely impact the quality of shots when present. The impact is significant enough that side-by-side tests are not needed. I've lost track of the number of times that "first shot bad" problem has been traced to grinder retention of stale grinds.

Some of the conventional designs have retention in the 5-10 g range. Add in a hopper feed and you also have the problem of partially ground beans which stale even faster than the whole beans in the hopper. I have no desire to "flush" out a basket's worth of beans every day when I'm pulling a couple shots in a session. Vacuuming doesn't "increase total retention" -- it just gets rid of the stale grinds that you'd otherwise have to displace with fresh grinds.

Conventional grinder design and hoppers work well for what they were designed for -- high-volume cafe use. There losing a basket's worth at the beginning of the day isn't 1/3 of your beans. An opened bag of beans might last a couple hours, maybe a day (1 kg of beans is 50-65 shots), not a week.

Well-designed, single-dose grinders don't have a retention problem significant enough to require vacuuming in home use. I'm not talking about classic designs that the manufacturer tilted, put bellows on, marketed, and upped the price. Well-designed, single-dose grinders start at significantly less than the prices of the ECM or Ceado the OP is considering.

Cedo
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#19: Post by Cedo »

Wrong wording, right vacuum doesn't increase total retention. But stale grinds making into the cup is exchange, not total retention. The two amounts are vastly different. Regular vacuuming seems unnecessary and wasteful that it simply removes total retained which is a superset of exchange and now you will waste new beans to fill all that space again.

I have used your classic design grinders and switched between light and dark roast, with a bellows I have never seen close to 5g of stale grind. Without a bellows I doubt df64 does that much better. Other than the niche I don't think see any other "well designed" single dose recommend here costing "significantly less"

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Jeff
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#20: Post by Jeff »

The two amounts are close to the same with a well-designed grinder that is intended for single-dose use or one like the K10 that has a short grind path and lacks significant space for grinds to accumulate.

This is one of the least damning photos of recent designs by "big name" manufacturers. Ones posted on other forums show even worse problems in the delivery chute.

Jim hits it on the head with
The grind chamber exit is a different story. There is a long tunnel after the exit, leading down behind the control panel to the portafilter or basket. There is a grate at the exit. If the grind chamber is filled with ground coffee, the coffee squeezes through the grate like whipped cream through a pastry funnel, and there is no static, just a very neat pile in the basket.