Upgrading to ECM Synchronika and need grinder/accessories advice

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

#1: Post by DustinT »


I've been a coffee lover my whole life and have played around in the minor leagues a long time. I'm a reformed Starbucks lovers, and have enjoyed a couple of Breville machines, first the Bambino and then an Oracle Touch. Pared with a weekly purchased, locally roasted coffee I have been happy with smooth, creamy flat whites and similar drinks. However the Oracle Touch has been extremely unreliable and have now experienced my third total failure. The three way valves just can not handle my water, despite using filtered water from my fridge and descaling regularly. I tend to get less than six months before they have died. Fortunately Breville has been amazing with their warranty services.

I am exiting the Breville however, and moving to a hopefully more resilient e61 based machine, the ECM Sync, that I plan to get decades of service from. The glaring issues is water quality and filtration, so the BWT system from WLL is already on my short list. Can I just plumb it in and not worry?

Second, I have the Breville Smart Grinder Pro and believe that's woefully insufficient for an ECM Sync. Im considering the ECM V-Titan 64 since it seems like there it's an excellent point at the top end. The Caeco e37 seems just bulky for my counter.

A few other things I want is a bottomless portafilter, and a good scale.

What else should I be thinking about?


#2: Post by Quester »

In the same way you've moved from Starbucks to your current tastes, there's a vast territory ahead you could explore. I enjoy making milky drinks with very little milk (2-3 ounces). I pull single origins ranging from light to medium roast. Those brighter flavors in lighter beans show nicely with just a bit of milk. The Smart Grinder Pro is a poor match for this kind of drink. Even the Niche I happen to be using at the moment isn't a great match because it produces more fines than my other grinders.

Besides your taste preference, I would encourage you to consider a grinder with minimal retention. You waste fewer beans. The shots are better when there's not a lot of exchange between old and new coffee. And it's easy to switch from bean to bean. Right now I'm pulling seven different beans for my family. I have the recipe for each bean written on the box. And I pull a different bean each day--sometimes a different bean twice a day.

I think the Ceado E37 has more retention than I would be happy with. I just watched a video Lance Hedrick did on the Turin DF83. It seems like a good value for an all-around grinder. The Niche is a joy to use if you don't mind the fines and are not a filter coffee enthusiast. I'm not sure what your budget is, but I enjoy my KafaTek MC4. And if you want to explore some lighter roasts, people who own the Lagon P64 generally love them (and the P100 and the Mini). There are a lot of Eureka fans here, and there's a range of their grinders that seem like a good value. I enjoyed the versatility of the Versalab I used to own.

One thing I didn't see on your list is a good WDT tool. It's essential for getting the best results with most grinders.

Once you have your new equipment, explore some roasters people here recommend. You may have an excellent local roaster, but the odds are against it.

DustinT (original poster)

#3: Post by DustinT (original poster) »

Indeed, you're right! My roaster is local, and that's about it. I picked them by default so I'll put this on the list to explore in the near future. Roasts, and beans I will have to come back too later tho. Once I get the gear setup and working I'll spend more time experimenting over the years to come. I suppose that leads me to another priority, will the Synchronika and the v-Titan 64 be versatile enough for the next few years as I move to more interesting roasts, etc...

One thing I want to mention, I am getting the flow control on the espresso machine so I'll have that option moving forward.

Right now, I'll be able to get the ECM V-Titan 64 for $1349 + tax as part of the bundle with the machine and could probably swap that in the next few days if there's another choice that makes more sense. I'll add a WDT tool to my order, ASAP. Thanks for that tip.

KafaTek isn't an ascetic I care for, tbh, though I hear their products are unparalleled. The Lagom p64 on the other hand is a dream. I love those looks. Granted, I have no idea about performance but man, it looks good! Sadly, to step into the Lagom would be an extra $300 and it shipping isn't estimated until Mid\Late April. I think that puts it out of contention, sadly.

DustinT (original poster)

#4: Post by DustinT (original poster) »

Quester wrote: One thing I didn't see on your list is a good WDT tool. It's essential for getting the best results with most grinders.
What makes a good WDT tool?

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#5: Post by Doolittlej »

You can easily make your own with a cork and needles. I use the tool from https://levercraftcoffee.com/ and have been very happy with it.


#6: Post by Quester »

DustinT wrote:What makes a good WDT tool?
Around 8 food grade pins/needles that are 0.4mm or less. There's an informative video about WDT here and some links to one you can print. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzrs7hj7Sto

I had one 3D printed that was designed by a member here, and I also own the LeverCraft tool mentioned above.

DustinT (original poster)

#7: Post by DustinT (original poster) »

I'd love the stl or gcode for that. Whatever they designed I'd like to see.

Though, needles and a cork would be the most affordable part of this hobby. It's very appealing!

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#8: Post by Jeff »

The ECM grinder, as I recall, "spins backwards". If so, you can't swap burrs for other 64 mm burrs. The Ceado e37 series has a reputation for "mohawk distribution" problems, as well as high retention by today's standards. By my standards, which includes low retention (18 g in and 18 g out doesn't mean "zero retention"), neither is a viable option, even before getting to grind quality.

Motorized grinders that I'd consider include Option-O Mini Moonshine, Niche Zero, Acaia Orbit, Option-O P64 (without getting into grinders over $2,000). The DF64 and DF83 seem to me to be something of a gamble which I just talked about at Looking to upgrade espresso setup with flexible budget. Recommendations?

My preference for WDT tools is wide-spread, 0.3-0.4 mm acupuncture needles. There has been study of thicker wires as well as looped or hooked ends that shows both objective and subjective advantages to the thinner, straight wires. The LeverCraft tool is the innovator of this design and my favorite. The JKim mailable version (available through his dad's Etsy shop) is also one I use and recommend as it works well and has its own innovation. I choose not to support the various copy-cat designs out there.

DustinT (original poster)

#9: Post by DustinT (original poster) »

Thanks! Innovation should have it's reward and I'm happy to support the creator.

That Acacia grinder and Lagom both are absolutely beautiful. Sadly, I'm in the market for on demand, no single dose. Any suggestions in that direction would be greatly appreciated.

Seems like the ability to swap burrs is very important, evidently for variety and customization purposes.

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#10: Post by Paris92 »

I have the same machine with FC from WLL. I love it. The grinder on the other hand, I am struggling with. Pick the grinder wisely. I have the Ceado E37J and it is very difficult to adjust the setting. It is basically a set it and forget it grinder. If you plan on using one type of coffee always, or have little need to change coffee type often, it is a great grinder. I like trying way too many types of coffee for this grinder though. I would look at/get the Ceado E37S with Quick Set worm gear if I had to do it over again; even though it is a ~50% cost uncharge from the J. The grinder is critical.