Not satisfied with any grinder I tried for pour over

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
luisguilherme
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#1: Post by luisguilherme »

Hello,

I have an uncommon problem. Most people are happy with their pour over grinder, and need to upgrade for espresso. My problem is quite the opposite. I'm very happy with my Baratza Sette for espresso (I'll need to shim it fairly soon, though), but I don't seem to find a good grinder for pour over.

Grinders:
* Capresso Disk (fake) Burrs: surprisingly, this got me the best results (out of the box, sifting gave me better results on the breville) to date. Not great, probably not even good, but defects were not pronounced
* Baratza Sette (conical, S1 burrs): lots of fines even on coarser settings. Muddy, overextracted, could not get clarity even with a Chemex.
* Breville Barista Express integrated grinder. AFAIK, the burr is exactly the same as the Breville Smart Grinder. Considerably better than the Baratza. Still lots of fines. If I sifted the fines out, I'd get the best results. Good coffee, a bit dull, because of the sifting.
* Xeoleo Ghost Burrs: bad for medium roasts, almost undrinkable to anything lighter than that; might be good for French press, but I grind finer than that. Sifting is a necessity.

Question 1: am I doing something wrong?
Question 2: I'm thinking of getting a flat burr grinder for pour over. Is this the right approach? Is there something as good and practical as the Vario but more kitchen friendly (my wife thinks the Eureka mignon crono is awful)

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Ejquin
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#2: Post by Ejquin »

Couple of thoughts - first, I think that increasingly people are starting to shift their mindset that you only need a really good grinder for espresso. If you follow these forums closely, I feel like there's been increasing realization that to get the best brewed coffee, you want a brew focused grinder (burr), and an increase in "high end" brew focused grinders and burrs, rather than people jsut taking high end espresso grinders and hoping they are good for brew as well. You can see this evidenced in things like Kafatek creating a brew focused grinder, and the EG-1 and Titus Nautilus being offered with brew focused burr options, etc.

That said, have you really focused on locking down your technique? You didn't really say much about what brew methods you are using, but before jumping to a bunch of different grinders, you may want to make sure your technique is solid. This is where it is nice to have a refractometer and be able to see what extractions you are getting.

As for the grinder, what's your budget? Generally, yes, a flat burr grinder is considered better for filter coffee and the larger the burr is generally thought to lead to a more consistent grind.

jevenator

#3: Post by jevenator »

If you were trying to drink difficult to extra light roast S.O. espressos, maybe you might not be so happy with your Sette270 after all. I'm pretty happy with a 270 for medium roasts that will go to make a milk drink myself.

As for pour-overs, the contenders you have listed were never known to make good filter coffee other than the Ghost Burrs which from what I've read can be a hit or miss for some people and may require a particular way of brewing it.

Honestly, I'd recommend in getting an aligned forte/vario with steel burrs or a Comandante C40. I personally have the Comandante C40 that I enjoy using for filter coffee. Because you're grinding for filter, hand grinding isn't that bad and good change of pace from a screeching banshee Sette. I'm pretty confident in saying that if you have the C40, good beans, and good water, any bad pour-over you make is on your technique and brewing style or you just maybe don't like pour-over that much.

If you've never looked into water content it can make the difference for you from dull to bright, acidic, sweet, tasty coffee.

luisguilherme (original poster)
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#4: Post by luisguilherme (original poster) »

Hello, I use the V60 (3x weigh for blooming, then a continuous pour) or the Breville Precision Brewer (cone, not flat). I've previously used the Chemex (sold when moved). I started the V60 with the Hoffman technique, but drawdown was slow and I changed to a more ordinary technique (not swirling the bloom, for example).

The Breville Brewer allows me to grind a little coarser, and the Xeoleo after sifting isn't that bad, even with something light like Counterculture Apollo, but I have to grind coarser than I'd like and shake the sifter vigorously lest I get quite a lot of astringency so the results are dull.

As for grinders, I'd love to get a hand grinder to keep at my office and make coffee for me that's better than office coffee (that said, my current office has somewhat decent coffee, at least for office standards: freshly ground (!) Lavazza Brazil made in a Bunn batch brewer), but at home, I make coffee for 2, three when my mother is visiting. My wife makes coffee too when she wakes up first, so I want something that after I dial in, she can press a button and drop the beans in the Breville. She loathes weighing the beans (so a timer / integrated scale would be a huge plus) and the waste of sifting, and I could not imagine what she would do if I told her to grind 30-40g by hand ;). I've read conflicting opinions about the Virtuoso+ (the NYT said that at a "drip" setting, it's as consistent as a EK43; I've read here and elsewhere that it produces a lot of fines). My budget is $500, but I'd rather spend less than that (if a Virtuoso+ is good enough for me, I'm happy with that), AND I could stretch the budget a bit for something that checks all the right boxes (grinds fine enough for a single cup light roast on a V60, coarse enough for 750ml of medium roast in a Chemex or Melitta, precise weighing or timing on the press of a button, and looks amazing in the kitchen).

* The Vario with the steel burrs will go over budget, and worse for the same for the Forté BG; they also don't look particularly good, so I don't feel enough incentive for paying extra for them. But the Vario with the steel burrs seemed the best option until now;
* I'm intrigued by the Eureka Mignon Filtro / Crono; but couldn't find many people commenting about them. Also, my wife hated the Eureka Mignon design when I showed her.
* I'm also intrigued by the Eureka Atom Pro, but it's expensive and has a on / off switch, and at the same time seems to be bad for single dosing.
* The Fellow with the SSP burrs seems tempting at just under $500, but if I'm paying that much, I'd like it to either have a timer or not need me to tinker with its burrs.


***

Side discussion about the Sette and espressos:
I like light roasted SO espressos but I'm aware that the Sette is not made for them, so I use slightly darker roasts (like Counterculture Hologram and Methodical Due Feres, which has the added benefit of being complex enough that I like, but simple enough to not taste strange to other people), and have great results after careful dialing; apart from that, now that I'm not working from home anymore, I make espressos mostly for entertaining and people like milk drinks.

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Brewzologist
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#5: Post by Brewzologist »

Hmm... My go-to V60 recipe is Hoffman's approach and I've found when draw-down is extended it's invariably related to the grind, and the resulting cup is often astringent too. I tried unimodal grinding technique with my Niche to reduce fines that slow draw down, then bought the Xeoleo ghost grinder just for filter brews (that is also apparently give you fits). For me, the ghost is substantially better in the cup than the Niche with unimodal technique, but maybe I just got lucky and have a good one.

I also used Gagne's particle distribution app to quantify what I was tasting too. Perhaps one way to help solve your problem would be to use his app with your grinders to get an objective measure of how they are performing? : An App to Measure your Coffee Grind Size Distribution. Maybe this will help point you to a more definitive cause and resulting solution.

EDIT: Apologies; I think I said something similar in reply to your post on this in the ghost grinder thread.

ohwhen

#6: Post by ohwhen »

Have you had any pourovers from a coffee shop lately that you loved? Have you ever gotten a satisfactory brew from the V60? Have you tried cupping the beans to make sure your happy with them? I know the grinders you listed aren't ideal for pourover but I feel like you should be able to get a decent cup out of them. What grinder were you using with the Chemex before you sold it?

Is your coffee bed nice and flat at the end of your brew without any swirling? You could be getting underextracted coffee if you're grinding too fine and have a ton of micro channeling? That could explain the persistent astringency. Pulling the grind coarser and dialing in your technique could help. A long draw down could also be a temp issue (either the temp of your slurry or your brew water dropping significantly).

FWIW I have a Virtuoso+ that I use everyday for pourover. You will get fines but it hasn't stopped me from getting a great cup (for reference, this includes some pretty light beans from Sey recently). I'm not sure how helpful my perspective is-I have purposefully never invested in a micron ruler or a sifter.

luisguilherme (original poster)
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#7: Post by luisguilherme (original poster) »

It's been a time since I got a pour over at a coffee shop. As I usually drink pour over / drip in the morning, and espresso after lunch. But I definitely loved the pour overs from Seattle Coffee Works, and on a darker (but still medium) roast, the ones from Zoka Coffee. I was able to get good V60 by sifting the grounds from my Breville espresso machine grinder (it's basically a Breville smart grinder embedded to the espresso machine). I've lost complexity, but got rid of all defects.

I don't remember the last time I didn't swirl at the end, but I think that no swirl gave me a domed bed at first, then I started tweaking my pour, and no swirl gave me an irregular, but flat on average, bed.

I'll give my Xeoleo a 2nd try then, will recalibrate the burrs and be very careful doing so and see if it improves. (You don't need to apologize, thanks for mentioning that here again!). Now that I think of it, I remember that I initially didn't love the Xeoleo, but it actually got worse around the time I cleaned it inside, so I might have it misaligned.

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Brewzologist
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#8: Post by Brewzologist »

When I first got my Xeoleo I pulled it apart to inspect everything, reassembled and ran a few kilo's of coffee through it. I've never aligned anything as I understand this is of little to no value with ghost burrs for coarse grinding.

The only modification I've done is to remove the spring under the grind setting knob to make it stepless. I use a speed controller to lower RPM's and use RDT to control static. I turn the grinder on so it's at full speed before I open the hopper gate to let the beans in. I also use the gate to only let a small bolus of beans in to grind at a time, then close it for a few seconds before opening the gate again. I get very few fines with this approach. HTH.

EDIT: I usually grind between 0.5-1.5 on the dial to achieve a normal draw down time with Hoffman's V60 recipe for light to light-med roasts.

Yan

#9: Post by Yan »

Fuji Royal R-220 maybe a good candidate for electric pourover grinder.

Jonk

#10: Post by Jonk »

Is there much of a difference between Xeoleo and Fuji Royal in the cup though? Aside from overall build quality.

I'm in the same boat as Luis - not completely satisfied with any grinder I have for pour over. For me, the best one overall (including size and workflow) has been the Vario w/ steel burrs, my advice would be to pick up a used one or keep experimenting with different settings and brew methods on the Xeoleo. Perhaps it's also a question of what beans you're using - I got some pretty awesome results on the old Fuji I have with medium roasts but so far nothing exciting with light roasts.