The Alicorn: Achieving Precision Alignment with the Baratza Forté/Vario - Page 27

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
Quester

#261: Post by Quester »

cskorton wrote:So I guess the two thousand dollar question is, do you think the MAX is worth the huge premium over the Forte for espresso? It sounds like if you're pushing the boundaries on light roasts, maybe? What about medium and dark roasts or for those of us who like boring old 1:2 ratios?
I often make cappuccinos that use just a bit of milk--under 4 ounces. I use even shorter ratios for those on the MAX than other grinders. Like 1:1.6. I also use longer ratios for non-dairy drinks. But those short ratios on the MAX with a bit of milk have been awesome.

cskorton wrote:The hard question everyone has to ask themselves is how much is pulling those extra notes worth it to them and how much effort and time are you willing to put into aligning a Forte? That's what I'm struggling with.
That's a valid consideration. It seems a few people have had a bit of trouble with the alignment process--for others, no problem. You could start with it stock, get used to pulling shots, do a marker test, and then decide if you want to do the full alignment outlined here. I'm still considering that with mine. But it's so good as-is, I've not been motivated so far.

I hesitate to say this in the Vario/Forte thread, but if you are not going to use the grinder for pourover and you are often using medium or darker roasts, I might consider the Niche too. My use is different than yours, and I'm not parting with my Forte any time soon. But for your use, this seems like a worthy path.

jayo

#262: Post by jayo »

How does an aligned Vario or Forté with steel burrs compare to a Bunnzilla?

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pcrussell50 (original poster)

#263: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

cskorton wrote: The hard question everyone has to ask themselves is how much is pulling those extra notes worth it to them and how much effort and time are you willing to put into aligning a Forte? That's what I'm struggling with.
If you plan to use the Ditting steel brew burrs for espresso, you they will not perform satisfactorily unless they are mounted in an aligned grinder, whether it's done by Alicorn or just blind luck. As with the EK43 legends, the steel Dittings are purported to produce a very uniform grind with little distribution in particle size. This suits certain coffees and tastes that are very modern.

If you plan to use the Mahlkoenig ceramic espresso burrrs, they by design produce a less cutting edge, more traditional, wider spread of grind of grind sizes. Wide spread in grind sizes is also an accident of misalignment. BUT I would still rather use the ceramics in a grinder that is aligned, and let the distribution of particle sizes be purely because of the burr design.

TL;DR: +1 to Kevin/Quester

If you like more traditional espresso, you might like a conical, where micron-level alignment seems not as critical. And the Niche seems to be, as with the Vario and Forte siblings, the value king of the conical space.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

gritts

#264: Post by gritts »

Quester wrote:What's been surprising is how well my MAX does brew. It will be interesting to compare the SSP burrs I have now with the Shuriken L/M I have on order.

It's great to hear your experience of the Alicorn vs. something top tier like the MAX. There have been a few "comparisons" done, such as the Scott Rao review where he compares his Forté with the EK43, but they're few and far between.

pcrussell50 (original poster)

#265: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

gritts wrote: It's great to hear your experience of the Alicorn vs. something top tier like the MAX. There have been a few "comparisons" done, such as the Scott Rao review where he compares his Forté with the EK43, but they're few and far between.
I compared my Alicorn to both my current iteration (later 2018) Monolith Flat with SSP burrs and my mid-2020 Max. I tested more rigorously vs. the Max. In nearly every case, I could tell a difference in flavor in the cup. But I could not in any way tell which tasted better in the cup. On the more objective side, I also found that shots pulled with the Alicorn had a little less tendency to spritz and more tendency to make better looking "espresso pron" or videos and such.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

LObin

#266: Post by LObin » replying to pcrussell50 »


Peter, that's impressive!
What's your Baratza setup again? Aligned Vario with ceramic burrs, right?
LMWDP #592

pcrussell50 (original poster)

#267: Post by pcrussell50 (original poster) »

LObin wrote: Peter, that's impressive!
What's your Baratza setup again? Aligned Vario with ceramic burrs, right?
More or less. Aligned Vario ... BUT ... with the metal burr support bits from the Forte, and the steel Ditting burrs. I own a set of the ceramic burrs but am not using them at the moment.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

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Quester

#268: Post by Quester »

pcrussell50 wrote:I compared my Alicorn to both my current iteration (later 2018) Monolith Flat with SSP burrs and my mid-2020 Max. I tested more rigorously vs. the Max. In nearly every case, I could tell a difference in flavor in the cup. But I could not in any way tell which tasted better in the cup. On the more objective side, I also found that shots pulled with the Alicorn had a little less tendency to spritz and more tendency to make better looking "espresso pron" or videos and such.

-Peter
Having done taste tests a ridiculous (super fun) number of times since March with five different grinders, I'll have to say that once you have decent equipment, it's mostly about the quality of the beans and quality of technique. It's just that new equipment is so seductive.