The Alicorn: Achieving Precision Alignment with the Baratza Forté/Vario - Page 7

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

#61: Post by jevenator »

Well,

I did the Alicorn alignment over the weekend for my Forte BG. After using it for a bit now, I can say that the grind size is more even than I had it aligned with shims.

It honestly was a bit challenging for me to figure it out how to get it set and took me about 4 tries to get a good alignment. I was actually kind of upset and regretted gutting the thing. But I'm getting even wear throughout the burr now so it's worth it. The motor sounds a little bit different now though. Another plus is that the detents on the macro and micro levers are really smooth now.

When using the AeroPress, I usually would get a layer of mud from all the fines. After this alignment my puck from the AP is pretty much completely free from the super fines. There's still some present but like 95% reduced.

Overall, happy with the experience and would want to get another Forte just for espresso grinding. I don't see the point of getting anything else other than a Monolith.
LMWDP #643

pcrussell50

#62: Post by pcrussell50 »

jevenator wrote: Overall, happy with the experience and would want to get another Forte just for espresso grinding. I don't see the point of getting anything else other than a Monolith.
Which is precisely the route I took. ;)

I have a Monolith FlatSSP. But once aligned, these FortArio grinders are far too good to get rid of for any price you can currently get on the open market. No way I'm selling mine.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

Quester

#63: Post by Quester »

jevenator wrote:When using the AeroPress, I usually would get a layer of mud from all the fines. After this alignment my puck from the AP is pretty much completely free from the super fines. There's still some present but like 95% reduced.
I've been making batch Chemex on my Ratio 8 and Kruve sifting a few of the fines out after grinding on my Forte BG. I grind 72 grams and sift/tap for about a minute. Obviously that's not long enough to get all of them, but it's enough I can adjust my overall grind finer. The clarity of flavors is amazing doing this with some lighter coffees.

This is the only way I've consistently produced coffee on the Ratio 8 (full batch) I've loved.

shotwell

#64: Post by shotwell »

Jake, would you consider sharing the shim 3d printing file so people can print their own? Does the process require a shim for the upper and lower burr? I'm really excited to try this and compare to my current grinder!

shotwell

#65: Post by shotwell »

I went through this process the other day and finally got around to using the aligned grinder this morning. The difference between the aligned/unaligned grinder is huge. I couldn't get fine enough to profile the way I like to when I first got my (used) grinder even after calibration. A quick marker test wiped about 1/4 of the burr clean, so I knew I'd need to align to get anywhere close.

The process is trivial if you're mechanically handy, but a couple notes might help future users. First, set the calibration so the burrs touch early. It gives you a little better leverage once you're aligning. Make sure your grind chamber is totally clean and the top burr carrier is fully tightened for the same reasons. Organize the disassembly into steps; it's easy to do the reassembly in the wrong order if you don't have a list of what to do first. I forgot two screws for the adjustment mechanism and had to backtrack pretty far. I didn't strip any screws but it was obvious that it would be VERY easy to do. Most used grinders probably have some stripped screws already. You need a 0, 1, and 2 Phillips in the ideal world. Screws don't appear to be JIS, but using the wrong size Phillips for the smaller screws is a problem. A slim, magnetic driver comes in handy for a couple of screws.

I took about an hour to get to a clean marker test on the top and the bottom burr. I did need to adjust screw tension on the steel burrs to get there, so I'll need to keep an eye on any changes in flavor or marker test over the next couple of months. If things shift I'll add spacers. I have two 3d printed spacers here at home, but not currently in the grinder. I'd have done them at the same time if I had another hour to spend on this project, but I simply didn't. It's pretty easy to get to the burrs and add them if alignment shifts. I'd still recommend just doing it while you're in there, especially if you're not used to meticulous adjustment by feel.

All that being said, I think the grinder is excellent. To be clear, I understand the selected profile, temperature, etc. make a fair comparison impossible. I dialed in both grinders to taste as well as I am capable of. I ran an a/b test between my Sette and the unaligned forte and a follow up between my Sette and the newly aligned forte using George Howell's Mulish Ethiopian. The Sette trounced the Forte before the alicorn process with flavor balance and more distinguishable flavor notes. After the process? I haven't had espresso as good as what the alicorn Forte produced at home or in a cafe. The Sette pulls a slightly sour/bitter shot that leaves me searching for the flavor notes. The Forte pulled them to the front and minimized sourness and bitterness. How big is the difference actually? Not huge, but pretty clearly there. I'd guess I could pick blind, but I don't really have a reasonable way to do that. The relevant question for most people is probably 'would I spend more to get a Forte or Vario new and align it?' I think I would.

I'll measure with my refractometer for a final comparison sometime next week. Unfortunately I won't be able to compare to the unaligned grinder since I just didn't have time the last couple of weeks.

bytheway

#66: Post by bytheway »

shotwell wrote:After the process? I haven't had espresso as good as what the alicorn Forte produced at home or in a cafe.
Great advice...I would be really interested in the magnitude of improvement for V60 post-Alicorn when you get around to it.

pcrussell50

#67: Post by pcrussell50 » replying to bytheway »

Maybe it's not even a fair comparison, because Monolith Flats are supposed to be espresso grinders, but one of my friends with a Monolith Flat (SSP burrs), the guy who is now the owner of the original Alicorn from this thread, says it's "ten times better for drip" than his Monolith. I have the same Monolith, but I don't drink much drip and don't have a V60 so I wouldn't begin to comment myself.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

shotwell

#68: Post by shotwell »

I don't keep another brew grinder or a v60 at home to compare to, but I could dial in for a long profile on the Bianca with the Sette, Kinu m47, and forte. Not sure if that helps.

Quester

#69: Post by Quester »

pcrussell50 wrote:Maybe it's not even a fair comparison, because Monolith Flats are supposed to be espresso grinders, but one of my friends with a Monolith Flat (SSP burrs), the guy who is now the owner of the original Alicorn from this thread, says it's "ten times better for drip" than his Monolith. I have the same Monolith, but I don't drink much drip and don't have a V60 so I wouldn't begin to comment myself.

-Peter
When I'm making batch pour over for groups, I haul my Forte BG up instead of using the EG-1 that's already there. Not sure why it's a bit better for pour over, but it seems to be. It's also a ton less messy in terms of static.

bytheway

#70: Post by bytheway »

I had heard about the original Alicorn owner raving about it for brew so the more that rave the stronger the recommendation! The burrs must play a large part when super aligned