Baratza Sette vs. Monolith Flat: No difference in cup?

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

Postby cheesy » Aug 26, 2017, 3:47 pm

Not so long ago, I bought a Sette 270 to replace my Vario (the slop in the lever adjustment drove me nuts). For various reasons I more recently decided to replace the Sette with a Monolith Flat, which arrived a couple of weeks ago. Much to my surprise, I'm not actually able to taste a difference between shots brewed from the two different grinders.

What I've been doing to compare:

- Dial in one of the grinders to something pretty tasty.
- Set the shot timer on my machine (Crossland CC1) to match that.
- Dial in the other grinder until I get a shot that's about the same weight (within a gram or two).
- Pull another shot on the original grinder, and compare the two.

With this routine, I'm more or less unable to taste any difference between the two shots. I've tried it with the Flat @ both factory 450 RPM and 250 RPM as recommended somewhere or other on this forum. The RPM definitely requires a grind change on the Flat, but the shot still tastes about the same as one from the Sette, once I get everything where I want it.

Overall, the Flat is a *lovely* machine, but compared to the Sette, it requires a much fussier routine and is more difficult to adjust. I pretty much have to WDT the Flat and do various tricks (pat the funnel, detach and knock the spout) to everything out. With the Sette I just drop my beans in the top and hold down "Play" until it's done. I do love how quiet the Monolith is, but the extra hassle doesn't seem worth it if I can't taste the difference in the cup.

If anyone has advice on getting the most out of my Flat, I'd love to hear it. Otherwise, I'm probably just going to sell it on.

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Aug 26, 2017, 4:49 pm

Maybe you're one of the lucky ones (a happy taster as opposed to a super taster that picks about anything and everything)... :D Sette and the Flat have vastly different grind particle distribution. Based on that, we could expect the shot to taste noticeably different (not necessarily superior vs inferior).

Here're the two grind distributions from Socraticcoffee's instagram
Image

Another possibility could be the CC1, it may be the limiting factor, muddying/muting the shots you're making. Is the machine cleaned recently (backflushed with detergent)? Do different coffees taste rather similar on the setup?

Capitol

Postby Capitol » Aug 26, 2017, 4:54 pm

Wow, that's really surprising that you taste no difference given the two grinders many design differences and rave reviews the Monolith Flat has received by many on this forum. Compared to every other grinder I've used, my impression of it was that it was pretty fuss-free (I have not used a Sette though, so can't comment on the user-friendliness of that grinder).

Is the Flat broken in yet, how many lbs have you run through it? Also, what kind of beans are you using? Something light and single origin might highlight the differences in the grinders best.

If you decide the Flat is not for you, please PM me. I'm interested in it.

jerbear00

Postby jerbear00 » Aug 26, 2017, 5:20 pm

samuellaw178 wrote:Maybe you're one of the lucky ones (a happy taster as opposed to a super taster that picks about anything and everything)... :D


I suspect I am one of those quote lucky ones. Haha my wife says my taste sophistication is limited. I still went and ordered both Monolith's. For some reason I just "need them." :mrgreen: (it's for my wife...)

jtcipro

Postby jtcipro » Aug 26, 2017, 5:45 pm

Just want to say thanks for posting this information! I find it very interesting and it goes to show that taste may be less connected to those grind distribution charts than most people think. I mean they're linked for sure but maybe not to the degree many believe.

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Aug 26, 2017, 5:53 pm

jerbear00 wrote:I suspect I am one of those quote lucky ones. Haha my wife says my taste sophistication is limited. I still went and ordered both Monolith's. For some reason I just "need them." :mrgreen: (it's for my wife...)


I guess you're doubly lucky to have both!

The shot quality from the Monoliths are definitely top notched (you can be sure it's not the limiting factor). But what really sets them apart, is the consistency/reliability and ease of use for single dosing. I haven't used a Sette (too loud to use in the morning), but what would be really interesting is for OP to keep track of the shot consistency of both the grinders over a long term (say in a month or two, across different coffees). If the Sette is equally consistent, then a Sette is all that's needed to get the job done.

jerbear00

Postby jerbear00 » Aug 26, 2017, 6:35 pm

Consistency should not be understated. My compak has served me well in this capacity.

Excited to experiment more and have a smaller footprint once the monolith twins arrive

cheesy

Postby cheesy » Aug 26, 2017, 7:27 pm

samuellaw178 wrote:Maybe you're one of the lucky ones (a happy taster as opposed to a super taster that picks about anything and everything)... :D Sette and the Flat have vastly different grind particle distribution. Based on that, we could expect the shot to taste noticeably different (not necessarily superior vs inferior).

Thanks for reminding me about those diagrams from Socratic. I'd seen them before, but ... only so much space in the old noggin! ;) I actually did notice a difference in the pours. Shots from one of the grinders (pretty sure the Sette) start much more slowly than the other, and are running a lot faster by the end. I agree you would *think* that would make a difference.

samuellaw178 wrote:Another possibility could be the CC1, it may be the limiting factor, muddying/muting the shots you're making. Is the machine cleaned recently (backflushed with detergent)? Do different coffees taste rather similar on the setup?

The Caffe Lusso Denis put in the box definitely tasted different! It's a much darker roast than my taste and I wasn't a huge fan. I've been experimenting using "Clockwork Espresso" which I generally enjoy, it's a medium roast from Barismo, a local roaster here in Boston. They have some single origins too, so maybe I should give those a whirl. I'm pretty good about cleaning my machine and I actually did it not that long before the grinder arrived, so I doubt that's the problem.

Capitol wrote:Is the Flat broken in yet, how many lbs have you run through it?

I've put about 3.5 bags of beans through it at this point, so figure about 2.5lbs. Conventional wisdom is 5lbs, so I'm going to keep experimenting at least until that point. Though, my impression was that break-in was more about consistency (which has been fine) than flavour.

Capitol wrote:Compared to every other grinder I've used, my impression of it was that it was pretty fuss-free

My routine with the monolith is:

- Weigh
- Drop beans in the top
- RDT if static is a problem today, then cap
- Turn on, wait for grinding to stop
- Hold purge button for a few seconds to blow out remaining grinds
- "Pat" mouth a bit to blow out remaining bits
- Remove spout, knock it out into cup
- Poke the opening to get the little bit that always cakes up in there
- Re-weigh to target weight
- WDT
- Tamp and pour

Conversely, with the Sette it's:

- Weigh
- Drop beans in the top
- Hold grind until it's done
- Re-weigh
- Tamp and pour (WDT not required)

Likewise, I found the grid adjustment to be quite exacting, especially at 250 RPM. I've actually printed out a larger scale which I stick to the grinder, because trying to split the difference between the marks on the grinder was making me squint a lot.

To be clear, I knew pretty much all of this going in. I was just expecting the work to pay off in tastier shots. Maybe I have finally purchased a grinder that out-performs my tastebuds ;)

chipman

Postby chipman » Aug 26, 2017, 7:44 pm

.
cheesy wrote:Maybe I have finally purchased a grinder that out-performs my tastebuds ;)


I know that I fall into this category. But, I don't care, My EG-1 is consistent, and besides, I like looking at it. :D

h3yn0w

Postby h3yn0w » Aug 26, 2017, 9:03 pm

Did you notice a difference going from the Vario to the Sette? Or going from something earlier to the Vario?