Ditting 807F w/ Lab Sweet Burrs: Greater alignment... worse tasting coffee?

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
burlchester
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#1: Post by burlchester »

Hello friends, this is my first post to the forum after years of lurking. Be gentle.

I own both an actual Ditting 807 LabSweet and an 807F w/Lab Sweet burrs for commercial purposes and have owned these and used them almost exclusively for about 2 years now. To get the obvious question you might have out of the way, for filter coffee at least (I do not use these for espresso), I can't really tell much of a difference between the two. Perhaps the actual 807LS has a TOUCH more body due to increased fine production resulting from the faster RPMS...but then again, maybe not. Both make super juicy, nuanced and yes, sweet cups. I love them. I value clarity in the cup but if it comes at the expense of body and mouthfeel I struggle to enjoy what is inevitably a more "tea-like experience" for me.

I recently acquired a Flair 58 for home as my first ever espresso machine and dove right in to grinding a very lightly roasted, but balanced as far as roast profiles go, filter coffee. I had previously reset the zero point on the 807F to get those last precious microns and went to pull a shot using the finest setting I could use before hearing any chirps. No pressure...just the Turbo-est of turbo shots. It actually tasted pretty good lol, but definitely not espresso. For comparison, the same coffee, at only 3 clicks of the commandante and a total of 5 minutes to grind 18 grams pretty much choked the Flair 58.

My supplier has said that the Lab Sweets and 807F's do NOT need further alignment and that the way they're shipped is by design. So while I've always been happy with how my grinders have tasted for filter coffee I felt conflicted knowing my commandante could grind fine enough but my $4000 CAN Ditting couldn't. So after reading all 48 pages of the 807 Lab Sweet User Experience thread AND Ryan from Prima's experiments using hyper alignment in the 807 Observations thread, I got to it.

This took me hours. I aligned the top stationary burr using tin-foil shims on the carrier itself and not underneath the burr. Probably about 6-8 Folds of foil in two spots before I got my perfect wipe. I also did this using a screw driver to spin the bottom burr manually to really listen for the first signs of chirp. I then aligned the bottom burr using 1-2 folds of tin foil in 3 spots. The bottom burr was a challenge as while I was getting a perfect wipe on top, it only touched about an inch worth of burr on the bottom. In the end I got a NEAR perfect wipe on the bottom, and found that as a result I was able bring the burrs significantly closer together before hearing a nearly steady burr chirp before backing off to re-seat my dial. The sound was very similar to that of a well aligned EK43.

So now, using the finest setting, I achieved some degree of pressure on the Flair 58, but the lever is coming down faster than I'd like doing a 10 second 3-Bar pre-infusion and I only get 5-10 seconds at 6-bars before I blow past my target 1:2.2 end weight. I know this coffee would be a challenge for any grinder so I tried another light roasted filter coffee I had on hand and it actually pulled properly at the same grind setting and was delicious!

Fast forward to today, and the point of this long winded post. I had brewed, and dialed in a fruity washed Burundian and a choclatey-hazelnutty Bolivian just the day before and they were some seriously sweet, juicy and vibrant cups...honestly, we're talking best case scenario drip coffee here. If I go too fine for these coffees I lose nuance but I have to really overshoot my mark before it becomes undrinkably bitter. Conversely, going too coarse further accentuates the acidity of the light roasts until weakness takes over and the cup is just too boring. So yes, the 807F is extremely forgiving but make no mistake, there is always that magic setting on the dial where I find myself in the centre of coffees venn diagram of deliciousness.

As for the 95-98% aligned burrs ? Well, a year ago I had aligned the top stationary burr only on my 807LS and had horrible results in the filter coffee cup. Everything on the dial had astringency, which I never experienced before on the Lab Sweet. Too fine, it was bitter with overarching astringency, and too coarse, well, still astringent but now the other flavours weren't popping like I would like. So I did a factory reset then and never went back. This latest attempt began with the thought that maybe I should have gone further and did the top AND bottom burrs. Well my friends, these otherwise beautiful coffees we're now nasty astringent messes, even when "dialed in" after much experimentation. Overall, the coffees we're flatter, much less dynamic and the sense of sweetness and juiciness was all but gone. Before I mentioned I'd have to really overshoot my target to get unbearable bitterness, and here it was loud and easily achievable...but yet the body was all gone despite being bitter ? Conversely I even found the acidity less lively when grinding more coarsely, which didn't help with making the unique flavours of each coffee pop. But man, what is with this astringency ?

So...sadly I chose to do another factory reset because my filter coffee went from exceptional to objectively bad. Thankfully all the juiciness, sweetness and dimensionality of the flavour has returned, banishing any semblance of astringency.

The moral of the story ? Well, I'm not saying aligning your burrs is a bad thing, but at the end of the day taste is king. And it would seem that the 807 line of grinders with Lab Sweet Burrs, taste decidedly worse when you mess with a properly setup factory build...at least for filter coffee. I had never really experienced astringency in coffee before, but I do not like it!

As for me, I think I'll get my hands on some quality Medium/Dark Roast Espresso, and see how my default 807F w/ Lab Sweet burrs fare now that I've made peace with it not being the ideal grinder for Very Light Roast Filter Coffee as espresso. BUT there's always the 5 minute 3 click grind session on my commandante if I feel the need for a workout ;)

Cheers everyone,

Jeff

Acavia
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#2: Post by Acavia »

Thanks for the post. I have an 804, currently with SSP HU burrs, but I had Lab Sweet burrs initially and bought the standard Ditting burrs later before buying the SSP HU burrs. I thought about aligning it, but I never did because one, I thought aligning at 0 point does not necessary mean it will be aligned in the useable range and two, being a two 180-degree screw burr, it might warp if the low spots are far from the screw holes plus the shimmies would likely shift after a few uses possibly making alignment worse and increasing chance to warp the burrs. So it sounds like high chance of problems with little or no reward.

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mrgnomer
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#3: Post by mrgnomer »

Thank you so much for what you shared. Very enlightening.

I've been into espresso for a while and just recently started focusing on the grind. I'm going on how my grinder behaves and the extraction experience not micron measuring the grind consistency. I've done my best to align my 64mm SSP HU upgrade burrs and am about 90%.

Intuitively it seems the more precise the burrs are aligned with a high uniformity grinder the better your extractions should be. In practice, I'm also not so sure. I'm using a 'high bred' HX vibe pump assist plumbed in spring lever. There are no bad extractions with this machine but some are better than others. When I do exactly the same things with the machine I'm starting to put it down to the grind as the variable. Only variable with the grind I'm thinking might be fines. The concentration of fines from my understanding is attributed to burr cut and alignment. So then, is it more uniform grinds or a more fine/coarse variable grind resulting in tastier extractions. From what you shared I'm thinking maybe a grind that's more slightly varied is preferable.
Kirk
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Acavia
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#4: Post by Acavia »

mrgnomer wrote:The concentration of fines from my understanding is attributed to burr cut and alignment.
I have seen posters, who seem pretty knowledgeable, state that unaligned burrs will produce less, not more, fines than aligned ones. The logic: unaligned burrs would not inherently cause more fines but being unaligned will make your overall grind more coarse on average than the same setting (this is because the chirp on unaligned burrs is at a high point on a burr, which means the distance between burrs is wider than aligned burrs at chirp) and since the overall grind is coarser, there are less fines from less grinding.

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bostonbuzz
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#5: Post by bostonbuzz »

Personally I find the marker test really annoying. I use a dial indicator to align the moving burr in my Ditting 804 and 1203. I then measured the seat that the stationary burr carrier will sit on with a dial indicator rotating on the shaft. I found it to be within .001" stock. I then measured the top burr carrier on its own. I measured the difference between the surface where the stationary burrs sit and the outer lip that rests on the grinder. I found it within .001" stock. I measured the ditting burrs and found them also within .001" thickness all around. That was good enough for me to assemble and not worry about the top burr alignment. I later did some sanding and had no difference in the cup.

I find the ditting special steel lab sweet burrs to actually have a pretty small sweet spot FWIW. I have only tried the ditting machined and the 1203 ditting machined recently as a comparison.

I agree with Acavia, if you shim many pieces of foil then your burrs will warp when you go to tighten them down. You can confirm this with a dial indicator on the burr between the screws as you tighten it. You need long tapered pieces of foil/plastic. So you would need to torque it exactly right each time you assembled/reassembled. Very annoying.
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mrgnomer
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#6: Post by mrgnomer »

Acavia wrote:I have seen posters, who seem pretty knowledgeable, state that unaligned burrs will produce less, not more, fines than aligned ones. The logic: unaligned burrs would not inherently cause more fines but being unaligned will make your overall grind more coarse on average than the same setting (this is because the chirp on unaligned burrs is at a high point on a burr, which means the distance between burrs is wider than aligned burrs at chirp) and since the overall grind is coarser, there are less fines from less grinding.
That makes sense about the alignment relative to grind size. Big alignment variations I guess would keep touching burrs further apart and make grinds coarse. But small variations, that's what seems interesting. Small enough to get the burrs close enough to grind Turkish but have a bit of coarseness. At what point of a certain burr cut does a bit of less than 100% burr alignment produce a grind size variation preferable for a good tasting extraction.
Kirk
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Jeff
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#7: Post by Jeff »

Fines are but a distraction, boulders are the next big thing

I'm mainly serious on that. Gagné has done a meta-study on PSD data across many grinders that suggests that "dialed in" for espresso has to do with the amount of fines, not the peak particle size. https://coffeeadastra.com/2023/09/21/wh ... -grinders/

jfjj
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#8: Post by jfjj »

That's rough. I have an 804 w/ LS and it's quite easy to pull and choke the espresso machines. My main issue with the 804 for espresso is the retention and workflow. 19g normally with my p64 64OM I would normally need 19.5g to ensure i have something close to 19g with the 804.
- Jean

burlchester (original poster)
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#9: Post by burlchester (original poster) replying to jfjj »

The 807 doesn't really live up to it's "low retention" reputation. I usually lose around 0.5 to 1 whole gram. SOMETIMES it's around 0.1 grams but I feel like that's a little bit of the old mixing with the new. This grinder uses the same burrs as the Peak Grinder so you'd think it could go just as fine, however in the 807 Observations thread they discovered that this is due to the 807 using a silicone flapper. Apparently the Peak had a metal flapper which has less give so the grinds stayed in the burr chamber longer resulting in a finer grind. Maybe something to experiment with later on.

bakafish
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#10: Post by bakafish »

jfjj wrote:That's rough. I have an 804 w/ LS and it's quite easy to pull and choke the espresso machines. My main issue with the 804 for espresso is the retention and workflow. 19g normally with my p64 64OM I would normally need 19.5g to ensure i have something close to 19g with the 804.
I use 804LS and have the same experience as yours. It's interesting that the flapper affects the grinding result on the 807LS. The 804LS does not have the flapper and the grinding chamber is much bigger than it of the 807LS, but my 804LS can choke the espresso machine easily.