So I recently switched from an HG1 to a EK43s in hopes of getting better tastes from lighter beans for espresso. In the process, I've read a great number of super informative guides on here about aligning an EK and swapping out to SSP burrs. While I certainly believed that doing these things lead to greater extraction numbers, I've been pretty doubtful that this translated to a tangible taste difference and more importantly, enough of a difference to justify the cost.
The comparison below is not blind as I can only have one grinder at a time. My fiance helped taste the espresso as well, and her opinions are neutral. I taste both the espresso and with milk added in a latte. For espressos, I always stir because the crema never tastes that good.HG1
I really liked the HG1, and owned it for about a year. The espresso is thick and quite capable of choking my GS3. Once dialed in, almost any coffee I put through it tasted good. But to be honest, most coffees tasted pretty similar to each other. I bought Geishas in the hopes of getting wildly different espressos out of it but they all tasted pretty similar to me. On my refractometer, I usually get a 16-19% extraction, and 2:1 ratios tasted the best. EK43s Stock
The EK in stock form is quite similar in performance as the HG1 despite being a completely different burr type. I get more sweetness out of the beans and surprisingly a decent amount of mouth feel. I was scared from reading online that the ek would produce especially thin espressos, but it wasn't that different. On my refractometer, I can suddenly get 20%-21% extraction yields. Objectively, the stock EK is not worth the additional money over the HG1.Sandpaper alignment
I followed this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPHfzFsma3o
I live in China so buying the titus tool would be dealing with long shipping time and annoying customs, so I followed the sandpaper method. Wasn't particularly hard, but a solid afternoon was spent doing it. None of the guides I've read said I should have lubricant gel on hand, the EK makes squeaky noises once the original gel is cleaned off during sanding.
After sanding, the grinder made really good sound according to the matt perger test. The taste is significantly better. The sweetness of the espresso seems more highlighted, but my feeling is that instead of an increase in sweetness, it's actually a decrease in astringency. I would compare it to the difference between a young red and white wine. Extraction yields increased a bit, and I can get 22% if I brew a bit longer at 3:1 ratio. Normally I use a naked portafilter, but at 60g yield, there's just too much coffee for my preference. Currently, I switched to a split spout one and just drinking one shot vs a double, but I may experiment with single baskets.
At this point, I feel like it's a significant enough upgrade in taste to justify the price. I am able to create espressos that tastes different from the shops near me. It's still not cheap though, and it doesn't mean I wasn't able to create delicious espressos before when I had cheaper equipment. But in the context of a hobby, and compared to things like wine or photography, the price isn't unreasonable. SSP red speed
Review a few posts down ->