Lyn Weber Workshops- EG-1 Home Test

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

I've been working out in my head the best way to present a "first look" at the EG-1 for a while now. It's quite a competent and innovative tool for baristas both home and commercial. While the Lyn Weber Workshop team have set out to engineer and design a cutting edge tool for the commercial environment as their primary focus, it will no doubt find a home in many homes. So I think what I'll do is just work thru an informal battery of tests and opinions of the results in the cup. Below is a gathering of assessments I've carried out over the brief time I've had it. The EG-1 has proven quite useful and user friendly and had it been on the market when I bought the R120, I would easily have chosen the EG-1.

I think for this specific design (single dose, electric), the market is pretty tight right now, with only three players that immediately come to mind. The LWW EG-1, the Versalab M3 and the line of modified Versalabs or Titus Grinders. All rather upper class premium priced single dose, low retention grinders use a different workflow for the barista when opting to single dose with low retention. The EG-1 stands out in some of its functionality and options that are only available in some form or fashion on a grinder that costs twice as much as the EG-1 is expected to. I'll break down different areas of commentary and include as many photos to illustrate what I'm experiencing.


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FOOTPRINT

The EG-1 allows for a large list of options in a very well thought out, small footprint. With the exception of the Versalab M3, It stands lower than any grinder in a commercial class that is hoper-less that I'm aware of (and once a hopper is added to the Versalab, it too loses). My Compak K10 Fresh and especially my Compak R120 tower over it as does the EKK43. The EG-1 by comparison has more usable features ( hands free portafilter fork, dosing cones etc) and is far easier to actually use. The frequency drive box is separate and off to the side out of the way and my early unit I'm reviewing doesn't contain some of the final components that will be found on the product that goes for sale. Specs for the overall dimensions for the EG-1 are easily available on the LWW website so I won't bother repeating them here. It's light enough to easily be positioned and moved about wherever I need.



BUILD/DESIGN

The grinders build is rock solid, CNC milled aluminum with a very sturdy feel to it. It seems to me to be well thought out in terms of simplicity of design directing the final form it takes, nothing superfluous. It's a very streamlined construction. I've likened its appearance to that of a security camera on a space ship :) Craig Lyn wants me to torture the machine however I see fit, but it seems rather unflinching so far. the base and the neck supporting the head of the grinder certainly speaks to a quality build, very solid, no wobble or vibration or anything like that. One very big plus for the EG-1 is its modular design. Components are accessible, the unit is easy to clean and inspect and are generally replaceable.




USE

Like with any other grinder, when it comes to decisions on how its to be used, its design should best support that role. I've owned somewhere north of 20 commercial grinders now, and have been able to use even more. I borrowed a Mahlkonig EKK43 to do some comparisons as well. Neither the K10 Fresh, nor the Mahlkonig K30 are all that well suited for single dosing. My previous findings on the K30 have always been that single dosing affects the grind quality and is a challenge to nail down, especially when switching from coffee to coffee, and it needs RDT to keep the retention under 0.5-1 gram or so. Same with the K10 Fresh, which is clearly not engineered to be at its best as a single doser, but the results seem less effected in terms of grind consistency and adjustments needed, but it's an even higher retainer. One grinder that does come to mind for single dosing use that would also work in a commercial environment is the Compak K10 Pro Barista, but it's well documented that the bang and brush routine to get that low retention certainly takes a lot of time and may not be what would be useful in a commercial setting either, so it's a pick your poison sort of matter.

The EG-1, like the others, does retain more than 0.5-1.0 gram of coffee without RDT currently (they do have later versions of the upper and lower funnel that apparently reduce this retention). With RDT however, it functions similar to the HG-1 in its almost zero retention use. I'll show a few pictures to illustrate the retention and lack of retention in various forms of use. Like I mentioned in the recent LWW Bean Cellar thread, my findings mirror that of Charles Babinksi and Honey Coffee in Japan (confirmed after the fact). Whether a commercial environment can and will use RDT type methods in beverage prep is up to them. Some take great care and practice exacting standards for input and output control, but very few have yet worked with technology like this that offers a tool designed around single dosing, quick changes between coffee with no significant retention, hands free use, etc. When you fill a big hopper up with coffee you get a different set of challenges, as beans and burrs heat up with use, so does the grind settings adjustments take time to employ. The LWW EG-1 with its motor mounted on top of the unit instead of the bottom, would lead me to think that passive heating of the burrs from the motor would be less likely, but it's only a guess on my part.

Here's a photo of the retention in the lower funnel chute if RDT isn't used. The results varied depending on coffee type and roast degree, but this is a general approximation of what I've been finding.

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And here's a photo of how spotlessly clean it is if RDT is used. Retention at this point is essentially nil.

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You can use various tools to ensure tight dosing from shot to shot, including weighing each dose, like I've seen done with a Robur E and a paper cup tared on a scale. But that also takes time. So perhaps it comes down to where the barista wants to spend his or her time in preparing the shot. I've found with the EG-1, the EKK-43, the K10 (Fresh) and the R120, the K30, if you want less than half a gram retention on single dosing, you're going to have to use RDT. A small amount of grind retention is unavoidable due to static otherwise. And, with all the above grinders with the exception of the K30, some careful redistribution via WDT or other methods are needed as well to extract evenly.

The accessory rail on the EG-1 is nice in that I can make it work with anything in my arsenal. It's flexible to what I want to do with it. I can grind directly into a portafilter, or I can grind into a portafilter using a ring style dosing cone mounted on the basket. Or, if I chose, I could use the dosing funnel they've designed and grind into it, then dose however I chose. I personally have found the easiest and quickest method thus far is to just grind into the portafilter fitted with a dosing ring, give the unit a quick tap against the fork as I remove it, even the distribution out with WDT, tamp and pull. Shots that were pulled from doses that appeared flat and even but that didn't have WDT, channeled significantly.

The accessory rail is a compact and unobtrusive design, no knobs sticking out to the side, and as long as the unit is clean, it's a breeze to adjust. But in the honeymoon period of getting to know the grinder, I found that any stray grinds that were retained and later fell out of the output path, some of this would get caught up in the rail system and make adjusting the height of each piece a bit difficult. But I found with sticking to the RDT approach, and using a simple tap against the portafilter fork as I was removing, this issue resolved itself.

For the time I'm testing out this unit, I've placed a simple piece of black electrical tape on the front so that my occasionally distracted mind doesn't need to try to remember which way to adjust the grind for finer or coarser settings. I did the same on the HG-1 and it's completely removable and leaves no marks so I like having it there while I'm focused on other things. The grind setting adjustment is quick and easy, similar to the 2014 and newer HG-1's.

If I had my druthers, I'd look to see how the front piece of the upper funnel could be attached with either less magnetic strength or perhaps small cutouts on either side to facilitate easier removal. If you get the technique down, it's quick and easy, but I found that occasionally, depending on things like how dry my hands were, it could be a bit of a challenge to pull down on the upper funnel and draw it forward away from the magnets when my hands were really dry and there wasn't much to really get a grip on. I also noted that I keep my fingernails extremely short so there's no chance of pulling it down using those, but others would have no problem if they didn't keep theirs as short. It's very nice to be able to quickly get to the burrs for cleaning (not really needed with RDT) and the design embraces that fundamental desire to keep the whole system spotlessly clean.


Here's a closer look at the lower funnel which contains the lower funnel chute where the coffee emerges from when retention is present.


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And again, with a different roast.


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There are blade like "paddles" that they've tested using various materials that are mounted to the rotating burr mount that serve to wipe loose all the grinds as they exit the burrs and throw them towards the lower funnel to the chute. The design on my unit might be tweaked a bit and changed slightly in the final production units to see if retention without RDT is possible. I won't speculate there because all I have is what's in front of me. But with the design as it is, it's extremely quick, quiet and easy to use with the above mentioned techniques.

The materials on the blade/wipers might be different in the final version, so keep that in mind. Here's how the grinder appears if there's a retention issue not using RDT (with varying levels of exposure to highlight key portions).


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Shots pull evenly and cleanly.


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TASTE RESULTS


I continue to spend a good deal of time informally (unscientifically) testing out the taste results and compare it to the arsenal of grinders I have at my disposal. Here's where I believe the EG-1 pulls ahead of the pack, despite its need for RDT/WDT. The only grinder that gave comparable shot clarity, sweetness and flavor separation was the R120 which is far less easy to use, not having a portafilter mount and unless it's completely free-standing, it's also difficult to load a dose of coffee into. With the EG-1, the shots tasted brighter, sweeter and more distinctly separated than the K10 Fresh, which by comparison gave more "blending" of flavors that also favored base notes as apposed to the high notes I'm finding on the EG-1. Mind you, like I've mentioned, this wasn't in any way scientifically carried out. I plan to employ more testing using a lazy Susan and matching baskets as I go forward, and try to make the comparison as blind as I can. But for now, these are what I'm noting, just going from one grinder to the next, dialed in the same coffee to yield as close to the same brew ratio in as relatively close amount of time.

The EKK43 was equal to the EG-1 in flavor clarity, sweetness etc, but also needed RDT and WDT to keep the doses under half a gram retained and pulling "pretty". The R120 has some complicated design features that allow for lower retention in its output path, and it behaved better than the EKK43 in those regards, yet it too needs attention paid to even distribution in the basket in order to extract evenly. So by nature of the roles each of these 3 grinders play, I'd say the EG-1 does it best in that it's far more compact and has a more feature rich design.

I'll comment here as well, an issue I only encountered sporadically/rarely, using the EG-1. When making various attempts of different grinding methods using RDT or not, etc, I'd sometimes find a retained amount of beans that hadn't yet passed thru the burrs. Meaning, after grinding a dose, cleaning up and ending a session, but later coming back to it, I'd turn the grinder on and I'd get what looks to be at least 3-5 beans worth of grinds actively being ground that didn't pass thru on the previous attempt. I haven't nailed down when or what causes it, and it's only happened twice. But these are definitely beans that haven't yet passed thru the burrs. I'd grind a dose, turn it off after it's ran clear, then come back to it to find some beans having been retained. I don't know if it's a small amount of the moisture I'm using for RDT making a few particular beans stick to somewhere in the loading path above the burrs, but that is my leading theory. There just isn't any place for beans to trap up and stay behind. This all occurred around testing methods of switching how I chose to use RDT. in the other grinders, I'd just spray the top of my little silicone dosing bowl with a small spray bottle. Other times, I'd do this but shake or stir the beans in a secondary vessel to fully distribute this moisture. I will continue to work on this and report back on my findings, but wanted to be completely transparent in the two or three episodes that this did occur. LWW told me they know what is causing this to occur and already have a modification that fixes this.


Here's a shot of the coffee that ground thru on the turing on of the grinder for the next session. This was it at its absolute worst. The other time it was less than half as much. I speculate that larger moisture droplets might be causing beans to adhere to the last "corner" or edge prior to hitting the burrs, but I'm unsure. I'll be repeating several tests where the coffee has its moisture evenly distributed and report back. Although I've already done tests like this that seem to allude to this fact, I'm not 100% certain. If RDT could be eliminated, it would be a moot point anyway.


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Shots that are ground into the portafilter directly with a dosing cone, tapped flat, pre-tamping, look well distributed like this, but don't extract evenly unless WDT is used.


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One other thing that the LWW folks don't seem to be emphasizing enough is how quiet and quick it is to use. The motor torques up almost instantaneously and also, more importantly, stops immediately. It's really cool that it doesn't "motor down" like most other grinders. The second you flip the switch, it's dead quiet and off. I think the mass of the milled aluminum helps with noise too, because it's a very nice sounding grinder, making very little noise. I think variable rpm will need further exploration, but it's fun to have to play with.


DOUBLE DUTY


The EG-1 punches above its class in that it is also an effective brew grinder. Retention is a minimal concern at these coarser settings and the cup results are equal to the R120 and EKK43 and my Bunnzilla I was previously using until I chopped it down to make it more counter friendly, so I'm drawing from memory there until it gets reassembled. But technically, one could opt to have this EG-1 as a multi-tasker that does both drip and espresso quite well. If I added up just the last two or three grinders I've bought over the past few years, the EG-1 is a financial bargain comparatively.


SUMMARY

My summary is that this is not a summary :) I'll continue to use and test things and report back, especially focusing on answering questions of the HB audience. It's clear to me that the EG-1 has a tremendous amount of potential and delivers on most of its claims in my testing. The results in the cup are excellent and its overall usability trumps the rest of the pack. It does what only grinders twice it size does, and then some, being more feature rich. This writing is not to give official declarations from the manufacturer, those will be found on their website, but I know they are constantly striving to advance the use of it. I've spoken to them both about the lower funnel retention, and they have already noted it and are working on other options. The wiper blade material and design of the lower funnel output chute can evolve before its final production to give even better results than I'm finding.


A note on the bean cellars: While I think they are incredible for what they are and what they due, for a specific user task, I'm not making them a focus on this writing. I want to keep this thread focused mainly on the EG-1 specifically. That will include more commentary and use of its dosing ring which many competitive professional baristas are buying in dozens for beverage prep.

baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

Thank-you for all this information. Very helpful. I was hoping that somehow they had figured out how to avoid solutions like RDT and WDT, but I guess that it is the nature of grinding coffee that static happens with metal burrs.

Do you have any comments about the variable rpm feature? Were your comments above at maximum rpm, or?
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

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TomC
Team HB

#3: Post by TomC » replying to baldheadracing »


I played with rpm all over the place, but can't come to any conclusions other than it's there to play with. The comments above were also done at various rpm. Lately, I've been leaving it at 1200.

kwantfm

#4: Post by kwantfm »

Thanks Tom for the thorough write up. Your (informal) taste comparisons are very helpful. It will be interesting to see what the testing panel finds with regard to variable speed. It's possible that speed won't prove to be an important variable and that this function is removed with a subsequent reduction in pricing.
LMWDP #602

jaredw

#5: Post by jaredw »

Great write up! Have been tossing up if I should save for a eg-1 or just pull the trigger on the hg-1. It sounds like my concerns with the hg-1 (the need for RDT and WDT) are going to carry over so the price difference just doesn't seem worth it for me. Interesting to see as you theorised it's just a fact of life with metal burrs or it can be fixed before released.

Again, thanks!

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Terranova

#6: Post by Terranova »

TomC wrote:I played with rpm all over the place, but can't come to any conclusions other than it's there to play with. The comments above were also done at various rpm. Lately, I've been leaving it at 1200.
Great write up Tom,
so you decided to go for less quality output but faster grind speed ?

According to Lyn Weber:
The faster the grind, the more heat produced and introduced into the grounds. With speed control, the barista can choose to make the tradeoff of grind time versus quality...
Which I find very interesting, in particular if you keep in mind that the EK43 is running with 1400RPM and the new Barista EK43 which comes out in spring 2016 grinds till up to 1800RPM.

Do you have some more information about the heirloom quality materials ?
I am sure that this grinder finds its niche market, although I never saw anyone using RDT or WDT with an EK43, in particular in a commercial setting.

brianl

#7: Post by brianl »

Thanks! That electrical tape looks like it's always been there. Smart addition.

SAB

#8: Post by SAB » replying to brianl »

+1!

Thanks for the great write up! Great pics as well.

Is it as easy to take apart and put back together as it appears from the website? And have you removed the burr carrier for cleaning? Any remarkable findings there?

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TomC
Team HB

#9: Post by TomC »

Terranova wrote:Great write up Tom,
so you decided to go for less quality output but faster grind speed ?

According to Lyn Weber:


Which I find very interesting, in particular if you keep in mind that the EK43 is running with 1400RPM and the new Barista EK43 which comes out in spring 2016 grinds till up to 1800RPM.

Do you have some more information about the heirloom quality materials ?
I am sure that this grinder finds its niche market, although I never saw anyone using RDT or WDT with an EK43, in particular in a commercial setting.

I don't see a stark difference in quality of flavor from low rpm vs higher rpm. But the summary above was to try to assess the whole system, touching on many aspects. I intend to work on more focused aspects going forward.

I'm not certain where you're going with the "heirloom quality" question. But if you have an issue about their marketing terms, take it up with them. And I'd caution you to proceed carefully here, being that you're a vendor in this specific market sector, your bias is clearly known.

As for EK43 basket prep specifically, I have never have seen the competitive baristas using bottomless portafilters in the first place using them, be it competition or in a commercial setting, so it's a bit premature to declare EK43 shots as never needing basket prep (WDT) in order to extract evenly. My experience with the EKK43 is that without some form WDT, the shots pull extremely unevenly, often times I'd see choking on one side of the basket and yellow fast flowing water out of the other. What the EK will never be able to do, that the EG-1 does in seconds, is be able to be stripped and cleaned to verify no retained stale coffee. I may not need to use RDT on an EK to get all my dose out, but I often got more, i.e. dosing 20.03g in and getting 20.08g out along with an airborne cloud of coffee dust to clean up. Clean grinding in the EK/EKK seems to require a secondary vessel mounted under the spout ( a cocktail shaker), a couple bangs of the bag holder, and then dosing accordingly. All that takes time too. With the EG-1, I just put the portafilter into the fork hit a button and stir the results for a second. One is clearly faster than the other.

The EKK43 (with newer coffee burrs pulling espresso starting at "2" on the dial) needed RDT to keep it's retention under 0.5g consistently. Using the EKK43 without these tricks also made more of a mess. The EG-1 was consistently lower in retention than all the above using the same prep methods.

The cup flavors in the R120, the EKK43 and the EG-1 were all exemplary.

ShelbiRyan

#10: Post by ShelbiRyan »

Awesome write up Tom, its greatly appreciated! Could you post some pictures of the separate control box? I'm very curious to see what kind of space it will take up, and how aesthetically pleasing it is...or isnt.