Monolith Flat SSP burr upgrade: installation, alignment and performance - Page 2

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

I've edited the third post to add performance results after breaking in the SSP burrs with the third 2.5lb of beans (7.5 lbs total.)

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#12: Post by samuellaw178 »

Dick, thanks for sharing this! Really excellent documentation and it's the first of its kind I've seen.

The latest EY% jumped up quite a bit. I am wondering if that's due to the roasts having rested more now, which anecdotally will increase the EY% as well. How realistic or how adventurous are you feeling about changing back the old burrs just to pull one or two more shots to check the difference?

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#13: Post by Peppersass »

You might be right about the rest. Those were the last two shots from the frozen batch I pulled out last week.

That said, the Lungo shot actually went down in %EY, and it was taken out of the freezer the same day as the Normale shot.

There's no way I'm feeling adventurous enough to go back to the Mythos burrs. I'm a dedicated amateur coffee scientist, but I have my limits. I know a good thing when I taste it! :D

I can offer this: the two shots pulled with the Mythos burrs (see beginning of this post) had rested about the same time as the two in my latest test. As noted in another thread, this was an unusually light version of Temple's Dharma Blend and I'd been having trouble pulling balanced shots without resorting to Slayer-like technique. Best I could get with standard parameters was about 18.8%, even after 9 days of rest. So there's no question in my mind that the SSP burrs are handling this particular light roast a lot better than the Mythos burrs.

But I'm not going to make the blanket statement that SSP burrs are great for light roasts until I've lived with them for a few months and tried some light roasts from well-known purveyors of coffee-flavored lemon juice. :mrgreen: Like I said, I value long-term impressions over initial taste and measurement tests.

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#14: Post by AssafL »

Good results.

Regarding alignement, with all the tediousness associated with the practice, I found that the ink and shim methods were nice as a go-no-go exercise, but a far better way was to use lever (or dial) indicators.

What the use of a lever indicator also enabled me to do was to find the aligned position; I've since come to believe that since the burrs are milled and turned on a lathe to size - they really shouldn't cause a 0.01mm misalignement (some burrs even tend to bind a bit together like block gauges do - pretty cool).

If that mis-alignment issue happens it is my belief that it is a function of torque and bolt centering and some binding somwhere that results in the mis-alignemnt. I've easily measured 0.05mm errors (actually probably closer to 0.03 die to cosine error on the lever indicator) just due to uneven tightening of the burr bolts.

Consider that when we first take our grinders apart very few (if any) have an assortment of shims fall out. If they arrived fully aligned without shims - why do they need them after a new (shiny if not better) burr set is installed?

BTW - Love the moody dentist picks. They are ubiquitous (and nothing else Moody makes seems to be a ubiquitous as these).
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

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#15: Post by Peppersass »

I considered using my dial indicator to measure the bottom burr axial alignment, but there wasn't an easy way to solidly mount it. And it wasn't clear that the probe could ride along the only flat part of the burr, which is right at the very edge. No way to use a lever indicator to measure radial alignment due to a pair of sweepers attached to the burr carrier that would be in the way. And none of that would help with the fixed top burr.

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#16: Post by AssafL »

To measure the stationary (top) burr you mount the indicator to the rotor. And vice versa - to measure the rotating burr you fix to the grinder body.

I used a powerful magnetic indicator holder from Browne & sharpe to hold it in place.

And yes - you work between the wipers. Bent the stationary one at least once :).

I am not sure the effort is worth it on the Monolith as it was probably close without shins ... and perhaps rotating the burr 120 degrees would have solved it. ... (It was on my VL due to me opening screws I shouldn't have).

BTW - in levers and dial indicators the real value comes from the assortment of bars and bases you have. For mounting. Luckily old US made ones are sometimes cheap on eBay.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

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#17: Post by NelisB »

What surprises me, is the lack of taste notes in this review. Is pulling espresso's about taste or science?

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#18: Post by Peppersass »

NelisB wrote:What surprises me, is the lack of taste notes in this review. Is pulling espresso's about taste or science?
Perhaps you missed this from my third post:
Peppersass wrote:As for taste, while my impressions are completely subjective, I've been doing quite a bit of cupping over the past few months while I've been learning how to roast. So I'm in the habit of paying a close attention to flavor components, defects, etc. I wouldn't say it was "God Shot vs Sink Shot", but I felt that the SSP shots were brighter, more balanced and had quite a bit more bite on the tip of the tongue, similar to the "pop" I usually get from Slayer-like shots. This could be another indication of more efficient extraction. The shots were definitely not as sour as the shots pulled with the Mythos burrs, which is a good thing. I'm hoping this is for real, but only time will tell.
I can add that the shots taste like Dharma Blend always does when properly extracted: chocolate, cherries, caramel. If you want more than that, it won't come from me. I'm not given to expansive tasting notes or following the SCA cupping protocol. Besides, Dharma Blend isn't the right coffee to use to test how well the SSP burrs bring out subtle origin flavors. I chose Dharma Blend because I have a fair amount of it on hand, and what I have is roasted lighter than usual, and hence has been harder for the Mythos burrs to extract. I wanted to see if the SSP burrs can do a better job extracting light roasts, and it appears that they can.

Even though I'm very familiar with this blend, I can't do a direct comparison with the Mythos burrs, so with this small number of tests I can't honestly comment on whether there's been improvement in things like clarity, depth, separation of flavors, etc., all of which are highly subjective terms anyway, and are vulnerable to "the new equipment is better syndrome". I believe I'll have a better sense of the true taste differences after I've used these burrs for a good long while with coffees I know.

In the meantime, the measurements in the third post are primarily for tracking how much change there is in retention, grind speed and grind setting after each 2.5 lb break-in session. I'm doing that in order to give people who get these burrs some guidance about how much they need to break the burrs in before they settle down. Of these, the grind setting change is the most important because while it's still moving finer it's hard to achieve precise consistency.

Of course in the final analysis, it's all about taste. But science can be very helpful for optimizing taste.


#19: Post by Mesmer »

Problem is that taste differs alot between people. So for me at least, if someone says coffee from certain gear/recipe tastes good, it might not matter that much, maybe it would not suit my taste at all.

The TDS/EY should be understandable for anyone. If a grinder can achieve high numbers, then you can work around to lower extraction in order to suit your taste. If some part of the gear doesn't let you go past a certain TDS/EY then you have a problem. And this should happen without weird shots like long extractions, etc.


#20: Post by appfrent »

Thank you Dick for all the effort. It was pleasure to read your experience.
About specifics of reaching a conclusion, I don't want to sound preachy but anecdote wrapped in numbers produced by fancy equipment is still an anecdote. There is nothing in between similar to non existence of "half pregnant". Science involves formulating hypothesis, designing experiment, making statistically significant observation with rigorous controls and tests to eliminate any other reason that could have produced results. Sometimes it takes thousands of reports from hundreds of people to establish a fact. That said, I am not against anecdotal evidence entirely. (Anecdotal evidence) x number of people x time ------------> discovery. It's just lots of people and a very long time. In the end, I always love to read individual experiences from people who are passionate about coffee, I just see the conclusions as anecdotes.
Forget four M's, four S's are more important :-)- see, sniff, sip and savor....