Must the grinder be running when making adjustments?

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

#1: Post by Rick Monroe »

When I ordered my Junior, I saw a notice on 1st-line's web page warning that grinder adjustments must be done when the grinder is operating. Is that so? Is it really necessary to have the motor running when making grind adjustments? This is not mentioned in the manual.

Thanks,
Rick

schectman

#2: Post by schectman »

Hi! I'm a long timer lurker, first time poster.

I just upgraded from a 7 year old Gaggia Classic and MDF to a La Valentina Levetta and Macap M4 stepless. I got everything up and working yesterday and am I'm pretty caffeinated right now :wink:

None of this has anything to do with my question, but I figured I'd share my upgrade experience. First of all, my Classic and MDF gave me great service! I got things dialed in and was easily able to make better espresso and milk drinks than I can find pretty much anywhere here in the SF Bay Area. My reasons for upgrading:

1. I love coffee
2. Lust
3. Lust
4. Easier milk drinks
5. Better, more consistent espresso
6. Better, more consistent foam
7. Ability to make cup after cup

I was definitely able to make good, creamy, micro foam with my Classic (although in limited quantities). But my major complaint was #4: The not-even-close-to-commercial steam wand on the Classic was just plain difficult to clean. I always felt like it was going to break when I was wiping it off. It got to the point that I only made milk drinks for guests. I do love straight espresso, but my favorite drink is a classic double cappuccino (1/3, 1/3, 1/3).

I think it's important to remember that while not everyone is willing/able to spend 4 digits on coffee equipment, you can make great espresso at home for much less.

That being said, I've already made a better shot and a better cappuccino than I ever made with my old equipment. And I'm not even close to being done tweaking!

Anyway, here's my grinder question: The 1st-line site says that you should NOT adjust your grinder settings while the grinder is off. I have never heard that before, and it's quite inconvenient (and wasteful). Is this common knowledge? Do most folks agree? I mean, my MDF was far from top of the line, but I always adjusted it when it was off.

Thanks in advance. And thanks after the fact for all of the wonderful information you all have contributed! I used HB extensively to research my upgrade choices.

-- Hal

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

#3: Post by Compass Coffee »

schectman wrote:Anyway, here's my grinder question: The 1st-line site says that you should NOT adjust your grinder settings while the grinder is off. I have never heard that before, and it's quite inconvenient (and wasteful). Is this common knowledge? Do most folks agree? I mean, my MDF was far from top of the line, but I always adjusted it when it was off.
-- Hal
If beans are in the hopper/burrs you can adjust coarser safely off IMO but not finer. If not storing beans in hopper and always only grinding for the session completely flushing the grinder when done, also usually not a problem adjusting finer when off and empty. However, it's possible some unseen bean remnants could be in the burr area so it's always safer to adjust finer with burrs turning. This eliminates possibility of putting undo stress on burr carrier/adjustment mechanics. If beans are in the hopper/burr area yes always safer to be running when adjusting finer.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

  • Wow, you guys must be channeling each other... I merged the two topics on the same question, posted only one minute apart from each other. Below is my original response to poster #1. Looks like Mike and I agree.
If the chamber is truly empty, no, it doesn't matter. But if it's full of grinds, the motor could bind if you tighten the setting with the burrs stationary. I'm not an electrical engineer, but that ERR-R-R sound of a stalled motor doesn't sound good (*). In my opinion, 1st-line's advice is prudent.

(*) Please don't ask me how I know what it sounds like. :oops:
Dan Kehn

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Psyd

#5: Post by Psyd »

HB wrote:But if it's full of grinds, the motor could bind if you tighten the setting with the burrs stationary. I'm not an electrical engineer, but that ERR-R-R sound of a stalled motor doesn't sound good.
When a motor is stalled, it turns into a heater. Heating the beans is bad. Your new heater has a coil that will efficiently turn household current into melted scrap, charring the moving electrical parts of your new motor in the process. It will, in effect, let the magic blue smoke out of the box. This is bad.
If you're worried about waste, keep your beans in a cool dry place tightly sealed against the intrusion of the most corrosive organic compound known to all mankind, i.e., oxygen, and take them out only when you are making coffee. Put as much coffee in the hopper as you are willing to use to make your espresso, and sweep it out when you are done. This way you can click the motor on and make small adjustments without wasting a buncha beans.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

schectman

#6: Post by schectman »

Rick -- lol, your post beat mine by a minute...

Thanks everyone. Seems like there's pretty much no question that you adjust the grinder while it's running.

-- Hal

Rick Monroe

#7: Post by Rick Monroe »

Yes, thanks all for fast replies.

I figured minor tweaks, say, a click or two, would not harm anything. I guess I'll wait to do that until I get some more time with the grinder.

Rick

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keno

#8: Post by keno »

There are two dangers in adjusting with the grinder off: (1) making a large change and making the burrs lock together so when you turn it on you damage the burrs and possibly the motor, and (2) compressing beans in between the burrs and gunking up the burrs. The biggest problem is obviously (1) and to avoid it you should be cognizant of the zero point on your grinder (which almost always is not the zero point on the dial). So it pays to know the zero point. Problem (2) shouldn't be a big deal if you make only very minor changes (and if it occurs it can be fixed with a cleaning).

The blanket advice given by 1st-Line seems bad to me. For instance, the Rancilio Rocky manual explicitly cautions people NOT to attempt to adjust the grinder with the motor running. If you depress the release mechanism with the motor running it will uncontrollably turn the adjustment ring (unless you have 3 or more hands). This is not a problem on a stepless grinder (I'm not sure whether it is or not on a stepped M4).

I own an M4 and I always use the trap door to keep the burrs clear of coffee. I know where the zero point is and I only make minor adjustments (mostly with the grinder off).

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Compass Coffee
Sponsor

#9: Post by Compass Coffee »

keno wrote:The blanket advice given by 1st Line seems bad to me. For instance, the Rancilio Rocky manual explicitly cautions people NOT to attempt to adjust the grinder with the motor running. If you depress the release mechanism with the motor running it will uncontrollably turn the adjustment ring (unless you have 3 or more hands). This is not a problem on a stepless grinder (I'm not sure whether it is or not on a stepped M4).
Uh, I've had a Rocky going on 5 years, never needed more than my own two hands to adjust grind.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

DigMe

#10: Post by DigMe »

Compass Coffee wrote:Uh, I've had a Rocky going on 5 years, never needed more than my own two hands to adjust grind.
The only logical answer here is that you have a third hand that you are not aware of.

bc