Small flat vs. large flat vs. conical burrs: Taste differences?

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

Postby nickw » Aug 04, 2013, 5:16 am

Hi Guys.

Trying to understand the differences that happen in the cup as one moves up in grinders.
Say from small flat, to large flat, to small and large conicals.

I've read both titan threads a few times.
Curious if there is another thread which explains it well.

For more specific context, I have a Compak K3 58mm flat grinder. If I were to move bigger, trying to understand the changes that would take place. And where the law of diminishing returns really kicks in?

Thanks,
Nick

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FotonDrv

Postby FotonDrv » Aug 04, 2013, 9:40 pm

The larger the burr the faster the burr is turning at the edge of the burr given the same motor RPM.

Burr shapes probably have an effect too so there is no simple answer. I have heard that the flat burrs accentuate the chocolate flavors and the conicals the fruit flavors.

I wish I have a large slow flat burr to add to my choices :D

Stephen
That Light at the End of the Tunnel is actually a train

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nickw

Postby nickw » Aug 05, 2013, 8:30 pm

FotonDrv wrote: I have heard that the flat burrs accentuate the chocolate flavors and the conicals the fruit flavors.


Good to know.

A few questions:

Flats:
Would I be correct in saying: As you move up in burr size the constancy (and thus taste) improves?
And is there a point where constancy/taste caps, and only the speed increases?

Conicals:
From what I've read after 68mm they all taste are very similar, and only speed increases. Correct?

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FotonDrv

Postby FotonDrv » Aug 05, 2013, 9:24 pm

I am not so sure on either question.

Large, flat, and slow is good I believe.

Conicals do change taste as the size increase but for my palate I have trouble detecting differences.

The big taste difference is between large flat and large conical.

That is just one mans opinion :D
That Light at the End of the Tunnel is actually a train

vinhster

Postby vinhster » Aug 06, 2013, 2:33 am

I currently have a Mazzer Major side by side with a Compak K10 PB. I've only had the Compak for a few weeks, so I haven't learned its quirks yet...

The reason I got curious about a conical after owning the Major for some time was because most of my shots had a prevalent bitter note. It was present with nearly every coffee I tried, and I wasn't able to make it go away through changes in dose, grind, or anything else. I'd have a good shot from a cafe, where they were pulling from a Robur, most commonly, and buy some beans to try at home. There, I would get shots that have a distinct bitterness to them that wasn't as strong in the cafe. One cafe I frequent uses a Amfin Super Caimano, and I noticed a fairly strong bitter note from their espresso as well.

So far with the K10, i'm getting a lot of brightness and not a lot of bitterness. If I pull similar dose/shot time/extraction ratio with the same coffee from both grinders, I feel like the Major is a bit far on the bitter end and the K10 is a bit too far to the other extreme. I've only gone through a couple bags of coffee in the K10... I usually make just a drink or two a day, so it's been a slow process to really figure things out.

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Randy G.

Postby Randy G. » Aug 06, 2013, 11:18 am

My History (approximate from memory):
Silvia + Rocky - 6½ years
VBM DS + Rocky - About 1 year
VBM DS + Kony - about 18 months
VBM DD + Kony (the one used in the Titan test) - 2 years

I did notice the change going from Rocky to the Kony with the DS. My wife noticed as well. I actually toned down my blend a bit after the Kony arrived. it is hard to compare a marginal grinder to what the titan Kony can do though; Geo Metro vs BMW is not really fair. I also notice that the big conical delivers a wider usable range of adjustment while still delivering good espresso while the Rocky was good for two different "click" stops at the most. The non-parallel design of a conical burrs means that for any vertical movement of the adjustable burr, the distance between the burrs changes less than if the burrs were parallel in the horizontal plane (someone please correct me if this is not an accurate observation).
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FotonDrv

Postby FotonDrv » Aug 06, 2013, 11:21 am

Randy G

Good analogy and I totally agree!

Stephen
That Light at the End of the Tunnel is actually a train

pacificmanitou

Postby pacificmanitou » Aug 06, 2013, 1:05 pm

Randy G. wrote:I also notice that the big conical delivers a wider usable range of adjustment while still delivering good espresso while the Rocky was good for two different "click" stops at the most.


This is true of all stepless grinders, conical and flat. Stepped burrs rarely have the adjustment necessary. I even find that my vario lacks enough adjustment at times. On the other end of this are worm drive adjustments, which I think are cumbersome because they adjust so minutely.
OP: conicals separate flavor better, and provide a better distribution of particles, which makes a better puck. Taste differences really depend on your coffee IME. While a quality grinder won't ever make a good coffee taste bad on its own (distribution and technique are at fault), some flavors play to the strengths of a burr type. Conicals separate flavors more, so complex fruits, or exciting coffees from Africa and the pacific islands, will naturally taste more complex when run through a conical. Most see this as a plus. Flat burrs do tend to push the low end, so South and Central Americans will shine. While you can make a very compelling case that a conical is the best, in truth best is a matter of opinion, and heavily dependant on your taste preferences. A competent barista can make excellent drinks with a Baratza Vario, but will find it simpler to do with a large conical or even a larger flat. I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for with your original question, but it sounds like you're looking for verification that you need a conical grinder. Some here will agree with that, but I do not. I think for most people, a Mazzer Major is more than enough, a Super Jolly is standard equipment, and if you'd like a huge conical, have at it.
LMWDP #366

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Randy G.

Postby Randy G. » Aug 06, 2013, 3:03 pm

pacificmanitou wrote:This is true of all stepless grinders, conical and flat. Stepped burrs rarely have the adjustment necessary..

I find that I can get a drinkable extraction with around a 4 or 5 indicated-step change on the Kony (an estimate), but with Rocky I was lucky when there were two "clicks" to choose from. The difference is that the big conical makes it possible to change the grind to match a taste preference as opposed to the Rocky that made it virtually impossible to do so. A 'stepless mod" to the Rocky would have helped slightly, but being that one click equaled about a .001" inch change in the distance between the burrs, and that resulted in a change in extraction time of around 4 to 6 seconds. That tiny movement of the upper burr would be very difficult to control for taste profiling.
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pacificmanitou

Postby pacificmanitou » Aug 06, 2013, 4:18 pm

Don't all mazzers use the same adjuster though? So the adjustability isn't exclusive to conicals
LMWDP #366