Titan Grinder Project: Can it Beat the Mazzer Robur? - Page 6

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Aug 13, 2007, 1:22 pm

Beat the Robur: Some Conclusions
  • Most importantly, on its own, this is not a thorough test of any of the grinders (except perhaps the Robur itself). It is one small part of the review process.
  • The overall range of scores is fairly narrow. The way the scoring works, a 4 point difference per round translates to a rating difference of around 5 points out of 100. Basically, all the grinders in this group averaged within a 5 point range. I think this range is pretty close to what buyers of a commercial espresso grinder can expect if they either get one that perfectly suits the coffee and machine, or one that totally misses.
  • These tests do not reflect user friendliness. Every shot from every grinder was sifted, declumped, weighed, etc, etc, no matter how much trouble that entailed. In the real world, the most consistent, least fuss shots come from grinders producing fluffy, clump free grinds. As a rule, larger burrs do this better than small ones, conicals better than flat, doser grinders better than doserless grinders, and lower rotation ones better than higher rotation ones. The Versalab M3, despite all its faults, is uniquely excellent in having an engineered "fluffer" at the burr exit. This is a design feature that commercial grinder manufacturers and our very own mad geniuses should consider.
  • Bigger is generally more consistent, and all around better. I have little doubt, after two months with this range of grinders, that if I tested them for several years with lots of coffees and machines, the bigger grinders would end up averaging better than the small ones. However, the tests show that there is enough variability to create horses for courses. For a new combination of coffee, dose, machine, etc, a smart bookie wouldn't be making the big boys heavy favorites or giving out very long odds on the smaller grinders.
Jim Schulman

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Randy G.

Postby Randy G. » Aug 13, 2007, 3:34 pm

another_jim wrote:...The Versalab M3, despite all its faults, is uniquely excellent in having an engineered "fluffer" at the burr exit. This is a design feature that commercial grinder manufacturers and our very own mad geniuses should consider.


This is something that I have been thinking about as well. At first I thought that a device that uses the WDT combined with something that looks like a little flour sifter, but that just deals with a solution to a problem, but eliminating the problem is the goal. Now I am thinking that having slanting blades in the doser instead of vertical, and having a screen (possibly laser cut from sheet stock) over the exit chute through which the grounds are forced and 'sifted' may be an easy solution.
Anyone think the "Mazzer Fluffer" would sell? Let's run it by marketing... :wink:
Espresso! My Espresso!
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

Postby RapidCoffee » Aug 13, 2007, 6:10 pm

Randy G. wrote:This is something that I have been thinking about as well. At first I thought that a device that uses the WDT combined with something that looks like a little flour sifter, but that just deals with a solution to a problem, but eliminating the problem is the goal. Now I am thinking that having slanting blades in the doser instead of vertical, and having a screen (possibly laser cut from sheet stock) over the exit chute through which the grounds are forced and 'sifted' may be an easy solution.
Anyone think the "Mazzer Fluffer" would sell? Let's run it by marketing... :wink:



I'm not a big fan of dosers, but Dan proposed a flour sifter doser mod last fall. He may have made this post with tongue in cheek, but I thought it was a great idea.

Grinders should have a straight drop to the filter basket (or doser) from the burrs, not a horizontal chute that encourages clumping. IMHO, that is one of the big pluses in the M3's innovative design.
John

Ken Fox

Postby Ken Fox » Aug 13, 2007, 6:25 pm

RapidCoffee wrote:I'm not a big fan of dosers, but Dan proposed a flour sifter doser mod last fall. He may have made this post with tongue in cheek, but I thought it was a great idea.

Grinders should have a straight drop to the filter basket (or doser) from the burrs, not a horizontal chute that encourages clumping. IMHO, that is one of the big pluses in the M3's innovative design.



My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that the issue of grounds clumping and form, is hugely more important when one updoses than when one doses a quantity for which the espresso machines were designed in the first place. By this I mean PF basket doses of 12-15g.

All of the stuff that is used for what I'll term "basket preparation," e.g. distribution, breaking up clumps by whatever means, and tamping, become basically unnecessary fluff in the context of proper dosing.

I have an email from Jim Schulman from 3 or more months ago, in which he said that low basket doses basically will not channel. I didn't believe him at the time, but I sure believe him now.

I have to believe that a whole bunch of techniques would never have been developed in the first place, had we (in N. America, and in the enthusiast community) dosed like the Italians have always dosed. To me, as I have stated in another thread, updosing probably represents a spectacular wrong turn that can be attributed largely to Mr. Schomer and people who follow him.

So, I think that doing something with the dosers may have some merit, but in the context of proper dosing, there is little need for it.

Just think what would have happened in the absence of updosing; there would have been no need for at least half the posts that have ever been made on all the coffee internet venues, and we could have put all that time to much better use :P

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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Randy G.

Postby Randy G. » Aug 13, 2007, 7:12 pm

Ken Fox wrote:...........Just think what would have happened in the absence of updosing; there would have been no need for at least half the posts that have ever been made on all the coffee internet venues, and we could have put all that time to much better use :P ken



I have been following the 'downdosing' discussions and have been practicing same of late. I need to get one of those .1g digital scales and I am awaiting a new (to me) grinder but my preliminary observations have been promising. Also, the OPV spring on my Vibiemme seems to be one of the wonky ones, and I am awaiting a replacement before getting terribly serious about reporting results. But so far, it is something I plan to stick with- grind finer, thwack frequently, dose lower, tamp softer, drink happy. .. words to live by... :roll:
Espresso! My Espresso!
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com

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AndyS

Postby AndyS » Aug 13, 2007, 11:47 pm

Ken Fox wrote:I have to believe that a whole bunch of techniques would never have been developed in the first place, had we (in N. America, and in the enthusiast community) dosed like the Italians have always dosed. To me, as I have stated in another thread, updosing probably represents a spectacular wrong turn that can be attributed largely to Mr. Schomer and people who follow him.



To my good friend Ken:

ENOUGH ALREADY. It is getting tiresome to read your daily bleating about the evils of updosing.

Every open-minded barista comes to the realization that the size of the dose is one variable that may be used to manipulate the taste of a shot. It is just as valid to updose or downdose as it is to select greens, adjust roast profiles, create new blends, or experiment with extraction temperatures, pressures, baskets and portafilters.

You are no doubt aware that Heather Perry is the reigning US Barista Champion and won the silver medal at the World Barista Championships. She also won the prize for "Best Espresso" at the World Championships. When you buy her WBC blend, the enclosed instructions say "Heather prefers the dose up method with 22-24 grams of coffee."

Are you seriously trying to tell us that Heather doesn't know what she's doing? Do you really believe she updoses because it says in Schomer's book that you're supposed to do it that way? Are you saying that the WBC judges didn't know what great espresso tastes like? Nonsense.

Your comments are a slap in the face to good baristas who sweat the details using their own tastebuds, and who constantly experiment to find what tastes best with their coffee. And you make the mistake of thinking that simply because downdosing makes it easier to pull a nice-looking bottomless extraction, that's all that matters. On the contrary, last time I checked, most of us still prefer to taste the espresso before we make up our mind how good it is.

I have been fortunate to have experienced some spectacular, updosed espresso shots pulled by baristas far more skilled than I. I know you have, too, although in your present giddy state you have probably forgotten. My heart goes out to you in your current state of confusion.

Downdosing is not some miraculous magic that will right all the wrongs in our espresso universe. With certain coffees, certain tastebuds, and perhaps with certain grinders, downdosing is a great technique. But let's not take this technique to ridiculous extremes.
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Aug 14, 2007, 1:00 am

AndyS wrote:You are no doubt aware that Heather Perry is the reigning US Barista Champion and won the silver medal at the World Barista Championships. She also won the prize for "Best Espresso" at the World Championships. When you buy her WBC blend, the enclosed instructions say "Heather prefers the dose up method with 22-24 grams of coffee."



I was actually very surprised by this. I got the blend without the instructions (as a donor) and found it bright enough to only dose at 14 grams. It did mellow out while I had it (4 to 10 days after roasting), and I'm sorry to say I didn't revisit the dose, so I don't know if it would have benefited from a higher dose.

Ken is just being his usual forceful self; but he has a point. Espresso machines are designed to make roughly 25 mL singles or 50 mL doubles in roughly 25 to 30 seconds, from 90 to 95 C water at 8 to 10 bar from 6 to 8 or 12 to 16 gram doses. The grinders and machines are engineered to work in this range. These are all variables, and they all have design bounds.

Now, sometimes one can go well outside those bounds and get equally good or even better results. But I'm beginning to find there is a distinction. Shots within these bounds will work passably well on all competently made equipment, because that is where they are designed to work. Going outside these bounds may not work at all. I've been forcefully confronted with this fact several times this year. The first is when I got the Elektra. On it shots degrade when the puck hits the shower screen. If I want to updose, I need to switch to a triple basket. Obviously the LM does not have this characteristic. The second was in this grinder test. The conical grinders are, at least from what I'm seeing, not happy doing long duration ristrettos. I used to have no problem doing 40 second shots from the Mini or M3 and get equal or even improved results; this has not been the case with these conicals.

My point is simple. Each shot making variable has a design range, and a range outside that. If you are starting on a new machine, grinder or coffee, or giving someone advice for equipment you don't know, you can be fairly confident going with around 50mL, 92C, and 9 bar; and work out from there. The design range for dose is 6 to 8, or 12 to 16 grams; so why are we telling people to start out with 18 gram doses? It seems fairly unassailable to me that one should also start out at the design dose of around 14 grams.
Jim Schulman

Ken Fox

Postby Ken Fox » Aug 14, 2007, 2:43 am

AndyS wrote:ENOUGH ALREADY. It is getting tiresome to read your daily bleating about the evils of updosing.

Every open-minded barista comes to the realization that the size of the dose is one variable that may be used to manipulate the taste of a shot.



(many expletives deleted)

No, it isn't.

If you make a double shot with 24g of coffee, in my opinion it is not an espresso, anymore than those 18% alcohol sweet Zinfandels are a good glass of wine. Maybe you like to have (what amounts to) a glass of port with your meal, but as far as I am concerned the stuff is unbalanced and unsuitable for accompanying a meal.

The same can be said for 22 or 24g shots made by anyone you'd care to name. If something has to assault your senses to get you to notice it, then as far as I am concerned it is overdone and assaultive.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Aaron De Lazzer in Vancouver, in June. Aaron, former CG columnist and barista trainer and roaster and current "Director of Coffee" for the roasting company Ethical Bean in Vancouver, told me about how he had stopped drinking espressos altogether for two years after finding them simply too much, to assaultive on his person, to be able to tolerate any longer. The reason was the way that we overdo espresso in N. America. I was already primed for this point of view after extensive conversations with Jim Schulman regarding his dosing experimentation.

I also had occasion, today, to order a few parts from our favorite genuine Italian coffee personality,

Image

Angelo Minicozzi, in Los Angeles. He told me how he had given up trying to convince people about proper dosing, but that it was an obvious fact known to any Italian who knew anything about espresso.

So no, my dear friend Andy, I do not accept that there is any good espresso varietal or blend that requires "updosing" to show well, and if it does, it is not a "good" blend or varietal, in my opinion, no matter who pulls the shot or prepares the basket, and I for one do not want to drink it.

Fondly,

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

Postby RapidCoffee » Aug 14, 2007, 3:03 am

Italian baristi are notorious for breaking the "rules" of espresso technique. Their modus operandi is reportedly to give one or two swipes of the doser, a light upward tamp on the grinder's built-in tamper, and then pull a perfectly acceptable shot. I believe Jim and Ken have explained at least part of this phenomenon: the Italians are using low doses. However, this is not only way, or necessarily the best way, to make espresso.

AndyS wrote:You are no doubt aware that Heather Perry is the reigning US Barista Champion and won the silver medal at the World Barista Championships. She also won the prize for "Best Espresso" at the World Championships. When you buy her WBC blend, the enclosed instructions say "Heather prefers the dose up method with 22-24 grams of coffee."

I was wondering when someone would point this out. :) And it's not just Heather, whose updosing borders on the extreme (at least for double baskets). Pure speculation, but I'll hazard a guess that few top-flight baristi dose under 16g, especially in competition. Higher doses are obviously capable of producing true excellence in the cup. On a related note, Italian baristi have not been dominating the WBC. Perhaps downdosing is a good way to ensure decent, but relatively unspectacular, pours.

AndyS wrote:Every open-minded barista comes to the realization that the size of the dose is one variable that may be used to manipulate the taste of a shot. It is just as valid to updose or downdose as it is to select greens, adjust roast profiles, create new blends, or experiment with extraction temperatures, pressures, baskets and portafilters.


I think this strikes to the heart of the matter. And it's good to see dosing receive more attention. For one of the most critical variables in espresso, it tends to get relatively little airplay.
John

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jesawdy

Postby jesawdy » Aug 14, 2007, 8:44 am

From here, Coffee Klatch has clarfied that the the 22-24g dose is for 2 ounces (~60ml),

ckroaster wrote:I must clarify. We include the detailed instructions but I may need to correct so there is not a misunderstanding. You see, we only use double baskets and portafilters so when I say one ounce I mean one ounce each side. Still a lot of coffee but where we like best (and fortunately the judges). As for 21 days, we have opened bags at three weeks and enjoyed killer espresso, but I would not want to open the day you receive and still be using 21 days later. To clarify, I believe the espresso is best between the 5th and 12th day with the 8th day being what we used for competition and what we recommend in our instructions. Hope this clarifies our instruction sheet, we will correct for future buyers.

mike



While Ken's comments (rants?), may seem tiresome to some, I think he may only be stressing it so much so that people might actually take a moment to try it out. Perhaps Ken wants to be the "low dose" (proper dose?) evangelist.

But, when it comes down to it, we are really splitting hairs here when comparing to the Klatch Blend dose. Ken has said here, that he likes to pull 1.25 - 1.5 ounces (37 - 44 ml). If we assume that Ken is using 14 grams, the equivalent ratio of an "updosed" shot to result in Heather's 2 ounces is 19-23 grams. That not too far from 22-24 grams now is it? Now, 24 grams for a single 1 - 1.25 ounces shot is a different story.

If you can get there with less rigor and machinations at 14g versus 20+g, why not just give it a try?
Jeff Sawdy