Weight-based dosing grinders are on the horizon

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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Postby RapidCoffee » Apr 19, 2011, 8:57 am


Mark Prince wrote:For more than a decade now, everyone from the world's top coffee professionals to the most isolated home coffee enthusiast has been bemoaning a very glaring omission from the world of coffee and espresso grinders: the ability to accurately grind a specific amount of coffee by weight and to do it repeatedly.

In the past few years, the company set about to tackle this problem. And at SCAA in Houston in just a few short weeks, they will be demonstrating some late-prototype devices that bring the dream of accurate, weight-based dosing grinders to reality.

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Postby tekomino » Apr 19, 2011, 9:15 am

This is very interesting and great news. Bad thing is that you have to transfer ground coffee into the basket. I understand problems with having whole portafilter in grinder and weighing the ground coffee, but I think better compromise is that you simply place empty espresso basket and then grind into it instead of whole portafilter.

That would be my preferred solution to the problem and fairly easy to implement onto the existing design.
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Postby Bob_McBob » Apr 19, 2011, 12:17 pm

It's too bad the weight-based model doesn't have the timing functionality as well, or I'd definitely be trading in my Vario just to experiment. I don't know whether I can convince myself to put down $550 when I'm not sure if I'll like it. I am also not so sure about grinding into the bin for espresso, but you could rig up something to hold a basket. This is an accessory they SHOULD include with the grinder. I remove the basket for every shot to double check the dose anyway. My idea for this would be a design very much the same as the current portafilter holder bin, but with the arms designed to hold only a PF basket.

As usual, Baratza is being extremely innovative for the home user. I hope this will catch on with the big grinder manufacturers, because timed dosing does not cut it for 68mm conicals. I think it will be substantially more difficult to implement because of the grinding speed of commercial grinders, but the technical issue with weight distribution should be easier to get around because of the lack of size restrictions.

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Postby another_jim » Apr 19, 2011, 1:26 pm

The weighing Vario looks like a very fine first version 1.0. Given the grind quality and speed, and the relative ease with which one can pour coffee from container to basket; this will make weighed grinding a lot faster than anything any of us does now.

It should be relatively easy to either manufacture or home build a modified grind catcher that can accommodate baskets (or cupping cups) of various diameters, if the taring function on the scale is flexible enough.

The Vario and other Baratza grinders have very low grind retention; and this is probably what make it possible to use this system. I think with the current commercial espresso grinder designs there's too much delay and slop between stopping the grinder and getting no more grinds out of the chute to make a weight based on/off switch system work reliably.

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Postby dialydose » Apr 19, 2011, 1:56 pm

This is a very positive step in the right direction and it seems there is one (and basically only one) company really focusing improving the feature sets on serious home grinders. They should be applauded for this work and I am excited to see where this leads. I think this concept can be refined into a really great feature set. Just imagine walking up to your grinder and hitting a few buttons and getting precisely the amount of coffee you want? Long overdue in my book!!

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Postby Intrepid510 » Apr 19, 2011, 2:32 pm

I think this is really nice for non-Vario owners. It allows us to get better product if later on we miss some of the added convenience of the Vario's timing function. Really cool thing can't wait to pick one of these up in the summer.

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Postby alex e » Apr 20, 2011, 5:14 pm

I'll stick with my SJ and gram scale plus sweeping routine, thanks.

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Postby mute » Apr 20, 2011, 6:28 pm

I already chimed in over at CG, but I still think I'd opt for a regular Vario over the Vario E based on the shortcomings of the design. I have a feeling by the time the E makes it to market that they'll have revised the grind catcher to include some type of smaller bin, but the loss of timing features is a bummer.

You'd think if they were reducing the complexity of the electronics on the unit that they'd redesign the UI of the Vario while they are at it. That's my only real qualm with it, and it's purely cosmetic.

When it's time for me to upgrade my grinder, I'll still probably opt for a refurbished Vario as I think at the price it is still hard to beat.

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Postby signal15 » Apr 20, 2011, 6:42 pm

There is a better way to do this....

Take a design like the Versalab M3 so the motor isn't in the way. Put a pad with a weight sensor under the grind chamber with a "mount" on it to set your portafilter in. Then, when the grind button is pressed, it zeros the scale, and starts grinding until it hits your desired weight. You could prototype the thing using an arduino board for the logic and display/button control, and a few hours on a mill and lathe.

My wife won't let me buy the mill and lathe until the deck is on the house. :(

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Postby mute » Apr 20, 2011, 6:56 pm

Yeah, my first thoughts on it were "dosing chamber". Grind your dose into a tare'd chamber of some sort, that is deposited into your portafilter via a chute after the desired weight is achieved. Sure, it's more complex than just dumping into a large container sitting on a scale, but it gives you more flexibility. I don't foresee anyone rolling that sort of technology into a < $600 grinder however.