Manual lever-head and manual grinder user week with semi-auto brewer and commercial Titan electric grinder

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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#1: Post by mdmvrockford »

Topic is as in the subject.

SUMMARY (in no particular order)
* I don't focus so much on equipment. Instead I do focus on in-the-cup quality. IMO it is get the best equipment I can afford so that the equipment require fewest compromises and lasts decades.

For this new bean I never prior tried before (local roaster Costa Rica Las Torres (black honey)) comparison of two shote each: flat grinder had wee bit more flavor separation/clarity vs conical burr. I will update thread when brew "tried and true " roast.

* It's just convenient to just flip E61 lever and move E61 flow control knob vs. press down on two lever arms (Cafelat Robot or prior press down on Olympia Express Cremina lever). This becomes much more apparent for acid sensitive palates like mine. Thus for my palate lighter roasts such as current Costa Rica Las Torres (black honey) requires long pre-infusion (2 bar for 30 seconds and then start full brew after 0.6 to 0.8 grams in cup) and high initial peak pressure (10 bars). Grind is fine (powdered sugar consistency; fingerprint into grind with ~3 lbs pressure; I am too lazy to Kruve sift to get objective size). Starting brewing on Decent Espresso would be a button press. I used a Decent on prior HB local meetup.

Also beside convenient brewing , it is sometimes real nice to grind by just turning switch (e.g. timer switch of Mazzer Major) or press button with Kafatek Monolith grinders. I used Monolith Conical and Flat on prior HB local meetup.

* The flip side of convenience is manual lever and hand grinder is more hands-on and engaging. Those with physical limitations [e.g. moderate to severe hand and/or shoulder arthritis(any cause)] and/or need to daily make >3 consecutive espressos. Then I would strongly suggest avoid manual lever and hand grinders. Unless you are masochist and have very patient espresso drinkers.

* If I had Jay Leno-level money I'd add Decent Espresso and Kdw Speedster Idromatic and LaMarzocco Leva and Kafatak Monolith Conical v5 and used LeverCraft Ultra with variety of burrsets to my espresso stable. And I would have stable of fine automobiles like him:)

But for now with my philosophy of use (<=3 espresso per day and no milk) and income level, my equipment stable is just fine. Back to focus on what is in the cup. And back to Robot and Helor 106. So please do not pull my LMWDP card :wink:

For this past week, I have from local commercial roaster's Costa Rica Las Torres (black honey). It looks lighter roasted. I have no access to Color Track nor Agtron etc for objective measurement of roast level. The roaster was not available when I bought the bean to get their exact roast time etc.

Also I recently had my flat burr grinder (2012 Mazzer Major with SSP Red Speed high uniformity burrs) professionally aligned. I have two left thumbs, do not have dial indicator/gauge equipment and also have no patience to do my own flat-burr grinder alignment. Given espresso bean extractions are now within 3 seconds (all other factors being same), I think functionally this Mazzer Major with SSP Red Speed HU burrs is now aligned well enough for my palate. Prior to alignment, I used this Mazzer Major with SSP Red Speed HU for spouse's drip coffee beans as I discovered its alignment was quite off. Prior to alignment espresso extraction times varied >=8 seconds with all other factors being same. And there was no consistent espresso taste on multiple consecutive espresso all brew parametes being same.

My usual espresso grinder is original Helor 106 (i.e. larger top cap that houses the gear reduction mechanism) and burrs are Mazzer 0186c a/k/a 71 mm conical single phase Robur burrs. Based on consistent extraction times and sound and visual, the Helor 106 is aligned. And my usual espresso brewer is Cafelat Robot barista (means has OEM pressure gauge).

Prior to Robot barista my usual espresso brewer was 1990 Olympia Express Cremina with Gabor Laczko's pressure piston gauge and Dave Stephens custom wood (e.g. much larger diameter lever handle) and various other mods. I still own my original quality espresso brewer : QuickMill Alexia with PID. Since 2009 I have added various mods: most significant was flow control device. I prior used FCD on local meetup Lelit Bianca and Profitec E61 dual boiler. Since using manual lever, the Alexia is used almost exclusively as milk steamer with spouse's cappuccinos and son's flat whites.
LMWDP #568