Fine tuning grinder setting with minimum waste

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
terhune281

#1: Post by terhune281 »

I have a doserless Rancilio Rocky. I've had it for about 6 months. Several days ago I took it apart and cleaned it removing hopper screw, burr, spout, spout gasket. I thoroughly cleaned it with vacuum and portafilter brush. After "zero" was found on machine, I rotated the hopper 5 notches and shots took 50 seconds and 10 seconds for first flow of espresso. Obviously the grind was too fine. Is there a way to figure out how to find the perfect grind setting which I understand is different from coffee to coffee without pulling shots at each notch? If so, I would appreciate advice on getting that elusive 27 second shot with lots of crema. Is there a "magic number" of notches after zero which is the optimum setting? Thanks in advance, Carl

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HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB »

From the FAQs and Favorites: Starting espresso setting for Rancilio Rocky and How to find the Rocky true zero point.

It's nice to have a starting point provided by someone with the same setup, but it's even better to know how to dial in any grinder. Here's the trick I've mentioned a few times for dialing in a grinder: Grind a sample and pinch it between your fingers. It should feel much coarser than flour, but finer than salt. The grinds should stick together slightly; if the beans are fresh and the grounds don't adhere together, it's too coarse. If the grounds hold a fingerprint impression, it's too fine. If the coffee is fresh, you'll feel the moisture in the beans. If you don't, the grind setting is too coarse. Learning to judge the proper grind setting by feel will save you coffee, since the first extraction will already be in the ballpark.

Jim Schulman offers similar advice years ago for grind settings from Turkish to French press:
another_jim wrote:Generally, a quick way to check grinds is to pinch them between your fingers and feel how granular they are:
  • Turkish: a powder, like flour.
  • Espresso: very fine grained, like 10x sugar
  • Drip (fine grind): like fine sand
  • Medium Grind (vacuum pots, fast French Press, and cupping): a tad finer than table salt
  • Coarse (for slow french press): between table and kosher salt.
You can go to a supermarket, buy some cheap beans, and grind them at the standard setting to get a feel.
For espresso, the grounds should stick together when pinched between your fingers. If they don't, the coffee is either stale or the grind setting is too coarse. Although Jim describes the feel as "10x sugar", I would add that it should feel grainy when you rub it between your fingers. If you don't feel some grainy inconsistency, it's too fine.
Dan Kehn

terhune281

#3: Post by terhune281 »

Thanks Dan and Jim, You are the true "Espresso Doctors". Jim's link from Coffee Geek in 2004 was particularly helpful. I am now aware that different coffees require different grinds at different times in their coffee bean lives. One less variable to worry about. This site is awesome and humbling. carl

terhune281

#4: Post by terhune281 »

From And sometimes you have to updose:
another_jim wrote:Anyone care to say what coffees have to be updosed? I would say, with fair confidence, that washed or otherwise acidic East African coffees are downdose coffees only. But Black Cat makes it clear there are coffees which are updose only. Which ones are they?
Thanks to Jim I have been packing my basket with Caffe Fresco's Ambrosia blend (18 grams) and backing off Rocky grinder setting from 8 setting to 12. The difference in flavor and crema is dramatic. During the extraction my clear glass 4 oz cup fills halfway with crema then settles out to about 1/8th of the espresso. At 14 grams no crema. Ambrosia blend is one of the coffees that definitely benefit from updosing. Carl

gauchogolfer

#5: Post by gauchogolfer »

I've not been able to get my Rocky to actually freeze-up my NS Oscar, even if I grind only one notch above where the burrs touch. I do the WDT routine for distribution, using a thin wire to break up clumps (I'm Rocky Doserless) and then leveling with a straight spatula. Everything looks good up to that point, and I'm guessing I'm not doing a horrible job tamping. But, I can only get about 1.5-2 oz to take 15 seconds or so, and no shorter.

Sounds like I need to post a thread of my own with some pictures of what I'm doing to get help, but it's nice to hear that some people have had better luck with Rocky than I have.

Maybe the teflon fix is required for me?

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#6: Post by RapidCoffee »

terhune281 wrote:Is there a way to figure out how to find the perfect grind setting which I understand is different from coffee to coffee without pulling shots at each notch? If so, I would appreciate advice on getting that elusive 27 second shot with lots of crema. Is there a "magic number" of notches after zero which is the optimum setting?
Short answer: no. A certain amount of trial and error will always be required. The guidelines above will help get you in the right ballpark, that's all. Be prepared to do some experimentation, and allow for grind adjustments with different roasts, aging beans, humidity changes, updosing, etc.
terhune281 wrote:Thanks to Jim I have been packing my basket with Caffe Fresco's Ambrosia blend (18 grams) and backing off Rocky grinder setting from 8 setting to 12. The difference in flavor and crema is dramatic. During the extraction my clear glass 4 oz cup fills halfway with crema then settles out to about 1/8th of the espresso. At 14 grams no crema. Ambrosia blend is one of the coffees that definitely benefit from updosing. Carl
No crema? This is not a dosing issue; something has gone wrong with your espresso. With freshly roasted beans, you should be getting almost 100% crema out of the filter basket, regardless of dose.
Image
A typical normale double: 80-90% crema.
John

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cafeIKE

#7: Post by cafeIKE »

gauchogolfer wrote: it's nice to hear that some people have had better luck with Rocky than I have.
Or not : Vibiemme Domobar Super + Rancilio Rocky = Impossible?

I personally disassembled, inspected and reassembled the Rocky in question.
The burrs were flat, the carriers were level, slop was tolerable...
It all seemed fine. Just not fine enough :?

gauchogolfer

#8: Post by gauchogolfer »

I actually cleaned my Rocky last night, and both attempted shots this morning (2 and 3 clicks larger than burrs touching) caused my Oscar to be completely choked off. So, I must have done something, though I'm not exactly sure what. I didn't remove the burrs, only the hopper and used a brush. Looks like I'm getting finer grinds now. We'll see tonight how it goes.

gauchogolfer

#9: Post by gauchogolfer »

First one today still choked the Oscar, and two steps above that gave me a 30 second pour to get 1.5oz. I think that I've finally gotten into a good range. I must say that the look of the shot going into the glass was the best I've seen, though it tasted a little bitter (overextracted?). Next one in the morning will be one click higher, and we'll see how consistently I can repeat the rest of my routine.

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#10: Post by cannonfodder »

Or overheated, could be channeling as well.
Dave Stephens