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Is there a simple strategy to get grind size in the ballpark for new beans?

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  • Is there a simple strategy to get grind size in the ballpark for new beans?

    Hey guys and gals,

    This is a barista technique question for you. I'm using a Mazzer Mini and Giotto at home. I don't seem to have the knack of getting the grind size correct when I start a new batch of beans. Because I tend to change a lot between home-roasted and commercially roasted beans; and between single-origin and blends, it seems I have to waste about 2 to 4 shots to get the grinder adjusted so I can achieve the 30ml/30sec extraction rate. Last week I lashed out and bought a 250g pack of "cup of excellence" but then it was annoying because I couldn't get the grind size right until I used half the pack!

    Thanks in advance if you have any suggestions!
    Darren

  • #2
    Hi Darren,

    Al I can say is that experience makes it much easier to judge how much of an adjustment is required to dial in.

    That said, I have days where I sink quite a few before I am happy...

    All part of the experience I guess. :-S

    Cheers

    Chris

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    • #3
      You can sometimes save a shot by pre-empting the adjustment your going to have to make. For example some african coffees need a very course grind. Darker roasted commercial blends often need to be quite fine.

      A set of scales that give .1 of a gm readings and weighing your doses can help to give you greater consistency of dose and make it easier to get the grind right.

      Make sure you purge the grinder after making adjustments to ensure you are only getting grinds that reflect the adjustment and not ones that were just sitting in the throat, or in the burrs.

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      • #4
        Furthermore it may be worth while getting a timer, scales (for consistent dose) a medicine cup/shot glass, stopwatch and a pen and paper and doing some tests.

        Start with a fast pour and record the grinders course/fine position. Move it one notch finer and time your shot again and so on.

        You need to do it yourself as it will vary depending on setup but by doing this you will soon get a pretty good idea and be able to predict based on the timing of your first pour of a new coffee how much grind adjustment needs to be made.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by muppet_man67 View Post
          Make sure you purge the grinder after making adjustments to ensure you are only getting grinds that reflect the adjustment and not ones that were just sitting in the throat, or in the burrs.
          Good observation, I figured this out one day when trying to find the right spot. The grind seemed to be a couple of shots behind the adjustment.
          I've learnt to anticipate the lag and sink less by changing dose and tamp on my way to the right setting. These days I hardly ever sink more than one or two shots, if I have to sink any at all. I don't bother weighing, for me it's a matter of 'feel' and if a shot is a bit less than perfect but quite drinkable that's ok, the next one will be fine, better than grinding 1/2 a kilo of great coffee just to get one awesome shot. ;-)
          Last edited by chokkidog; 18 December 2012, 10:42 PM. Reason: bit more info

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
            All I can say is that experience makes it much easier to judge how much of an adjustment is required to dial in.
            Yep! Fresh roast, older roast, lighter roast and darker roast, dry weather, wet weather, cold days and hot days...... you'll get the hang of it with time!
            With your Mazzer, like mm67 says, close the hopper throat, load your new beans, purge the grinder, reopen the throat, 'prime' the burrs with a short burst and work from there. Whether you weigh or not, developing your own technique so you can have more consistent outcomes when adjusting, is the key.
            CoE's are often roasted for pour over or press, asking about roast level when you purchase might help anticipate grind adjustment if you're going to try a light roast as an espresso.

            One thing I have learnt to apply with Mazzers though, is to have a separate grinder for cupping, pour over or press.......... I use a Hario Skelton.

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            • #7
              A hand grinder is very helpful in determining the hardness of the beans, softer beans usually run faster

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