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Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

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  • Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

    2 major things for this argument, especially in a commercial sense is...

    1. Consistency
    2. Availability

    Main issue in say chain stores like gloria jeans, starbucks......whatever even in most restaurants and cafes, is that insufficient knowledge about coffee means people grind too much and leave it there. It takes a very watchful and tireless manager to tell a casual staff member over and over to do something they care nothing about and that is one point for doser-less grinders

    Next issue is speed, anyone having worked in a high intensity situation will definitely realise that speed is the major factor in the argument, with a doser model you are very rarely out of ground coffee, in busy times its all getting used anyway! So that rules out freshness, and once the chamber is full creates simple consistency. Doser-less models would really really have to be on their game to keep up with a barista eg ball park figure of my own performance, hitting a double basket every 7 seconds! so that means it has to grind at least 20g of coffee in about 5 seconds! Pretty fast, not impossible but does it stress the beans too much or is it a very high quality low stress conical setup..... very important with all espresso grinders is that they are conical, if you want quality and burrs to love the bean then go conical!!!! DO IT!!!

    Grinders are a vital part as Mal said, they should be in espresso situations micro-metrical stepless adjustment meaning infinite adjustment meaning perfect control. Both would come with this feature, however most commercial grade doser-less models are designed eg gloria jeans and starbucks...grinders coffee etc are designed to grind straight into say a 500g bag for a customer.. not every 5seconds neatly into a PF and thus are usually just step adjustment.

    Our company is working on moving all 9 of our cafes across to doser-less, im skeptical but i can see the potential if grinder manufacturers are up to it, as i havent seen many espresso oriented versions. Nor ever worked with any.

    Suffice to say with good quality staff and high volume cafes then doser is going to be the best choice.

    Home use can fluctuate either way depening on cost and mess, the doser or not really makes little difference, just make sure u get stepless adjustment, conical burrs (not necessary but preferable)

    Chain stores, stepless is the way of the future. Have you every tried teaching a barista who has been making average coffee for 6 years how to free dose consistently? or a 16 year old who doesnt give a shit?? not the easiest task, not impossible but replicate that scenario 10 times per shop for a new shop every month...... pain pain pain hahaha

    Comes down to the needs of the buyer and the budget


    PS go conical!!

  • #2
    Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

    Say, what do you have against flat burrs, like those on the Rocky or Gaggia MDF?

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    • #3
      Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

      I might add that Id put my flat burred, doser Macap up against most conicals Joshymo and see if you can taste the difference.

      I also have a Sunbeam EM0450 doserless with conical burrs; I know which is the better grinder.  :

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      • #4
        Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

        There are plenty of flat-burr grinders available for way under the $3000 cost of a commercial conical. They are more than adequate for domestic use. They grind well. They are highly durable. Their performance can be slow or fast -- its not too great an issue when you are grinding for one or two shots every few hours.

        I daresay the same argument (sans speed component) holds for the commercial enviroment. Pointless getting a state of the art conical burr grinder when the 18-year-old untrained baristaux is going to make crap coffee regardless.

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        • #5
          Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

          Originally posted by Thundergod link=1197961695/0#2 date=1197971123
          I also have a Sunbeam EM0450 doserless with conical burrs; I know which is the better grinder. :
          Youre not comparing apples with apples TG... We all know the Macap is better... look at the price difference... 2 different Markets...

          Im sure Mal will argue that his Commerical Conical is better than his Rocky...

          I know my Mazzer SJ eats my EM0480.. but for what its worth, Im sure the EM0480 will old its own in grind quality compared to a Rocky or Gaggia MDF... As far as build quality, thats another thing...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

            Originally posted by robusto link=1197961695/0#3 date=1197971891
            I daresay the same argument (sans speed component) holds for the commercial enviroment. Pointless getting a state of the art conical burr grinder when the 18-year-old untrained baristaux is going to make crap coffee regardless.
            Spot on !!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

              Originally posted by MarcS link=1197961695/0#4 date=1198104311
              Originally posted by Thundergod link=1197961695/0#2 date=1197971123
              I also have a Sunbeam EM0450 doserless with conical burrs; I know which is the better grinder.  :
              Youre not comparing apples with apples TG... We all know the Macap is better... look at the price difference... 2 different Markets...

              Im sure Mal will argue that his Commerical Conical is better than his Rocky...

              I know my Mazzer SJ eats my EM0480.. but for what its worth, Im sure the EM0480 will old its own in grind quality compared to a Rocky or Gaggia MDF... As far as build quality, thats another thing...
              I know what I said Marc and why.
              It was to point out the absurd comment about conicals being better.
              That is not an absolute truth.

              Oh and as for my 0450 v my Gaggia MDF Id say the MDF wins.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Choosing a Grinder for the First Time...

                Originally posted by Thundergod link=1197961695/0#6 date=1198131822

                Oh and as for my 0450 v my Gaggia MDF Id say the MDF wins.
                [smiley=grin.gif] [smiley=2vrolijk_08.gif] [smiley=vrolijk_26.gif] [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

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                • #9
                  Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                  Settle down missie.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                    While I dont subscribe to Joshymo viewpoint from our volume of grinding that we do... in fact, Im edging to agree with you TG. Im only saying that you need to compare Apples with Apples...

                    Mazzers bigger grinder is what? Conical??? Compak?? Conical...Gino Rossi?? Conical... I think the biggest common denominator is Conical...sure, at the high end of the market...

                    EM450 verse the MDF?? Theres no data to suggest what has the better.. All I did say was it would hold its own... I made no mention it was better... Im just making the suggestion that the EM0480 from a grind quality point of view, would hold its own. The MDF is also almost twice the price - but does have better build quality - but thats not what is being compared here...

                    I believe both have there place in the market... Lower volume grinding, flat burrsets are just fine... higher end... Conicals... But Conicals arent the be and end all... all depends on the application...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                      IMHO flat vs conical is only part of the story....

                      Its about quality of burrs set, robustness of construction and speed of grinding regardless of whether they are flat or conical.

                      For years I was using a La Cimbali Jnr - flat burr grinder and a quality grinder at that.... and it produced very good espresso shots.... burrs were getting a bit dull so I replaced them with generic burrs (looked the same but quality dropped).... replaced with genuine DRM/La Cimbali burrs and the quality returned.

                      I recently purchased a DRM flat/conical grinder (looks almost the same and same build quality as the LC Jnr).... but the quality of the espresso is sooooooo much better than from the Jnr. Why? Its not the conical burrs - they only do bean breaking (reducing the size of the beans a bit) but the real grinding is still done by flat burrs....

                      The flat burrs are larger diameter and without the breaking zone on the burrs they have a larger medium/fine grinding zone....... and they rotate slower (360 rpm)..... and most conical high end grinders also rotate slower.

                      So, IMHO, it is about the quality of the burr set, the distance the beans travel through the burr set and the speed of rotation of the burr set. The actual shape (conical or flat) making little difference - other than how it affects the above.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                        the big bad boys of the grinder world are almost always conical burrs.

                        Why? Because the bigger grinders have more throughput....and do it at a lower motor speed....less heating up.

                        There are places that would struggle with a Mazzer Major and need to step up to a Robur....they grind at roughly the same speed...yet there is a major difference between the two and the grind.

                        I notice on David Makins BNZ conical that there is often a big mixture of big grainy looking grinds, medium sized ones and small fines....which is great. Pull some coffees on the BNZ and a Mazzer....big difference in pours and taste.

                        Im waiting for my Compak WBC K10 to arrive early next year...same shipment as Chris. It will be interesting to see the difference between the K10, Robur and BNZ.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                          Originally posted by MarcS link=1197961695/0#9 date=1198188934
                          While I dont subscribe to Joshymo viewpoint from our volume of grinding that we do... in fact, Im edging to agree with you TG. Im only saying that you need to compare Apples with Apples...  

                          Mazzers bigger grinder is what?  Conical???  Compak?? Conical...Gino Rossi?? Conical... I think the biggest common denominator is Conical...sure, at the high end of the market...

                          EM450 verse the MDF??  Theres no data to suggest what has the better.. All I did say was it would hold its own... I made no mention it was better... Im just making the suggestion that the EM0480 from a grind quality point of view, would hold its own. The MDF is also almost twice the price - but does have better build quality - but thats not what is being compared here...

                          I believe both have there place in the market... Lower volume grinding, flat burrsets are just fine... higher end... Conicals... But Conicals arent the be and end all... all depends on the application...
                          I dont disagree with anything youre saying Marc.

                          The 0450/0480 does an OK job and you do have to consider it is cheap.
                          The MDF certainly is solid and does grind well. The only thing I dont like about is the PF holder (too high).
                          My Macap - a different level again.

                          I wasnt saying they are not good, I was saying that a generalisation that conicals are better was wrong.
                          I dont have the need for a large conical.
                          But if you have a spare looking for a good home I wont knock it back.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                            Agreed TG... Good post. :-)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Pros and Cons - Flat versus Conical Burrs

                              A few random observations:

                              (a) A robur and a sunbeam are obviously very different types of conical burr grinders. Though I agree with you, TG, in saying that there are many flat-burr grinders that are better than some conical grinders, Im sure that the OP is talking about the robur et al.

                              (b) There has been speculation that the conical burr "advantage" is that the zone that does the finer slicing is many times larger than the equivalent zone on flat burrs. Im really not the person to talk much about this, but I would point out that if it is true it might go some way towards explaining why the little conical burr grinders only produce a marginally better to identical cup when compared with your 58mm flat burr grinders, instead of completely blowing them away, as some people seem to expect.

                              (c) With domestic grinders, at least, I think that the burr carrier design can be a bit of an issue. My sunbeam grinders burr carrier doesnt inspire much confidence. It would be interesting to compare a sunbeam against one of the rockys with a bit of play in its burr carriers.

                              (d) When asked what grinders Andrew should get for Maling Room when it opened, I suggested Roburs. He went with Majors (big flat burrs). Since then, he has bought several thousand dollars worth of grinders and seems to have settled on some Compak K10 WBCs at the moment. His observations are the same as many others; compared with flat burr grinders (even the huge majors), the big conicals are producing shots that have a more even flow rate and a larger extraction time and volume. I havent timed it, but Nim rates the difference at about five seconds; ie. the K10 can extract for 5 seconds longer than the major could. The big conicals also seem to strike a lot of people as relatively easy to dial in. These differences arent subtle; theyre a smack in the face. You can see them without getting out your stopwatch. The difference is much bigger than the difference between a good commercial HX machine and a good commercial DB machine, for example.

                              (e) Interestingly, the Kony seems to produce a very different cup profile from the Robur et al.

                              (f) The differences need to be put in perspective. Someone with NFI or with bad coffee is still going to produce a bad cup. But someone who knows what they are doing and has decent coffee is probably going to produce a better cup with a conical. Whether that cup is so much better as to justify the price difference will obviously vary for different people and different scenarios. I dont think that I will have a nice big conical on my bench any time soon, but that doesnt mean that Im going to try to fool myself that it wouldnt produce a better cup. Instead, I take the point of view that the grinders that I sensibly have access to dont do a bad job and that the ultimate determinant of whats in the cup is the coffee that one uses. Putting better coffee into my grinder isnt anywhere near as financially daunting as putting a robur on my bench!

                              I hope thats interesting for someone,

                              Luca

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