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Thread: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

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    New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Ive moved up a notch (I hope...) from an old doserless rocky to a nearly new Mazzer Mini-e.

    In the process of doing so im having a hard time getting back into routine. Its very early days but I wanted to ask for some advice as to how to take things forward.

    Experiences so far:

    (1) Compared to the rocky the mazzer is producing much more airy grinds. in doing so it typically tamps down more when using the same pressure.

    I thought this was a good thing because before i had to have the grinds in my rocky at near clumping to get the right brew time.

    The downside though is with the grinds level to the top of the portafilter before tamping the resultant level seems much lower in the puck. This seems to be leading to a wet puck... a couple of times ive removed the porta only to find the puck stuck to the top of the e61 head :|

    (2) To get the right pour time im finding that im running the mazzer at near max fine-ness. Twice ive near stalled the grinder (cant be a good thing right...).

    Also when its at this extreme it seems to massively affect the amount of grinds produced... in other words the timer on the mazzer is massively too short.

    Too be honest I feel like ive gone back to when i first started using a grinder and portafilter... im bouncing the settings around wildly in order to get back into a reasonable range.

    ...

    With a different grinder producing much less clumpy grinds should i be tamping more? Ive always read that i should always keep it constant its possible that ive always skewed it to match a different grinder.

    Could it be the beans? would the mazzer make the process more sensitive to their age? The packet is date stamps and are presently 5 weeks old... not exactly fresh but not so ancient that theyve dried out surely?

    Seems to me I need to back up in terms of grind fineness, allowing the volume to restore, but somehow restrict the flow more to compensate (tamp harder?).

    Ur thoughts please?

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    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 40756E6C686246736E66010 link=1337251224/0#0 date=1337251224
    Could it be the beans? would the mazzer make the process more sensitive to their age? The packet is date stamps and are presently 5 weeks old... not exactly fresh but not so ancient that theyve dried out surely?

    Any lessons you learn with old beans you will need to re-learn when you get fresh beans.

    I dose to a rounded mound and very lightly tamp, but if you dont want to do that you could try a settling tap of the group handle then refill and tamp.

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    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 6E5B4042464C685D40482F0 link=1337251224/0#0 date=1337251224
    Seems to me I need to back up in terms of grind fineness, allowing the volume to restore, but somehow restrict the flow more to compensate (tamp harder?).


    I would try fresh beans and grind coarser but dose higher. Keep your tamp pressure consistent.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    We use a mini-e at work for decaf, our process is to
    - fill the basket with the double button,
    - collapse the ground coffee with a couple of taps
    - top up with the single button
    - distribute the ground coffee with a finger
    - tamp
    - brew
    - enjoy

    You might find that you get even more consistent results by slightly overfilling the basket and then leveling off before tamping.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    It might also be a good idea to get some digital scales and see how much coffee you are putting in the basket. 18 gms for a double is probably a good starting point although it will vary depending on how big your basket is and how low your shower screen is.

    Find a way of getting that weight consistent.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Cheers guys. Will try to get some decent beans over the weekend and a set of scales :)

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Albeit with the best intentions at heart from the masses, I fear you are being led up the garden path.

    You dont need an alternate supply of beans, and you dont need scales.

    All you need to do is work out a new modus operandi for your new grinder. The method of operation / technique is obviously different to whatever you were doing with your last grinder, and this is nothing more than any professional barista has to do when he goes from cafe to cafe where they use different brand / model equipment....work out a modus operandi to suit.

    If you find & watch footage (video) of barista comps (ewechoob)....find the ones where the operator is using one of these programmable digital grinders similar to yours (but always bigger in size). Try their modus operandi, find the grind setting that suits your beans and whalla, your problems will be solved.

    Weighing the dose is irrelevant. Its the voluminous relationship between particle size vs tamp that counts for your particular bean supply (density). If you overfill or underfill for any particular weight, the black art doesnt work for you, and the black art is dependent on the tamped ground volume in the filter.

    Technique!

    Hope that helps.

    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Five weeks old could well be stale, depending on the blend. I know that if I use beans that old that I have roasted with the blend i use, I would battel to extract a decent coffee!

    Weighing the beans is critical IMO to getting a good routine around your coffee making. A good barista (rare beast indeed!) can do it by feel and eye after training but us humble home-baristas need the aid of a balance to get anywhere near the required tolerances. The sweet spot for each machine, coffee and grinder obviously varies, but if you start of with say 16g then at least you have one constant to work with.

    Distribution is also critical, whatever method you use, it needs to get the ground coffee evenly spread in the porta filter, something like a tooth pick can help if the grind is clumpy or uneven.

    Tamping is less critical that many would assume, but again consistensy is the key, make sure you are tamping level and practise a few times on scales so you develop a feel for a particular pressure - how much or little is much less important than a bit of consitensy.

    Start of aiming to extract 32g of coffee in about 25-30secs and once you have the grind to achieve that, taste and then adjust to suit your taste. At least you will then have a reference point to work around and for the time being the main variable can be the grind size.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Volume changes with grind.

    The finer the grind, the less volume a particular weight takes up in the coffee filter.

    So if you weigh out 16 grams, grind "fine" (definition of fine?* ;) ) and settle and tamp that into the (double) filter, you could be under dosing reulting in a less than satisfactory brew.* Some here would then blame that on 5 week old coffee instead of their technique.

    This is not hard......The rule of thumb for me as far as dosing is concerned, is that if you can see the circlip groove of the filter, you have underdosed. Once settled and tamped, my puk needs to be at the top or slightly above the top of the circlip groove (again....I dont want to see the groove, but I dont want to be much higher than).....

    Insert group handle into group and brew. Depending on how the brew runs out of the spouts, make a grinder adjustment.

    Always fill to the same level, just at the top of the circlip groove (for my machines).

    That is how I work out the correct grind, by always dosing to the same level irrespective of grind, and changing technque accordiongly to accommodate for grind (particle size).

    If for academic purposes someone wants to weigh the unused puk (after they have worked it all out for correct grind) by all means weigh it then (at the end of it all rather5 than at the start) and see what you get.

    Then put the scales way and never use them again because when you dose volumetrically to the same level (for any particular equipment) all the time, the weight will change according to the age of the beans and type of blend or unblended origin being used (density).

    This system has never failed me and I chop and change coffees several times each morning during my cuppings. The grind changes and the technique changes to give the same volume in the filter.

    "Distribution" is over rated. Not that the grinds shouldnt be distributed and tamped evenly, just that anyones method of filling, settling and tamping will obviously be to always try and do it all as well and evenly as possible.* Everyone should be trying to do that all the time ergo, no need to go over the top trying to do any better than you already are......except of course if an individuals distribution is absolutely lousy.* So perhaps I should say, to devote too much time in the day to discussion of the importance of "distribution", is to overstate its importance and that has the effect of making newcomers paranoid and insecure about doing all the "right things" or their coffee wont be any good. Relax.......enjoy.......no sweat.....

    For academic purposes I should mention, 16 grams in one of the "regular" commercial double filters that most of us use in our semi commercial and commercial machines, constitutes a sizeable underdose. In order to slow the flow down to "spec", some users will then fine up the grind, when a much better espresso can be had by using the right volume of grinds in the filter (usually 18 to 19 grams if weighed), obviously with a coarser grind than the former to get a similar rate of flow, and the coffee is usually "sweeter" with much much more body.

    A good example of a "16 gram" filter is the Italian market double filter that comes standard with the Silvia machine. Our style of espresso is better suited to the deeper commercial filters used here.

    Lastly, this doesnt need to be that complicated....and the KISS principle rules.* I will repeat, my rule of thumb is fill the filter to the right level. Thats volume not weight. If you could do this by weight, Bialetti could stop producing its range of different sized stove top espresso machines and make only one size. You would then simply weigh out multiples of say 8 grams of grinds per person, and stick them in the biggest of the range of Bialettis. And you would drink dish water because that doesnt work.* *


    Hope that helps.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 57637462794E527E77777474110 link=1337251224/8#8 date=1337326388
    So if you weigh out 16 grams, grind "fine" (definition of fine?** ) and settle and tamp that into the (double) filter, you could be under dosing reulting in a less than satisfactory brew.*
    Wise words Attilio. You have a consistent technique whihc works for you.

    Some would tell you that unless you weigh to +/- <1g of their nominated patented bullseye, you will never get a great result.. ::)

    I am glad I can get by on my own reasonably consistent technique and use my palate to tell me whats right. ;D

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 1F2B3C2A31061A363F3F3C3C590 link=1337251224/8#8 date=1337326388
    Hope that helps.
    There is so much in your post that flies in the face of conventional wisdom and the science of coffee extraction as i understand it that I am not sure where to start!

    Perhaps its best to leave it to the OP to decide which path they want to pursue!

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Am intrigued buy some of the replies, it tends to make me wonder if i was overdosing previously. I had no context of using the rings, only consideration was if it would fit into the head without binding.

    Id fill the puck to top level and then tamp hard. It wouldnt go down much at all (suspect the grinds were excessively clumped to be honest). It would lead to a well timed pour but without any consideration for the amount of beans... but i sure did get through the beans :p

    Doubt if it makes much difference but I pretty much only do a double - I love my coffee and a single seems like im being stingy :)

    Ill try a few techniques posted here, i dont have a problem wasting beans provided it doesnt run into a kilo or more. Having spent $100s on the machine whats a bag in comparison if it means i get to use the machinery correctly.

    And in the lightest possible way, please chill people :)

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 7A7C7168707C641D0 link=1337251224/10#10 date=1337331532
    Quote Originally Posted by 1F2B3C2A31061A363F3F3C3C590 link=1337251224/8#8 date=1337326388
    Hope that helps.
    There is so much in your post that flies in the face of conventional wisdom and the science of coffee extraction as i understand it that I am not sure where to start!

    Perhaps its best to leave it to the OP to decide which path they want to pursue!

    Probably just as well you didnt then ;)

    You are wrong on the conventional wisdom part and in regards to science, we are making coffee here, if you lose the art of coffee then get a robot to make it for you, I never weigh my beans or grinds or espresso and I am very happy with the coffee I make, and I enjoy making it ;)

    It sounds to me like you are using scales (science) to make up for a lack of connection with the coffee making process.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 5B5D4A415B5C44462F0 link=1337251224/12#12 date=1337333208
    Probably just as well you didnt then
    I dont want to hijack the thread, but if you dont understand why consistency and understanding of the process is a critical element to making great coffee - then you will only ever achieve it randomly, by accident.

    If you are happy with the coffee you make, then I am happy for you. My goals are a bit higher!

    Seriously though, this sort of discussion is now way off topic so I shall refrain from the temptation to further discussion. ;)

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    What Attilio is basically describing is the Scottie Callaghan how to videos on the ECA website. He basically fills the basket to a standard routine each time, wipes off excess and tamps. This way you end up with the same volume each time and only need to adjust the grind as required. As I said above it sounds like youre grinding too fine and underdosing, but Attilio answered it more eloquently and accurately. Once you have a known volume of coffee which works for a particular bean you can then weigh it and use that weight for future shot reproducibility. But this will obviously change when you get different beans.
    I actually think Galumay and Attilio achieve a similar result in the end. One by numbers and one by feel. Its the old art v science debate.





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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 21272A332B273F460 link=1337251224/13#13 date=1337339138
    Quote Originally Posted by 5B5D4A415B5C44462F0 link=1337251224/12#12 date=1337333208
    Probably just as well you didnt then
    I dont want to hijack the thread, but if you dont understand why consistency and understanding of the process is a critical element to making great coffee - then you will only ever achieve it randomly, by accident.

    If you are happy with the coffee you make, then I am happy for you. My goals are a bit higher!

    Seriously though, this sort of discussion is now way off topic so I shall refrain from the temptation to further discussion.* ;)

    Cant say I agree with you at all Galumay. Much like winemaking... where the best results tend to be made by artists with a grudging respect for the science behind the process (rather than those technically clean yet soulless wines made by technicians)... the finest and most characterful coffees will tend to be made by those with a passionate feel for what they are doing. As for consistency, I cant remeber the last time I made a sink shot and I am fully confident that the shots I am happy with will easily meet the rather lofty standards you seem to have set for yourself. Why not give "free-range" coffee making a go for a while and see how it fares against your usual routine.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Lots of good information in this thread. Each to their own in regards to what works best for them.
    No matter what method is used, the general consensus seems to be consistancy.
    Personally I never weigh anything and keep all else consitant only varying the grind.
    I acheive this by slightly overfilling the basket then level it off with my finger or even better use a ruler or ice cream stick.
    I am not concerned about the volume that goes into the basket, just care about having coffee level with the top of the basket each time.
    Tamp with a consistant pressure which already gives an idea of my grind by how much it compresses. If it compresses a lot, probably too fine.
    Pull the shot & aim to extract in 20-30 seconds.
    If necessary I make adjustments to the grind only but consistanlty fill the basket level to the top & apply the same tamp pressure each time.


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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Cutting to the chase.

    Grog. Learn your new grinder. Your original question clearly indicates you are underfilling the filter and in order to compensate for the resulting fast rate of flow, you are grinding too fine.

    The fix has already been explained, at length.

    Muppet. Your technique is a very good place for Grog to start from, but only if he understands that he has to work backwards from the settled tamped dose in the filter, to the right level, to get the correct grind.

    Wino. Words very well said.

    Bennett. Yeah young Scottie has annunciated in his "how to videos", the actual, in use, conventional wisdom that others of us have been teaching for years.

    Trensky and cjn. Appreciate the support.

    Fiorello. Do you realise that you wrote "...I am not concerned about the volume that goes into the basket...", yet you spent the rest of your post explaining how you are !* ;)

    Galumay. I do this for a living and run a very successful coffee roastery, barista training school, equipment import, sales and service business.

    My understanding of your use of the terms "conventional wisdom" and "science" is they are a contradiction in terms.....how can a lot of stuff written up in the www by interested but none the less non professional* (ie not of the coffee industry not to mention that many of them are anonymous) coffee hobbyists be described as "wisdom" and "science"? A bunch of people trying to reinvent the wheel over the last 10 years from the relative safety of their keyboards, over analysing stuff through endless discussion and making something difficult and overly technical that should instead be both a pleasure and relatively simple, does not really to my mind constistute "wisdom" although it may well be (misguided) "science".

    For the rest of it, the valuable professional time I spent writing up a complimentary training session here was for the benefit of Grog, not to while away the time arguing academics for the sake of it. I hate seeing stuff made harder than it needs to be particularly when its supposed to be for enjoyment.

    Hope that helps, and when you are next in the Canberra area, you should come visit and see what real life coffee business is all about* :)

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Thanks Fresh/All :)

    Wife and I had a great coffee this morning, same beans with a revised approach. Yes too little in the puck was the problem.

    Ive actually found that grinding courser is actually filling the puck more effectively (complete opposite experience compared to the rocky).

    I think its due to the airyness of the mini-e doser process - finer the grind the taller it stands and the higher it raises but with a massive tamp as a result.

    Im not sure im at the same level i left the rocky at yet, but then I had had that for 6 months and worked out a process which produced coffee i liked.

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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 5E6B7072767C586D70781F0 link=1337251224/18#18 date=1337388817
    Thanks Fresh/All :)

    Wife and I had a great coffee this morning, same beans with a revised approach. Yes too little in the puck was the problem..................finer the grind the taller it stands and the higher it raises but with a massive tamp as a result........
    Glad you are working it out* ;)

    Try dosing the filter in two separate operations instead of one.

    ie.....use the grinder on manual instead of timed (initially at least). Grind out into the filter until its somewhere approaching full. Stop and remove the group handle from the fork. Settle the grinds down. Refit the group handle into the fork and restart the grinding process. Fill to over the top of the filter (but not as far as when you do it in one go). Remove and settle again. Now wipe off the excess grinds so the grinds are level with the absolute top of the filter. Now tamp down.

    Keep your technique consistent as possible.

    There is more to this, but one thing at a time is sufficient to save time as well as possible confusion.....

    Enjoy.

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    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 506473657E49557970707373160 link=1337251224/17#17 date=1337387850
    Fiorello. Do you realise that you wrote "...I am not concerned about the volume that goes into the basket...", yet you spent the rest of your post explaining how you are !* ;)
    What Im trying to say is Im not concerned about the amount that goes in (which some people measure by weight), only concerned about having it level with the rim of the basket.
    My reasoning which may or may not be valid is you would get more coffee in the basket for finer grind and less coffee in for corser grinds.


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    Re: New grinder any my routines gone awol...

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E2F79717F7A480 link=1337251224/20#20 date=1337398831
    My reasoning which may or may not be valid is you would get more coffee in the basket for finer grind and less coffee in for corser grinds.
    Within the margins of underdose and overdose, its about setting your grind size based on your dose strategy. Some may try to complicate that, but its the bottom line.

    Experimenting with dose strategy according to type and age of coffee will give a spectrum of coffee chemistry. Working out how and why is part of the learning curve.

    When you revert to science only, you lose a whole heap of potential outcomes- some of which may well be way better than the results of those who dictate that a +/- 0.x gram dose is the only "correct" way and that the rest of us are heathens.



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