Why I Need a New Grinder

Why I Need a New Grinder

As beautiful as my featured image is with regards to tiger striping and stream size, if you look at the slow motion video below, my fellow espresso makers will see some specific and distinct issues. I’m certain my tamp is solid (because I do get a nice stead stream…eventually). Grind consistency and distribution, however, are definitely sup-par. The video is a compilation of stills I took with my Pixel XL in burst mode, so it does move around a bit because I’m holding it by hand at an angle. Regardless, I feel like this does show what I need.

If you notice once the water pressure hits the portafilter, the beading starts all on one side of the portafilter. In an even grind, this shouldn’t happen – you should see a generally even bead throughout the portafilter. Not only this, if you look closely and watch carefully, you’ll notice some specific frames where you see jets of coffee spray out at odd angles. This is evidence of channeling and an inconsistent grind. (And evidence of additional, frustrating cleanup that’s required after every brew.) [EDIT: Noticed there was a long wait before you actually saw espresso pour – I’ve pulled out the first few frames of nothingness… should be more interesting now.]

Finally, you should notice that there is a significant amount of “dancing” in that stream. By and large, once the stream begins, it should settle in the middle of the portafilter and remain with very little movement from side to side. In a perfect brew, the tiger striping will give way to a subtle blonding at about 20 seconds after you start the brew cycle.

I have a brand new Virtuosa Simonelli grinder on order that is orders of magnitude above my Breville… so I hope to follow this up with what it should look like once I have that grinder dialed in (probably will be a week or so before I even receive it… then another to dial it in properly).

Regardless, I just roasted this Honduran last night and even though it hasn’t had the full 24 hours to settle yet… man is it delicious. Strong notes of bittersweet chocolate with a nice syrupy feel as an espresso. One of the better cups I’ve had recently and my first true Vienna roast (got kinda smoky in the house last night though… heh). The Behmor 1600+ does a fine job at smoke reduction, but once you start getting into second crack… there’s just too much smoke to deal with. I’d never want to try a French Roast in this baby unless it were roasting outdoors. (Thankfully, I consider French Roast “burnt coffee,” so it is very unlikely I’d ever want to try.)