Dialing In Your New Espresso Grinder

Published by Ben Piff
June 1, 2016 2:49 pm

We hope that this handy guide will help you master your new grinder and keep it running well into the future. Some grinders are preset from the factory a bit too fine, which may mean that no grounds come out. But not to worry; we’re here to help! Please review these instructions, and make sure to call us before you get frustrated.

Plan to invest a full bag of freshly roasted coffee learning how to dial in your coffee, but the goal of this post is to minimize waste and simplify the learning process. Also, keep in mind that your grinder should perform better after you’ve ground a few pounds of coffee through it (this is called seasoning the burrs).

Step 1: Plug in the grinder, install the hopper, open the hopper throat

Step 2: Choosing your method of dose, eliminating the variable of quantity:

Option 1: Adding the amount of beans needed for one drink at a time is called single dosing. Some grinders can do this better than others, but feel free to give it a try. Single dosing requires a finer grind than having a hopper full of beans, and it takes longer to grind the coffee because there isn’t weight in the hopper pushing the beans through. But the advantages are that beans can be stored in an airtight container (instead of going stale in the hopper), and it’s possible to switch from one coffee to another more easily. If you find that you can’t get a thick, even 25 second extraction with single dosing then your grinder may need to have a bit more weight pressing down on the coffee.

Option 2: Putting beans in the hopper and grinding by programmed time or sight simplifies the routine a bit over single dosing. When dialing in your grinder, it’s helpful to have a scale to verify the quantity of coffee you’re grinding and a stopwatch to verify how long your shot takes. Many grinders have the option of timed grinding, and we’d recommend your first step be to set a grind time that dispenses the amount of coffee that you want in the portafilter. The grounds should form a nice mound coming slightly above the level of the basket, but not so full that your machine is left dirty (hint, inspect the shower screen and brewing area regularly to see if your routine needs adjustment). The double espresso basket used in most spouted portafilters can accommodate 14-18 grams of coffee, and the triple baskets used in bottomless portafilters can hold 18-22 grams. Any of these volumes can be adjusted for a proper extraction, so choose the amount that gives you the size of shot you like.


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3. Grinding for the first time
Try your grinder’s factory setting before making an adjustment. If no grounds come out, follow the troubleshooting process below. Tare your scale (if available) with the empty portafilter on top. Set your grind time to dispense the preferred amount of coffee, or grind manually until you have the desired quantity. For programming questions, refer to your product manual or contact us. Verify your double dose is in the 14-18 gram range, or your triple dose is in the 18-22 gram range. If your dose changes by a gram or two, this can have the effect of making a big adjustment to a grind setting (shots speed up or slow down), so the scale is helpful for solidifying your routine until you feel confident.

If you activate the grinder and no grounds are being dispensed, gradually adjust the grind courser (while the grinder is running) until a stream of coffee starts to flow out.

  • For Macap grinders, adjusting course means the top collar with number indicators needs to rotate clockwise. Look for the word “grosso” to be rotating to the left.
  • For Profitec grinders, the top collar needs to rotate counter clockwise (note the arrows that point right for course, left for fine).
  • For Eureka grinders, rotate the micrometric knob counter clockwise towards “grosso.”
  • For Fiorenzato and Mazzer grinders, rotate the top collar clockwise towards “grosso.”
  • For Baratza Vario or Forte AP, the macro setting on the right should be set at 2, and adjusting courser means the left side micro adjust goes down.
  • For Breville Smart Grinder, course means the grind indicator should move to the left and the numbers increase.
  • For Breville Dose Control, course means the collar should rotate clockwise with the numbers increasing.

4. Pulling your first shot
Make sure the coffee is evenly distributed in the espresso basket, as an empty spot will be easier for the pressurized water to punch a hole through (inspect the spent coffee puck for holes). Use your finger if necessary to gently sweep the coffee up, down, left and right. Make sure your tamper is level, and apply medium pressure (not too light, not too heavy). Consistency is typically more important than the exact force. Start your shot and stop watch at the same time, and keep track of how long it takes for 1.5oz to be dispensed. The goal is a total shot time of 25-30 seconds, starting when the pump is activated. If your shot reaches 1.5oz in less than 25 seconds, it can be sour, lacking body (under extracted). If this takes more than 25 seconds, it can have excessive body, with muddy flavors (over extracted).

5. Dialing in your grind
If your shot takes less than 20 seconds, the grind needs to be adjusted finer. If the shot takes more than 30 seconds it needs to be adjusted courser. It’s important to make gradual adjustments, and remember that changes don’t take effect immediately (there will still be some coffee remaining inside from your last shot, that needs to be pushed through). Worm drive adjustment is very slow, so making a half rotation adjustment to the knob may seem to have no effect (so at first you may want to start by making full rotations or more). Micrometric adjustment or rotating the top collar by hand can make big changes quickly. Whichever type of grinder you have, remember that only by experimenting gradually will your grind adjustment become intuitive. Keep your scale and stop watch handy, and keep track of how much the adjustment translates into the time of the shot. Once the shots are consistently 25-30 seconds, you should only have to make small occasional adjustments to keep them in this range.


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2 Comments

  • Written by: Troy B

    This was a fantastic read! I’ve been struggling for a month or so to get a consistent ‘good’ shot. They were never “bad”, but every shot looked like it was too thin. I have a Eureka Mignon with a Mini Vivaldi II and kept thinking that there is no reason why i shouldn’t be able to get a fantastic shot out of this combo. I single dose my shots, measuring 20g of coffee out before loading it into my grinder. Before reading this, i never would have thought that my grinder might actually perform better with coffee in the hopper weighing it down the chute. I will absolutely be trying this later!

  • Written by: Ben Piff

    Right on Troy! Glad to hear things are going well.

    Ben

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