The Thousand Dollar Grind Change

Author: george Posted: October 23, 2012

I had to change the grind today (and yesterday, and the day before that) to get the espresso within our parameters that we work with at Revolver.

This isn’t uncommon. Grind changes are  something that can (and presumably should) happen multiple times a day, as there are many reasons:  Changing of coffees, older and new roast dates, burr heat, inconsistant doses (fooling people into thinking the grind was the problem) and so on.  What really becomes unsettling to me about changing the grind is not so much that I have to arbitrarily turn a dial left or right a few millimetres based on an educated guess, but rather that after any change I have to throw 2 – 3 shots worth of ground up espresso straight into the garbage, due to the seemingly unnecessarily large sized turning shoot in most grinders.*

Paying $10+ for a pound of espresso is not remotely uncommon from many of the reputable coffee roasters, and at that price when you do the arithmetic for an 18g dry espresso weight,** that equals about 40 cents per shot, which at 3 shots to clear the shoot/chamber equals a buck-twenty ($1.20).   If you just do 3 grind changes throughout the entire day – and in a busy cafe over the course of the standard 10-12 hours of being open I’d say that’s unrealistically low, at least if you have clear and strict parameters, then you’re looking at $3.60 a day.  Times that by the number of days you’re open (I used 350 days for the math, but you can simply insert your cafe’s respective opening days) and voila!  $1260 in grind change fees.

So how to deal with this?  Stop changing your grind!

Just kidding. That grind change cost could be cut by 2/3rds or virtually erased with a grinder that did a direct drop from the burrs to the dosing chamber/portafilter, like the EK-43 Grinder from Mahlkonig, for example.  This one change alone would save so much money and coffee.

So why isn’t anyone doing it?***

EDIT:  Since posting this I’ve been informed through twitter (and a comment below) that, in regards to the 3rd footnote – the Mythos Grinder has a “less than a half a gram to purge out before you get to your new grind setting.” by Danny.  For those who don’t know him, he distributes Nuovo Simonelli products in Vancouver.

Footnotes:

*We use Robur Grinders with Dosers attached. As far as I’m aware, most grinders have similar shoots, which hold about 2-3 shots worth of ground coffee.  That means when you grind a shot, technically you are using the shot you ground 3-4 shots ago.  So much for “fresh ground”.
**18g is what we aim for.  From my own conversations with other baristas and coffee shops, this seems to be on the lower side of weight used. The cost-per-shot would of course be higher or lower depending on your weight.
***Is there a grinder designed for espresso that I’m not aware of that has direct drop? I’ve seen/heard rumours that the Mythos might?

3 Responses to “The Thousand Dollar Grind Change

  1. Danny says:

    The angle of our burrs on the Mythos are right at the exit point. Your purge is less than half a gram.

  2. Nils Vik says:

    Since we’re talking about grinder annoyances, what I also find frustrating about the Robur is its inconsistency in terms of dosing (with the electronic doserless version we get a variation sometimes as high as a gram in between shots)

    I’m curious what the purge is on a Major…

  3. Roeland Vester says:

    The area below the burrs of a Robur is unnecessarily large, and the chute is also huge.
    The backpressure required to push all those grounds through a long chute makes the area below the burrs fill up. This effect, coupled with a not-quite FIFO grounds throughput requires you to purge 3 shots.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonscheltus/4377245782/<–
    The Elektra Nino has a dramatically smaller area below the burrs to fill up.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nalundgaard/3487866172/

Leave a Reply