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Buyers Guide for Grinders

After selecting the best espresso machine for you and your business, the next step is to purchase a suitable grinder or even two for your café. This will ensure that you are doing both your coffee and your customers justice.

Most serious cafés have a larger primary grinder that their Barista would use for the main espresso beans, and when considering a secondary grinder this would be traditionally used for the decaf beans. Many people assume that they can simply swap the beans out of the hopper from their primary espresso grinder should they have a decaf request, however this would be literally a nightmare, not to mention the time it would take every time a person orders a decaf coffee to make the switch, furthermore there would be residual coffee grounds left in the grinder meaning that you could potentially serve a good dose of caffeine to your customer. Some cafes may even have a third and/or fourth grinder that they will use for their single origin roasted beans.

Why Heat & Grinders Don’t Go Together

Can I buy two secondary grinders to save money?

If you plan on selling between 30 – 50lbs of coffee per week, using a secondary grinder will not cut the mustard as your grinder is going to be running flat out; which ultimately produces heat which in turn affects the ground coffee in the chamber. The larger primary grinders noted below are all designed to handle high-volume; and you should consider one of these if your grinder is going to be running all day.

Secondary (Smaller) Grinders:

We suggest purchasing a commercial flat burr grinder, such as the Fiorenzato F4, F5 or Mazzer Mini or Super Jolly grinder. (Please note that all Mazzer grinders are produced by CMA in Italy and sometimes are called CMA or Astoria). Brand-new these grinders will range from $895 to $1,500 and used they range from $450 - $795. These commercial grinders will serve up a decent grind for your regular coffee if you are a low volume café and of course it will be great for your decaf coffee as well. It is worth noting based on the volume of the decaf traditionally sold in a café that these machines will never be over-worked and therefore the motors will maintain a reasonable temperature throughout the day.

Primary (Larger) Grinders:

These commercial beasts come in two types: flat burrs and conical. As a rule of thumb, conical grinders are more expensive and big. They are extremely fast grinders that run large burr sets. They have large motors and strong gear to operate them. The conical burrs rotate more slowly than those of flat burr grinders. We find that the grind quality improves incrementally, but mainly for those who prefer espresso coffee. The difference would typically be undetectable when served with milk. We suggest purchasing a Fiorenzato F71K, Mazzer Robur E or Mazzer Kold commercial espresso grinder. New, these grinders will range from $2,000 - $5,000 and used they range from $950 - $1,850.

Flat burr grinders are the most common found in cafes and will suit 90% of customers. We suggest purchasing Fiorenzato F6 or Mazzer Major. New, these grinders will range from $1,700 - $, 2,750 and used from $850 - $1,350.

Ultimately it comes down to your individual circumstances, but we do advise that you buy the best grinder you can afford for your machine and your business. Keep in mind, it’s far wiser to save a few hundred dollars on an espresso machine and then allocate the savings to a better grinder, rather than to compromise your enjoyment in the cup.

An Important Note Regarding Bulk Ground Coffee!

No one that is serious about serving a great coffee would even consider purchasing ground coffee. It WILL be stale within 1 hour of being ground, so basically you would have wasted your money purchasing it. Also if any ground coffee goes unused, yet again you’ve wasted money.

Setting the Grind Amount

A number of factors can affect the extraction:

  • Humidity
  • Grind Setting
  • Incorrectly Stored Coffee

Assess the flow of the coffee, either visually or by counting the time taken to produce 25 – 30 ml of coffee.

Perfect Extraction

  • A perfect extraction is 25 – 30 ml of espresso with 5 – 10 ml of dense fine crema.

Grind is Correct

  • Balanced, steady pour
  • Extraction volume is 25 – 30ml in 25 – 30 seconds
  • The coffee has smooth, shiny and even colored crema
  • Crema holds on the top of the espresso for approximately 30 seconds

Grind is Too Course

  • Coffee is gushing out of the spouts
  • Extraction is faster than 25 – 30 seconds
  • The coffee tastes week or watery
  • The crema on the top of the espresso disappears in less than 30 seconds

Grind is Too Fine

  • Coffee is dripping or very slow
  • Extraction is slower then 25 – 30 seconds
  • Coffee tastes burnt
  • Preset button is flashing
  • The bottom of the basket is stained with coffee oils

Tuning Your Grinder

  • Finer – Turn anti clockwise
  • Coarser – Turn clockwise

Extraction Can Be Affected By:

  • Blunt grinder blades
  • Tamping too lightly or too hard
  • High humidity
  • Stale coffee
  • Inexperienced staff trying to adjust grind
  • Blocked filter baskets
  • Incorrect dose in the group handle basket