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Coffee Grinders: Models, Sources, Maintenance/Hygiene

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The Amirault family expresses its sadness for the untimely death of their beloved yet troubled Solis Maestro, which came into this world in the spring of 2001 and departed this weekend after a long struggle with design flaws and inadequate cleaning.

We got years of fine service for our 4-6 espresso shots per day household, but in the last year or so Solis began to demonstrate minor but noticeable performance issues related to the challenging cleaning routine. (A thorough clean demands careful removal of the bean hopper and top burr, both of which can become stuck or difficult to remove.) As cleaning usually followed a frustrating morning of poorly ground beans producing lousy crema, my rushed, caffeine-free labor was often sloppy.

A few months ago, when I was trying to remove the bean hopper and twisted too hard, the two plastic tabs on the sleeve of the hopper base (which connect to the grind mechanism to determine coarseness) broke off. So we used a screwdriver to adjust the grind for espresso and leave it there, which seemed to work well enough until this weekend.

After removing the hopper, I couldn't get the top burr to come off for about ten minutes, and I'm telling you, I worked hard. It finally came off with a pair of pliers, and -- remember, no caffeine yet -- in so doing I broke off a small piece of plastic that is part of the base of the burr sleeve, and I could never get the entire contraption back together again.

I did mention that I dislodged the entire burr mechanism from the housing, didn't I?

Of course, YMMV, but I really do think that routine cleaning shouldn't require force. I'm a lazy bum at times, I know, but it's clear that a machine that is built to crank out espresso-grind coffee shouldn't coat the housing with coffee dust that slowly adheres parts together permanently.

Time for a Rocky.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Wow, Chris, six years out of a Solis grinder pulling 4 - 6 espresso shots a day sounds like you really got your money's worth! If I could do the division...

I use my Solis Maestro+ daily (however, not always for espresso shots, sometimes drip, sometimes French press) and try to clean it every month or so. Gotten 3 years of good service so far.

Enjoy the Rocky and I think you're gonna start making even better espresso from everything I've read and heard!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Estimating very conservatively, I'd say it cost us about two cents per shot, at the very most. We figured out that we paid off it and the Racilio Silvia within 18 months just on cash saved by not buying swill -- er, by not buying restaurant or coffee-shop espresso.

Just bought a Rancilio Rocky sans doser for $310, shipping included, from 1st-Line, where we purchased the Silvia and Solis and have had great experiences. Click here for the product page.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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My payback for a $400 Mazzer Mini and a $1,000 Isomac E61 style machine was longer than your Maestro/Silvia payback but even then... with only 10 to 12 drinks per week and a bit more when guests are visiting - I think the payback period on my gear was about three years but I'm now moving on to the sixth year of using this equipment and it still functions like new.

I suggest nosing around in the coffeegeek forums for Rocky doser versus doserless discussion. The doserless is not necessarily a better choice for everyone although it is for many.

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Estimating very conservatively, I'd say it cost us about two cents per shot, at the very most. We figured out that we paid off it and the Racilio Silvia within 18 months just on cash saved by not buying swill -- er, by not buying restaurant or coffee-shop espresso.

Just bought a Rancilio Rocky sans doser for $310, shipping included, from 1st-Line, where we purchased the Silvia and Solis and have had great experiences. Click here for the product page.

Does the new one have vulnerable plastic parts?

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Chris good luck with your new Rocky grinder. Too bad you broke the tabs on the burr carrier. Actually you can get a replacement if you want. Baratza will still send you the grinding adjustment ring that you broke free of charge. They have been sending those out to anyone that ask since it appears they had a poor design and have been making those available to anyone that needs one. Remember that regular cleaning goes a long way. I've had a Maestro Plus for about 5 years. I can disassemble as easily as the day I bought it. I just try to clean it about once every week or two. That's kept it in fine working order.

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The Rocky showed up the next day, using the free shipping. Go figure.

It. Is. Remarkable. It's built like a brick house and has already gotten us amazed at its power, adjustability, and consistently of grind.

Replacement parts for what?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Replacement parts for what?

Figured the old Solis could be used for drip or other grinds that you don't want to do in the Rocky. I use mine for drip and French press and use my Mazzer for espresso only.

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I have a Zassenhaus manual grinder. Specifically, the closed hopper walnut style (currently $101.50 through Sweet Maria's). I went for that model because it is undoubtedly a great mill, easily adjustable from espresso powder to a very coarse grind, and compared to the electric ones, it was cheap. It does take a couple of minutes to grind though, but I just refused to pay something crazy to grind my beans properly. I would definitely recommend it to those who want the grind of an expensive model but don't want to pay the price and are willing to live with some inconvenience. Or to those who want freshly ground coffee during power outages and camping trips.

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I have been happily using a pavoni grinder for a few years now and there's nothing wrong with it except the noise. It wakes my children in the morning. I can't have that. I know the rancilio is quieter because a friend has one. Any other suggestions?


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Throw a towel over it before turning it on? Step outside with it?


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

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I have been happily using a pavoni grinder for a few years now and there's nothing wrong with it except the noise.  It wakes my children in the morning.  I can't have that.  I know the rancilio is quieter because a friend has one.  Any other suggestions?

We have a low-end Pavoni at a beach house, and I have to bring it into the back bedroom to use it in the morning so I won't wake my kids up. At home, though, I use that large and lovely Kitchenaid and it's not nearly as noisy. It's also quite handsome. But I don't make espresso, so I don't know how well it works for that grind.

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My Mazzer Mini is relatively quiet compared to many burr grinders. My Solis Maestro Plus is touted to be quiet but I think the Mazzer makes less noise.

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Throw a towel over it before turning it on. . .

I've actually tried this. I was surprised to find that t made no difference whatsoever.

I'm going to look into the mazzer mini. That damned pavoni is deafening.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I should have been more specific I guess. I need a burr grinder. I'm making espresso.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Baratza Maestro Plus.

not all that loud (the washing machine is louder).

Or, how old are your kids? Could they learn to sleep through it? It's an important life skill.

Would it be unacceptable to grind the beans in advance...


Karen Dar Woon

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you can't grind the night before?


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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If it is the one with the 4-inch x 5-inch footprint and is 9 inches tall, you can damp the sound by covering it with a 1-gallon Tupperware pitcher, which is 6 1/2 inches in diameter and the interior depth is 10 1/4 inches.

My neighbors have a Pavoni Pa-Burr and use this method. They also have it sitting on a rubber mat (actually it is one meant for standing, but she bought a new one -marbelized green, almost the same color as their granite counter- and had her husband cut it into squares on which she could place noisy appliances) which also dampens the sound.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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My coffee grinder lives in the laundry room for just this reason. (Waking people up.)

It's handy cause I just just keep the beans in the extra fridge in there and they don't keep getting shifted to the back.

I have yet to allow myself to be seduced into an expensive grinder, I'm making do witha Braun which I have not managed yet to kill, in ten years, so I like that.

What I wish is that someone had someone had sung to me of stove top espresso machines before I blew two grand on the monster machine currently sitting in my barn, useless. :rolleyes:


“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”

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This morning I cleaned my Rancilio Rocky grinder using Grindz, made by Urnex. I got this from wholelattelove.com, but it's available from other online coffee equipment suppliers, too. However, wholelattelove.com sold me a one dose jar of it to try for about $7.50 rather than making me buy the four dose pack listed on their website for just under $30.

Mind you, this Rocky is at least seven years old; the build date was 1999. I bought it used. While I give it rather light use - about a pound of beans every ten days - it has seen some oily beans over the years, and I decided to try out the Grindz to see if it would help the beans flow more smoothly through the machine and improve the flavor of the french press coffee I make each morning. I also thought it may be time for a set of new burrs, but also hoped the cleaning with Grindz might improve the grind size consistency if the burrs were actually in good shape.

I did a thorough preliminary cleaning below the bean hopper screen and then ran the Grindz through, followed by an equal amount of beans twice. Then brushed out the chute and doser.

The first bean grinding showed grounds much, much more consistent is size than before, with little or no fine coffee mixed in with the coarser grind. So my burrs appear still to be in great shape.

The first pot of french press this morning after the cleaning produced a smoother tasting coffee. More than noticeable improvement.

wholelattelove.com recommends using the Grindz treatment four times a year, and I think I'll try that routine unless the treatment three months from now shows no particular effect. In which case I'll space the treatments a little further apart to find the optimal timing for my level of grinder use.

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I recently purchase instant rice to clean my burr grinders. I was told this is the best type of rice to use. I have to admit that I felt very self conscious buying instant rice.

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