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Rocky Use and maintenance


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I just got a used Rocky (doser) and after using it a few times have a few questions. I use it for French Press coarse grind currently, so I put a mini pie pan under the machine to catch the ground beans.

Is there a minimum quantity of beans I should grind at one time?

Does a certain amount of the beans from a grind stay in the machine and then come out the next session, or does all the grind get dumped?

How do you folks go about cleaning your machines of the grind residue. Each time?

Am I going to want a dosserless model down the line?

Any recommendations for green beans to buy to roast for the French Press, for a Mokka, and for Vietnamese Iced Coffee? I likely will be using a popper as a roaster first (as soon as I can find one).

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I use a Mazzer Mini but I believe the basic issues are the same. I'll confess to being very lax about "cleaning" per se. I've been in some cafés that are very conscientious and seem to really clean their grinders every day but they likely grind more in a day than I do in a year.

There is no minimum amount that one must grind. I've ground as little as 7 grams at a time when making single shots but more typically I grind about 17 - 21 grams at a time, depending on which portafilter assembly I"m filling for the espresso machine (the la Marzocco assembly uses up to 21 grams for a double shot and the Isomac stock basket uses 17 or 18 grams).

I'm sure it's not news to you but I follow the recommended practice of using a small brush to get the remaining grinds out of the dispersal chute of the grinder where it enters the dosing bin. There can be anywhere from 1/2 gram to as much as 1 gram in there after grinding is done. Doesn't seem like much but coffee that is ground and sits in there for a day or two before the next time you grind is going to be noticeably flat and stale. There are those who contend that it can't possibly make a difference when one adds that small amount to the new grind that will be used to make an espresso shot or a pot of French Press but I disagree. Show me the pastry chef who's willing to use a small amount of old stale flour or butter that's past its prime simply because "you really won't taste it when it's all mixed in with the fresher stuff". It's easy enough and really doesn't cost me anything extra aprat from time to ensure that all the coffee used in any batch is at its absolute freshest.

It's conceivable that I'm being too anal about it but it costs me nothing to stick a small brush into the chute and sweep out the grinds. I used to weigh the beans for each shot but at this point find it easier to just time the grind. The Mazzer, by chance (or perhaps by design - I"m not sure which), grinds about 1 gram per second. This makes it very easy to guesstimate the right amount to grind and have very little waste to contend with.

I have a very small brush - about the size of a flux brush for soldering but with a round rather than a flat tip. This one gets the grounds out of the chute and a larger brush with natural bristles gets the remaining stray grounds inside the dosing chamber down to the flat surface where the sweeper vanes expel them. I'll guess that my little brushing ritual adds twenty seconds to my espresso or coffee preparation routine but I think it's worth the effort.

I have not cleaned the inside of the machine (burr assemblies, internal areas etc) to remove accumulated coffee oils but I don't tend to use beans that have surface oil, thus the inside of my grinder still looks very clean.

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I recommend grinding all the beans you want to use for the individual coffee-making session into the doser. Then use a small brush or other implement (I used the end of a small flathead screwdriver I kept on to of my Rancilio to unscrew the screen for cleaning) to sweep any extra ground coffee from the chute into the doser. Then place whatever receptical you are using under the doser and click the doser until all the coffee is dosed out. If you like, you can sweep out the coser chamber as well -- although I think this is overkill and I normally didn't bother with that.

Owen's points are well made about the amount of stale grinds that can be left behind in the chute (and, to a lesser extent, in the doser). However, this is much more significant when making a shot of espresso than it is for a big old pot of press pot coffee. The reason is that the left-behind stale ginds might make up a significant percentage of a single espresso shot, but they are unlikely to make up a significant percentage of the (much larger) amount of coffee beans used to make several cups of presspot coffee.

Just in case anyone is curious... due to the design of the Rocky doserless grinder it is impossible to sweep out the extra grinds from the chute. Therefore, the only way to ensure 100% freshly ground coffee is to run the grinder for a second or two and discard those grindings.

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Therefore, the only way to ensure 100% freshly ground coffee is to run the grinder for a second or two and discard those grindings.

The Mazzer (and most other grinders as well, I suspect) also has some grounds that can not be removed by sweeping the chute. The only way the final bits can be expelled is as you desribe - by running the girnder for an extra second or two after the beans have gone through. This, of course, requires that one is grinding a specific weight or quantity of beans and there are none remaining in the hopper after grinding. I grind for espresso every day and leave about a three day supply of beans in the hopper. if I'm grinding to make a pot of vacuum coffee (usually just on the weekends), I empty the hopper of espresso blend and put a weighed batch of beans in to grind for that coffee making session.

There's much to be said for weighing beans when making both espresso and regular coffee - once one has a good system and methodology established that yields best results, it can often be eyeballed, but weighing beans initially and trying various amounts is a very helpful technique in establishing a baseline method.

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Again, this precision is more important when one is grinding for espresso. Since I only use my Rocky for espresso, I make only the most minute adjustments to the grind depending on how the beans are reacting (fresher beans need a slightly coarser grind). Since I only grind for espresso and I only use one blend, I find that I can reliably grind by volume -- a leveled-off filter-basket does the trick.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have tried storing three days worth of beans in the Rocky, but find that on the second day the machine will not grind. I have to turn the machine upside down and pour the beans out to free the grinding burrs. What is causing this? I have been using *bucks Sulawese beans and wonder if they are the culprit -- either from oilines or bean fragments. Any ideas?

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I'll wager that it's the oiliness. One of my coworkers was using 'bucks ebans in his Solis Maestro and had exactly the same problem. I store as much as a fice day supply in the hopper of my Mazzer and have never had that problem but the beans have not been oily. At most, there's been a barely visible sheen or just a few droplets that started to appear due to aging but not caused by a very dark initial roast.

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Another possibility:I was talking to one of the guys at CookWorks in Dallas. He said someone else mentioned this problem and a factory rep for one of the Espresso machines figuerd out that it was condensation from taking frozen beans out of the freezer and grinding them without letting them come to room temp (which I may have done -- not sure). He said a handful of uncooked rice put through the grinder cleaned out the machine and it worked fine.

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My personal experience is that I almost always experience a clogging problem with the Rocky when I use store-roasted oily beans and never when I use home-roasted beans. It is usally solvable by shaking the grinder back and forth, but some beans are extremely sticky.

BTW, the clogging doesn't happen down at the burr level where sending through some rice might help keep things clean. It happens above the burrs, with the beans sticking together in a clump above the grinding chamber and preventing any beans from dropping into the grinding chamber.

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That was the situation with my original problem in this thread -- they were clumping up and not dropping through. I did find that if I put only the amount I was going to grind in one session, it works fine with these store beans. It is only if the bean glue has a chance to set overnight.

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Coffee oils can be pretty sticky - the idea of them causing the beans to clump up makes sense. My Mazzer has a different throat design than the Rocky - that may account for why it hasn't clogged up on those rare occasiosn when I've used some really oily beans.

I freeze coffee even though I roast my own. My roaster requires half pound batches and some espresso blends are easier to do in two roasting stages, thus a full pound of beans results. My intake is limited to a max of about a half pound in any given 7 - 10 day period if I'm drinking alone. I freeze a half pound and then thaw it out when I'm ready to use it. do not grind frozen bans and don't even open the airtight container until they've completely defrosted at room temp. Just to be safe, I take the frozen beans out at night that I plan to use the next day and don't open the ziploc until I'm ready to grind. This ensures that no latent moisture is in or on the beans from condensation.

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