2008 USBC Grinders

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2008 USBC Grinders

Postby nick on Thu May 08, 2008 7:50 am

(A cross-post of sorts from the BGA forum)


"Back in the day," (2005 USBC and before), ESI provided Lineas and Roburs. Then the Compak K10's showed up at 2006 Charlotte. The WBC will be announcing a new set of machine and grinder sponsors in a few months (could be the same company or companies, or not... depends on how the bidding goes). Unofficially, please note that the "competitors will soon be required to use the provided grinder" is, by my investigation, speculation and rumor. That topic is merely under discussion. No final decision has been made on this by the WBC or the USBC yet. When that word comes, I'll make sure that it's posted on the WBC website or somewhere prominent. Communication and transparency are important!!!

That said, here are some numbers from the USBC Finals:

Drew: 17.8 & 14.6 (97.2)
Nick: 4.9 & 4.9 (29.4)
Heather: 8.1 & 9.5 (52.8)
Chris: 13.3 & 14.3 (82.8)
Pete: 14.7 & 15.5 (90.6)
Kyle: 4.9 & 5.2 (30.3)

I watched clips from the USBC finals videos with a stopwatch. Those first two numbers are times (in seconds) for two (random) pulls of espresso, from the moment they turned on the grinder, to the moment they started their leveling (or tamping, for no-level tampers). The number in parentheses are those times, added and multiplied by 3, to get a total of how many seconds that interval took for all three sets of drinks.

Averaged for those who used that particular grinder, from "grinder-on" to "finished dosing,":
Timer Grinder-doser Anfim: 15.0 seconds, 90.2 seconds for all drinks
Grinder-doser Robur: 8.8 seconds, 52.8 seconds for all drinks
Doserless timer Robur: 5.0 seconds, 29.9 seconds for all drinks

So by that math, the Anfim people took 60.3 seconds more time just grinding and dosing, than Nick and Kyle on the doserless timed-Robur, and 37.4 seconds more than Heather on the "stock" Robur. Also, Heather took 22.9 seconds more time than the Intelly-LA finalists grinding and dosing as well.

The numbers speak for themselves. A faster grinder, all or most other things being equal, is a heck of an advantage (note, the advantage was a FAIR one... anyone had the wherewithal to source a different grinder, or change their technique).

There's more to cull from this topic, but I'll stop there for now. Thoughts?
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby phaelon56 on Thu May 08, 2008 9:09 am

Yes - I do have a thought. Those numbers are very useful for anyone contemplating grinder choices for a busy bar. Reducing the start-to-finish time for pulling a single shot by 10 seconds or more may not seem significant to some but it adds up in a big way.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby onocoffee on Thu May 08, 2008 10:09 am

Personally speaking, if I were a grinder sponsor for either the WBC or USBC, I would expect grinder exclusivity for the money. If the competitor must use the provided espresso machine, then so too should they use the sponsor grinder.

As a competitor, I'm open to that kind of ruling. Of course, I would prefer that the enforcement be open enough that I could bring my own grinder - so long as it were the same make and model as the sponsor grinder.

Which would then make the "this grinder is faster than that grinder" advantage limp.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Jim Schulman on Thu May 08, 2008 2:01 pm

Swings and roundabouts.

The reason the Ritual guys used the Anfims is that they are reputed not to require levelling, while producing exceptionally pretty pours. Speaking as a spectator, that seemed to be the case. I've never used the doserless Robur, but the Mini-E (same funnel) produces very clumpy grinds which either require lengthy levelling or lead to uglier pours. The doser Robur, like the doser Compak conical, produces very perfect grinds, and it may not have that problem with the funnel.

It might be fairer to judge a grinder by the total time taken to prep the shot. The average technical scores for the espresso base is also a big consideration. Spending 30 seconds total and getting 3s may not be so brilliant if someone else is spending 50 seconds and getting 5s. The espresso from dosered Robur and Compak has very nice flow characteristics when compared to that of 64mm planar grinders; who knows, the Anfim's may flow even more perfectly.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby David LaMont on Fri May 09, 2008 5:17 am

Was the only difference between Heather's Robur and the Intelligentsia one the dosing mod? I just assumed from the time differences that one was a 220 and the other 110....
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Ryan Willbur on Fri May 09, 2008 6:04 am

David LaMont wrote:Was the only difference between Heather's Robur and the Intelligentsia one the dosing mod? I just assumed from the time differences that one was a 220 and the other 110....


Doser-less, and the bur set has the auger built in, pulling the coffee into the burs. I feel like that's where the real speed comes from... I would be curious to know where someone's time would fall with a doser-ed grinder with the auger...
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby barry on Fri May 09, 2008 10:11 am

Ryan Willbur wrote:Doser-less, and the bur set has the auger built in, pulling the coffee into the burs. I feel like that's where the real speed comes from... I would be curious to know where someone's time would fall with a doser-ed grinder with the auger...



I know on our Bunn G-series that the grinders with the auger/burrs grind way faster than the ones with just burrs.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Mark Prince on Fri May 09, 2008 1:31 pm

Mazzer's auger system could be one of the more innovative things the company has done in some time. I got the scoop on why they invented it - had nothing to do with speed or preventing clumping, or avoiding the popcorn effect, or such - it had to do with a simple matter of a local (to them) roaster calling up one day saying the Cony (or Robur - I have to check my notes) wasn't grinding THEIR coffee- it was spinning wheels, not much else. Mazzer asked the roaster to bring in some of their beans so they could check it out.

Turns out this particular roaster was sourcing massive beans - bigger than pacemara (sp), probably 25 screen or bigger, and the conical burrs / feed area wasn't pulling the beans down into the grinding area. So a little experimentation / machining / engineering later, they had this as Luca from Mazzer called it, "initial cutter" installed, and walla, big beans = no problem.

Then they discovered other benefits. You could have 3lbs in the hopper or 100g in the hopper, and the coffee "fed" into the conical burrs at the same rate. Popcorning was all but gone. feed rate was consistent right down to the last few beans, which also improved grinding. They modified the auger somewhat, called it final, and put it on all their conical burr grinders.

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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby stormer on Mon May 12, 2008 7:36 am

Mark Prince wrote:Turns out this particular roaster was sourcing massive beans - bigger than pacemara (sp), probably 25 screen or bigger, and the conical burrs / feed area wasn't pulling the beans down into the grinding area.


Funny, we have the same problem trying to run our Sumatra through Mahlkonig's Guatemala Lab. The beans popcorn on top of the auger until I turn off the motor for a second or two to slow the auger. It's pretty typical for this grinder to throw out the last few beans of any origin, but our Sumatra simply will not feed through without help. Has anybody run into the popcorning problem with an "initial cutter" yet?

I've been very interested in the idea of changing grind profile (and auger speed) by tweaking the power leading to the motor. Are there grinders out there modded with dimmer circuits? Has anyone used this to play with grind profile?
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Jeff Givens on Mon May 12, 2008 8:25 am

stormer wrote:I've been very interested in the idea of changing grind profile (and auger speed) by tweaking the power leading to the motor. Are there grinders out there modded with dimmer circuits? Has anyone used this to play with grind profile?


One thing that you don't want to do with a grinder is try to adjust the speed with a dimmer circuit. A dimmer circuit will lower the voltage which will slow down the grinder, but the current that the motor draws will go up proportionally, causing the motor to overheat and burn up.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby stormer on Mon May 12, 2008 8:49 am

Jeff Givens wrote:A dimmer circuit will lower the voltage which will slow down the grinder, but the current that the motor draws will go up proportionally, causing the motor to overheat and burn up.


Very good to know. So can one make adjustments to burr/auger speeds short of buying a new motor?
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby nick on Mon May 12, 2008 8:57 am

stormer wrote:Very good to know. So can one make adjustments to burr/auger speeds short of buying a new motor?


A frequency drive is the way to go (Google it).
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby barrett on Mon May 12, 2008 9:45 am

you can do standard grinders if you want - but there should be some sort of resetting them between competitors, otherwise, using the grinder after another competitor with the same coffee would confer a sizable advantage.

Fast grinders, slow grinders, when you reach over and touch a timer button, and it finishes dosing just as you finish drying the portafilter, it's all null.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby phaelon56 on Mon May 12, 2008 12:38 pm

nick wrote:
stormer wrote:Very good to know. So can one make adjustments to burr/auger speeds short of buying a new motor?


A frequency drive is the way to go (Google it).


I think that's what Andy Schecter is using on his three phase Robur. Even after using a device to convert single phase North American 220V to three phase there is still a discrepancy in the frequency (50hz vs. 60 hz os what i recall but I could be way off). There's a very noticeable difference in burr rotation speed when the frequency is adjust to match what the grinder was designed for (which is the three phase power and associated frequency used in Italy vs. the North America). It's very cool to watch/listen to the grinder speed up and down as the frequency is changed.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Kyle Glanville on Mon May 12, 2008 3:50 pm

The doserless robur has actually shown less of a tendency to clump than the standard doser robur, which is why we felt it was an obvious choice for competition.

I've always been a skeptic of doserless grinders simply because every single one seems to have tendency to clump, particularly after they start to heat up, but the Robur-E bucks the trend.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Jim Schulman on Mon May 12, 2008 4:08 pm

Kyle Glanville wrote:The doserless robur has actually shown less of a tendency to clump than the standard doser robur, which is why we felt it was an obvious choice for competition.

I've always been a skeptic of doserless grinders simply because every single one seems to have tendency to clump, particularly after they start to heat up, but the Robur-E bucks the trend.


Thanks for convering this, I was wondering when I saw them. I guess Mazzer is researching this area. With the clumping problem solved, doserless and timed grinders look like the wave of the future.

Congrats and beat the world!
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Andy Schecter on Mon May 12, 2008 5:19 pm

nick wrote:A frequency drive is the way to go.

phaelon56 wrote:I think that's what Andy Schecter is using on his three phase Robur. Even after using a device to convert single phase North American 220V to three phase there is still a discrepancy in the frequency (50hz vs. 60 hz os what i recall but I could be way off). There's a very noticeable difference in burr rotation speed when the frequency is adjust to match what the grinder was designed for (which is the three phase power and associated frequency used in Italy


A frequency drive is the way to go on grinders equipped with three phase motors. I'm not aware of a frequency drive that'll operate on the regular single phase motors that almost everyone has in their grinder.

Certainly the grounds distribution is a little different when you change grinder RPMs, but is there a killer difference? Come over my place and taste for yourself.

barrett wrote:Fast grinders, slow grinders, when you reach over and touch a timer button, and it finishes dosing just as you finish drying the portafilter, it's all null.


Some people find their distribution in the basket is better if they run the grinder as they thwack thwack thwack the doser handle. Other people go doserless. For these two groups of people, grind speed matters.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby barry on Mon May 12, 2008 5:59 pm

Kyle Glanville wrote:The doserless robur has actually shown less of a tendency to clump than the standard doser robur, which is why we felt it was an obvious choice for competition.



Those Compak grinders were terrible clumpers. I'd never really understood all the hoopla about clumping, as our Super Jollys don't have the problem (never worked 'em hard enough, I guess). But WOW, the Compak I used for a few minutes during judges training was awful. Distributing the grounds was like trying to smooth out pea gravel. :shock:
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Jim Schulman on Mon May 12, 2008 7:44 pm

barry wrote:Those Compak grinders were terrible clumpers. I'd never really understood all the hoopla about clumping, as our Super Jollys don't have the problem (never worked 'em hard enough, I guess). But WOW, the Compak I used for a few minutes during judges training was awful. Distributing the grounds was like trying to smooth out pea gravel. :shock:


It's the odd one out then. I have a Compak and have been in touch with other people who use them, and the doser delivers clump free grinds without the mazzer left drift.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby barry on Mon May 12, 2008 7:51 pm

Jim Schulman wrote:It's the odd one out then. I have a Compak and have been in touch with other people who use them, and the doser delivers clump free grinds without the mazzer left drift.



Whatever it was, it was the grinder at the station all the way to the left, on the right hand side of the machine. Maybe it wasn't a Compak??
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby phaelon56 on Tue May 13, 2008 5:44 am

Kyle Glanville wrote:The doserless robur has actually shown less of a tendency to clump than the standard doser robur, which is why we felt it was an obvious choice for competition.

I've always been a skeptic of doserless grinders simply because every single one seems to have tendency to clump, particularly after they start to heat up, but the Robur-E bucks the trend.


Can someone who has examined the design of the doserless Robur-E and compared it to other doserless grinders offer some thoughts as to why it doesn't have clumping tendencies? Is there somethign about conical grinding that makes the difference?
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby onocoffee on Tue May 13, 2008 6:04 am

barry wrote:Those Compak grinders were terrible clumpers. I'd never really understood all the hoopla about clumping, as our Super Jollys don't have the problem (never worked 'em hard enough, I guess). But WOW, the Compak I used for a few minutes during judges training was awful. Distributing the grounds was like trying to smooth out pea gravel. :shock:


I think that's because they were brand new, never used grinders.

The Compak K-10 we use performs beautifully and doesn't clump. It's a well-worn grinder that's coming up on it's due date for burr replacement. I'll report back after the replacement and see if that makes a difference.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby Kyle Glanville on Tue May 13, 2008 9:14 am

i think its a combination of the anti-static wires and the fast slide down the wide stainless chute.
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby phaelon56 on Tue May 13, 2008 10:16 am

Kyle Glanville wrote:i think its a combination of the anti-static wires and the fast slide down the wide stainless chute.


Hmmmm... there's a doserless modification kit available for the Super Jolly and I have one although I haven't yet gotten around to trying it on one of my spare grinders. But I did trade emails this week with a roaster/retailer who tried the mod kit on his SJ and went back to the regular doser due to static problems. He tried it both with and without the anti-static wire grid and found it to be the same with both. Clumping was not mentioned as an issue so perhaps there's a local environmental factor contributing to static?
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Re: 2008 USBC Grinders

Postby barry on Tue May 13, 2008 11:05 am

Kyle Glanville wrote:i think its a combination of the anti-static wires and the fast slide down the wide stainless chute.



Now if you can only get the spray under control. Maybe smaller exit hole?
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