Tag Archives: Baratza

Choosing the Best Baratza Grinder for YOU (revised)

PIERCE JENS, BARATZA EMAIL SUPPORT GURU, SHARES HIS THOUGHTS ON HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST GRINDER FOR YOU!
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What grinder is best for me? This question has popped up more than a few times in this Support department, I hope that this blog will help inform and educate how to optimize your grinder selection for your caffeination needs.
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of brew method(s) you plan on employing. Next, think about how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Coffee, like all things, can be a basic pleasure, or a scientific art. Having expensive equipment definitely helps procure good extractions, but spending gobs of money is not going to guarantee you delicious shots, beautiful art or delicate flavors in your pourover. Those things come from practice, understanding, and appreciation of the process. Are you interested in drinking a tasty cup of coffee, and that is all? Do you want to find the perfect balance of complimentary notes in your manual extraction? Or, do you want to pull an exact 30 second, two ounce with crema shot (or whatever parameters you prefer) and have the ability to change the shot time in increments as small as one second?
We have two different families of grinder models- conical and flat burr grinders. The discussion of which is better between conical vs flat burrs could be compared to the argument of Ford vs Chevy; people will stick to their side of the argument tooth and nail depending on personal preference. I can only speak specifically to the pros and cons of Baratza conical and flat burr grinders. All of our grinders are designed to grind per dose, they are not intended for batch grinding- that is, they are not intended to grind a whole pound of coffee through in one shot.
The current conical lineup includes the Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso. These grinders all have 40mm conical burrs made in Liechtenstein. We pride ourselves on having high carbon, hardened conical burrs excellent in quality that generally last for about five hundred pounds of coffee. The powerful DC motors are low revving compared to AC motors, spinning the burrs at ~450rpm and keeping heat transfer to the grounds down. The transmission gear layout, GB2.0, accurately meshes the helical worm shaft of the motor with the reduction gear for a smooth, direct drive transfer of power. The grind is adjusted in a cork screw type fashion, with the adjustment ring threads pulling the stationary upper burr closer or further from the rotating lower burr. Grounds retention in the machine is about a gram, which reduces the amount of purging coffee through needed. The 100+ gram capacity bin and the discharge chute are made of an anti-static plastic, which helps battle the inevitable static better than a coating.
The flat burr lineup includes the Vario, Vario W, Forté All Purpose (AP) and Forté Brew Grinder (BG). All four of these units use 54mm flat burrs, have a digital front panel capable of saving 3 preset functions, and the adjuster levers are easy to read and adjust. Grind size is adjusted by a milled metal camshaft. As you raise the adjustment lever, the lobe on the camshaft presses up against the bottom of the lower burr, decreasing the gap between the lower burr and the stationary upper burr. The same DC motor as used in the conicals powers the burr, but using a belt drive transmission that reduces noise.

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ENCORE
Our entry level conical burr grinder is the Encore. At $129 USD, it has a 40 setting range that produces an espresso fine grind as well the ability to grind a coarse French press grind. The Encore has an intermittent pulse button on the front of the machine as well as an on/off knob on the side. I recommend the Encore for those who do not want to commit substantial time for brewing, but understand and appreciate the benefit of fresh consistently ground coffee at home. The Encore does grind the slowest of our models, at an average rate of about a gram a second.
VIRTUOSO
The Virtuoso is a step up from the Encore with a price point of $229 USD. With a sharp looking cast zinc upper casing and base, this grinder immediately catches the eye. Besides being nice to look at, it excels at a consistent coarse grind, and readily produces an espresso fine grind. Like the Encore, the Virtuoso has an intermittent pulse button, and on the side of the machine it also has a 60 second timer switch that offers a distinct advantage over the on/off switch of the Encore. The timer allows the user to roughly dose the amount of beans ground, and winds down, powering the grinder off while you prepare your filter/water/brew equipment. With a max throughput of around 2 grams a second, the Virtuoso is very efficient and quick enough for impatient coffee connoisseurs. I highly recommend the Virtuoso, as I enjoy operating mine at home for assorted manual brew methods.
PRECISO
The next step up in our model line, the Preciso, is directed for users who are seriously making espresso, along with manual extractions, and desire more control than the 40 step adjustment. Although the Virtuoso and Encore models will grind fine enough for espresso, a user may find it difficult to procure an exact shot time. The Preciso, at $299 USD, addresses this issue with the addition of a micro adjustment which allows users to find a grind setting in between the 40 macro steps, giving a total of 400 steps of adjustment. When pulling espresso shots the micro adjustment function can be used to adjust the shot time by as little as one second (all other variables remaining the same). I recommend the Preciso for users who are pulling shots and are controlling the other variables such as dosage, water weight, shot time, temperature, tamp pressure, and of course having fresh beans (preferably less than two weeks from the roast date).
VARIO
The Vario is our ceramic flat burr grinder at $479 USD that grinds based on a time input (10.3 seconds, 15.8 seconds, etc). With macro and micro adjustment options, the Vario with the stock ceramic burrs is superb at grinding for espresso. We also offer a set of steel burrs that are designed for manual brew grinding. The digital display holds three preset times that are programmable by the user. A metal Porta Holder with dosing funnel is included with the Vario, allowing users to grind hands-free into the espresso basket with minimal mess from static spray. The regular grounds bin has a 140+ gram capacity and is made of static dissipating plastic. I recommend the Vario for espresso fanatics, and encourage heavy users to buy the Vario over the Preciso.
VARIO-W
Mechanically speaking, the Vario-W is identical to the Vario. However, rather than grinding based on a time input, the Vario-W grinds based on a desired weight input and will grind the dose within 0.2 grams of the desired input. This allows users to control another variable in the brewing equation without additional equipment/steps. With a 300 gram maximum capacity of the load cell, the user cannot grind by weight directly into an espresso porta filter- only into the 120+ gram capacity grounds bin provided. A hopper with shutoff valve is included with the Vario-W, making it easy to remove the hopper without dumping the beans out or falling out the bottom when the hopper is removed. The Vario-W is priced at $559 USD.
ESATTO
At $129 USD, the Esatto is an attachment for our conical burr grinders that allows the users to grind by weight directly into the 60 gram capacity grounds bin provided, saving the user the extra step of weighing the dose on a separate scale. The Esatto has a 300 gram max cap for the scale and cannot grind by weight directly into an espresso porta filter. The Esatto fits the Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso, as well as our superseded models Maestro Plus and Baratza Starbucks Barista P/N 1MP1SP.
FORTÉ AP
The Forté AP retails for $899 USD and is a more rugged version of the Vario. A perfect fit for low-volume, single origin or decaf espresso coffee grinder, we recommend it for grinding up to five pounds (2.25kg) of coffee in a day. Utilizing the same theory of operation as the Vario, the Forté has stronger transmission components, a metal grind chamber and metal levers. The metal components noticeably improve the dialing in process of extracting espresso shots.
Operationally, the Forté has both grind-by-time and grind-by-weight in one unit. Although dosing directly into the porta filter with the included metal PortaHolder can only be accomplished with grind-by-time, the Forte has a software conversion (Smart Dosing) allowing the user to most accurately dose directly into your porta filter. The Mahlkoenig ceramic burrs of the AP have a throughput rate of 2.0g/s to 3.5g/s. Designed to optimize espresso grinding, they are still capable of producing an acceptable French press coarse grind.
FORTÉ BG
The Forté BG, at $919 USD, is identical to the Forté AP except the burr set. The Forté BG comes equipped with a steel burr set that was designed specifically to reduce the amount of fines found in the coarse grind. The throughput rate is 1.2 to 2.4 g/s. Although the Forté BG does not include a metal PortaHolder, the part can be purchased separately and used with the BG. With a small footprint and splendid coarse grind, the BG is an ideal match for your manual brew bar.

If you are looking for a grinder for Turkish
No Baratza grinders are designed for Turkish coffee grinding. Although our grinders are capable of producing a Turkish fine grind, the demands on the machine are high. Our grinders have a thermal overload protection circuit that will cut power to the motor if it draws a large amount. Power consumption for Turkish is great, which will cause the machine to shut down into protect mode until it has cooled down for 15 or 20 minutes- perhaps before even grinding a full dose. I have helped several customers with Baratza grinders and the intention of Turkish over the years; none in my experience have been satisfied. I recommend a hand grinder for home Turkish grinding.

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful in finding the Baratza grinder that best suits your needs and budget!

Life Expectancy of Burrs

by Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Founder and Chief Engineer

People ask us all the time about life expectancy of their burrs. It’s hard to give a hard and fast rule as the life expectancy of a burr varies, depending on the type of coffee, degree of roast, grind size, volume ground, and any rocks you may run into! The increasingly popular lighter roasted beans tend to be a lot harder on the burrs. However, as a good rule of thumb you can expect the burrs on our grinders to last as follows:

  • Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso and flat steel burrs (Vario and Forté) – 500-1000 pounds of coffee
  • Ceramic burrs (Vario and Forté) – 1000 to 1500 pounds of coffee

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So, take my household for example, I mainly use a Forté-AP to grind for espresso. My household, plus some of the Baratza team, makes about 12 double shots a day, each dosed at 20 grams. The Forté-AP is grinding 240 grams a day or around 87,600 grams/year. There are 453 grams of coffee in a pound. So I am grinding about 193 pounds/year. This number is a little low since once a month I use my grinder to cater a coffee hour at our clubhouse and serve about 100 drinks. So I estimate that I grind about 198 pounds of coffee a year. Therefore, my Forté-AP burrs should last about 5 to 7 years!

It is difficult to know when to change the burrs. One clear indication that it is time for new burrs is if your grinder is not capable of grinding coarse any more. If you have questions or issues about your burrs and grinding, we have some great technical support videos on our YouTube Channel and grinder specific, frequently asked questions, here on our website’s troubleshooting page. I encourage you to check these out.

Baratza Travel – Safe & Strong!

For years we’ve had people asking about tough, protective cases to use when they take their Baratza grinders on the road for demos, pop-ups, catering, competitions and more! We developed one as special thank you and it seems like it got a bit of attention after some pictures were posted! If you’d like one, you can make a special order!

So here’s what it looks like:
IMG_20141226_131335IMG_20141226_131355The Details:
Made by: Pelican
Size: Medium
Fit: Can be customized to fit any Baratza grinder (yes indeed!)
Price: $120 plus shipping and taxes (includes customized fitting for your existing grinder)
Timeline: 2 weeks from ordering
How to Order:Email Sales@Baratza.com with your order, we’ll call to get your credit card details before processing the order.

Safe Travels!

Grinding for Espresso – Metal vs Ceramic Burrs

by Sarah Dooley and Pierce Jens

Forte ceramic burr_TSH4472lrSince the introduction of the Forte AP and BG grinders, the team at Baratza has been doing a lot of taste testing on both grinders. With regards to tasting espresso specifically, we have noticed that the ceramic burrs produce a traditional espresso flavor profile. They are great for blends and particularly coffees roasted for espresso. The cup flavors are complex, and usually have more body and mouth feel in comparison to the steel burrs (depending on the coffee).

The steel burrs have been engineered to produce a more even particle distribution and less fines. These burrs are ideal for pourover, batch, or home brewers and what we have termed, a “modern style espresso”.

FORTE holding steel burr_TSH4540 hiTo expand a little on the term “modern style espresso” – we feel that espresso with our steel burrs tastes different, due to the lack of fines (or the very small grind particles) in the particle grouping. Overall, the ground coffee is more similar in size, especially in comparison to our ceramic burrs. The results in flavor profile are more simple flavors and a clean mouth feel. We like this burr set for single origin coffees not necessarily limited to coffees roasted for espresso or called espresso roast.

Which set is best for you? Oddly when we did a side-by-side taste test our test audience was split down the middle on preferences. The biggest differences really came into play for taste when we separated coffees roasted for espresso and coffees not roasted for espresso. With that isolated variable the ceramic had more sweetness for coffees roasted for espresso and the steel burrs clarity of flavor seemed better for espresso, with coffees at production or non-espresso roasts.

In the end, it’s what tastes best to you. We don’t even pretend to know how to tell you how to taste and are just sharing our taste experiences thus far. We hope our opinion has been of assistance!

STOP! Don’t Dump It – Fix It!

“My Solis Maestro has served me well ~ 10 years. Just ordered new paddle wheel & cone burr. Great product.”

@clydetweets

“I just wanted to express my appreciation for the ability you’ve given me to easily repair my older grinder. The grinder no longer adjusted due to a build up of debris, and then failure of the plastic adjustment ring under stress. However, I was able to get the parts from your website and find a clear PDF that detailed the replacement instructions. It is really nice to be able to fix a small broken part these days than throw out a solid working device. Thanks for the quality design, super support and dedication to the life cycle of your products.”

Bob Bowser

“I have a Virtuoso grinder that I’ve been using for about 4 years. It’s done great service. Then it stopped working and I made things worse with my poking and prodding. Then… I found your service FAQ and manuals. 15 minutes later it was working again, cleaned and good as new! I just wanted to say thank you for building a serviceable product AND for posting the directions to service it. I wish that all companies would do this. THANK YOU!”

David Coode

Most small, consumer appliances are designed to wear out, or stop being useful in a very short time. These appliances are difficult and expensive to repair, so consumers are trained to dump and replace. This is often called planned obsolescence, and it not only wastes consumer’s money it also uses up valuable resources, chokes our landfills, and has big environmental implications.

Our Message: Don’t Dump Baratza!

We’ve purposefully designed Baratza Grinders to be maintained like commercial grinders. With regular cleaning, maintenance, repair, and even rebuilds our grinders can give an excellent, accurate grind for many years. To build a serviceable grinder costs a little more, but we feel it is money well spent, that pays dividends for years to come. To make this easy and affordable, Baratza has:

  • Releasable snaps and simple screws vs. one-time snaps or glue; this ensures easy accessibility to the guts of the grinder, even for end users, without need for special tools.
  • A team of extremely knowledgeable and approachable staff, offering email and phone support for troubleshooting and fixing grinders.
  • Developed clear and concise, troubleshooting guides, instructions, and videos to help with repair and rebuilds. All are openly available through our website.
  • Inexpensive parts for repairing grinders, easily available through our website, 24/7.
  • Developed and posted exploded views of all our grinders (pdf example)
  • A reasonably priced repair service, for those not able or willing to make repairs themselves.
  • Made upgrades and accessories backward compatible, to existing grinders, whenever possible
  • A Refurbished Grinder program. Pre-owned grinders are fixed, cleaned, and updated to the newest parts, and come with a 1 year warranty. The program offers the twofold effect of minimizing waste plus making our grinders more accessible to people with budget constraints.

As people learn of Baratza’s commitment to keeping our products out of landfills, they are often surprised at why a company would spend so much effort extending the life of their products. By the end of the conversation all agree (and see) that the best way to encourage people to buy another Baratza grinder is to maximize the VALUE of ownership. We do this by doing all we can to keep our grinders in service for many years to come. When people decide to upgrade or buy a second grinder, we want to make sure it is not because their old Baratza grinder died, rather they are choosing to place their trust and dollars in a company that stands behind their products long after the customer walks out the door.

Baratza Supports Street Bean – Guest Blog

Baratza recently donated grinders to Street Bean to support the important work they are doing – getting youth off the streets and giving them real skills, and an opportunity to improve their lives. Ben Blake, a long time Baratza friend and supporter, manages the Street Bean Cafe and we asked him to share about their program.

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by Ben Blake, Cafe Manager, Street Bean Espresso, Seattle WA

Before I start, I’d like to thank the folks at Baratza for their kindness. They’ve been helpful and extremely supportive over the last few years. Over the summer, they donated a set of Forte grinders to our cafe that have drastically improved the quality of our pourover bar, increased training opportunities, and allowed us to bring on a guest roaster as espresso.

When I first took over the Cafe Manager position at Street Bean, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. While the idea of combining my love for coffee with something meaningful was always appealing to me, I could never quite grasp what that would actually look like. I knew I’d be working for a non-profit in Seattle that dealt mainly with homeless and at-risk youth, and I knew we’d be serving coffee, but that’s about it. Through the first couple months here, I’ve seen just how important coffee can be in someone’s life, and just how meaningful it really is.

Let me explain a little bit.

We’re a non-profit that provides opportunities for street kids and at-risk youth to get on their feet, learn valuable career skills, and obtain a self-efficacy that doesn’t stop in the workplace.

We operate under the umbrella of New Horizons—a fantastic organization that provides all the resources for these kids. Food, clothes, shelter, case workers, counseling, coaching, community, etc. etc. Through the New Horizons Program they’re able to apply for internships in order to gain work experience and learn just what it means to have a job and be “employable.” Ultimately, Street Bean was created to compliment the New Horizons program and to provide a supportive employment component for the youth that were being served. We currently operate two “apprenticeship” slots where we not only train folks to become great baristas, but to help them move them beyond homelessness and abandonment into confidence, security, and successful future employment.

After successfully completing the apprenticeship, we have the opportunity to hire them on as a barista at Street Bean.

Over the last five years, we’ve seen an incredible success rate, and as of right now, we have four full-time baristas who are living on their own, completely off the streets.

I guess that all sounds nice, and it’s great to be able to say all of that, but even within the first month here, I’ve seen what that actually means. These “kids” have been completely transformed because of Street Bean. They’re grown men and women that have not only escaped life on the streets, but that have completely taken hold of their own lives through the medium of a cafe.

A conversation I had with our newest apprentice said it best. As I was chatting with him about his weekend, and about some upcoming challenges in his life, he stopped and looked at me with a big grin on his face.

“I love this place, man. I feel like it’s mine.”

That statement alone brought to life exactly what I was involved in, and it had nothing to do with homelessness, street life, or life problems. It transcends all of that. The community of a coffee shop is unique. It’s hard not to be engulfed by it. When you work behind the bar at a cafe, it’s your space. You want people to enjoy being there, so you put your best foot forward, and no matter what your past looks like, you take ownership of it.

Ownership is important for all of us. It gives us something to hold onto and something to call our own. Street Bean is actively doing that—not only for the youth in our program and the ones that have made it through—but for me, too.

Beyond having a good cause, though, we really strive to be a great cafe, and we’re only really able to do that through outside support. There’s no way we could offer up quality products without quality equipment, and as a non-profit that can be difficult at times.

When companies like Baratza partner with us, they’re not just giving a donation or a discount to a non-profit. They’re giving people the opportunity to get back on their feet through the coffee industry, to take hold of something and to own it, and to truly discover their identities.

It’s an amazing thing really, and we’re thrilled to be surrounded and supported by such amazing people. People who are willing to help us make Street Bean one of the best cafes in Seattle while also supporting our vision of empowering youth to get off the streets and onto a path that ends with a successful future. The coffee community is the perfect place for someone to turn their life around, and we’re really thankful for all of you.

Foreign Exchange Tech – Martin Fu

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We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Martin Fu to our Bellevue HQ this summer! Martin is the son of Leo Fu, the owner of our partner company PSI, in Taiwan, that is responsible for the manufacture and assembly of our grinders. Martin attends college in Tai Pei and on breaks, he goes back to Tai Chung to work for PSI as an assembler. Martin has been a great asset to Baratza this summer, already knowing all facets of assembly of our grinders. This time he got to see them AFTER they’ve been well used and was able to repair and refurbish them!

The team at HQ have treated him to fantastic coffee and food and in his downtime he’s learned something else new…. how to skateboard! He says “You will get yourself killed in Tai Pei because there are too many cars. There is so much room and clear spaces for a freshman of skateboarding to learn here.”

Before heading back to Taiwan, Martin took a trip to the Bay Area and caught up with local and visiting Baratza team members, pictured here with Pierce Jens from our Support Team and Kyra Kennedy, Baratza Co-owner.

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Colin Francois – Field Report from Barista Camp

June 13, 2014

Q & A With Colin Francois, Barista Camp Back From the Field- Report

Interviewed by Sarah Dooley

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Baratza is as serious about great home and light commercial grinders as we are about employee development. In the past year, we’ve sent two team members to the Barista Guild of America’s Barista Camp for Level 1 Certification. We believe in education experiences like these, combining top-notch curriculum with hands on activities. Recently our team member, Colin Francois joined 100 plus coffee people in Fontana, Wisconsin, population 1,625, for some good old fashion barista glamping. (Glamorous camping if you didn’t catch that one.)

SD: What is your role at Baratza?

CF: Baratza Sales Support

SD: Describe your day-to-day activities:

CF: I typically get to work just before my shift starts and make coffee for the office. One Chemex, two espresso’s and a cappuccino will usually do the trick for all of us. Then I get right to phone support, process sales and support emails while fighting off the slumber gnomes with more coffee. It’s actually pretty interesting, my conversations are never dull and we always seem to have a solution.

SD: Are you a member of the Barista Guild of America?

CF: Yes, most valuable membership I have to date!

SD: What inspired you to go to Barista Camp?

CF: Sarah Dooley (my co-worker) said it would be a great full circle experience of engaging activities, learning and relationship building.

SD: What’s your favorite beverage coffee and beyond?

CF: Chemex for coffee and an Old Fashioned

SD: What delighted you the most about the week?

CF: Laila Ghambari’s competition routine at camp was incredible! The second she mentioned concord grape, the fragrance filled the room… it gave me goosebumps.

SD: What was the worst part about camp?

CF: Breakfast was terrible. While I was thankful, I’m not a big fan “tub-o-eggs” and hash-browns. A large plate of fruit and a pile of bacon it was for me!

SD: Was there something you learned that will really help you with your career path in coffee?

CF: The Introduction to Cupping courses were a experiences for me. Tasting with the flavor wheel and using the unified language surrounding coffee made a lot of sense and I’ve immediately put it to use.

SD: Boxers or Briefs?

CF: Briefs

Wilbur Curtis' Seraphim Brewer

Wilbur Curtis’ Seraphim Brewer


SD: Besides Baratza’s newest grinder for light commercial use, the Forté Series, did you notice something particularly awesome in the world of equipment, ie: any new innovations or clever bar tools?

CF: The Seraphim by Curtis had a really cool look and the coffees prepared with this water delivery system were quite tasty.

SD: How many pull-ups can you do?

CF: Ha, 15

SD: What were your actual achievements from your time at camp?

CF: Hmmm….

  • Level 1 Certification
  • 2nd Place in the Camp 5K, I won a pretty cool Hario Ice Dripper just in time for Summer
  • Most importantly, I also feel like I am definitely more comfortable helping our customers troubleshoot brewing issues. Barista Camp reinforces the things you do know and opens your eyes to a lot of variables and processes that really just make you better.

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee


SD: Did you make a potential new email pen pal?

CF: At camp you get assigned to a camp team. On the first evening we broke into our groups, assigned a team leader, made a team poster and created a team name, in our case “Super Fines”. Interestingly enough, as we sat down in our groups, the subject of roommates came up. Had we met our roommates yet etc. It just so happened I hadn’t really met my roommate but I did come to see him up on the stage welcoming all of us to camp and sharing the festivities ahead. So while I hadn’t physically met my roomie, Lorenzo Perkins was there meeting and greeting all of us.

SD: Would you recommend barista camp to your peers in coffee? Why?

CF: Absolutely yes! Overall it was a really great learning experience. The coffee industry consists of people from a lot of different walks in life. It was fun to share and listen.

SD: If I was going to Barista Camp tomorrow, what should I bring?

CF: Take snacks to class for sure! Some of the sessions run upwards of 3 hours …oh and bring enough to share with at least one other person too.

Static in your grinding – it’s complex!

By Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Owner and Engineer

Static: the grossly misunderstood and (still, to this day) hotly debated phenomenon that plagues many facets of our lives but can REALLY (randomly) irritate those of us who grind our coffee beans daily.

As recently as mid 2011 there were breakthrough findings about the root cause of “static charges” that shatter the commonly held paradigms of what causes static. About the only remaining principle that survives from the old paradigm is that friction is a key ingredient in creating an imbalance of electrical charges, which shows it’s ugly face as “static”. The grinding of coffee in a burr grinder unavoidably includes a lot of friction – friction between the beans and their resultant particles, as well as between the coffee and grinder materials. In the presence of friction, dissimilar materials and non-uniform-shaped particles, the possibility of static rearing its ugly head, is ripe. Add to this, low humidity (Midwest in winter or Phoenix in the summer), varying degrees of moisture in the roasted beans, flooring and countertop materials and (yes) even the clothing and shoes of the grinder operator, and we have more variables than we can control.

At Baratza we sought out the advice and wisdom from people who spent 30+ years working with (or against!) static electricity issues. We’ve discussed and tested all-metal grinding chambers, grounding of the actual coffee powder, grounding of the coffee bin, and on and on – more crazy ideas than you’d care to know. We have also confided in most of the world’s commercial coffee grinder manufacturers and they all have expressed the same frustration with the randomness with which static shows up. Not one grinder manufacturer has found the panacea to eliminate this messy headache. Though the experts may not agree on all the contributing factors that cause static, there is agreement that the best way to manage the static is through Electrically Dissipative Materials. At Baratza, we use IDP (Inherently Dissipative Properties) plastics for transport and receiving our ground coffee powder. These dissipative materials “bleed off” any charge, in a much better way than conductive materials (i.e. Metals). IDP plastics cost 4X what standard plastics do, but we feel it is money well spent. Unfortunately, the coffee grinder gets blamed for causing the static mess that people encounter (because the whole beans showed no signs of static), but the same grinder, in the same room, at the same time, with different beans can show no signs of static, so is the fault that of the beans? There are myriad work-arounds shared by many to minimize or eliminate this messy problem. Probably the most universally effective is to momentarily increase the humidity of the whole beans just prior to grinding (this is fancy talk for spray a LITTLE water mist or droplets on them). Obviously, this only works if you have a small quantity of beans in your hopper, else the beans on the bottom get no water.

In summary, grinding coffee beans is an activity that occurs in a system made up of numerous uncontrolled variables (varietal of bean, degree of roast, freshness, humidity, temperature, etc). With the best grinder technology and some variables in your favor, you will have minimal to no static issues. If a few too many of these variables stack up against you, then you are bound to see a static-ee mess, to some degree. When you encounter static, we encourage you to wait 15-30 seconds after the grind has completed to allow the charge to bleed away, then tap the side of the bin and all the grounds should fall into the bin.

Good luck!

GrindZ

Rice, It’s Just Not a Good Idea (for cleaning!).

February 17, 2014

For many of us, cleaning the grinder is a monthly if not weekly routine.  That’s all good; please don’t ever change that very important routine.  Instead be mindful of a few details regarding the process so as not to permanently damage your grinder.

Using rice to clean your grinder is not a good idea.  Our experience repairing Baratza grinders has shown that using rice or other natural materials to clean a Baratza grinder can cause mechanical damage to your grinder.  This damage would not be covered under our warranty.

Grindz is a product, from Urnex, that was designed to clean grinders and has been tested to ensure it will not harm your grinder and is safe for use.  Grindz is flavor neutral, composed of food grade products, and does a great job eliminating stale oils, flavors, and residue from the burrs and grinding chamber.  Make sure you follow the factory instructions on the amount of product to use while cleaning your grinder.  For home use that is just around 40 grams of grindz tabs.

We recommend setting your conical (Encore, Virtuoso, Preciso) grinder around the setting of #20 and setting the flat burr grinders (Vario and Forte) at a setting of #5.  That’s just around the middle of your grind range allowing for a solid cleaning as the pellets are ground to powder.  At finer settings we have seen clogging occur and possible mechanical damage.

Follow your cleaning cycle with 30-40 gram coffee bean to purge any cleaner left in the grinder.

Thank you for caring for your Baratza grinder.  We wish you many tasty cups of coffee!