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Coffee machine grinders - why the grinder is important.

Preparing an espresso bean is a harsh exercise. High pressure and water are passed through the ground coffee in around 20 seconds fo the perfect extraction. If the grind is poor then the extraction will be poor. If the extraction is por then the espresso will be poor and subsequently the coffee will be poor. A good quality coffee grinder is not just recommended, it's essential. Many people recommend that you spend as much on the grinder than you do on your espresso machine - that's how important a grinder is. Imagine that you have a £2000 commercial coffee machines and a £100 grinder. The quality of the espresso shot is going to be dictated entirely by the grinder, no matter how good the espresso machine is, a poor quality grind will result in a poor quality espresso, simple as that!

Doser vs On Demand Grinders:

Doser Grinders:

These grinders essentially grind into a container - or doser and not directly into the group handle. The barista then pulls a lever with the group handle in place to dispense the shot of coffee. There are different types of doser grinders available such as automatic, manual and timed.

  • As the name suggests automatic grinders will automaticaal grind the coffee until the doser is full and a contact switch in the doser unit stops the grinder. These are great for busy cafes/restaurants as the doser unit will always remain full as the used coffee will automatically be replaced.
  • A manual grinder has a on/off swith and the barista will manually turn on the grinder and off when filling the doser. A less expensive alternative to an automatic grinder however attention is needed so that the doser unit does not empty during busy periods.
  • A timed grinder can be set to grind for a specified length of time periodically throughout the day. The advantage over this type of grinder is that as the end of the day approaches an automatic grinder may result in excess groud coffee and wastage. With a timed grinder you can work out your daily usage and set up the grinder accordingly.
One of the main advantages to a doser grinder is the speed in which a shot of coffee can be dispensed is the time it takes to pull the lever. Even the fastest on demand grinders operate at a max of 4g per second. In very busy periods this could be a major factor in your decision regarding coffee grinders. The main disadvantage of doser grinder is the freshness of the coffee. On demand grinder ensure every shot is freshly ground every time. With doser grinders if you do not serve any coffees for a length of time then the ground coffee could will lose freshness. 

On Demand Grinders:

On demand grinders are designed to grind and dispense a fresh shot of coffee directly into the portabasket or into a bag (in the deli style grinders). The simple advantage of doserless grinders is the freshness of coffee. The coffee beans are ground and dispensed immediately so there is no time for the ground coffee to lose freshness. The only disadvantages of doserless grinders are the time it takes to grind a shot and the potential for spillage if the group handle is positioned incorrectly. Currently grinders with a fast grind are quite expensive and coffee that is ground extemelly quickly loses quality due to friction. This is not regarded to be a major implication however should be taken into account if you are looking to sell the highest quality of coffee. 

With coffee beans we advise the 3 x 3 rule:

  • Once roasted coffee beans should be used within 3 months,
  • Once opened coffee beans should be used within 3 days,
  • Once ground the coffee should be used within 3 hours.

Video Transcription: Coffee Machine Grinders:

Hi I’m Matthew; I’m here today to talk to you about grinders. On the right hand side we have an On Demand grinder on the left we have the Doser grinder, so these are the two types of grinders that you will come across essentially. There are other differences but they tend to center around the blades and so on and they more intricate in terms of detail, so do give us a call and we’ll chat about that if you got anymore in depth questions.
Very simply an On Demand grinder, you pop your handle underneath and it grinds on demand so if I put this into here, there we go, gives me a shot of coffee, pre-ground, pre-measured. I’ll tamp it down, pop it to my coffee machine to make coffee.

A Doser grinder works slightly differently. A Doser grinder works on you grind in advance and then the shots are then ready to be dispensed, you just pull it all back and then there’s your shot and then tamp it down. So essentially a Doser grinder’s name suggests you dose each shot into your handle, so two pulls for two shots and two cups; one pull for one shot. This is all collected in this dosing section here at the front. This typically, this one, this one holds about 20/ 22 (shots) I think before it needs refilling. The obvious problem with this is that coffee is going off before it has gotten used. I can tell the difference and most coffee people can tell the difference, even just in an hour, as coffee that was ground an hour ago to coffee that was just beeg ground, you can’t tell the difference on an espresso. It oxidizes quicker because you’re grinding it finer on an espresso, so you’ve got greater service area which means there is more points for it to react with the elements and so on. So you’ve also got heat and light as well, which also have an effect on your coffee as well. 
So the On Demand grinder, obviously gives you the option it’s ground straight away it comes out it’s perfectly fresh system; it is a perfect system. It also means that you don’t get situations sometimes, obviously this will give you the right amount each time, sometimes you can get a situation where the staff haven’t noticed it’s not quite full and it won’t get a full shot out. So it’s got to be full and if you don’t get a full shot then pull it a few times and you’ve got an incorrect amount there. Your coffee machine is being set on 8 grams, 7 grams whatever it is being set up on; needs to be that every single time. If it’s not your grinds can set for that, you find that if you put your handle into the machine, it’s taking, you know, 50 seconds to make an espresso or 10 seconds to make an espresso, wildly away from what it should be, terribly appalled with coffee because it’s just like if you can imagine a tea bag; if you leave a tea bag in for shortly a time and pull it out, you’re going to get none of the flavour. If you put the tea bag in for a longer period of time, then you going to perhaps get stewing of the tea, it’s going to taste a bit more bitter. With coffee, because the whole system is under pressure, those differences are accelerated very quickly through time. So essentially, if you’ve settled for 7 grams and using it to 9 grams that might even be called a frugal machine, there is almost a difference can be; so it’s very important that you get that right and it makes a huge difference to the taste and obviously your espresso goes into every drink, so if that’s wrong, you’re whole menu is going to be, you know, wrong.

If you want any more details on that, on how the machines can help to control it as well and how these two interact with each other, in terms of working with the machine and certainly maybe talk through the pros and cons of your business situation in terms of what equipment you should be going for, please do just give us a call and we’ll be only too happy to help.

Thank you for listening.