Many things have changed since I first came into contact with the specialty coffee world. I still remember the first time I walked into Lava Java, and Phuong was excited because they had gotten these new grinders, called Roburs. They were big and I didn’t really understand it, but somehow all the coffee had a much more interesting viscosity.
The next thing to really catch my eye, was the Anfim. A grinder so well functioning and designed, it eliminated the need for leveling. I have no experience with the Anfim and I’m always been skeptical. Though I am young, I am still somewhat old school. Something about not leveling has always freaked me out a bit.
When I saw Billy (and his Anfim) win the Northwest Regional with very high technical scores, it became apparent that a normal Robur wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Terry Z from espresso parts was way ahead of me. By now, I’m sure many of you have seen the grinder Devin, Nick, Kyle, and I used at the Western. It was in Milan with Terry and all the kids from Ritual. It’s beautiful. I can say that it saved me a lot of waste and time in my performance in Berkeley.
In practice I fell in love with this grinder. So much so, that I am very bitter towards all our other grinders. They’ve gotten us through many rough months of pulling many espressos. However, it feels so pointless now to dose coffee. Upon returning from the Western, we put the grinder to the real test, and threw it on bar…
It’s truly been a delight to use. Yesterday, on a very busy Sunday, Devin and I were on bar most of the afternoon. I was pulling espresso, he was working milk… and struggling very hard to keep up with me. I can honestly say this grinder sped up our pace by three-fold. Our line went from extending out our archways to within 15-20 feet of our bar.
The espresso suddenly became much more consistent. The way the coffee just builds in the basket makes for extremely consistent and very well build pucks. My trash can was transformed from a pile of grounds to a pile of small cylinders of coffee. Even our decaf was flowing better.
We switched to naked portafilters for a bit… just to see how the shots were truly extracting. Everything was nice and even. We’re still leveling, but it’s a much more simple process of pulling the coffee back and pushing it forward.
The grinder has a built in digital timer. Now, the dose is fairly consistent, but the downside is that you do get a little bit of an inconsistency fairly consistently… In other words, every 4th of 5th pull, you will get a little extra coffee… I think this is due to some of the coffee building up around the shoot and then eventually knocking loose. It’s not bad, and it’s not clumpy. It’s really just waste.
We’ve had timers on our grinders for awhile, but I’m very tired of them. I’ve noticed many of our baristas are now turning the grinder on, wiping the basket, and then dosing. The coffee that is building in the chamber clumps up, and I’ve seen channeling on many sets of shots. I see this grinder as a solution to the problem. Also, the timers we have seem to move a lot. I’d say the digital mazzer timer is slightly more accurate and consistent then the timers we have now… Both some how end up with a cycle that seems to push a bit more coffee then the rest.
To sum this all up, I love this grinder. It’s not the answer to every problem out there with espresso grinders, but it’s a large improvement. I look forward to the day I can play with an Anfim and compare the two. I guess only time will tell what will win… Do we continue to dose or continue to distribute? Maybe this years USBC will be the battle to tell?