Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2022 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
174
YOU SPENT HOW MUCH ON A GRINDER!?
Honey, you really don't want to know!
Saturday, November 26, 2022
all text and photos and other content, unless otherwise noted, ©2022 - All rights reserved

   

Over the last week or so there have been a number of posts, likely motivated by the coming holiday season, of folks looking for a coffee machine of one sort or another which meets with spousal approval. Read into that what you will, but as I have said and heard, 'Be kind. Everybody is dealing with something.' That is so true, but some are dealing with more than others. The phrase, “That is NOT going in my kitchen!” or some similar statement was posted more than once. I couldn't, and fortunately, do not have to deal with that.
    But to some of us, coffee is not a matter of life and death- it is far more important than that. Fortunately my spouse has no problem with my coffee setup and certainly not with the coffee she gets each and every morning as we sit together at our coffee bar, sipping, snacking, chatting, and giving our dog a few crunchy treats. My latest acquisition, and likely the last big coffee related purchase I will be making, is the set of replacement burrs for my coffee grinder. Sounds innocent enough, no?
    For those who are just joining in, my espresso grinder is the Kafatek Monolith 71mm Titan Conical Grinder. If it were a car it would be something akin to a Buggati Veyron. Read the details on that linked page and you will understand the comparison. The grinder is designed and built by Denis Basaric in Seattle, Washington. All the parts are US sourced. Even the sealed, oversize SKF bearings in them are made in the USA. Parts are machined to a tolerance of 10 microns or better, when rounded off is 0.00039”, of less than one-half a thousandth of an inch.
    He tests each each grinder by grinding coffee and sampling the espresso from it, and includes a card documenting the test results with each grinder. They are made in relatively small batches, and up until recently, each batch sold out within minutes of being posted as available. As of this writing (11/26/2022), the next batch of grinders will be available in six months and there are only two of the conicals left and only one of the two flat burrs he sells left. A deposit is required. The grinders are remarkable, but that is the beginning of the story.
    The Kafatek grinder I have been using was originally equipped with Mazzer Robur burrs which are, to the best of my knowledge, the largest burrs Mazzer uses and are installed in their largest grinder. Nice burrs, but just ask Denis- they are not the best burrs available. What could be better? Kafatek burrs, made in-house, in small batches. That would be better!
    From the beginning (or thereabouts) Denis wanted to create his own burrs to match the precision of his grinders. For sometime he has been making the burrsets for his two flat-burr grinders. Recently he released the Shurikone burrs for his conical grinders. These burrs can be bought separately and directly replace the Mazzer burrs. But sorry Mazzer owners. These burrs may only be purchased by owners of Kafatek conical grinders.
    How to make your own, patented design burrs which perform better than any commercial burrs available? You make lots of them of different or modified designs until you get it right. How many? Denis made sixty-two to be exact until he had what he wanted.
    I saw the announcement about the Shurikone burrs availability and allowed my wife to talk me into getting a set for my MC3. The current model is MC4 and will come with the Shurikone burrs installed. About 98% (if not more) of the coffee making public has no idea that high end equipment like this exists. The reality is that the Shurikone conical burrset costs more than what some spend on an espresso machine (particularly the, “Not in MY kitchen!” crowd).
    So I jumped in with an early order for the first production run of these burrs. The Kafatek grinders themselves are well out of the ordinary and with the inclusion of the Shurikone burrs place them on a pedestal of their own. Denis machines the burrs in-house out of hardened stainless steel blanks. Why? Because heat treating can deform and oxidize metal and Denis is a perfectionist. I am glad he is.
    The burrs arrived today, and after some disassembly to get the Mazzer burrs out and very careful assembly, they look like this:

shurikone burrs

    The burrs are “Alpha” coated which is reported to last two to four times longer than titanium nitride coated tools. Unless a foreign object enters the grinder, they should be good for a lifetime or three of home use. Denis rates them conservatively good for 1700 lbs. That would be the equivalent of four double espresso shots a day for close to thirty years. While the above photo of them installed in my grinder does not do justice as to how beautiful they are. But the real test is in the cup. It will take some time to dial them in but their value was soon displayed.
    The excitement level increased as I ground for the first extraction. The coffee felt like a fine flour, but that did not stop me from attempting an extraction. It delivered virtually no drips for a over thirty seconds at pressure, and the few droplets that were subsequently extracted had the consistency of very old, used motor oil. Into the knock box went the puck and down the sink went the ferw drops.
    I set the grind more coarse and tried again. The extraction was fast. Very, very fast. After I mopped up the counter with a damp towel and cleaned the front of the espresso machine from the gushing streams which did their best to imitate Victoria Falls, I readjusted the grind and tried again. On the third extraction I was able to get a drinkable cup that had more body and mouth feel than any I can remember making at home. Even my wife was able to sense the difference in taste as well as the body. No offense meant towards her, but she has approximately two terms to describe coffee, but came up with a more thorough description that she has previously, not only for the straight espresso, but she also could taste the difference in the cappuccino the next morning. I have been roasting just a few snaps into second, but may even have to rethink my roasting to match the combination of the Kafatek and Decent DE espresso machine! Keep in mind that no other change was made except for the burrs. Same coffee, same settings on the Decent, but not the same espresso!
    After the cleanup I used a plastic razor blade to remove the vinyl indicator arrow and repositioned it in the middle of the scale settings. The difference between were it was to where it is means nothing, really. If someone states that you should always grind at [insert number here] with a [insert brand and model of grinder], I suggest you get your coffee education from a different source.
    It will certainly be an adventure from this point forward. I am not trained in tasting espresso, but I have had a number of very good to excellent shots, some I have made and some from experts. But to paraphrase what has been said about art, I know what I like, and I like these new Shurikone burrs!

Coffee Cup
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