You may have noticed the addition of a third espresso grinder on the bar. Our new Mazzer Robur E, affectionately named “Darth Vader,” is a state-of-the-art bad boy who means business! With the intent of adding another grinder for single-origin espresso, we went on the quest to research and discover a grinder that would also raise the bar in coffee excellence. Darth’s technology and design do just that.
Most commercial grinders have flat, disc-shaped burrs that grind coffee at high speed, using a small surface area. This creates friction that can heat the beans as they are being ground. The grounds can also absorb heat from the motor if the machine is in continual use. Heat from these two sources can actually re-roast and burn the coffee as it’s being ground (see previous thumpology articles on coffee grinding).
A typical grinder can also disperse the coffee unevenly into the portafilter, the part of the espressor machine that holds the ground coffee. This can mean unevenly extracted shots of espresso that produce flavors ranging from bitter to weak and from thin to dull.
Our new Darth Vader has huge conical-shaped burrs with more surface area to reduce friction and heat. Darth also has a fan that keeps the motor cool, no matter how much it is in use, preventing the grounds from heating up and being burnt. Once the beans are ground, they drop through a chute and evenly disperse into the portafilter, creating evenly extracted shots.
All of these features protect the integrity of the espresso’s delicious flavor.
But wait, there’s even more to Darth! Most grinders have a dosing chamber where the ground coffee collects before the barista repetitively THWACK! THWACK! THWACKS! it into the portafilter. Old school cafes grind a bunch of beans into this dosing chamber so it’s ready to go for the day, not realizing that the grounds go stale within minutes, or that once ground, there’s no way to adjust the fineness or coarseness of the grind to respond to subtle environmental changes in room temperature or humidity.
Darth drops fresh grounds straight into the portafilter — no dosing chamber to wait around getting stale in — so the grounds are at most a few seconds old. What’s more, this design eliminates the THWACK!, preventing our staff from developing repetitive motion wrist injuries.
Throughout the day our thumpistas adjust the grind for proper extraction. After they “dial in the grind” they program Darth to use exactly the right amount of time and grams of beans for one extraction of espresso. The result is more consistent shots of espresso from shot to shot and from barista to barista, as well as a more efficient use of our beans. It is still up to the skill and training of the barista to continually monitor how the shots are pouring and to adjust the grind, as well as the timer (in increments as little as 5/100 of a second on Darth).
In the few weeks that Darth has been with us, we have already experienced an increase in consistency and quality in our espresso. We have seen how it will prevent work related repetitive motion injuries. We’re also thrilled with how the coffee industry is continuing to evolve and improve technology in equipment to insure that you always have an exceptional drink experience.