If you8217;re using a manual espresso machine, part of the art of getting a quality shot of espresso at the end is adjusting your grinder properly. In this guide, we8217;ll show you how to use a coffee grinder properly to get the best results. We8217;ll assume that you want to make espresso, too: if you8217;re griding for a filter coffee machine or cafetiere, a medium-to-coarse grind will do the job; espresso requires some finesse.
We8217;re using a Lelit William PL72 in our guide, although the steps to take are similar with other grinders. It8217;s important to note that you need a burr grinder, which crushes the coffee beans, rather than a blade grinder, which can burn the coffee and can8217;t grind evenly and fine enough for espresso.
The quality of your grinder has a big impact on the quality of your coffee. Proper coffee grinders are built so that you can make minor changes; cheaper ones adjust in bigger steps, so may always produce too fine or too coarse coffee.
Most burr grinders will have a warning on them, telling you that you can8217;t adjust them unless they8217;re running or are empty. This is because adjusting the grinder moves the burrs, and it8217;s possible to trap coffee between the burrs and clog it up.
Before you start, the best thing to do is look at the coffee grinder and find the finest setting on it. Dial the grinder there, turning off the burr lock if your grinder has one. On the Lelit William, the marks are written in black on the black dial, making them very hard to see. Once you8217;re at the finest point, dial back a few steps.
Make a shot of espresso in your coffee machine using your initial settings. If the coffee flows too fast and you end up with a frothy crema, the grind isn8217;t fine enough. If the machine is clogged and won8217;t pour through or just dribbles through slowly, you8217;re using too fine a grind.
First, there8217;s an adjustment if you8217;re way off. If the coffee just poured through, giving you far too much volume after the timings above you8217;re way too coarse. If you end up with no espresso or very little, then you8217;re way too fine. For machines with a pressure gauge, you can visually see if you were way off: the pressure gauge was nowhere near the upper and lower limits.
Typically, nudging the grind settings a notch or two is fine when making these finer adjustments, as you8217;re not moving the burrs too much. However, you may find that it takes until the second shot for the coffee to be right; you can dispose of the first grind to make sure. Make another shot of coffee with your machine and compare your results. You may need to make a few minor adjustments along the way.
Most grinders have dosing control that defines the amount of time the grinder should operate for a single or double shot. Check your machine8217;s manual to see how much coffee it recommends for each type of shot, with a single shot at around 6-to-8g, and double shot around 15-to-18g. Weigh the coffee as it comes out, and then adjust the timings until you8217;ve got the right dosage.
Typically, you8217;ll find that each type of coffee you buy will grind slightly differently, and can even change over time. For that reason, you8217;ll probably find that the tolerances in the griding time are fine, but you8217;ll need to make micro adjustments to the grind to get it right. Just follow Step 3 again until you8217;ve got it right.
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