Dear grinder manufacturers

I have many frustrations with grinders but I am not planning on rehashing old posts.

There had been something else on my mind of late that is causing me increasing anger and frustration and that is grinder burrs.

It has always been a vague annoyance but recent experiences with one manufacturer’s conical burrs has pushed me to a point where I have to say something, and I hope you’ll join me in saying something too with a little petition.

Grinder burrs should not require seasoning. The fact that the cutting edges are not clean and smooth, and take between 5 and 25 kilos of coffee to act as intended, is unacceptable. They are selling an unfinished product and leaving it to those of us who care enough to bother to maintain the equipment to pick up the bill for getting them up to spec.

This is ludicrous. If you had to pull 100 shots before new dispersion screens worked properly then you’d probably stop buying that brand.

If we say nothing then nothing changes. I am sure it is possible for manufacturers to season burrs and sell them in a suitable condition. I am sure it would cost less than each of us dealing with it. (The set for my Uber grinder were preseasoned.) If we make it a priority for them then it will happen but it needs more than one grumpy, fussy, difficult geek to effect change.

I am sure some people will probably explain why this problem has never been addressed. I am sure there are excuses, challenges and problems. I’m more interested in solutions and improvements.

Do please sign below if you agree with me.
(Your name will only appear if you verify via email.)

[[petition-1]]

27 Comments

  1. Sounds like you’re talking about the Mazzer series of grinders, particularly the Robur-E (since it is the “darling” of 3W baristas).

    While I like the notion of “the petition” I suspect it’s really going to go nowhere.  Mazzer has historically thumbed their noses at those calling for change because they can.  Regardless of the clamor, baristas still choose to champion their grinders and buying them en masse.  

    Perhaps the petition ought to go out to the barista community to BOYCOTT the grinder manufacturer rather than a petition saying “please make these changes.”  Hit them where it counts – in their revenue stream and their reputation.  Support and encourage the “secondary” grinder manufacturers who make a product deserving of better recognition (I’m looking at Compak here).

    However, if you continue to do “business as usual” even while signing the petition, it’s unlikely these manufacturers will ever change.

  2. While I can’t really speak on Mazzer respecting or dis-respecting the barista community, I think it is somewhat ludicrous to talk about supporting Compak as more deserving of respect from the community.

    As just one example, the Compak K6 “Pro Barista” floats +/- 2 seconds when you adjust the burrs, i.e. you set it and then get to guess which direction it is going to settle into once you actually grind. Marketing such as machine as a “pro barista” model demonstrates a distressingly lack of understanding of the community’s needs.

    I’d much rather try and constructively work on the burr issue with a company (Mazzer) that makes a product that is otherwise significantly above others and accurately reflects the needs of the pro barista over a company that while they may or may not be “friendly” makes a rather inferior product that flies rather directly in the face of the community’s needs. (yes, I know the k6 is not top of the line, but marketing it as “pro barista” suggests that it should be evaluated based on the professional’s needs, no?)

    As a side note, in terms of agitating for specific change, manufacturers are rather more likely to make the specific product changes desired when they are told directly what they are, as opposed to having to try to interpret the desires of the community by proxy due to a general boycott.

  3. I don’t think a boycott is really the way to go because I am not sure if there is any grinder readily available that is as good as it could/should be.

    I do think that a little coherent complaining could be helpful.  I’d like to get 1,000 names on the list and then to send it to manufacturers and see what their response is.  

    For a long time I just assumed that it was normal to season burrs.  Inevitable.  The more I think about this stuff, the more I get annoyed that we’ve just let this stuff go.  Hopefully by bring it to people’s attention we can get a sufficient mass of people to try to effect a little change.

    Here’s hoping anyway…..

  4. Dream on, Mazzer don’t care. Why should they?

  5. because it is a simple economic decision. Few companies are innovators; so when they decide to introduce a new, better produkt for example because of an increasing demand, there are two possibilities; 1). They can fail or 2). make a big deal. 
    I guess the innovator inside of grinder manufacturer will generate higher value, so the “followers” will decide to do the same to get more of the cake, called market share.
    This petition symbolises in some way the customer demand and of course it is possible to make change happen. 

  6. because it is a simple economic decision. Few companies are innovators; so when they decide to introduce a new, better produkt for example because of an increasing demand, there are two possibilities; 1). They can fail or 2). make a big deal. 
    I guess the innovator inside of grinder manufacturer will generate higher value, so the “followers” will decide to do the same to get more of the cake, called market share.
    This petition symbolises in some way the customer demand and of course it is possible to make change happen. 

  7. Call Italmill. They make a large part of all the burrs used in grinders. 
    http://www.italmill.it/
    Most grinder manufacturers don’t make their own burrs. 
    AFAIK, only Bunn, Mahlkonig and Mazzer do so.

  8. I think it goes back to simple (and in this case, I do mean “very simplified”) economics.  A company such as Mazzer is both disinterested and less inclined to do anything.  They make a product and they sell so many units around the world that they don’t have to worry about “getting the word out.”  

    A great example of this is the WBC Grinder Sponsorship – Mazzer couldn’t give two clicks about sponsoring the WBC.  I mean really, what does WBC sponsorship offer Mazzer?  The opportunity to be exposed as a “great” grinder to baristas?  Greater exposure and market penetration?  

    The first is handled well by baristas such as yourselves who tout Mazzer as “the best” grinders – despite the ridiculous cost, extreme weight and negligible grind quality over grinders like the Compak K10 WBC (never used the K6, just like I’d never use the SuperJolly in a production environment).  The second? They already own.

    Instead, more progress may be made by bringing the plight to “secondary” grinder manufacturers, like Compak and/or Mahlkonig – companies with market share and in-roads to gain.  Companies that may be open to progressive thinking and innovations.

    A company such as Mazzer deals with a tremendous volume and, for them, to make changes or new models really means that they want to see a significant ROI.  A smaller, innovative company can make changes more readily without the demand for such volume and ROI.

    The other part really goes back to just how many units they can expect to sell?  Does 1,000 signatures on a petition truly translate into 1,000 people who are going to plunk down cash for one, two or three grinders – regardless of cost?  

    Grinder companies, over the time I have been in coffee, seem to make incremental changes to their designs rather than completely new units.  This is keep their R&D and production costs at a controllable level (I presume).  Even if a company were to debut the “ultimate” grinder, how many of you are going to replace your grinders?  My company runs six grinders on any given day – am I going to spend US$21,000 replacing them (presuming a US$3,500 cost per unit)?  I really don’t think so.

    With regards to Alex B’s comments on the K6, I can’t speak to them as I don’t have experience with the K6.  My experience is limited to the 2006 K10, 2010 K10WBC, 2009 K10WBC Doserless and a little play with the 2011 K10Doserless.  I can only presume that the K6 is about the equivalent to a SuperJolly, which I don’t like to use in a production environment.

  9. I think you misunderstand – this post is not about a new grinder, or R&D.  This is simply about finishing burrs properly so that they work as desired immediately.  This is not a crazy request.  This would be relatively easy to implement at scale without massive increases in cost.

  10. I wouldn’t be quick to say Mazzer doesn’t care, in fact it probably applies to any manufacturer. Sure they have a strong market power, but if such market share has an outcry it also shouldn’t be negligible.

    This is going on a tangent here, but by foregoing sponsorship a company gives up an opportunity to market itself. Does greater exposure necessarily correlate to greater product quality? Does endorsement necessarily align with the business interests of each group? Ever think of the fact that Nespresso is the major sponsor of WBC seem amusing?

    I’d say marketing is important for branding, yet it’s not the top priority of a truly good manufacturer who should be doing what they’re supposed to do well. I’d opt for a petition as a plea of the mass, that’ll carry more weight than a single request.

    It’s not really asking for something groudbreaking, maybe at some point a recalibration on manufacture line on burrs that one could call marginal improvements, or at least, a good after-sales service by preseason burrs for you.

  11. I’d happily pay an extra couple of squids for the ‘option’ of pre-seasoned burrs. It’s gonna cost money one way of the other so why not pay them to do it with some sh*tty robusta or something? What roaster is going to keep 20-odd kg about of a dud batch for the next account that may happen to buy a R**ur?

  12. as you say 5-25kg of coffee has to be ground, i dont want to think how much that costs

  13. Newbie question: Why exactly is seasoning burr sets required?

  14. Just wondering, were the K30s given to each WBC competitor in Bogota by Mahlkoeing seasoned or not? Christian, Jorg, anyone?

  15. When you cut metal, you end-up with (confusingly) ‘burred edges’ -think cutting a metal pipe with a hacksaw. If you were to look at them under magnification, you’d see lots of nasty sharp and very thin edges- these need to be ground down so the burr edges are all a consistent sharpness that will produce an even particle size and will change only slowly, over time. If you just use them out of the box, you get wildly fluctuating grind sizes as the burrs on your burrs wear down.

  16. For all their espresso discs MAHLKÖNIG and Ditting use a special alloy that has a higher resistency against abrasion. It has a slightly higher content of tungsten/wolfram. Using this alloy we could optimise the typical running-in changes (grind speed, average grind size, particle size distribution).
    The “Überburr” in the Übergrinder for Marco is seasoned (artificially aged) by glas pearl blasting to take off the burred edges (see James P post above) and it is titanium coated for higher consistency over life time. These discs were developed for filter+friends exclusively with only one particle size (no fines).

  17. The RoburE has other problems, too.
    While I was in Bogota my staff took the machine off-line and replaced it with the Anfim we had been using for decaf.  I spent a lot of money on the Mazzer and am very disappointed with it. 
    To make matters worse – and this is completely my fault – in a fit of pique I was hastily trying to clean the burrs/chute and put it back together and I cross-threaded it… How many times have I cleaned a grinder and I cross thread this new one with less than 12,000 shots on it.
    Not happy with them and not happy with me.  Alas…

  18. Jay,

    I have always shard you views on the WBC K10, it is not without its faults but it is by far my favorite grinder. I wish compak would lisent to baristas again and make a proper doserless grinder.

  19. Jay,

    I have always shard you views on the WBC K10, it is not without its faults but it is by far my favorite grinder. I wish compak would lisent to baristas again and make a proper doserless grinder.

  20. First thing I did after purchasing my mazzer mini was to make my way through several kilos of cheap and nasty coffee. A local indoor golf store who also do coffee gave me 10 kilos of segafredo free of charge.

    Then some urnex grindz.

    Then some real coffee.

    Vast improvement.

    Signed.

  21. The solution is simple. A third party manufacturer needs to start producing burrs that are pre-seasoned. Anyone who knows anyone with a machine shop can plant this bug. All the third party manufacturer needs to do is build the burrs, install them in their own grinder and burn through coffee until they are working properly. Healthy competition will get Mazzer’s attention. They might even be able to be more competitively priced. We just bought three sets for our Roburs. A decent investment.

  22. I agree with Paul – the solution is third party competition.  A third party manufacturer could offer replacement burrs that are better finished (not sure I agree burrs need to be “seasoned,” they just need to be tooled properly in the first place) and perhaps also in a variety of cut styles.  The competition would be healthy and users would end up with better quality and more choices.  

  23. As an addendum to this issue, seems like a new batch of Robur burrs are hitting the shelves in Australia. They coarse grinding surfaces on the stator are much improved, and the profile on the fine grinding section is also slightly different. They would appear to be ‘seasoned’ as well, there is a bit of grindz-style granules in some of the packets.

    They took their sweet time, but seems they do listen.

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