How to Fix an Espresso Grinder

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[ 2007-April-25 07:22 ]

I am an espresso addict. To feed my addiction, I have a Gaggia Coffee espresso machine and a Solis Maesto Plus coffee grinder. Over the past six months, I was getting increasingly dissatisfied with the results I was getting. My shots were coming out way too fast and watery. A good shot of espresso should take around 25 seconds to pour 30mL, but I was lucky if I could get it as slow as 15 seconds. I assumed that it was simply because my relatively inexpensive grinder could not grind fine enough. However, I did seem to remember that when I first got it, I could grind fine enough to clog my machine completely. I decided to take matters into my own hands and see if I could fix it.

My first tweak was to order a replacement adjustment ring and top burr from the folks at Baratza, who sell this machine. That didn't fix the problem. However, when I had the casing off, I noticed that there was a plastic peg that was preventing me from adjusting the grind any finer. A bit of work with a sharp knife was able to remove it. However, it turns out that the peg is placed in the right spot. On my machine, as soon as I adjust the grind finer than the original limit, I hear the sound of the top and bottom burrs grinding against each other. That is clearly not a good idea, unless you need more iron in your diet.

Finally, I decided that the last part left to replace was the bottom burr. This one is much more difficult to remove due to its cone shape, and because it is screwed tightly on the drive shaft of the grinder. However, with a little perseverance and a pair of pliers I was able to get it off. If you are going to try this, be patient. It took me a long time before I was able to get a good grip on it and twist it just the right way.

The end result is fantastic. I can, once again, grind fine enough to clog my machine. My espresso is thick and delicious again. The only problem is that with my cheap machine, when you get a shot to come out at the right, slow rate, it tends to make a mess when I remove the portafilter, since there is a lot of pressure built up. This is, however, a small price to pay for great coffee.