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Breaking in espresso equipment.

January 15, 2012

Breaking in espresso equipment.


Some espresso equipment is not as good as new, it is better than new.  In particular it seems to be fairly well accepted that large grinders need to be broken in before they are at their best.   It is not clear exactly how much coffee needs to be ground, but for big grinders it seems to be at least five pounds, whereas with a smaller grinder like the Vario (or perhaps with the vario it is the fact that the burrs are ceramic?) you need much less run through the grinder before it hits its stride.  


This also tends to be true if you change the burrs on the grinder, you still need to break them in, so it is almost certainly the burrs that need to be broken in at first and not the grinder itself.    On the bight side grinders for big grinders like a Mazzer mini, a Super Jolly, etc  the burrs are intended to go through enough coffee that most home users will never have to change the burrs if they start with a new set.


An friend of mine who runs an espresso business made an interesting comment to me that surprised me when I got the T1.  He told me that it would be better after a while because the espresso machine needed to be broken in just like a grinder does.


It had never crossed my mind that an espresso machine needs to be broken in.  I know there is a widely held belief (although challenged by some big names) that an espresso machine is not as good just after being cleaned as it is after a few shots had been pulled, so you might assume a new machine would be clean and would need a few shots pulled, but the implication was that it would get better over a period of days or weeks, not just shots.  This has, of course, been true of the T1, but I do not know if it is that the T1 is getting better or simply that I am getting better at pulling shots on it – learning the nuances of the flush, the timing, etc.


I am curious about this question.  I guess the only way for me to really know is to master the T1 and then order another one and see if it works just as well from the start so that I am no longer changing with the machine.  (Yes, of course I am kidding about that).  


Does anyone else have any theories on why a machine would be better after you broke it in or why it would not be?  




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