How to Fine-Tune Your Coffee Grind with Baratza ESP

As avid coffee lovers, we can all agree that the secret to a perfect cup of coffee is largely in the grind. With the right grind size, coffee flavours and aromas are accurately extracted, resulting in a delicious cup of coffee. For many of us, there is an ultimate grinder that perfectly accomplishes this task - the Baratza ESP coffee grinder

 The Encore ESP next to an espresso machine

Understanding the Importance of Grind Size

Different brewing methods require different grind sizes. For example, an espresso requires a finer grind, while a cafetiere needs a coarser one. In between these grades are numerous levels that correspond to different brewing methods, such as pour-over, aeropress, and cold brew.

How does grind size influence your brew? A fine grind leads to a more extended extraction time, making your brew stronger and fuller, while a coarse grind facilitates a faster extraction time, resulting in a lighter, more subtle flavour. Knowing the connection between how finely or coarsely your coffee should be ground and the brewing method it is really important.

The Encore ESP's quick-release M2 conical steel burr.

The Initial Setup

  1. Start off by unpacking your coffee grinder. Take out the hopper lid, bean hopper, dosing cup, and grounds bin and wash them gently in warm soapy water. After washing, let them dry naturally. A word of caution here; do not wash the ring burr in water as this could cause it to rust.
  2. Once dry, you can start setting up your grinder. Begin with the hopper. Align the silver grind setting indicator with the triangle which is next to the grind setting 40. Proceed to press the hopper down while twisting it clockwise. Please take note, your grinder will not start functioning if the hopper is not correctly installed.
  3. The next step depends on the kind of coffee you are preparing. If you are grinding for espresso, insert the dosing cup base and the dosing cup. On the other hand, if you are grinding for filter brewing, you should insert the grounds bin.
  4. After that, you should install the on/off knob. Align the knob with the stem of the switch which is on the right side of the unit, and press hard enough for it to click into place. Once this step is complete, you can begin the grinding process by using either the on/off knob or the pulse button.
  5. You might face some difficulty while installing the hopper. In such cases, make sure that the ring burr is properly seated in place. For the hopper to sit correctly, the grind adjustment ring needs to be rotated fully counterclockwise using the adjustment ring tabs.
  6. As you start grinding coffee into the grounds bin, you might notice that the coffee tends to accumulate in the center, creating a mound. To prevent clogging from occurring, it's essential to empty out the grounds before they reach the maximum fill line.

A syrupy espresso shot mid-extraction.

Fine-Tuning Your Coffee Grind with Baratza ESP

Understanding Your Grinder:

Begin by understanding how your grinder works. The Encore ESP comes with an exceptional dual-range adjustment mechanism broken down into two segments: the espresso range (settings 1-20) and the filter coffee range (settings 21-40). When refining your espresso brew, minute alterations in the grind size can bring your espresso shot closer to perfection. The espresso range in the Encore ESP's adjustment system is designed for these meticulous modifications so that each adjustment from 1-20 results in only minor shifts in grind size, ensuring precision with every setting. In order for the grind range to span from the finest espresso to the coarsest cold brew in just 40 clicks, adjustments in the filter coffee range (settings 21-40) result in relatively larger changes to the grind size from setting to setting.

According to Baratza, the below are suggested starting points for what grind settings to use for common brew methods. Coarser or finer grinding may be needed depending on recipe requirements and taste preference.

Note: The espresso grind setting above is based on a medium roast and a dose of 18g of coffee. For darker roasts, or larger doses, set the grinder to a higher number. For lighter roasts, or smaller doses, set the grinder to a smaller number.

 

A freshly ground dose of coffee ready to be tamped and extracted.

Grinding with Baratza ESP Coffee Grinder

Once you have an idea of your desired grind size, place the coffee beans in the grinder, adjust the settings accordingly, and start grinding.

  1. Start the process by rotating the hopper. Ensure that the grind setting indicator aligns with the preferred grind setting for the coffee you are aiming to brew.
  2. It is important to note that while making your grind adjustments, the grinder should either be in operation or be completely devoid of beans. This is to avert any potential damage to the machine.
  3. Grinding for espresso tends to be a more delicate process, but comes with tools that make it easier. Included with your grinder, you will find an espresso dosing cup and a 58mm adapter ring. These tools simplify the transfer of coffee into a 54mm or 58mm portafilter. If using a 54mm portafilter, remember to remove the adapter ring before dosing. Then, grind into the dosing cup, place the portafilter upside-down on top of it, and while keeping them together, turn both of them over. This action will smoothly dose the grounds into the portafilter basket.
  4. Now you are all set and can start grinding your coffee. You have two possible ways of doing this, either using the on/off switch or the pulse button:
    • Using the on/off switch requires you to turn it to the "I" position to begin grinding and back to the "O" position to stop. Don't walk away and leave the grinder unattended while it's grinding. Overfilling the grounds bin past its maximum fill line could clog and cause damage to the grinder.
    • If your aim is to grind small quantities of coffee, or if you want more precise control over how much coffee you are grinding, the pulse button will serve you best. To use it, simply press and hold the pulse button. The grinder will operate for as long as the button is held down, stopping only when you release it.


Brewing great coffee is much like performing art - it requires patience, practice, and a willingness to learn and experiment.

Image Credits: Baratza.com

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