photo via Sprudge.com
I have been wanting to write-up a guide for using the EK43 as an espresso grinder on a daily basis, but I got caught up and forgot. I do apologise for making you “wait”.
I started working on the EK43, when I was at Colonna & Small’s, one of the busiest shops I have seen. Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, triple UK WBC finalist and National Coordinator SCAE UK, managed to create a system that didn’t compromise the quality or consistency of the extractions and could withstand a high volume of drinks prepared.
When I decided to open my own shop, I wanted the flag-ship grinder to be the EK43 due to its versatility and grind evenness. After visiting the Mahlkoenig factory in Hamburg, I felt that I had all of the pieces of the puzzle to fully comprehend the data behind the results in the cup.
I wanna firstly say that the EK43 won’t produce magic espresso shots… wait for it… unless you put a bit of brains and elbow grease into it.
Think of it as a ” Build-a-Bear” experience, every step leads you to hitting that sexy sweet spot, while also achieving a higher extraction.
1. Calibrating and zero in your blades:
This is an important step, since any deviations will utterly mess up your mean, median and mode. Matt Perger does a great job in explaining mean, median and mode in a punctilious manner. You can see how zeroing your burrs works over here.
This is mainly necessary to ensure a good work flow. I recommend using small glass jars or small tins. The EK43 has a retention of ∼0.3g after the firstly purge each origin so it is important to add 0.4 on top of the dose you’ve set.
A term that is holly to any great barista out there, this will be vital step to help you achieve those sweet, sexy, balanced and complex high extractions. To be able to add a dash of consistency to your distribution I highly recommend grinding in a 125 ml stainless steel wine measure (fits like a glove) and using a jam funnel, and a very well choreographed tapping of the portafilter to evenly distribute the coffee grounds.
4. Nutating tamp:
The nutating tamping method was first discussed and shared about 13+ years ago by North Sullivan, firstly naming it “ship’s mast tamping”. Jim Schulman was the one that coined the term “nutating tamp”. This method became popular after Matt Perger’s 2013 WBC routine. That routine also brought the EK43 into the spotlight, but you can read all about it here. Let us get back to the task at hand, you have to press lightly and roll the tamper, so the top of the handle describes a circular motion above the basket. The bottom edge of the tamper presses down at one spot on the edge of the puck, and that spot rotates around the entire edge as the motion proceeds. By this point you should have leveled the coffee, finish it off with a nice sturdy tamp for consistency.
5. Flow rate:
This is a game changer and the name of the game is espresso brewing. Although Matt Perger was one of the first to talk about it, I thoroughly enjoyed Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood’s explanation. It’s of the utmost importance to use a lower flow rate (I recommend anywhere between 150ml-200ml) to be able to achieve those mythical <22% ext. yields. Why you ask? Well, dear reader, I will certainly tell you why. By using a lower flow rate, we are able to grind coarser, which produces less clumps, hence a more even extraction and tighter pre-extraction puck.
6. Brew ratio:
Well this is a big piece of the cake we call espresso. It is self-explanatory and I would like to think that anyone reading starts off the morning dial-in, with a 50% ratio and a ±10% margin, to find each origins sweet, sexy spot, you know, the one that makes your mouth go “WOW”. But no biggy if you don’t, give it a try, see where it take you. Mr. Perger has a very educational clip that explains brew ratios and extraction and I recommend you to watch it if you are new in the realm of brew ratios and dial-ins.
7. Maintenance and cleaning:
Mahlkoenig recommends to clean the EK43 on a monthly basis. If you’ll be using it as an espresso grinder, I would recommend cleaning it every day or every other day, to make sure the burrs are clean and oil free. Either use GRINDZ or just do it the old fashion way, by taking out the front and cleaning it using a brush, and a toothpick to get in between the burr’s “teeth”.
If you follow this steps you should be able to get better extraction and use the EK43 as an espresso grinder on a daily basis.
I want to credit Matt Perger and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood for their work on improving the EK43 “experience”.
I wanted to gather that information and wrap it up in a simple guide to understand how to work with a EK43. on a daily basis.
*Attention – This will work only while using the coffee burrs.
Turkish burrs don’t achieve the same particle evenness and I do not recommend them for espresso brewing or coffee brewing. You are better off making some nice wall ornaments.
You can comment on my original post on Coffee Hustle. Let me know how you perceive the 4th coffee wave.