Gear, Settings and Sampling.

Hey everyone, hope this finds you happily caffeinated. 

Today I want to talk to you about what gear we use to sample and test our coffee and how we sample until we find the settings to provide for the pre-ground coffee.

First, an overview of our gear and grind settings.

Gear (for testing):


V60 carafe (pour over)

Hair v60 Carafe. Hourglass shaped carafe with silicone grip band around the middle. Plastic conical insert in the top that fits the filter paper. Pour over coffee dripper.

Orea v3 (pour over)

Orea v3 Pour Over dripper/brewer. Flat bottom pour over dripper. Black with a clover shape base that holds it on a 250ml carafe.

Gaggia classic pro (espresso)

Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine. Silver square espresso machine with 3 black toggle switches on the top. One for power, one to start brewing, and one to start the steam wand.

9barista (espresso)

9Barisa espresso machine fully assembled. Pictured you can see the brew basket where the espresso flows into, two wooded handles used to maneuver the machine after brewing. A black steam vent that is a part of the cooling system on the front.

9Barista espresso machine. Disassembled into its 3 main parts. On the left is the portafilter/brew basket. Immediately beneath that is a rubber gasket that helps hold the espresso in the portafilter since this is an inverted system. It also helps disperse the water evenly across the espresso puck. On the far right is the water chamber with the cooling/pressure system screwed on.

Frenchpress (immersion)

French Press Coffee Brewer. Pictured is a glass carafe with a black handle on the right. The lid has 2 filters build in on a plunger mechanism. In the picture the plunger is only half depressed to show the filter screens.

Moka pot (kinda percolation? Kinda pressure like espresso? What the heck is this)

Moka Pot brewer. This is a 3 cup brewer. Small in size, about the size of a large mug. Similar in shape to a tea pot. On the left is a spout, in the centre a lid that hinges to the right, and then a black half handle. Pictured in the middle of the Mona pot is the logo for Bialetti which is a moustached man in a suit with his right (its a mirrored image) hand raised above his head with his pointer finger pointing at the sky. Beneath that is the words "Moka express" and "Made in Italy".

Aeropress (immersion/pour over)

Aeropress brewer. The aero press is a 3 piece brewer constructed from food grade plastic. The top piece (seen pushed into the second piece, a chamber) is a plunger. It has a flared top to allow for easy depression and a flared rubber tip that inserts into the second piece which forms a seal and allows the user to "plunge" the water inside the brew chamber through the bed of coffee contained by the filter (not pictured, as its on the bottom of the brewer and not visible). The middle piece is essentially just a plastic tube that has groves on the bottom for the filter basket to twist into. The filter basket is just a black piece of plastic with holes covering the entire surface. Inside of the holder sits a filter paper and the coffee would sit onto of that.



Sette 30 (All brewers and methods)

Sette 30 Grinder. This grinder is used for all brew methods. From top to bottom we have a conical chamber that houses beans, Roughly large enough to hold 250g of whole bean coffee. Under this you can see a black twistable handle that blocks or opens the flow of beans into the burr set of the grinder. Beneath that we have a display screen that shows a timer that counts down as you grind. Below that are 4 buttons. From left to right we have a "stop" button, that stops operation. Also resets the timer to whatever it was set at (max 45 seconds). A "Play/Pause" button that starts and pauses operation of the grinder. Doesn't reset the timer. And beside that is a down arrow and an up arrow. These buttons are used to adjust the timer. Below the buttons is the grind selector, this is a dial with a thumb tab for easy operation. There are 31 settings lined and labeled with numbers, starting with 31 on the left and ending with 1 on the right. Below that are two plastic arms with rubber sleeves that hold a container that collects the ground coffee as it falls from the burr set.

Niche 0 (espresso)

Niche 0 (zero) coffee grinder. This is a single dose coffee grinder it can be used for all brew methods as it has a stemless adjustment system. However most people use this explicitly as an espresso grinder. Pictured from top to bottom is a clear plastic lid that closes over the bean chamber. The lid must be closed for operation. Built in to the bean tray, housed beneath the lid is the grind adjustment dial. This has markings starting on the left with 0 and ending on the right with 50, reverse order of the sette 30. However this can be adjusted further past these markings as it is a stemless grinder and can be adjusted until it comes apart. Beneath that is the Niche logo. A circle with the word "niche" in the middle. Immediately to the right of the logo is a toggle switch. This starts and stops the grinder. Under the logo is a polished metal catch container that catches the ground coffee as it exits the burr set. The container is sitting on a wooden step that then sits on the base of the grinder. The grinder is all black with wood accents on the base and the step that holds the catch canister. As well as having matching wooden feet.

Kinu phoenix (espresso and pour over)

Kinu m47 phoenix hand grinder. This grinder has a large handle with a hand grip on the left. the handle is "kinked" and is very long to allow for an easier grinding experience when used to grind finer grind settings like espresso. There is an adjustment screw on the top of the grinder. This screw holds the adjustment in place when screwed down, or when screwed out allows for the adjustment of the grind setting. This is also a stemless grinder, so it can be adjusted endlessly until the burrs are completely flush and closed or until you start to disassemble the grinder. The grinder has a black plastic "flair" around the main shaft that acts as the bean compartment. The flair allows for easier loading of beans into the grinder. The main body of the grinder is a brushed steel. At the bottom of the grinder is a rubber ring that is used to allow for easier grip, beneath that is a black plastic catch can that is connected to the grinder by a rubber o-ring (not pictured as it sits inside the grinder between the body and the catch can to hold the canister in place while grinding)


Timemore Black Mirror

Timemore Black Mirror Scale. This is an all black square scale. Simple display that takes up approximately 1/6th the overall real estate of the scale. On the top left of the display is a batter indicator, directly to the right of the battery indicator is a microphone image that displays if the scale makes noise or not (noises are only for button presses. Power on/off and start/pause/reset of the timer). Beneath the battery indicator is a timer. In the picture it displays 4 0's "00:00" to the right of the timer is the "weight" display. In the picture it also displays 0.0. Underneath the display on the left hand side is the button that starts/pauses/resets the timer. on the right hand side under the display is the power button that also tares the weight. Not pictured is a physical power toggle switch on the right side of the machine.


Fellow Stagg EKG

Fellow Stagg EKG electric kettle. This is a gooseneck kettle sitting on a square base. The base has a temperature display gauge on the left side and a circular adjustment knob on the right. The adjustment knob is used to change the temperature setting of the kettle and can also be depressed and acts as the on/off button for the kettle. The kettle itself is shaped like a nuclear reactor tower? there is a flared handle on the right hand side that allows for ergonomic grip. It also has a little thumb platform to allow for more control while pouring. On the left, starting at the base of the kettle and extending all the way to the top is the goose neck spout. This allows for a steady and easily controllable flow of water while pouring.

Grind Settings for pre-ground sales (Sette 30 equivalent steps, See images below for comparison)



French press:


Pour over:


Moka pot:




Grind setting comparison photo. From left to right there are 6 piles of ground coffee labeled drip, French press, pour over, moka pot and then 2 espresso piles. This is meant to show the difference in the levels of coarseness between all the pre-ground coffee options offered on the website.

Almost an identical photo as above, this photo has the two espresso grind piles labelled differently. The espresso pile on the left is labelled "Espresso (pre)" To indicate that this is the espresso grind setting that you would receive if you ordered pre-ground espresso. The pile on the right (the final pile in the picture) is labelled "Espresso (test)". This is the grind setting we use in house to test the beans on our espresso machines. Grind setting comparison photo. From left to right there are 6 piles of ground coffee labeled drip, French press, pour over, moka pot and then 2 espresso piles. This is meant to show the difference in the levels of coarseness between all the pre-ground coffee options offered on the website.

Similar to the above photos, This is a grind comparison photo with Drip labelled on the left and Espresso labelled on the far right. In this photo the grind piles are one contiguous pile used to remove white space and give a more direct, side by side comparison of the grind settings offered.Same photo as above but zoomed out with slightly different lighting to provide an alternate perspective of the contiguous grind pile. This is a grind comparison photo with Drip labelled on the left and Espresso labelled on the far right. In this photo the grind piles are one contiguous pile used to remove white space and give a more direct, side by side comparison of the grind settings offered.

Ok, I know coarseness and grind differences are hard to convey in an image. But I also think this is something that can’t be discussed without some form of visual aid. So, hopefully, the images above are helpful in some capacity. Sorry for the quality/clarity, I’m not a professional photographer.
Anyways, now you know what gear we’re using for our respective tests/brew methods, and what settings we grind our pre-ground offerings at (using the Sette 30 adjustments as a reference point since I think it's important to use accessible consumer gear as the benchmark).

Thanks for sticking with me through the dry infographic moment, now let’s actually talk about the “Why”. Why are the grind settings the way they are, what’s espresso “pre” and espresso “test” and why these machines.

Firstly “Why those machines/brewers?”. Simply, it’s because it’s what I have. But! There is some real justification for this as well. Let’s start with the espresso machines/grind.

The Gaggia Classic pro is a wonderful entry-level espresso machine. It's relatively well priced (around $700cad), can grow with you in the hobby as it's highly moddable, and most importantly for this post, brews at 12bar.
The 9barista is the second espresso machine we use to test. This is my personal favorite espresso machine in existence. Operationally it’s similar to a Moka pot. But what makes it unique and a real espresso machine is that it was engineered in the UK by a jet engineer to utilize chambers, gaskets, o-rings, and other magic to actually generate 9bar of pressure (which is the industry gold standard at which to pass water through the coffee to make espresso).

The reason we test on both of these is that they brew at 2 different pressures and heat control mechanisms. These two factors can highly impact the flavor of the espresso at the end, so by testing on both of these machines I can ensure that the final bean/roast is going to result in a desirable cup across multiple different variables that will be unique to many consumers.

Now, the 2 espresso grind settings in the picture. Espresso (pre) is the pre-ground setting you will receive if you choose to have your coffee pre-ground by us. It’s an 11 on the Sette 30 and is the “Grocery Store” standard grind size for pre-ground espresso. Espresso (test), is what grind setting I use to brew on the 9Barista and the Gaggia Classic.

“Why is there a difference?”. Great question. Simply put - espresso has too many variables. Each machine is unique and will take a different grind setting to pull a proper shot. Puck prep (the process of preparing the ground coffee that goes into the espresso machine) also varies wildly depending on the user, and grind settings will also change based on this. So, with that being said we’ve made the decision to say “if you want pre-ground espresso, ill provide it at the same standard as you would get from brands at the grocery store”. Because unfortunately, what works for me, at home, on my machines will not work for you, at home, on yours. So, when I’m testing at home, I’m testing for the flavor of the bean, so I grind and prep in the way I know will give me the best, most consistent results. I can and will go into this in further detail in another blog/vlog. But puck prep/hobbyist espresso is a whole other post.

Onto pour-overs. You’ll also see we test on the Orea v3 and the Mario v60. Why? Because one is conical (v60) and one is a flatbed (Orea). “What’s the difference?” Again, good question. Simply put, a conical brewer will experience more bypass (water making it into the cup/carafe without passing through coffee) than a flatbed brewer. This is just due to the mechanics of the shape. So, with that being said, each will produce a different flavor profile in the finished cup and thus, if I test on both, I can sort the grind setting to result in a favorable cup on each style of dripper. So the pre-ground pour-over setting we provide is set to give you a desirable cup on all pour-over methods, and not just dialed to conical or flat.
So, this is how we test for all the remaining brew methods as well, but luckily there really aren’t different “Styles” to the brewers so we don’t have to pick a happy medium, or test at one setting and grind at another. For French Press, Aeropress, Moka pot, and drip we test until we’re happy with what we have in the final cup and provide that grind setting as the pre-ground setting you receive when you order from us.

Now, as a disclaimer, I understand I’ve provided actual settings/numbers in this post. With that being said, these posted settings are all for “Summer Solstice”. In the future when we release new products, all of the pre-ground settings will be unique to that bean. Except for espresso, which as explained earlier will be provided at the “grocery store” standard grind setting (11 on the Sette 30) no matter what bean you purchase.
Anyways, I think that about covers it for “Why we do what we do” (WWDWWD) Gear, products, settings, and sampling. I hope that gives you all clarity on how and why we test on the gear we test on and provide/grind at the settings we’ve chosen should you need your beans pre-ground.

Forever and always,
The Wandering Prophet.

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