HomeRoast Digest

Topic: SMP and Virtuoso Burrs (26 msgs / 714 lines)
1) From: George
I have read in the digest a few times about upgrading the SMP burr set to 
the Virtuoso.
Here is what I did to try to upgrade my burr set.
I called Baratza up and got tech support with no help.  They said to call 
back and talk to Kyle Anderson and I did.  I mentioned Sweet Maria's 
homeroast digest saying that it could be done.  Kyle said that he isn't sure 
if that can be done or not and that he has not told anyone that it could be 
done.  But, he said that there have been orders for the top and bottom 
burrs, so perhaps that is what people are doing.
They only have the top burr listed as a replacement part.  Kyle told me that 
they will send the bottom conical burr with the top one if I leave a note 
with the order that I want both burrs.  Kyle said that they will adjust the 
price to add in the bottom burr.
So, what I would like to know if there is anything else that I must check or 
order to make this switch.  Right now I get a lot of powder when grinding 
for anything from drip to french press.
Thanks in advance,

2) From: George
 I have read in the digest a few times about upgrading the SMP burr set to
the Virtuoso.
Here is what I did to try to upgrade my burr set.
I called Baratza up and got tech support with no help.  They said to call
back and talk to Kyle Anderson and I did.  I mentioned Sweet Maria's
homeroast digest saying that it could be done.  Kyle said that he isn't sure
if that can be done or not and that he has not told anyone that it could be
done.  But, he said that there have been orders for the top and bottom
burrs, so perhaps that is what people are doing.
They only have the top burr listed as a replacement part.  Kyle told me that
they will send the bottom conical burr with the top one if I leave a note
with the order that I want both burrs.  Kyle said that they will adjust the
price to add in the bottom burr.
So, what I would like to know if there is anything else that I must check or
order to make this switch.  Right now I get a lot of powder when grinding
for anything from drip to french press.
Thanks in advance,

3) From: Larry Johnson
And while the experts are pondering, could they also answer whether this is
only applicable to Solis Maestro Plus and not the Solis Maestro?
On 9/4/07, George  wrote:
Larry J

4) From: stereoplegic
same burrs, shouldn't be a problem (the *$ Barista burr grinder has the 
same burrs as well. i need new burrs soon, so i'll chime in again as 
soon as i try the switch).
Larry Johnson wrote:

5) From: stereoplegic
RayO mentioned taking the top (round, not star-shaped) burr out of its 
white plastic holder and putting the Virtuoso top burr in it's place 
(the top burr holders are shaped differently between the two grinders, 
one won't work w/ the other).
George wrote:

6) From: raymanowen
[The burrs are shaped differently between the Maestro and Virtuoso grinders,
one (upper or lower burr) won't work w/ the other (lower or upper burr.) The
white plastic burr carriers are identical for the upper burrs.]
You have to use a Maestro burr set, or a Virtuoso burr set. Just use a
little care in releasing and removing the burr carrier from the old upper
burr, and snapping it over the new burr. (It's easier than releasing the 4
plastic tabs* that secure the top/ bottom grinder housing.)
*That's only necessary if you are upgrading to a SMP by replacing the Grind
Adjustment Ring for its 40 grind pitch steps. Do that over a cookie pan or
dark carpet, so you won't lose sight of the detent ball and spring when they
leave. A magnet will find them. They really make a click when you find them
with a neodymium magnet out of an old hard drive!
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
If everything else fails to improve your brew, you can >always< upgrade your
grinder. Do it Sooner, rather than Later. Stop wasting SM coffee and your
efforts now.
On 9/4/07, stereoplegic  wrote:

7) From: raymanowen
"...only applicable to Solis Maestro Plus and not the Solis Maestro?'
I've seen the [apparent] same Solis burrs used in different-branded
machines. Solis might be the original application, but Bodum Antigua and *$
Barista for sure are the same burrs.
I had the Solis Maestro and the Solis Maestro Plus grinders. The burrs were
interchangeable. Solis burrs had a groove at the bottom OD that carried a
square section split plastic o-ring. The Bodums had no groove or o-ring, but
were still interchangeable with the Solis burrs.
The Maestro came from a thrift store and was worth every penny at $0.99.
Just missing the grounds bin and the cover for the bean hopper, I ordered
the pieces along with a new upper burr because it looked a little rough. I
assumed the motor wouldn't run.
The Customer Servicing Automaton recited the line that "The burrs are
matched and supplied only as a set." For $20, I got the set and noticed that
the new ring burr was actually in worse shape than the original Maestro
I thought, "Rather than buy a whole new grinder, one part at a time, from
the parts department, I'll just get a new SMP. They wouldn't send a new
grinder with crummy burrs..." They did.
Total costs were already spiraling to $200 for a "$149 grinder."
About that time, the Mahlkoenig was looking like the Final Solution. My
Chancellor of our Exchequer said OK but "Keep having fun with the Bronco,
for the time being."
Happily, miKe McCoffee posted a "heads-up" about the flock of Mazzers coming
up on eBay. Now, the Final Solution cost less than $300 with a new set of
burrs. It's a heavy, precise machine tool. The beans lose their integrity
and only "see" the burrs. They think it's brand new. Maybe I've ground 150
pounds. That's nothing for the brute.
Cheers and Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
May Grinder?
On 9/4/07, Larry Johnson  wrote:
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976

8) From:
I have a Rocky with about 75 lbs through it.  Sounds like I need to start checking my burrs.  How do I know when they need to be changed?
---- raymanowen wrote: 

9) From: raymanowen
I'm sorry I didn't reply to your post before this, George. 
Why is what follows no surprise? "I called Baratza up and got tech support with no help." Kyle Anderson is a Prince, in my opinion- my SMP was out of warranty coverage. I had been  doing my due diligence in the coffee arena to determine the step up to espresso brewing. The SL 90 looked neat, as had the little grinders.
For ~$200, my education quickly- within a year- prevented me from destroying good Sweet Maria's beans with well-designed, poorly fabricated machinery. A PhD in How To Stop Wasting $$!!. The diploma is flashed in a memory chip on my shoulder.
From my thrift store $0.99 special Maestro to the newest replacement burrs I bought for my brand new $149.00 price fixed SMP, the upper ring burrs looked progressively worse. The best-looking burrs were in the thrift store special! They've used the same gear cutting tool in their gear shaping machine.
The hob cutter isn't cheap, but it hasn't even been sharp for the past 10 years.
If you have a Solis Maestro or Plus, it's a gimme to upgrade to the excellent Virtuoso burrs. Maybe Anderson is irritated that I have recommended that people with Solis Maestro or derivative grinders upgrade their burrs. Identical mechanisms, interchangeable burrs.
You're just changing the burrs, nothing more. Turn the bean hopper fccw (full left.) Pull the hopper up and out, and keep track of the fuzzy ring that seals the hopper bottom to the upper burr. If it stays on the small neck of the hopper, just leave it there.
If the fuzzy ring falls off into the burrs, or it looks crummy to you, you can clean it with a toothbrush or finger nail brush. If you're unsure or it's missing, add to your order Two of them and keep the extra in a little envelope in your coffee machine parts drawer.
Remove the upper burr in its plastic carrier. The upper burr comes out easily if you do it regularly when you clean the grinder- toothbrush and vacuum hose. Twist, wiggle, wobble Weeble! Just grab it by the flat sides. Don't pry, or you might snap the plastic burr carrier
I use 10WR Vise Grip or glorious equivalent locking pliers for the lower burr with the upper out of the way. Lock them on the center burr and "bump" it clockwise to loosen it. Then spin it right off.
Under the center burr is the plastic slinger/ spacer. Mine had 5 fingers- started with Six. That's adequate, but you do need it as a spacer under the burr. It has an index hole that engages a pin on the bottom of the burr when you screw it back down.
Before you screw it back down, Everything is Pristine and Clean, right? Dirt acts as a variable spacer- don't need it! Automatic transmissions hate dirt for similar reasons.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
Do it right the first time- Clean's the word. Help this hopes...

10) From: miKe mcKoffee
The Baratza website says the Virtuoso has 44mm Italian burrs while the
Maestro (and Plus) are a bit smaller 40mm German burrs. I'm not disputing
the Virtuoso burrs can be retrofitted in a Maestro, just find it
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Kurmudgeon miKe mcKoffee
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Sweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/

11) From: raymanowen

12) From: George
I found the same things, tech support isn't of any help (other than finally 
telling me to call Kyle).  Kyle was like you said a prince.  He took time to 
talk to me, even on his busy schedule of foreign travel, and told me how to 
get the full set of Virtuso burrs.  I'm just waiting now for them to get 

13) From: George
Well they came in, the top and bottom burrs.  Things came apart easily, but 
was a bit tight going back in.  Mostly due to the virtuoso top burr has an 
O-ring on it that sticks out beyond the diameter of the burr whereas the 
original SMP burr had a nylon one that was flush.
While waiting for the burrs to come, I went to Sweet Maria's page on the 
Rocky grinder  http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.electricmills.shtml.  I 
looked at the photos of the french press and espresso grinds (just over half 
way down the page).  It seems that the Rocky on the picture for French press 
shows a LOT wider range of particle size, that from rocks to dust.  The 
Rocky espresso grind is about the consistancy of the new burr set.  It looks 
like I will have to use the coarsest setting for every thing except for 
espress as even the coarsest grind now is the same grind as I used to use 
for gold filters.  I will have to check next if at this coarsets setting 
there is more "mud" than I used to get at a finer setting
Final results?
It seems that the coarsest setting is finer than original and doesn't have 
the large range of particle sizes as in the picture of the Rocky French 
press grind..  The grind seems to be a bit more consistant and therefore 
leading to a more uniform extraction).  It seems that the last 10 or so 
beans  bounce around in the hopper a bit more than before and take longer to 
find their way thru the burrs .   Set on French Press, the coarsest setting, 
there is still about the same amount of "mud" in the cup.   The final test 
for this machine will be to see this smaller (at French press setting) gives 
the same amount or more "mud"  thru a gold filter.
So, the burrs fit, the machine grinds, last beans seem to take longer to get 
to burrs. The extraction is more uniform and the taste in the cup is better. 
I would like it to grind a bit coarser than it does for gold filters and 
quite a bit for a French press.  There isn't the wide range of grind that 
there used to be.   All in all, I feel that the small cost to upgrade was 
worth it.

14) From: Brian Kamnetz
Out of idle curiosity, what was the cost of upgrading the burrs?
On 9/10/07, George  wrote:

15) From: raymanowen
Except for the fact that I am basically disinclined to create disasters for myself, from which recovery is probably difficult, I would have re-indexed my Grind Adjustment Ring many, many steps. I've never done it, so I've never had the pleasure of chasing down the ball and spring or cracking the GA ring. 
I guess Anderson picked up on my clumsiness and sent spares- I just hate to recertify myself all the time. The ring was just sitting there grinning at me- "Touch me, big guy, and I will BREAK for you. Plus, the ball and spring will go their separate ways, too." 
"Just try me, sucker. I will hurt you..."  No soap, you win. Nothing to be gained- I'm chicken. Alarms were going off when I thought about prying the ring off to reset it anyway.
Forgeddaboudit. Es macht Nichts, unless the grind is so fine as to be unusable. Mine nearly was, but it's not my problem now. I 'splained Ray and Naida, and Ray has the spares.
Cheers and Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
On 9/10/07, George  wrote:
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976

16) From: George
As for the cost, I got the silicon gasket (works, but is loose on the 
hopper) for $3.50, the burr set for the price of just the top burr at $20.00 
(I thought Kyle said $28 for a set) and $4.00 shipping and handling.  Grand 
total of $27.50.

17) From: George
Well, it was fairly easy to change burrs.    You have to take the top burrs 
out of their respective holders and put the new top burr in the old holder. 
Just have to be careful that you don't damage the tabs that keep it in 
place.  This just drops into the machine, no threads.   The burrs are 
different in the way they are machined.  The new set is fully machined 
whereas the SMP burrs are rough.

18) From: George
Here is an update on my upgrading of burrs on my Mastro Plus.
The first grinding or two at the coarsest setting with the new burr set 
yielded quite a bit of "mud" in the pot thru a Swiss Gold filter in my 
Technivorn.  It was about the same amount as before with the original burrs.
I decided to take the burrs out again and check everything again. 
Everything was as it should be except that I took the rubber O ring off the 
new top burr as it was not even with the outside of the slot that it goes 
into.  The original top burr had a nylon type ring on it that was the same 
outside diameter as the area that the goove for it is on.  Thus the rubber O 
ring, making the top burr a tighter fit than the original top burr when put 
back into the machine.
Results, after two more grindings with the new set, I can say that there is 
a LOT less mud than with the old set and with the new burrs without the 
rubber O ring.  I checked the amount of "mud" in the 4 grindins by making a 
full Technivorm full of coffee at the same coarsest setting (a LOT finer 
grind than the original set).   Once that was done, I ran all 4 pots thru a 
paper filter to check the amount of "mud".  Results were that the "mud" was 
a lot less now.  But what was funny is that in both of the last two pots 
tested they both totally clogged up the paper filters used in a 4 to 6 cup 
drip machine.  There wasn't hardly any mud in the first of the two paper 
filters, it just got the paper pores clogged with no percievable amount of 
mud.  The second filter for each pot did show some "mud" but enough to stop 
the flow, the pores of the paper got clogged again.  Really weird.
So, for the small cost, there ended up being a big difference in the 
uniformity of the grind.  The only problem with the new burr set is that the 
grind is a LOT finer at the coarsest setting.

19) From: Jeff Anderson
My Virtuoso produces a lot less mud, too, but it's also a lot finer. The 
mud used to be gritty and bitter. The mud from the Virtuoso is very 
smooth and silky (and for some reason, not bitter). I wonder if the 
reason it's clogging your filters is because it's so fine?
George wrote:

20) From: George
Since I have just upgraded my burrs, I am still assessing how the results 
are.  I think you are right about the "mud"  being more fine and silky with 
less objectionable taste.   So far everything looks better except that it 
won't grind anyplace as course as it did before....it's just barely large 
enough for a French press with the extra fine add-on filter/strainer.  All 
in all, coffee is tasting better than before the change.  If I ever really 
get to be able to drink espresso it will be time for an upgrade in grinder. 
This Friday, a day after my birthday, an e-bay item I won should be 
delivered.  It's a Bunn G1 grinder for the people that insist that I grind 
the coffee for them.  Right now the SMP and my Proline are not suitable for 
that much volume.   I'm surprised it comes with a 30 day parts warranty.  If 
it needs new burrs, I'll get them a.s.a.p. as they are about 189 a set.

21) From: Jeff Anderson
Assuming that the reason you use a large grind for your press pot that 
is because large grounds are getting past the filter, could there be 
something wrong with the filter you're using? If it's a bad fit, or if 
it's damaged, the grounds can penetrate around the edges, not through 
the screen itself.
I use a Bodum Chambord press with the standard mesh filter that comes 
with it. I set the grinder at 34 and get no more than 1/16 teaspoon of 
the silky-smooth mud in my cup. Nothing any courser ever makes it past 
the filter. I used to use a larger grind, but I read at SM and 
coffeegeek both that press coffee is extracted better with a finer 
grind.http://sweetmarias.com/brewinstr.frenchpress.html).I found it to 
have notably better flavor that way (thanks, Tom!). They recommend 
grinding as fine as you can without it being small enough to get through 
the filter.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, and if a course grind 
works for you, don't change a thing. Like they say, "If it ain't broke 
don't fix it." But if you're using a very course grind because large 
grounds are getting past the filter, you might want to check it.out. If 
the filter is the problem, it might be worth looking into a replacement..
George wrote:

22) From: Homeroaster
At the 2004 (5?) SCAA Convention in Atlanta, several of us decided to do a 
grind comparison with several press pots we had available.  Same type pots, 
same water and temp, time varied (somehow?) to achieve proper extraction 
based on grind size.  I think we used five different grind sizes.  Of course 
it's not a reliable/valid scientific experiment, but it was enough to 
convince us that a finer grind with shorter extraction worked better than a 
larger grind and longer extraction.  I've been using a finer grind ever 
since when I make press pot coffee.
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"http://www.homeroaster.com*********************

23) From: jim gundlach
I find the same applies to the Aeropress.  Not only does the finer  
grind taste better, you don't have to wait as long for the coffee.
     pecan jim
On Sep 13, 2007, at 9:04 AM, Homeroaster wrote:

24) From: Paul Martin
larger grind and longer extraction.  I've been using a finer grind ever 
since when I make press pot coffee.
How short were the extraction times.  Currently I go 4 minutes.  Thanks.

25) From: Homeroaster
With the finer grind, the extraction times don't need to be as long.  With 
quality coffee, longer extraction really doesn't extract that much of the 
nasties, because there are less nasties to extract.  I'd just experiment 
between three and four minutes with a fine grind and see what you like best. 
If I were to make a press pot tonight, I'd probably do a 3 1/2 minute time.
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"http://www.homeroaster.com*********************

26) From: Paul Martin
Thanks for the tip.  I'll play with the grind/extraction time ratio. Thanks!

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