Get the best tasting coffee from your grinder
Exactly how much side by side the two burrs are placed in the grinder has importance for the particle distribution of the coffee grind. This is called burr alignment.
Such difference in particle distribution was measured in a project done by Christopher Hendon, Matt Perger and more, see https://baristahustle.com/grinder-paper-explained/ This graph is from Supporting Information. The blue curve is good alignement of the burrs with. They grey curve is bad aligned burrs:
Warning: Trying to align your grinder may drive you nuts 😉 Most grinders are not build to get adjusted in the alignment. A few new ones are, but they are crazy expensive. So if your grinder doesn’t really got a problem – don’t touch it.
What does it matter for the taste ?
The more alike coffee particles are in size, the more clear taste and aroma.
The more difference in particle size, the more both over- and under-extracted coffee (mix of bitterness, bad flavours, sour).
Where as fines is another story – see The taste of fines.
How can you tell bad alignement ?
Good alignment makes the aroma characteristics of the coffee stand out more clear
Matt Perger did this sound diagnosing of burr alignment of the EK43 grinder
Here you can hear the chirping sound of burrs touching with a Mazzer Super Jolly grinder https://youtu.be/xrNYzvXq8i0 First only by ajusting to zero. Later by pressing the adjustment collar on one side. Thats how sensitive the burrs are.
The waveforms from the sound of chirping on a grinder looks like this. Jon have recorded the sound of his own Ditting grinder – and compared it to the recordings from Matt Pergers video with the 4 states of EK43 alignment:
Bad aligned burrs will touch once pr rotation – this makes a clear single peak in the waveform. More peaks pr rotation indicates a better alignment, as more peaks indicates more contact between the burrs through the rotation.
Ideal aligned burrs would touch the entire rotation, making very long series of equal sized peaks pr rotaion.
By how it looks when brewing
When making a filter brew you adjust the grind size according to the time it takes for the water to pass. Some aim at 2:20 minutes, others at 3-4 minutes. If the water takes too long to drain through, then grind coarser. Too quick then grind finer.
2) the drain slowed down, when still 1-2 cm water stood above the grind in the filter. Very little coffee dripped through = too many fine particles clogging the filter.
So this grind had both too big particles (= boulders) and too many fine particles = typical for bad alignment of the burrs.
How to do alignment of your grinder
For Mythos One – can be used for other grinders
Matt North have made this great guide to alignment of the Mythos One grinder Here is used the whiteboard-marker method.
Lido handgrinder from Orphan Espresso
Lido 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npVWLJnBcAs
combined with this http://coffee.stackexchange.com/questions/2515/how-to-fix-burr-contact-alignment-issues-on-an-oe-lido-hand-grinder-on-fine-grin/2516#2516
Extra: when you have aligned the burrs at fine setting, then go back to normal grind size and grind a handful. This will slightly push the burrs. Then test again at fine setting if the burrs touches.
When aligning flat-burr grinders we normally use thin pieces of metal foil to align the burrs – but before using metal foil, another method is to start by mounting the burrs in the different positions, just by rotating the burrs. The burrs themselves should in theory have no differences in height around the burr, but in reality, very small differences can occur.
Do not switch the lower burr with the upper burr. The lower burr should always remain the lower and vice verca – this alignment is about rotating the burrs individually to different mounting posistions.
If your burrs has screwholes, rotate the burrs individually to the different screwhole/burr combinations to check if some combinations are better aligned than others. If your burrs has no screwholes, simply rotate the burrs individually to different positions to check if some positions has better alignment than others.
Matt Perger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-cf0Iack5Q
Good tips when dismantling the EK43: http://grindscience.com/2017/07/my-ek43-tips-and-tricks/
Note: how much the front screws is tighten also affects the alignment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V02UBGeLSx8&feature=youtu.be
A third point that affects the alignment:
Socratic Coffee made this analasis of Ek43 grind from before and after alignment
Frank Durra describes the purpose like this:
“It aligns / measures at the roots of the problem which is the axial alignment of the inner burr due to irregularities of the aluminum case”
Alignment is more important with bigger burrs