Jan 05 2016

Grinding Coffee – How are your shims?

IMG_0256The single most important thing to think about when contemplating a domestic espresso machine is “Which grinder will I buy?” because if you are serious about making espresso based drinks at home, the grinder is the most important component. There is simply no substitute for fresh, correctly ground coffee in espresso making!
Alan Frew, Coffee for Connoisseurs


If you are not grinding the bean just before you brew your espresso, your coffee is stale

Or so I am told by the coffee afficiandos.

IMG_0260At Xmas I was told by Al that my grinder was not up to scratch. We couldn’t produce the treacle like extraction that should take 30 seconds to pour.


We have a Rancillio Silva espresso machine which is robust enough to have survived many years of extreme test conditions – including being dropped from a height. We bought it based on reviews such as

RANCILIO SILVIA Simply the best value, most reliable domestic espresso machine in the world. Superb build quality, commercial components, fabulous espresso, great steam. MUST be paired with a good grinder for best results.

The grinder that upset Al was the  Sunbeam Cafe Series Grinder, which has 25 graduations – but even at level 1 was too coarse.

However, he had a solution. Shims. These are washers that lift the two burr heads closer together.

My new shims arrived by mail today from some folks at Nowra, complete with instructions.

The day is saved for $1.75! Good times.


From my recent research, if you are serious about coffee, the grinders that you might consider are
Talk Coffee

– The Breville Smart Grinder Pro – about $240 the only ‘appliance’ considered a contender, but don’t expect it to last for much more than a couple of year
– The Macap M2M about $500
– The Compak K3 or similar about $400 eureka_yellow


– The Eureka Mignon, about $550 which comes in cool colours
Rancilio Rocky about $450
Mazer Mini Electronic about $1000

What do you use? What do you recommend? Any thoughts?

3 Responses to “Grinding Coffee – How are your shims?”

  1. Al Smith says:

    Tony, I use the breville smart grinder (my second-the 1st died within a week of the warranty expiring) and I am very happy with the grind.

    I am glad Al was able to help you. He has done nothing for me!

  2. Sw says:

    My Grinder is an actual bloke who makes me a coffee every morning at home. I think it’s because he is very defensive if I change any settings on his machine

  3. Sally Lennon says:

    Perfect timimg Tony! I was just about to throw out my old gaggia grinder but maybe I just need new shims!?!

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