Ernie1 So now I’m wondering whether my SJ is somehow not functioning as it should, and if it is, how is a smaller burr on a far slower grinder producing better overall taste?!
I might question the assumption here — that size is the major/only factor that produces “better” overall taste. It seems to me that there are other factors that could contribute to how a grinder affects taste.
A quick glance at the specs of the Super Jolly and the x54 shows that the x54 operates at a lower RPM. That coupled with the smaller diameter of the x54 burrs works out to a rotational speed of 5.94 m/s at the outer edge for the x54, and 10.05 m/s for the Super Jolly. That’s a 70% increase in speed. I’ve read that lower RPMs translates to “better” results, but lower RPMs doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither does the burr size. Maybe the real factor here is the linear speed of the burrs.
I do want to note that I’m just talking off the top of my head here.
One more thing to consider — according to the manufacturers website, the Super Jolley is described as “the premier choice for many small to mid-sized cafes”, whereas the x54 is said to be “the home barista’s gateway to pro-level grinding and more delicious coffee”. From a manufacturer’s standpoint, if they know what they are doing, a grinder is not a product in and of itself. It’s a solution to a problem that’s defined by the intended environment. And so these grinders may perform differently because that’s what the manufacturers intended.
For a cafe, I can see how there would be an emphasis on consistency and the ability to provide a good tasting shot of espresso over and over all day long without taking too much time. Your description of the Super Jolly seems to fit that situation well, especially with the large window of settings that give you a good shot of espresso.
In the home environment, however, the priorities may be different, especially with this crowd. Those of us here are probably happy to spend the time and effort to tweak the grinder in pursuit of that perfect shot of espresso. Your description of your dad’s x54 seems to align with that. But such an approach would probably result in a barista in a cafe being fired, because the customers are waiting too long.
I do woodworking as a hobby, so here’s a comparable situation to illustrate my point. There are CNC machines that can quickly make a mortise and tenon joint to a high degree of accuracy. They are used in commercial environments. They are also less than ideal for a hobbyist like myself. These machines are big enough that they would be a bad fit for my shop space, they generate a lot of dust that requires heavy duty dust collection, and they are very expensive. This is also not the ideal tool for a one-off project, as there’s a fair amount of set up required.
In my home shop, I’ll make the same sort of joint with a mortise chisel and a hand saw. These tools are certainly slower than the CNC machine, but they generate a lot less dust, they take up far less space, and are certainly less costly. And since I’m generally building any given project once, making the joint just requires me to make the lines of the joint, and cut to them. The CNC will have the advantage if I’m making a bunch of tables, for example. But as a hobbyist, I’m making just one table, and then I’m moving onto something else.