journeys with pico
In the world of espresso, each element in the practice demands attention—but there is one thing that’s often overlooked…the grind. The way that coffee is ground up before going into the machine can either conclude in an enjoyable espresso…or an unpleasant mess. Join us on a home barista’s journey to discover why owning a dedicated, quality espresso grinder is so important.
the start of something new
As bright-eyed home baristas, we set out to learn a centuries-old craft. Whether it’s to recreate an incredible experience we had at a café, or for the simple convenience of doing it at home, the objective is simple: create a delicious espresso experience at home. We excitedly purchased an espresso machine and set out with much to discover! Bounding up to our new machine, we seem to have forgotten that although we are the new owners of a beautiful La Marzocco, we need coffee beans to make espresso. With coat tails flying and doors slamming as we dash off to a favorite cafe down the street for a bag of coffee.
Back home with coffee in hand we examine our tools, we have brushes, a tamper, scales, the machines pressure and flow rate – all perfectly in order. Our espresso though? Is not… The espresso is pouring like water and we start to wonder what could be wrong. This part of the journey has an air of mystery to it. Our eyes move from the machine to the bag of pre-ground coffee we just brought home. We pull out a few small grinders to try our other bag of whole beans, but nothing seems to be working. We can’t leave this case unsolved, we are determined to master our goal of serving our loved ones an amazing house espresso!
Pairing the Right Grinder
Our eyes can’t really detect if the grind size is right just by looking at the grounds. We might be able to see that our coffee is ground finely, however, when making espresso, our shots are still flowing way too fast.
The journey to the perfect espresso doesn’t end with just an espresso machine. It’s equally important to find the right grinder – a companion that complements and enhances your machine’s capabilities. Espresso brewing is an art that demands precision, and the grinder plays a pivotal role in this process. Not just any grinder will do; only a dedicated espresso grinder can achieve the fine, consistent grind necessary for espresso.
A tasty espresso just won’t come from grinders that don’t have enough range of fineness or from pre-ground coffee. Using either of these will almost certainly result in a generally unenjoyable experience.
Here’s what to aim for in a grinder:
- Dedicated for Espresso: Espresso requires a very fine, consistent grind. It’s a fast, intense process, so every variable matters more. Specialized espresso grinders have burrs designed for a uniform grind size, ensuring even extraction and rich flavor.
- Adjustability: A dedicated espresso grinder offers a wide range of settings, allowing you to fine-tune your grind from coffee-to-coffee. This precision directly impacts the balance of acidity, bitterness, and sweetness in each shot. A solid grinder’s burrs will also “stay put” and not move around from finer to coarser without being adjusted.
- Size & Speed: Having a grinder that is sized for the home while still delivering café-quality results in a timely manner can be a game-changer. While speed doesn’t always matter at home, being able to grind quickly is a huge benefit.
- Quality Burrs & Strong Motor
- Temperature Stability
- Dose Consistency: Precise dosing is essential for espresso. Dedicated grinders provide some sort of accurate dosing, and minimal retention, ensuring consistent flavor shot to shot.
- Complementing the Machine: Pairing your machine with a grinder not geared toward high-quality espresso greatly limits the machine’s potential.
The conclusion? Not just any grinder is going to cut it. We need an unwavering companion that can hold its own next to a powerful machine.
The La Marzocco Pico
The Pico is La Marzocco’s first answer to a grinder that perfectly complements our home espresso machines. It embodies over 90 years of espresso tradition, seamlessly integrating the design language of the Linea lines, coupled with modern functionality. As a statement piece, it brings both aesthetic appeal and exceptional performance to the espresso workflow.
At its core, the Pico excels in precision. It offers extensive grind size adjustability with 180 micro-steps, crucial for fine-tuning to achieve the perfect espresso. The stepped-adjustment ring allows for intricate changes, facilitating a smooth transition between different espresso styles while also keeping them locked in. Producing a fluffy 18 gram does in under 10 seconds, the conical burr set was chosen based on taste profiles, and gives enough differentiation in the ground coffee for a full bodied shot of espresso.
The Pico pairs with the morning routine, and its quiet operation is achieved through a high-quality brushless induction motor and sound-dampening design. Coupled with accurate, programmable dosing with three buttons for saved settings, and an innovative auto-close hopper for a clean experience when changing beans, it’s easy and clean. The portafilter actuated dosing, complemented by a magnetic portafilter fork, offers a hands-free grinding experience.
The Pico ensures accuracy with its timed dose settings, encouraging you to first dial in your espresso manually. For example, if it takes 8 seconds to grind 14 grams, you can save this setting. Alternatively, for a smaller 7-gram shot, simply adjust the time accordingly. This level of customization ensures that each espresso shot is tailored exactly to your preference, underlining the Pico’s commitment to enhancing your home espresso workflow.
A Journey Through Grinding
A quality home espresso grinder plays a crucial role in achieving the level of precision required to create delicious espresso and showcase the distinct flavors and qualities of specialty coffee. With our own grinder, we can experiment with different coffee beans from various regions and roasters, opening up a world of flavor profiles and coffee experiences. Follow along with our 5-Part video series that dives into the world of espresso grinding.