Hashtag Mythos Workflow

mythos-burrs

“A symphony is no joke.”

— Johannes Brahms, 1833 – 1897

It was Colin Harmon and his Tamper Tantrum presentation that got me interested in the Mythos One. His matter-of-fact delivery and seductive Irish lilt, accompanied by his persuasive post here, convinced me this was something I wanted to try. When our coffee supplier, Supreme Roasters, offered us a Mythos One as a replacement for our ailing Mazzer, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d spent the best part of the past decade dealing with Mazzer’s. I was done with them.

It’s been on our bar for over nine months now, full time, five days a week, going through around 60 kilos a week. This has given me ample time, a large sample set, and a huge amount of empirical data to find a system that for me is fast, efficient, consistent, and produces excellent espresso. When I first started researching the Mythos One, Colin’s voice was the only one I could find that was really meaningful for me, beyond an incidental rehashing of the press release followed by a spec list. Google kept coming up short, so call this my contribution – apologies in advance for the cursing and poor humour.

Thou Shalt Clean the Machine as if It Were Fresh From The Factory

This is your starting point, Espresso 101 – you need to ensure your machine is clean, cleaned regularly, and cleaned thoroughly. This piece from the Daily Grind covers pretty much everything I would say, with the added emphasis of clean your fucking machine. I know it’s hard, we’ve all been there – but at the end of your shift that’s when you dig deep and do a professional job. And clean your fucking machine.

I always, always, spend at least two shifts, usually three, closing with new recruits. This is not just to show them how I want the machine cleaned, it’s to show them how to do a shitty, tiring, and repetitive job with some goddamn dignity. To do it without complaining. To stick their head down and just get it done. And to do it right, each time, every time. I know with my staff that I don’t need to worry about how clean the machine is. Like knowing if the sky is blue and the ocean is wet, my machine is clean, as if it were fresh from the factory. But a clean machine also demands the respect of good tools.

Craftsmanship Requires Good Tools

So I’ve already spoken about VST baskets here, so not wanting to rehash the argument – just get some VST baskets. I like this post here by Five Senses, which explains their experience with VST baskets (and also contains some valuable information on dose, head room, and consistency). Please – use VST baskets.

While I’ll stick to my assertion to not use IMS baskets, I can wholeheartedly recommend IMS shower screens. I think it’s arguable what they can achieve in terms of higher extraction yields (does anyone have any objective data and comparisons yet?). However, what they do empirically achieve is less need for cleaning. Whether it be the coffee gunk that gets in between the mesh and the holes in traditional screens, how much coffee sticks to the screen after each shot, or washing it clean at the end of each shift – IMS screens are just easier to do this with. If it’s easier to achieve cleanliness, then we are aligned with the idea of “clean your fucking machine”. Not everything we do has a first order effect on extraction yield or subjective taste such as VST baskets. Sometimes second order effects – like cleanliness – mean we have a cleaner “canvas” to work on, meaning a clearer picture towards higher extraction rates. Being easier to clean also leaves more time for you to scrub the shit out of the bottom of your portafilter …

(#Pro-tip: might I also humbly recommend if you do not have Teflon or other coatings so the oils don’t stick, if you’re stuck with the black pitch of oil each afternoon stubbornly stuck to the portafilter, that you use 3M Scotch-Brite – not the cheap knock-offs – wait for the portafilter to dry out on it’s own, then vigorously scrub with a dry Scotch-Brite. The friction created from both dry surfaces, and whatever voodoo 3M uses to differentiate their green scratchies from the rest, has an immense effect on the built-up oil, essentially rubbing it straight off. Remember the moment you first use 3M Scotch-Brite on your portafilters. Your life will forever be divided into pre-3M and post-3M. But stay away from the outside chrome – it’s nice to keep that shiny for as long as possible …)  

Tamper Size Matters

I’m well aware of Socratic Coffee’s post on the effects on tamper size. I think it’s great what Socratic are doing, I understand the experimental design, and I believe the objectiveness they sought with this design has been achieved. But for me, I wouldn’t base a decision on ten samples or draw any conclusions from it – I’d be questioning it.

I have found a significant difference between tamper sizes, and I’m not alone. Matt Perger has placed his considerable reputation and name behind the belief tamper size makes a difference. There’s Greg Pullman himself manufacturing 58.4mm tampers and above, as well as VST also selling 58.35 tampers (+/- 0.1mm). The inimitable Chris Baca writes about his experience here, and Ben Kaminsky explains his testing achieved higher extraction yields with at least a 58.4mm tamper in this talk here. Then again, Mat North didn’t find a significant difference. Empirically I’ve seen better results from naked portafilters using a 58.5mm tamp, and far less channeling – so if you conclude yourself from Socratic Coffee’s post that tamper size has no effect on extraction yields, look to the second order effect of less mess in the cup, and less wastage from channeling. Lack of channeling should be reason enough for any barista to go with at least a 58.4mm tamp, but taste the results yourself, see it in action, retire some filters and refract the shit out of some samples. Experiments should have external as well as internal validity, so if they found no significant difference in extraction yields based on tamper size, then so should you. Or perhaps not, and that’s all part of the scientific endeavour.

In so many research papers I’ve had to read there’s always what feels like a disclaimer at the end of the conclusion: “more research is required”. So can I politely ask: “Can we have some more data please?” Shit, I’ll draw the conclusions myself.

How Low Can You Go? (Redux) 

Before getting to your Mythos you first you need to understand what it actually does. Through heating the burr chamber the beans are kept between 35 and 45°C. This, along with having no outside vein on the burrs like an EK43, means the Mythos does three things rather definitively – it reduces fines and produces a unimodal grind profile, while allowing the beans to become more soluble. Less small bits, more big bits, and solubility allowing water easier access to extract flavour.

Combining these three features you may find that by lowering pump pressure (mine’s at 6 bars) you’ll allow yourself to target the big bits for an even extraction, increase temperature and diffusional equilibrium, and lower any inherent variability in your technique. I’d strongly recommend to any Mythos owners to lower your pump pressure if you can, or at the very least start playing around with pre-infusion profiles.

A Clean Mythos is a Happy Mythos

So – a clean machine, VST baskets, IMS screens, a 58.4mm tamp (at least), and 6 bars of pressure – that’s your starting point to now begin examining your actual grinder. You should be keeping a close eye on how much time it takes to grind a dose. Yes it will change with different beans, blends, roast age, and hopper level, but if you notice a steady increase your dose time then it’s probably time to clean the chamber out. You can avoid the guesswork entirely by scheduling regular cleaning – which I always do this once a fortnight. I’d do it once a week, but alignment (which I’ll get to in a moment, and is needed after cleaning) is a pain in the ass. Plus I have to do it after service. Which means an eleven-hour day at least. And I’m getting old; I really can’t be fucked with eleven hour days anymore. But like your machine you need to clean your grinder. So make the sacrifice.

And buy a vacuum cleaner. Buy a vacuum cleaner and your life will clearly be demarcated between pre-You-Bought-a-Vacuum-Cleaner-for-Work and post-You-Bought-a-Vacuum-Cleaner-for-Work. There is such a significant improvement in Quality of Life, Post-You-Bought-a-Vacuum Cleaner-for-Work.

To start cleaning your Mythos unplug the grinder and remove the hopper (which you’ll clean out with hot soapy water, rinse well with running hot water, dry as best you can, then leave it on top of the machine while you’re cleaning the grinder to finish drying). Unplug the element and then remove the four screws at the front of the burr chamber. I stripped the shit out of the first screw when I initially attempted to remove it, so be careful. And store them somewhere safe after you’ve removed them.

(#Pro-tip: do not store the screws in a takeaway cup and leave it on the bench! They get thrown out with the trash and an hour later you’re knee deep in the dumpster out back going through bags trying to find it while sifting through rotten grinds and last weeks discarded lunch. Happened to a friend, try avoid it yourself)

Once the screws are out you can lift off the fixed burr carrier, exposing the grinder side burr (or whatever the fuck they’re technically called. Look, you got the burr carrier with attached burr in your hand – the static or fixed burr – and you got the one not in your hand, still attached to the grinder – that’s the other one). Unscrew both burrs from their respective carriers; taking care again to place the screws somewhere safe (also clean out the flat head slot and the threads of the screws) and now you should have two shining golden titanium coated burrs in your hands. If you have any trouble removing the grinder side burr, which you probably will, don’t wedge a screwdriver into the exit chute to leverage any screws out – use a wrench and hold the auger in place while you unscrew them.

Brush off excess grinds and then wash them. With soap. And a toothbrush. I’m serious! I cover them in detergent, run it under hot water, and scrub the shit out of them with the toothbrush. More hot water, inspect under light, note any stubborn grit stuck in the burr “teeth”, go hard again with the toothbrush, inspect again, then rinse thoroughly under hot water. I dry them as best I can with a clean microfibre cloth and then leave them on top of the espresso machine to dry further. I work on the next, then come back to the first burr. I spray this thoroughly with Isopropyl alcohol, wipe clean with another fresh cloth, spray again, wipe clean again, then set the burr to the side. Literally rinse and repeat for the second burr.

Now the vacuum cleaner! Vacuum the burr carrier out, and use a brush or paper clip to gently prod free any stubborn bits of coffee crud. Vacuum again, clean, brush and prod, vacuum, clean, and so on. Make sure you don’t vacuum directly over the clump crusher though – the oh-so-important piece of plastic covering the grinds exit chute. The interleaved plastic triangles are long enough that if inverted towards the burrs by the vacuum cleaner sucking them up, they will catch on the burrs later on.

(#Pro-tip: if you didn’t have a problem with static before, if you even just touch the clump crusher – you’re going to have a problem with static now. Just try not to even touch that thing until it needs to be replaced …)

I still use a paperclip to dislodge any built-up crud in the chute itself,  and then use a microfibre to clean out as much of the chamber as I can. Shine the torch in from your phone or the like to give you better light, and make sure you have zero coffee grinds on the surface you’ll rest the burrs on. Move onto the burr carrier you removed and clean the shit out of that as well with the microfibre, again making sure there are absolutely no coffee grinds on the surface you’ll rest the burr. Now you’ve cleaned all that you can, it’s time to reassemble and align the burrs.

“… What’s this long face about, Mr Starbuck; wilt though not chase the white whale? Art thou not game for (burr alignment)”

Alignment. It’s the modern day quest for Moby Dick. Only without the revenge factor. And the sea. And an actual whale. There’s no Captain Ahab either, and alignment isn’t exactly a clear comparison between themes contained within a classical piece of literature and modern day mechanics. But besides that pretty much the same. Just with burrs. And no whale.

Alignment is important, but I only learned of it’s importance from these people – so I definitely need to give credit where credit is due, and excuse the cliche but these guys know their shit: Nick (@nickw) and Tom (@dsc) taught me everything I know about alignment on Slack. Nick has a very cool video here, Tom’s advice is littered throughout the entire pantheon of home barista sites it seems, and Spencer (@spencerwebb) has a well-written piece here. I’m adding my own experience here, following the same principles, only applying them to the Mythos One instead.

When talking about alignment there are essentially two directions you need to concern yourself with. There’s radial alignment – which I think of as how one burr can move side to side, up and down, North northeast, or South southwest and the like – and ensuring that within the space they can move allowed by the screw holes, they both perfectly line up concentrically. Then there is axial alignment – how much the burr can move either forward or backwards on an angle – with the aim being to ensure both burrs are perfectly parallel to each other. Let me be perfectly clear here – testing both radial and axial alignment is a fucking brutal. But the results are well worth it. Unlike Ahab you can taste the whale. Ok. These analogies are really falling to shit right now …

So testing alignment is some pretty high tech shit for the average barista. You’re going to need:

  1. A non-permanent marker pen
  2. Scissors
  3. Printing paper, or tin foil
  4. Patience. A whole bunch of patience

For radial alignment on the Mythos, start with the static burr, or the one you removed from the grinder. Attach the burr, then screw in the screws lightly – you should have some sideways movement of the burrs. Now cut three small strips of paper, and place them between the outside of the burr, and the inside lip of the burr carrier, spaced evenly apart by thirds. The lip is quite small, and it’s a finicky affair fitting the pieces of paper in, but with time, patience and dedication you’ll make them fit. If the burr still has sideways movement, remove the pieces of paper – let’s call them “shims” – fold the shim in half, then repeat the procedure. Be mindful of how much the paper or foil can compress as well. Eventually you’ll have the three shims equally spaced apart, and the burr won’t have any sideways movement. Now tighten the screws like you would when changing a tyre – a little at a time for each one. When you think they’re close enough in, remove the shims. This bit sucks as they may be stuck pretty hard in there, and you end up ripping them halfway, leaving half in your hand and half still stuck between the burr and the carrier lip. Don’t be disheartened; just repeat the procedure again, being careful this time to not tighten the screws too far before removing the shims.

The grinder side burr is far more difficult, if only because you have such a small space to fit your fingers and shims and then tighten the screws. Just hold onto that patience. The “shim” point here is on the inside of the burrs, and the outside of the bottom part of the auger. The same process applies, folding the shims if needed so the burr has no sideways movement, placing three shims equally distant around the inside of the burr, and tightening the screws slowly, leaving enough slack so the shims can be safely removed without moving the burr. Your axial alignment is now done.

For axial alignment, start with the static burr or grinder side burr, and only colour in one burr’s edge. Now screw the static burr carrier back in, plug the grinder back in and turn it on, then slowly start turning the dial finer until you start to hear the tell-tale “chirp” of the burrs touching, or “zeroing”. Dial back a little towards the coarse side, unplug the grinder, unscrew the burr carrier, and inspect where the marker pen has been ground off. It should have evenly come off around the entire burr. If not and there’s one section that hasn’t been touched – take a shim, lightly unscrew the burr until you can fit that shim under the burr, directly beneath the area where the marker didn’t come off. Colour in the edge again, plug in the grinder again, screw the burr carrier in again, zero off until the “chirp”, remove again, inspect, shim up again, rinse, repeat, shoot yourself, rise from the dead, repeat the axial alignment, colour in the burr, screw the burr carrier in again, check radial on the static burr, die again, yell and scream into the nothingness, unplug, plug in, face the darkness, find your inner strength, place a shim on the static burr, scream, colour in the burr, scream again, beat your chest, cry, curl up in a ball, rock back and forth, look at the Mythos, wipe away the tears, stand up tall, check radial and axial alignment again, scream once more, align that motherfucker, then go home, hug your wife or boyfriend, kiss the kids, watch some television, have a long hot shower, wash away the pain, clean your aching soul, sleep the sleep of the righteous …

And be fucking blown away by how amazing your coffee tastes in the morning. And look over to the Mythos, furrow your brow, and whisper to yourself “next fortnight Mythos One – we will do battle once again.”

The shitty thing about alignment though, is alignment of your burrs relies on the machined parts of the grinder serving as anchor points for your shims. If the machined parts – the outer lip, or the inside bottom part of the auger – are not machined well, if the tolerance allowed means they don’t line up either concentrically or parallel or both, then you’re shit out of luck getting perfect axial or radial alignment. At least with shims though you’re going to be far closer than you ever could be simply “eye-balling” it and banging the burrs in. So not perfect, no – but closer, and “more” aligned than you had previously. You should taste the difference.

Don’t be alarmed if in the morning your grinder time for your dose goes up. Better alignment means better grinding which means less fines and boulders spat out, and a substantially improved and uniform particle size as a result. This in turn means the beans move slower through the burrs, as they are essentially being “processed” better. Eventually you’ll notice the difference between a post-alignment dose time and a pre-clean dose time, and be able to act accordingly.

About Those Burrs …

They’re titanium coated and touted to last 50,000 cycles, or the equivalent of 1,200 kilograms. My first set lasted 700 kilograms, and there was a marked and rapid decrease in extraction yield that told me it was time to change. So random shots taken off the bar aren’t just tested for tamper size or pump pressure effects, it’s also to graph the inevitable decline of extraction yields as the burrs get used. But be careful to inspect the new burrs when they arrive to ensure there are no dents or scratches in them. My second set were scratched and dinged up pretty bad, and I’m not alone in receiving burrs from suppliers in this state. Burr quality and shipping standards – that’s a whole other rant. But these golden burrs are expensive – make sure you get what you pay for.

Bean Management

Whatever side of the roast age debate you sit on, for consistent and repeatable results from the Mythos – and any grinder for that matter – you need to have some kind of bean management in place. For me, I rest the beans for at least seven days, and aim to be through them by day fifteen at most. I have our roaster also label each bag by batch number two, and I ensure not only that we consecutively use roast dates, but also batch numbers as well. Whatever you do, make sure you consider the impact of roast age and associated gas dissipation on consistency.

As far as first order effects and second order effects go, the level of beans in the hopper won’t have much effect on extraction yields. At three kilos of beans with a full hopper (if you’ve got the big hopper installed) or the last 90 grams in the neck, you should have a consistent extraction yield, all other variables being equal. But you sure as shit won’t have the same dose. The auger is supposed to ensure an even and consistent flow of beans into the burrs, but it’s no that effective really. I’ve actually never found an auger on any grinder that can do this effectively, so let’s not blame Nuova Simonelli for that one.

The clump crusher also has an effect on the flow of ground beans out of the chute, and if it is damaged or clogged up, this will also affect dose consistency. Upon installation of a new clump crusher (and do not do this yourself if you can avoid it. You think alignment is bad? Try installing a fucking tiny piece of plastic in a 1cm small cube of space while ensuring the plastic forks of the crusher face downwards. It is not fucking simple) the forks take around ten or so kilos to “settle” in, from there maintaining a consistent flow of ground coffee out of the chute. But it only lasts so long. To avoid estimations of how may kilos it possibly lasts for, I just change it at the same time I change my seals – once a quarter.

Finally, on older versions of the Mythos One there is a black plastic covering over the exit hole of the hopper. Originally I believe it was thought this would also help control the flow of beans into the auger, and therefore aid consistency. It doesn’t. It’s heat-glued in place and breaks off easily. Rip that fucker off. Just don’t do it when the boss is around – they may freak out.

Because of these three factors, during busy periods I keep the lid off from the hopper and constantly rake the beans forward, so they sit directly over the neck of the hopper. An even weight of beans going into the auger means they will grind at an even rate, allowing for a consistent dose and less time fucking about adjusting your dose. Which fuck extraction yields – that’s why we keep a hopper full of beans in there when we can, Mazzer or Mythos or whatever grinder you’re using.

To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

It’s not even a question – weigh your shots. It’s not hard, it doesn’t slow you down, and the implementation of weighing shots offers far more in consistency, taste, and efficiency – by orders of magnitude more – than sticking to timed doses or just “eye-balling” it. Weigh your fucking shots.

For my Mythos workflow (and Mazzer’s before that) I weighed my shots at the grinder, in a container rather than the portafilter itself. You could weigh the portafilter and have a workflow similar to this at Prufrock. You could use putty, or tape, or something else, to ensure all your portafilters weigh the same. You could take a metal grinder to the portafilter itself and grind off the required weight to equalise all your portafilters. You could get an Ohaus scale or the like, make room on the bar for it, dose into the portafilter using the handy portafilter holder on the Mythos, weigh the shot, go back and have a second shot time programmed to one gram or two, adjust your grind, go back and weigh again, adjust down or up if needed, then tamp …

… Or you could invert the portafilter handle, secure a 1cm thick platform on top, place a cheap eBay jewellery scale on that, and dose directly into a $2 75ml plastic Decor container. The 1cm thick platform is important as it allows you to simply push the container forward to trigger the dose using the portafilter dose button. It also serves the purpose of stabilising the load cells in the scale so you get an accurate reading. The 75ml Decor container has a lip that perfectly fits any VST or 58mm basket. Once inverted you could save $62.35 and simply shake it there, or do a modified “Holdswirl”. Palm tap, collapse if needed, tamp, then pull. As soon as you’ve dosed your shot just return the container to the scale, ensure it’s tared off, and start the next dose. Beside the grinder I have an 8oz cup, a Mazzer conical burr fitted in the top, and a parfait teaspoon inside that. I discard grinds into the container if the grinder over-doses, and top up my dose from the container if it under-doses.

I aim for a 20.1g target, with a 0.1g variance. This may seem tight, but I don’t manually tamp, I have a Puqpress. This saves me enough time to be diligent on my dose. But even when I was using a 58.5 Pullman tamp, I had a target of 20.2g, and only a 0.2g variance. All the data I have so far points to a 0.2g variance over or under the recommended VST basket dose as not having a significant effect on extraction yields, time of the shot, or physical yield of the shot. I’m sure I could push that variance out even further to see where the ceiling is, but this works for my workflow so I have no real reason to push. Also having no discernible effect is the fact I top up my dose from the grinds bin. I’m never topping up more than half a gram at most, so it seems in this case that as long as you stick within the target range, with a sensible variance, you’ll hit your target extraction yield – even accounting for “old” grinds topping up to your target dose.

(#Pro-tip: what the fuck is the Mazzer conical burr for? The steel alloy they are made from does a magnificent job of discharging static. Why do you get static? That’s a whole different topic, but weighing at the grinder and dosing into a plastic container, while also keeping the burrs and chamber clean regularly, and something I’m sure that has to do with touching the clump crusher, along with some weird voodoo shit or possible wrong doings in a past life, all result in a metric fuck-tonne of static on any given day. In a high-volume environment the Ross Droplet Technique isn’t really viable – this however is. In practice, after dosing into the portafilter, I invert the container, give it a little tap to dislodge any grinds that are stuck, move it over to the Mazzer burr, then brush the bottom of it over the burr for a second or two, before back onto the scale and starting the next dose. That sounds far more complicated than it is – but believe me, it’s quick, and it stops static dead)

Symphony of the Mythos

Each morning I set the volumetrics on my GB5, using a scale to hit my target ratio – not a shot glass, or other form of volume measurement. Yesterday’s leftover beans get turned into cold press (or cold brew if that’s what we’re calling it) as I want a “fresh” reading for the volumetrics, based on the roast date I’m using that day. On a Monday it takes a while for the grinder to “settle in”, as I’ve had it turned off for the weekend. So throughout the week I leave it on, as it takes 24 hours for it to reach temperature equilibrium, according to Nuova Simonelli USA. Kegman Kipp, fellow Mythos owner and receiver of personally signed Christmas cards from Mr Schomer himself, spent 14 days with his element unplugged and fine tuning his shots as much as possible, with none coming close to how day 15 tasted with the element on for 14 hours. Leave it on overnight if you can – you should taste the difference.

The ‘Symphony” here relates to the complex interaction of all of these factors together, and how everything I’ve written above leads to one thing you need to do – watch your dose weight. Gas dissipation and batch changes in beans will mean the timed dose will change each day. But it doesn’t take long to dial in a time that comes close enough to hitting your target dose, and the Mythos tends to dance around this target within half a gram or so. From here any adjustments in dose from or to the grinds bin are minimal. Once I have a grinding time I’m happy with, I turn the numbered grind dial to zero (you knew it moved right? Well if you don’t know now you know) then start pulling shots.

Changing the grind now is simply a matter of watching the weight on the scale and how that relates to the time for the volumetrics. If weight goes down dramatically – over half a gram – I coarsen the grind to; if it starts dosing too high I fine up the grind. With practice you realise you don’t need to ‘test’ a shot to see if your time is too fast or slow, you just trust the weight. You should always be hitting your target time, by only adjusting your target weight through grind changes.

You could compensate for the change in weight by simply upping or lowering your timed dose. More or less time grinding means more or less grinds in the cup or basket, and no need to fuck about with a grinds cup to top up or dump into. But that’s ignoring the evidence at hand. Say your dose weighed 19.5g – you want 20g. So you adjust the time and dose your next shot. This shot, now at your target dose through changing the dose time, has pulled in 35 seconds. That was always going to happen, only now you change the grind to compensate, and you get a dose that is over by a gram. Not only have you upped your dose, you’re coarsened the grind by widening the aperture between burrs, allowing more beans into the burrs, and out into your cup or basket. The problem is compounded, and now you have a 21.5g dose, you’re tipping grinds out to compensate, and more importantly – you’re wasting precious time. This is high volume remember? We need this to be a production line. So start paying attention to evidence. A significant decrease or increase in dose weight, while keeping grinder time constant, does correlate to fineness or coarseness of your grind, which logically carries over to a fast or slow shot time.

Ah fuck, but only if you have your beans covering the exit chute of the hopper. Which is difficult at the end of your busy rush when you know during the afternoon you’ll be lucky to get through two kilos, let alone one. What I’ve found is the lower the beans in the hopper the lower the dose weight is, so as the bean level goes down I compensate by gradually extending the timed dose, and watching my shot times instead for an indication of where my grind setting should be.

That alone should be the clearest indicator that the hard part here is making sure you have everything else that can be effecting that weight under control, or you’re at least factoring it in. This is the game you play each day behind the machine – keeping variables constant while watching the dose weight. Weighing at the grinder, for me at least, seems to offer a stronger cognitive link between those variables – hopper weight, roast date, or batch changes – and all those small, imperceptible differences in humidity, a slightly off tamp, 0.3 grams off this time, 0.2 grams too high the next, all those things that lead to you not quite hitting your target time or yield. A symphony is definitely no joke, and that’s the challenge the Mythos presents.

But that’s pretty much it. Everything else you have to worry about – bean management, tools, cleanliness – that’s all basic espresso management. For the Mythos I’d just dial down your pressure to ~6 Bars, keep it clean and the burrs aligned, left on as often as possible, and weigh your dose accurately. As far as “Barista Friendliness” goes the Mythos is fucking great. To be able to dial in the time of the dose and the grind itself from a forward facing user interface is incredibly helpful while you’re moving fast under pressure. If our volume allowed for it, I used to think I’d use an EK43 any day. But the more I’ve come to use the Mythos alongside the EK, the more I’ve come to appreciate the unique flavour it gives my espresso – usage idiosyncrasies be damned. It’s not better than the EK43, and the EK43 is not better than the Mythos. They both fit a need, and both produce espresso that results in incredibly flavour. For me, the Mythos is a high volume beast, and that suits my purpose. We used to have 90 gram retention problems, bimodal bullshit from conical burrs, clumps like clay, and a grind change mechanism that required at times both hands just to turn it one fucking degree – and that’s if your hands didn’t burn on the neck. The Mythos was clearly made by baristas for baristas, and I find it invaluable to remember how far removed it is from where we’ve come, and how good we have it right now.

Michael Cameron

(Send me your views, trolls, spelling or grammar corrections, and random hearting on twitter; you can find me here. Alternatively you can join the conversation on the Barista Hustle Slack, or the Barista Hustle Facebook page – I’d love to post my Mythos alignment pics for the fifth time. A nine-stack rosetta pour is nailed every time you double-tap over on Instagram).

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