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Anfim Super Caimano 2.0: Barista Review
Editor's note: This is what I hope will be the first in a long series of barista reviews, a blossoming section on prima-coffee.com that will feature a practical look at equipment written by someone in real-world conditions. Sam Lewontin is a barista and barista trainer at Equal Exchange Espresso in Seattle, Washington. He contributes to the Why Not? Coffee and Slayer Professional Espresso blogs, and can be found on Twitter as @coffeeandbikes.
|Anfim Super-Caimano 2.0 Espresso Grinder|
|Dimensions:||22.44" high x 7.7" wide x 14.6" deep (570mm x 195mm x 370mm)|
|Motor:||0.6hp @ 800rpm|
|Burr-set:||Ø 75mm flat, titanium nitride coated|
|Hopper Capacity:||4.4lb (2 kg)|
The specialty coffee scene in the US has been shaped for years by grinders manufactured by Mazzer Luigi, srl, and it’s easy to understand why. Mazzers are impressively dependable, feature smooth, stepless grind adjustment, and are notably easy to service and find parts for. Their behavior is consistent and dependable enough that many near-ubiquitous barista techniques are based on their specific quirks.
When Anfim (who have been quietly manufacturing grinders in Milan for some 50 years) burst onto the North American market a few years ago, then, coffee professionals were understandably skeptical. Anfim’s top-end espresso grinder, the Super-Caimano, was nothing like a Mazzer: its construction seemed less robust; its dosing lever looked and felt totally different; it featured a huge flat burr-set, as opposed to the top-end Mazzer’s conical burrs; and its grind adjustment collar was stepped (heaven forbid). There were also reports of overheating issues in busy shop settings, and the amount of ground coffee retained in the burr-set and throat seemed excessive.
Having had extensive experience on a timer-modified Anfim however, I slowly became a convert; and when 49th Parallel (Anfim’s North American distributor) announced that they were releasing a revised Super-Caimano that addressed many of the problems and concerns of early adopters, I was intrigued. Having installed one in my shop, and used it in a production setting for several weeks, I can say that—despite its caveats— the second-revision Super-Caimano is one of the most capable commercial espresso grinders currently available.
Out of the box, the Super-Caimano 2’s fit and finish are impressive. It ships with a factory-installed cooling fan and dose timer, and its construction is reassuringly solid. Setup is a snap: simply install the hopper and waste tray, plug the grinder in and go.
It should be noted that, due to the durability of the titanium-nitride-coated burrs, the Super-Caimano 2 has a considerable break-in period. Optimal timer and grind settings will get progressively shorter and finer across the first 100-150lb of coffee run through the grinder. Within this period, there will also be noticeable inconsistencies in dose-per-time, which will even out as the burrs break in.
Once the burrs are broken in, however, the grinder is extremely precise and consistent. At the proper grind setting for 25-30 second extractions, an 18-gram dose will take approximately 8.5 seconds, with less than 1 gram of variation dose-to-dose. This precision not only allows for extremely consistent extractions, but also enables the barista to reliably use small dose increments to adjust their extraction time.
This is extremely important, because despite the additional steps added to the grind adjustment collar in the second revision (90 total steps, as opposed to the first version’s 70), the grind variation step-to-step is still fairly wide. A one-step change to the grind setting will generally change extraction time by 3-4 seconds for a given dose size and shot volume.
All of these considerations, however, are overshadowed by the incredible precision of Anfim’s doser. This precision is two-fold: first, it leaves very little residual coffee in the dosing chamber post-dosing; second, it delivers an even, fluffy cone of coffee into the center of the porta-filter basket every time. There’s simply no comparison to Mazzer’s doser designs: after an hour of heavy traffic in our shop, the total amount of waste coffee on the counter is under 2 grams. A barista can go an entire shift without ever having to clean the grounds tray.
Complementing this doser is a wonderfully intuitive factory-installed timer. The timer is set with a separate increment and decrement button for each decimal place: ten seconds, one second, tenths of a second and hundredths of a second. This granularity of timer control, matched with the lack of a set button or a front-end menu system of any kind, means that a barista using this grinder can make tiny, precise adjustments to their dose on the fly, without having to make the customer wait while they wade through the grinder’s interface. It’s a difference in accessibility which is hard to communicate without seeing it in action, but it makes the Super-Caimano 2’s timer interface far preferable to any other currently on the market.
The combination of an intuitive timer and a precise doser gives baristas using the Super-Caimano 2 an incredible level of fine control over their dose, and enable a huge amount of coffee savings for cafes. Our shop estimates that we will save 15-20% (with some cafes reportedly seeing savings as high as 30%) on our coffee orders after switching from a timer-less Mazzer. At this rate, the Anfim will pay for its $1900 dollar price in around 6 months.
It’s also worth noting that the Super-Caimano 2 is relatively cool-running and quiet. Both of these qualities can be attributed to a new motor, which runs at 800 rpm as opposed to the original Super-Caimano’s 1200. This low motor-speed, combined with a factory-installed cooling fan and relatively large burrs, means that the grinder heats coffee only minimally as it is ground, lending further consistency to both extraction rate and flavor profile.
For all of these high-points, the Super-Caimano 2 is not without its quirks. As is mentioned above, the available range of grind adjustment—even in its improved form—is much broader than would be ideal. Also, the throat between the burr-set and the doser is significantly larger than on most Mazzer grinders. This, combined with the clump-breaking bar at the throat aperture, necessitates relatively frequent purging to ensure that the coffee that ends up in the porta-filter basket is as fresh as possible (this generally isn’t a problem during busy periods, but requires close attention when the shop is slow). Additionally, the Super-Caimano’s relatively light weight means that it tends to wander across the counter if not anchored; a rubber packing mat usually does the trick.
Grinder technology is still at a point where any commercial espresso grinder is a significant compromise; in choosing one, shop owners need to prioritize which features they feel are most valuable. While the Anfim Super-Caimano 2 has its fair share of caveats, its advantages—exceptional grind consistency, dose control and dosing accuracy—make it more than the equal of many more-expensive and flashier grinders on the market. If your shop doesn’t need the ridiculous speed of a Mazzer Robur, it’s a must-buy.
Posted by Sam Lewontin in Seattle