Host has been a major show for our friends and partners at Nuova Simonelli, who chose not to debut products at the SCAA Event last spring in Boston, instead holding back new products for an impressive barrage here in Milan. Nuova's “Technology Village” installation on the Host show floor has been well-trafficked all weekend, and regularly populated by a cadre of barista champions. Yesterday we profiled Nuova's new “Black Eagle” espresso machine, released under the Victoria Arduino line; today we're featuring Nuova's all-new Mythos One Clima-Pro Grinder, debuting here at Host, and available in identical versions under both the Nuova Simonelli and Victoria Arduino brands.
The Clima-Pro project was developed by James Hoffmann, Colin Harmon, Fritz Storm, and Gwilym Davies – four accomplished barista competitors, three of whom have been World Champions. The project was tested and tweaked for two years, prior to its debut this weekend at Host, resulting in several dead ends and technical solutions that would work in theory, but weren't actually practical. Sprudge.com spoke extensively about this new grinder with Colin Harmon, who actually broke this story himself on his own personal blog a few days ago.
“The vast majority of our problems [in coffee] you can trace to grinders,” Mr. Harmon told us. “Everything from speed of service in the cafe, effectiveness of that service, morale of your staff, roast profiling, how we explore coffee and learn about coffee – it all comes back to grinding.” Mr. Harmon, who owns 3FE in Dublin, Ireland (and is a four-time Irish Barista Champion), has only been involved in specialty coffee since 2009. According to Mr. Harmon, “we've seen incredible leaps in espresso machines since then, but not for espresso grinders.” For him, Clima-Pro directly addresses this discrepancy.
It does so by regulating temperature. Why focus on temperature in the first place? “Coffee at different temperatures has a different rate of passage through the portafilter,” Mr. Harmon explained. “When you get a hot puck, it looks like your grind profile has changed, but really that's just temperature.” This is an established, observable fact, one that baristas around the world address directly through the daily process of “dialing in”, which may as well be called “warming up.”
So, if temperature is a major factor for grinder consistency, what's the ideal temperature for grinding espresso? The four champs, who consulting on this project with researchers from the University of Alcona, set themselves to figuring this out, and after much temperature probing and microwaving, they determined the best range was between 35 and 45 degrees Celsius. This temp range produced the most consistent and tastiest shots of espresso. What if there were a grinder that only operated within this range?
“Once we found the temperature range, everything else fell into place,” Colin told us. Clima-Pro suspends its heat within 35 and 45 C, and it does so using three distinct technologies. First, the grinder has a heating element attached to a sensor on the collar of the grinder, that raises its temperature from “off” to 35C, and keeps the temperature at 35C should it ever fall below. Open your cafe, turn the grinder on, start pulling the chairs down from the tables, and the Clima-Pro will be at 35C in around 10 minutes.
Next, the grinder cools things down by position two fans on the back of the machine, creating a chimney-like effect that kicks in when the grinder goes over 45 degrees Celsius. These fans sort of look like what you'd find on the back of a home PC, and are based on similar technology.
Last, the Clima-Pro has a aluminum heat sink to absorb and dissipate heat kicked off by the burrs. The heat sink is exposed; it's beautiful, in fact, a kind of form and function that is one of the grinder's most distinctive qualities. This heat sink is important because absorption and dissipation help the fan chimney work more effectively, allowing Clima-Pro to stay within its proscribed “sweet spot” of 35C to 45C.
The end result is being positioned as a grinder that's easy to walk up to cold, and dial in right away. Other features include a significantly smaller chamber between the burr set and chute than commonly found on other grinders – just a few grams are stored there, compared to as much as 40 grams on other products. The goal is to offer a grinder that is easier to operate consistently, reduces waste, creates even particle distribution of ground coffee (with a nice, fluffy appearance), and runs cool and silent. If this sounds like pretty much the dream set of grinder wants, well, keep in mind that it was developed by four world champion baristas who pretty clearly know their own needs. Will it use more energy than a standard grinder? Yes. But the amount of waste it reduces more than offsets any uptick in energy use, according to Mr. Harmon.
The proof is in how Clima-Pro has performed here in Milan. “In years past, serving coffee here has always been just terrifying,” Mr. Harmon told us. “People know you on the internet and they've just got this very high expectations when they walk up for a coffee. This year, this grinder has made me feel far more confident about making coffee at Host.” For one of the best baristas in the world, that's a meaningful endorsement.