Tag Archives: espresso

Finding the perfect grind with my Gaggia MDF Grinder

When I first stepped into the world of coffee-as-a-hobby, my gear of choice was Gaggia. It offered an approachable price point and seemed to be a few rungs up from the espresso machines available at big box appliance stores.

The Espresso DeLuxe was a fine little beginner’s machine, and soon I lusted after a grinder that could do more than my “chopper” grinder’s whirling blades. I wanted something that would give me that fine, magic powder that would extend my shots and yield that mythical crema.

I stayed brand loyal (for cost reasons) and bought a Gaggia MDF Grinder. It was stout, heavy and had that mid-1990’s look and feel to it. It had the built in doser that I never really ended up using, but most importantly it had what seemed to be endless click stops for adjusting the grind. It wasn’t cheap – I recall $299 USD price tag. All reports I read indicated it was made to last, so I took the plunge

Losing My Steps – The cleaning accident

The MDF performed well for me, grinding both store bought roasts and my own attempts a roasting. I learned my way around the grind settings, picking my favorites for French press, drip, and espresso. I made a point of cleaning the MDF fairly often, as many of my favorite beans were oily and left a good bit of residue in the machine. During one cleaning, an accident happened. Once could say it was a “mis-step”.

The Gaggia MDF comes apart easily. Here are instructions on how to do it.

I had taken off the hopper and unscrewed the heavy brass carrier that holds the top grinding plate. As with all grinders, there were pockets of packed coffee grounds stuffed in the corners. I turned the unit over and shook out the old bean dust. Unfortunately, that’s when the accident happened. An essential part fell from the grinder and into the trash. Two indexing pins (they sort of look like dark metal bullets with a spring in the back) dropped out and I didn’t notice they were gone until I reassembled a few days later. Of course, the trash was long gone by then.

The indexing pins for a Gaggia MDF Grinder
These are getting rare, these are indexing pins for the Gaggia MDF.

I looked around on line and found the part at Whole Latte Love. For some reason I didn’t actually order them at the time. I’m not sure why I didn’t, perhaps my interest in coffee was on the lull, or I was making due with a KitchenAid Proline Coffee Grinder I had gotten hold of. I would try to use the once proud MDF every so often, but I had to now HOLD the hopper at the correct grind number while grinding, something that never gave good results.

The Gaggia MDF wound up sitting in my parts box for about six years.

Unused. Forgotten.

I recently experienced a rekindling of the coffee hobby with the gift of a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. I tried using store-bought ground coffee, but found myself unhappy with the resulting too-fast shots and lack of crema. I went back and dug out my old Gaggia MDF.

I knew I had to fix the indexing problem. The indexing “bullets” were still available, but the compression springs were not. I had to try and hunt around at hobby shops or online to find these tiny springs. Wanting to get this grinder back in service, I chose to try a “mod” or modification that coffee forums had suggested. It allowed the MDF to become “step-less” and do away with the indexing bullets.

The method is described here in a 2009 post on home-barrista dot com. It involves disassembly of the unit down to unscrewing the upper plate carrier, cleaning all the coffee dust and oil from the actual grinding area, and then wrapping the fine threads with teflon pipe wrapping tape. The teflon tape is wrapped around the threads 5 layers deep so the act of screwing the upper plate carrier (and thus adjusting the fineness of the grind) requires a good bit of hard twisting. This stiffness will keep the grinding plates at exactly the spot you selected, making it possible to grind at 2.5 steps or 3.75 steps.

I did the mod (after a complete cleaning of all parts and surfaces) in about 10 minutes. It was truly easy and works exactly as billed. Now, I have my grinder set to about a 3.25 setting or so and getting store-bought whole bean coffee to yield great flavor and amazing crema.

If you have one of these grinders, they are worth cleaning and putting back in full service. Do this modification if you dare, so for my results have been worth it. If anything CLEAN your grinder by taking it apart, as there is no substitute for a detailed wipe down and wash. Your coffee will thank you for it.

Keurig works up a froth with Gevalia

Mocha Latte is the R rated version of chocolate milk.
I say that because Moca Latte has a smooth creamy favor.  It has a yummy mouth-coating quality that lingers like a melting malt ball.  It’s a kid’s dream, thick and luscious with a flavor so fat it hangs like a froth mustache on your upper lip.  But moca has some forbidden qualities as well.  It has the very grown up nip of a dark roasted espresso and a nutty fullness that wins out over the sheer sweet that children would prefer.  Most kids I know would take a sip and then stick out a tongue in defeat.  So close, but yet so far in children’s terms.  But a nice mocha can be just the ticket to the adult tongue.

But what has all this frothiness have to do with Keurig?  Drop in a cup and get a cup of coffee – no froth allowed.  Or is that actually the case?

Image of Mocha Latte box

Gevalia’s Mocha Latte “Kit”

Keurig gets complex with Gevalia’s Mocha Latte 2 part kit.

Gevalia, who has entered the K-arena with some wonderful coffees, as introduced a 2 part kit for preparing a frothy cup of moca latte.  The kit consists of a powder packet that is poured dry into the bottom of the coffee cup.  Then a quite ordinary looking K cup is placed in the holster.  With the machine set to a medium cup size, the hot water passes though the coffee …. and magic takes place.

2013-12-24 09.57.45

As the hot coffee hits the powder, a reaction occurs.  The powder in the cup begins to pop and sputter to life, creating a blanket of foam about a half inch thick.  As a man who grew up in the United States, I am reminded of a popular candy called “Pop Rocks” that would sputter and crack once exposed to whatever corrosive qualities my saliva contained.   You can give it a few stirs with a stick or a spoon to mix in all the powder, and you wind up with a cup of mocha latte that looks and smells pretty good.  There’s still a few pops and cracks, but that fades quickly leaving a nice cup of foamy drink.  A little squirt of canned whipped cream makes this an impressive looking treat.

The impressive fireworks aside, how does this powdered “latte” foam actually taste?  The best way is to tell you what it is NOT:

1.  It is NOT truly frothed whole milk with lots of fat and all the things that make a latte like this stick to your ribs, among other places.

2.  It is NOT Cremora on steroids.  It has a true coating quality that offers the impression of something containing significant milkfat.  There’s mocha flavoring in the powder as well, and while it isn’t overhelmingly “malted” it is a pleasant taste that works well with the brewed coffee.

3.  It is NOT an uncompromising replacement for a coffee house mocha latte.  You want the real deal, you’ve got to put on your coat and go get it or invest in a whole lot more equipment than a Keurig.

4.  It is NOT expensive in calories.  Gevalia clams 80 calories per serving.  You have to stay away from any extra sugar or whipped cream to stay on that target.

5.  It is NOT expensive in money, relatively speaking.  At the time of this writing, Amazon.com was selling in bulk (36 cups) for 1.22 a cup.  compare this to 4-6 dollars for a store made beverage and it’s a good deal.  Compare it to a nice, simple cup of really good Joe and yeah … it’s a bit of extra change.

Gevalia did very well with this tricked out powder and K-cup combination.  It is a worthy, quick and easy cup that you can offer a guest or whip up for yourself.  It is a great way to avoid a fattening desert and it will leave you feeling quite happy that you’ve had something naughty to drink.

The Coffee Whisperer recommends Gevalia’s Mocha Latte for Keurig!