Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Barista Guild of America, and a how-to for MDF owners

It finally arrived. I am now officially a card-carrying member of the Barista Guild of America. This means I get SCAA member pricing on SCAA sanctioned events, the support of my other 387 colleagues in our persuit of providing better coffee to the public as well as discounts at some vendors and retailers.

The reason I joined, in all honesty, was the legitimacy that being a member implies. Since I'm launching a consulting and training business, I thought it appropriate that I be a member of a Guild for the trade which I am a part of. Very excited about this. Had a peak in the "members area" of the BGA forums as was a bit disappointed. There's more activity in the "open forum" than in the actual meat and potatos of the site. At any rate, I'm absolutely thrilled to be a member.

Barista Guild member: 0388

I also thought I'd paste my write-up on how to make a Gaggia MDF stepless. I've been meaning to add this to the blog for a long while and had completely forgotten about it. I mentioned it very early on in the existence of this blog, but have yet to come through.

Well, here it is:

The Official:

"How to Modify A Gaggia MDF To Be Stepless (for next to nothing!)" guide V.1.0

by: Jason Haeger

What you'll need:

1. Safety pin, pocket knife, tiny flat-head screwdriver, or some other tool (for removing the rubber guards in the hopper)
2. A small-ish Philips head screwdriver.
3. Plenty of patience and quite a bit of coffee to "dial it in", so to speak (and I don't mean finding the sweet spot).
4. A stiff nylon brush (hey.. while it's apart, you may as well do a clean-up job on it, right?).
5. A roll of Teflon™ tape or a substitute. (I used Oatey Thread Seal Tape from Wal-mart.. $.97)

1. Remove the doser and hopper lids.

2. Using tool #1, remove the rubber grommets inside the bean hopper. Just work around the outside edge a bit and it'll work its way out. Don't be too forceful or you'll damage the grommets.

3. Remove bean hopper by extracting the two screws. (the ones that were covered by the grommets you just removed)

4. Remove the plastic cover. (two screws at the two front corners.. they're both black. Small philips head)

5. Unscrew the two nut-screws(brass) that the hopper screws were bolted into. (they should be close to hand-tight.. if not, you may need some needlenose pliers or something.. be gentle).

6. Remove the Step counter (the black plastic ring with all the numbers on it).

7. Remove the upper burr set by unscrewing it. (the brass circular thing with the gaping hole in the middle.. you just took two brass nut-screws out of it). It may take a bit of time, but it'll come out eventually. I stuck the hopper back in its grooves for leverage on this part.

8. Remove the step guides and springs. There are two. One in front, and one in back. Black metal round-tipped cylinders with springs inside. Keep them in case you ever need the steps again.

9. Using your brush, clean everything. Turn the machine upside down and shake fairly vigorously. You'll be amazed at all of the old grounds that comes out.. enough for two double shots, practically.

10. Make sure the threads are absolutely clean of any grounds or coffee oils.

11. With the upper burr set upside down (upper bur is top-side), wrap the Teflon™ tape starting at the base (where the notches for the steps are) in a CLOCKWISE motion. You'll want a good 5 layers or so on there. Make sure it's on tight. and even.

12. Reinstall upper burr set WITHOUT the step guides. This should be kind of difficult to do. You might lay the machine on its left side (the side without the dosing lever) and put the hopper in place for leverage.

13. Put the plastic cap on (the one with the step number window), and then the bean hopper. Do a test-grind to make sure the resistance of the tape is strong enough to hold the upper burr in place during actual grinding. If it moves.. even slightly (remember, it can only get worse), remove the upper burr set, wipe it clean, and add more tape.

14. Repeat step #13 until there is no movement of the upper burr during grinding. (yes.. it'll get pretty difficult to get that upper burr back into place each time, but it's worth it.)

15. Once completed with step #14, reassemble everything (sans the step guides.. as mentioned).

16. Enjoy your newly stepless grinder. (keep an eye out for the wandering number during grinding. If that starts to happen..more tape!)

I know, it's too easy. This can't possibly work well. I'm here to tell you that I have not touched it since this modification several months ago (I want to say 6 or so.. possibly more), and the resistance for adjusting the grind is not much, and the grind setting does not change during grinding (it used to, but like a new engine, this setup needs breaking in before it works just as intended).

Grinding "between settings"? How about "using numbers as more of a reference than a setting".

Just make sure you DO use the number plate, as it will give you a reference when switching between FP, drip, and espresso. I reset my number plate to reflect true zero. I would suggest everyone to do the same.

In other news

I received 10lbs. of green Papua New Guinea - Sigri coffee. This stuff isn't bad. I have not had a chance to cup it yet. I just roasted the first batch today, and most of this lot is going to be sold to local friends and acquaintances in hopes of elevating consumer awareness on a grass-roots level. The income will help me afford MORE coffee to do the same with. Hopefully it spreads decently and the local consumer base will begin to understand that there is a real difference in quality coffee compared to what is generally available in these parts.

More News

Mangia Bevanda (local shop.. I trained the owners) is now using AAH! Coffee. While not quite on par with the big names in the roasting industry, this company puts out some great coffee for an outstanding price (commercial pricing, that is).

I can now say that I have a shop here locally that I can point people to when they ask for a recommendation (it happens alot, and it's really difficult to say "uh.. my apartment?" when asked where I go for coffee.. it makes me sound like a snob).

Good things are on the horizon.

I apologize for the delay in updates. There's more to tell, but I don't want to write a book in one post.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your how-to - it works perfectly for me. I've seen your post on CS and thought maybe your interested in the drawing I made for my MDF - as the link was already dead at the time of your posting.


Unknown said...

thx for your nice mod! you can use the picture from if you want to insert it.
regards, frerk popovic

bb said...

Hey there,

just wondering about step 11... Maybe I'm being a bit thick here but I'm just completely confused as to which way the upper burr's supposed to be set!? :) The way it sits in the grinder (and then the tape clockwise around) or the other way?

Since clockwise seems to be of some necessity I thought I'd ask :)

bb said...

A little more thinking and I got it... :)

Jason Haeger said...

I'm glad you got it figured out.