There has always been something I wanted to try on my own ever since I got my Timemore Chestnut C2 grinder: grinding beans for espresso for an actual espresso maker. I have tried grinding beans for Aeropresso, going as fine as 10 clicks on the Timemore C2, but it’s different when you have to make proper espresso. Well, I was offered by Etica Lifetstyle to try out a Flair Signature for a week and now I can finally find out for myself if a Timemore C2 can actually – well at least for a Flair Espresso Maker.
Timemore actually says in the user manual that the C2 can indeed grind for Espresso and the recommended grind settings are 6 to 12 clicks. I’ve mentioned in my (unqualified) thoughts about the Timemore C2 that it still produces fines even when grinding at more coarser settings, so I theorize that going finer would then not cause too much grind uniformity problems and espresso will be fine then (pun not intended).
Now I have never pulled an actual espresso shot before this, so again take these thoughts with a grain of salt. Looking at the grinds, they do look fine and uniform enough. I’ve kind of tackled this in a previous post but getting the correct grind size for your preferred brewing method is essential. This determines how much surface area the coffee grinds will have relative to the amount of time it will be in contact with water. For Espresso, where water is “expressed” through the coffee grinds, it’s important for the coffee to have ample surface area that the water can contact everything evenly at such a short time.
I have played around between 10 to 8 clicks on the Timemore C2 for the Flair Espresso Maker, but find that 9 clicks is kind of the sweet spot either for dark of medium roasts. I say it’s kind of the sweet spot, because I really think something between 9 and 8 clicks would be perfect for the Flair. I sometimes find that going with 8 is too fine a lot of times because the shot choked a bit or I experienced some channeling because I had to decrease the pressure when tamping.
I did always encounter the grinds clumping after grinding them with the C2. My scale has a rubber mat so I always set up the shot there. I find I need to lightly tap the portafilter/basket when I dump the grinds from the Timemore C2’s container. Since I experienced a lot of channeling the first time I’ve tried the Flair, I followed Sprometheus’ advice to “dig” carefully through the grinds with a paper clip (careful not to scrape the basket), lightly tap down again a few times, and then finally tamp. I’ve been getting an even flow since then, extraction time of about 30 seconds, and about 6 to 8 bars of pressure.
Yes, I believe the Timemore C2 can grind for Espresso (again, I’m not a trained professional) and it is a fast manual grinder, but it takes a long time to grind at these settings. The finest I’ve tried was 7 clicks (once, I did it once) and it took almost five minutes. Bringing it up to 8 clicks shortened it significantly to just under 3 minutes. Note, however, that when I timed these I didn’t stop grinding until I finished every last bean in the hopper. I haven’t timed grinding at 9 clicks, but it certainly took more than a minute. I guess this is where more premium manual grinders have the advantage, but I reckon an electric grinder is really best if you plan on making a lot of espresso. But if you just want to pull a shot or two each day, you can survive even with a Timemore C2.
In conclusion: You can grind for Espresso with a Timemore Chestnut C2 (at least for a Flair), but you need to have patience.
Edit: I was mostly using medium roast beans. Before I returned the unit, I tried pulling shots with more developed and matured beans, and I found I can get away with 8 clicks and about 7 to 8 bars of pressure max. So it can change depending on the type of beans you use.
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