I’ve been looking for ways to get more consistant shots of espresso from my La Pavoni Professional and one of the few things that kept holding me back was the quality of the grounds. Knowing full well that my Nemox Lux was already producing the best grounds it could, I started looking for a new grinder. I found my grail in Italy, read on for the full story.
Sooo many choices
When I set out to get a better grinder I consulted a multitude of forums and discussion groups. One brand that kept popping up was Mazzer. Apparently they are built like tanks and with their flat burrs they are rumored to create a very fluffy kind of grounds.
Finding a candidate for a project
To keep costs down I browsed the for sale sections of local forums and browsed a lot of classifieds-sites. I was blown away by the prices that even 10 year old grinders were listed for. That’s when I knew it was going to be a project and that I’d settle for a used and abused one.
Finding one that fell within my budget however wasn’t an easy task and eventually I even ended up on eBay UK and eBay Italy. It was eBay Italy where I found my grinder. Lots of time left in the auction, zero bids and a price that was well within my budget.
Oh do i love receiving boxes. The waiting for it i can do without though.
Well the “built like a tank” part sure was no lie, it’s heavy and it won’t be pushed over that easy. The paint however was in a dreadful condition, scratched, grooved, nicked, you name it. Some parts needed to be replaced and others were just missing. I’ve added the pictures that the seller posted on eBay since I (somehow) managed to forget to make those myself.
Cleaning and restoring
As with any piece of equipment i buy used, thoroughly cleaning is a number one priority. It was obvious from the pictures on eBay that the Mazzer needed a lot of love to revive it to its former glory but it also need a very, VERY thorough cleaning. There were old coffeegrounds everywhere, the grinder smelled awful and frankly if someone told me it had been sitting in a basement for 5 years i wouldn’t be surprised. I sure hope nobody actually tried to grind beans with it to be used for an espresso. The mere thought of it alone…
First i took off the grind setting ring that holds down the upper burrcarrier.
Then i took out the actual burrcarrier and found my first “treasure”. There was an abundance of old grounds that surely had something to do with the smell. As i cleaned it out i found there was actually a ridge or groove in the burrcarrier, too. I removed the burr from the carrier and found even more old grounds.
I then used a socket with a ratchet to keep the the lower burrcarrier from spinning while i removed the screws that held the burr in place. Obviously there were even more grounds. I left the lower burrcarrier in place because i really wanted to get the paint off as soon as possible.
But first i needed to remove the doser. The doser is held on by 4 bolts. Once the upper two bolts are out you can easily remove the plastic screen. It was quite scratched up initially but a little polishing made it look quite good again (which i unfortunately do not have pictures off). At the bottom of the doser there are 2 more bolts that hold the doser onto the grinder.
Once the doser came off i took it apart to get all the old stale grounds out, clean it, check for hidden damage and re-grease everything that needs greasing. The first thing to be removed is the top set of vanes. I removed the top screw and then the big black adjustment nut. After that the vanes are freed and can be taken straight off. On the bottom of the vanes there are two small screws holding the entire thing together. I removed those to be able to clean the parts one by one. I then took of the spring that sits between the two sets of vanes, dirty is an understatement again.
To remove the bottom vanes i had to take the handle (or “clacker”) off along with the complete bottom of the doser. Luckily it’s quite easy as there were only 2 Allen-head bolts to take out. To remove the little gear inside i pressed the small pin into the gear first and then loosened the big black bolt running through the whole moving assembly. The gear itself is to be greased, the downside however is that grease traps loose particles like coffeegrounds. Once i cleaned the whole shebang i put screwed it back together as to not forget how it was supposed to fit together again.
Next up cable and switch removal. Apparently Italy uses a different type of plug than what i’m used to so this one had to go. The cable itself was probably the original that came with the machine since it had gotten quite stiff and the insulation quite hard, i opted to switch it out completely for a new cable later on. The Switch was easier to deal with, two small bolts and the tag / plate and switch came off. I tied the switch to the motor inside the grinder body with a tie-wrap since i wouldn’t be painting the inside of the grinder anyway.
I masked the top of the grinder completely to make sure no paintstripper would get into it. It’s a dangerous and poisonous chemical substance that i’d rather not have end up in my espresso’s. Hammerite Ultra Paintstripper is my favorite paintstripper, unlike most it doesn’t have to be sprayed on but must be brushed on which makes it much easier to apply it to just the grinder instead of the entire garage. The stripper should be applied in a 2 – 3mm thick layer and left to do its job for about 6 – 8 hours depending on the condition and type of paint. The paint on the Mazzer must’ve been quite bad already as it started to come off after 4 hours already, i waited another hour and then gently(!) brushed the stripper and paint off with a wire brush. Somehow it looks quite interesting in bare aluminum.
Once the old paint was off i cleaned it up with some white spirit to make sure there weren’t any solvents or bits of grime left on the body of the grinder. The body itself however was made out of cast aluminum, which in this case means that it was less than perfect in terms of smoothness. Generally in cast materials there are pits and grooves, this one is no different. To fill in all the grooves i used a layer of primer which was to be sanded once it cured. In total there are 5 layers of primer on it that each had been sanded to a smooth surface. Once i was satisfied with the primer layers i put on 4 layers of color. Nothing too fancy but probably a color that most Mazzers will never see, dark gray metallic. To top it all off i put on 3 layers of clearcoat on it get a nice deep shine.
On the body had completely cured i took off all the maskingtape and started cleaning the grinding chamber. To get to the bottom of the chamber i had to remove the lower burrcarrier which is held on by one nut and friction. The nut came off easy but to get the burrcarrier off i used 3 stainless steel M4 sized bolts (regular grade steel bolts are too soft for this) which where thread through the mounting holes of the lower burr. Once the bolts are in deep enough you’ll hit the bottom of the chamber and you can force the carrier off by gently tightening the bolts, one by one and never more than one full turn before moving to the next bolt. Obviously there were plenty of old stale grounds under the carrier, but not that a good cleaning won’t get rid of. The carrier had a lot of caked on old grounds on it too. I even thought it had some clever design on the bottom but in the end that appeared to be nothing more than old grounds.
Putting it back together
With the grindingchamber cleaned i reinstalled the lower burrcarrier and started cleaning the burrs. The burrs can be cleaned with warm water and some dishwashing soap, just make sure to dry them off really well because water will trap grounds and that will eventually clog up the machine. When i modded my Nemox Lux grinder i used stainless hardware exclusively. The reason for using only stainless is very simple, it doesn’t rust. And rust doesn’t mix with coffee. After cleaning and drying the burrs i reinstalled both and put the top carrier back in its place as well. On top of the top carrier comes the grindsetting ring, the threading is reversed and very fine and delicate. The easiest and safest way to reassemble it is by pressing the top carrier down with one hand and screwing the ring in with the other.
Moving on to reassembling the doser. Every part was vigorously cleaned. The gear was quite greasy when i disassembled the doser, unnecessarily so. I put the shim on the lower vanes and into the doser. Then the brass gear slider over the long bolt which is then screwed into lower set of vanes. After carefully tightening the bolt and lower vanes i installed the little steel pin to prevent the bolt from undoing itself. I then applied a fair bit of food-safe silicone based grease to all moving parts and reinstalled the bottom plate and lever. The upper vanes actually consist of 2 set of vanes and a coverplate, which are assembled with 2 small bolts. The larger spring is then placed over the bolt in the middle of the doser. The upper vanes can now be installed by simply sliding it over the bolt and holding it down with one hand while installing the large plastic nut (dose adjuster). Beware of the coverplate though, it has a little bit of metal protruding that slides neatly into wall of the doser. Once that is all done i installed the little bolt in the top of the bolt so the adjustment nut can’t be backed off too far.
Now that the doser has been put together all that was left was bolting it the main body of the Mazzer. Originally there was a quite worn and sticky gasket around the exit of the grindingchamber. I chose to not source a (probably) overpriced original gasket and resorted to a foam that compressed easily enough and didn’t really retain any greases. The only thing that keeps this gasket in place is friction, no grease, no oil and certainly no glue. First i cut a piece that would fit in between the two bolt holes and then an opening in the middle to let grounds pass through (clever me). Securing the doser to the main body is rather simple, first put the doser with the gasket against the body and install the two bolts through the bottom of the grinder into the main body but do not tighten them yet. By this time i realised i hadn’t installed the plastic screen yet so that had to slide in first because the top two screws make it impossible to do so afterwards. Next make sure the gasket is where it is supposed to be and install and tighten the top two bolts. Once those two bolts are in and tight, you can tighten up the bottom two bolts.
Basically that was it. My Mazzer Super Jolly is clean, has fresh coat of paint and has been checked top to bottom. As you can see there are a few things “missing”, most prominently the beanhopper. My Mazzer was sold to me without a hopper and initially i thought about getting the big, standard hopper or a smaller hopper meant for another model. I did however start using the grinder and i could only grind enough beans for 1 or 2 shots at a time and eventually i began to prefer grinding just what i needed, when i needed it. Why? Quite simple, beans in “open air” are only really fresh for short time, ground beans however become stale even faster so grinding for 3 days in advance is actually wasteful and you’ll end up with very poor tasting espresso eventually. Plus i get to keep that pretty machine clean. It also didn’t come with a lid for the doser and the rubber feet it sat on where quite worn as well.
Having already put in a lot of time just to get the Mazzer working and looking good again, I couldn’t resist trying to improve it as well. While doing my research on these grinders, I also stumbled across a number of mods. In an upcoming post I will cover two mods, one widespread and one probably new to most Mazzer owners.
I’ve had the Mazzer for a few months now and i can honestly say it’s a vast improvement over the Nemox Lux. They are however quite different machines, the electric motor alone of the Mazzer is as big as the entire body of the Nemox Lux. It’s also a lot more silent, creates a very consistent and indeed fluffy grounds. So far static hasn’t been a problem either.