Hemro Group explains why original burr replacement is crucial to optimal performance and product longevity, and the impact imitation burrs have on grinder safety, lifecycle, and cup results.
The next time you stare at a Mahlkönig grinder burr, take a moment to look at the intricacies of the perfectly round disc and its precisely aligned teeth that fit into the grinder motor like a hand fits a glove. Then take a moment to appreciate the nearly 100 years of research and development German manufacturer Hemro Group has devoted to the global coffee industry to ensure it remains a leader of burr innovation.
“It may not be very visible to the market when you look at a Mahlkönig burr, but the level of research that goes into it compared to other counterparts is significant. Our burrs have evolved quite considerably,” says Dr. Arnaldo Rodrigues, Hemro Group Global Head of Innovation and Technology.
Arnaldo says one of the biggest innovations in burr development at Hemro Group has been materialisation so that burr performance can be retained and sustained over a long period of time. This involves exploring new burr and teeth geometries, and new combinations on a continuous basis, as well as scientific explorations and monitoring of electrostatics and heat. Hemro Group’s research and development team even also looks at how burrs can help extract new coffee flavours and experiences.
“Regulatory standards have become tighter and tighter, which has pushed us even further. This is what makes us very special in the area of burrs, because we understand the standards extremely well and bring to the market products that respond to those standards,” he says.
Hemro Group, which embraces international brands Mahlkönig, Ditting, Anfim, and HeyCafé, has devoted its time and resources to development of flat burr technology due to their versatility in adjusting to perfect particle size distribution, and achieving desired aromas and taste outcomes. Conical burrs can do the same to some extent, however Arnaldo says their level of agility or robustness is quite limited.
He says flat burrs can also be dimensionally controlled at a much higher degree than conical burrs, meaning the geometry, when machined from a disk, can control the dimension and accuracy of every tooth.
Over the years, Hemro Group has improved its burr manufacturing processes with lean methodologies and robotics at its Hamburg factory to ensure it can produce consistently high-quality products as one of the largest suppliers of flat burrs in the world.
“It means we have to speed up the pace of production without compromising quality,” Arnaldo says. “What we’ve been doing over the years is introduce machineries that are fully automated to produce our burrs in very fast time. The other part that is not accelerated however, is the treatment of the burrs to harden them to make sure they sustain a long lifetime in their application.”
The longevity of a typical Mahlkönig flat steel burr is a minimum 2000 kilograms of coffee, and can go as much as 3000 kilograms depending on materialisation. Arnaldo says this lifecycle is measured against light roasted coffee because it’s harder and will therefore have higher wear properties on the burrs.
To ensure the grinder operates at optimal performance, burr replacement is inevitable. At such a time, however, Arnaldo stresses it is extremely important to visit a Hemro Group distributor for authentic replacement parts of Mahlkönig burrs.
He says by nature, humans are experimentalists who look to try different things, such as imitation burrs, however, a lack of experience and research can often result in a miscalculated risk.
“Burrs are not just a question of just plug and play. There is a lot of evidence you need to build behind what you’re putting into your products,” Arnaldo says.
Things like materialisation and food safety tests are important, with varying standards per country. Hemro’s burrs however, are certified from a food safety point of view, and for cycle times.
“If you have another burr that has a different cycle time to what we have, then you have a product that is completely non-compliant because you need to meet the cycle times that are registered on the grinder. If you’ve got a burr that is producing less or more, you have a problem already,” Arnaldo says.
“When we are designing burrs, we are not designing only the burr. We are designing a system. The entire grinder is the system, and in the system you need to make sure that everything is very well integrated. That means when a burr is producing a certain power, it needs to have a motor that is very coherent. It’s working in a way that is in harmony with the burr, but there’s also all the other electronics behind that. When you are operating a burr, you are not just operating the burr you’re operating the entire machine.”
Typical burr development takes one to two years. It needs to marry to the right motor, the electronics, and have optimal heat management within the grinder.
“As soon as you change that, it’s basically like taking a normal car and putting truck wheels on it. You could completely change the dynamic of the vehicle by [using an unauthorised product]. It makes a huge difference. [Other imitation burrs] may work, but there is a chance you could get it quite wrong, and suddenly the results you were expecting will not be achieved.”
Arnaldo says imitation burrs may initially operate well, but then suddenly elements start to malfunction, such as blockage issues, overheating, hotter coffee, and eventually impact on the coffee taste.
“When you have original burrs in there, however, things like starting the grinder, clogging, retention, electrostatics, heat – all these elements – are quite stable,” he says.
Hemro Group has shared a lot of material on its website to inform its customers on the dangers of imitation burrs, liability, safety, and warranty, including articles, videos, and detail on the level of investment in research and technology development to ensure the integrity and quality of its products is maintained. Equally, users of Hemro Group burrs can liaise with certified distributors and service partners, who are trained via the Hemro Group network, to ensure correct and official replacement burrs are used.
“Hemro is dedicated and passionate about making sure is products are good, because we live and breathe that. We definitely want to pioneer and be the best out there, so we put a lot of emphasis on that,” Arnaldo says.
To help retain that status, Arnaldo and his research team are committed to best burr practices and design. In the past year, they set up a comprehensive set of test benches with different grinding chambers and different burs, to study the torque and heat behaviour of the burrs, as well as power consumption, retention, and electrostatics.
Each was run under different scenarios, such as revolutions per minute for the burrs, before Arnaldo’s team tried to ‘parameterise the burr’, changing the geometry of the teeth ever so slightly to understand how it influences different behaviours within the grinding environment.
“Is it heat? Is it more or less power consumption? We try to get to some optimum, which we call the highest efficiency, such that we have a very efficient system integration where the burr is working pretty well with the motor with regards to electrostatics, retention, all these aspects. That’s how we classify our burrs nowadays, making sure that they have really low power consumption, which then generates less heat that’s passed on to the coffee,” Arnaldo says. “This research is just part of our devotion to the future development of burr technology.”
For information on the quality of Hemro Group burrs and the importance of using original grinder products, see the following links for further reference:
This article appears in the October 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.