Test Drive: The Ceado E37Z Barista Espresso Grinder

“Zero retention” is a sought-after quality in grinders; does this new product actually deliver it?

BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Photos by Josh Taves

Grinders, grinders, grinders!

They seem to be a big topic lately. Ever since Mr. Perger shocked the world with his World Barista Championship performance centered around espresso prepared with the (then slated for discontinuation) Mahlkonig EK43, the stagnation of espresso-grinder technology seems to have ended. No longer is the question “how big is your Mazzer” relevant to most espresso professionals (am I dating myself here?). This march forward has yielded some exciting new technologies like larger standard burr diameters, extensive heat-reduction measures, sleeker aesthetic profiles, grind-by-weight, and the much anticipated forthcoming of Grind-by-Sync.

While uniquely shaped, every piece of the E37Z Barista is very intentional and thought out.

What Is “Zero Retention“?

One of the buzzwords lately has been “zero-retention“ grinding, which I’m pretty sure is a myth. The idea is, if you put 20g of coffee beans into your grinder, you should get 20g out. Sounds simple enough. Except that if you’ve ever really paid attention to your grinding, you know that this doesn’t work out. What happens is that little bits of grounds get stuck in the burr chamber, which three times out of five yields less output than your input. The other two times you get more out than you put in because those little bits of leftover grounds have built up to a point where they come clumping out.

This has led to baristas weighing output doses before tamping as a regular practice in many coffee shops. In theory, true “zero retention” would solve this issue. While some prosumer models have come close, I personally have yet to see a commercial espresso grinder live up to this lofty goal.

The Ceado E37Z Barista

Enter the Ceado E37Z Barista commercial espresso grinder. Ceado is an Italian grinder manufacturer from the famed sinking city of Venice (if you’ve never been, it’s marvelous). Ceado has been making grinders for the home and commercial markets for a while now and boasts distribution in 70 countries. The E37Z Barista is now distributed by GH Grinding & Brewing Solutions in the U.S. and is looking to make a big splash with some novel technology that could be a game-changer on the zero-retention front.

Perhaps the “Z” in the name refers to the shape?

Design Features: Tilted Motor, Red Speed Burrs

Step one in achieving zero retention: Make the path from beans to grounds as small as possible. Ceado accomplishes this with a tilted motor design. This tilt uses gravity to aid in moving the grounds through the burrs, allowing the motor to have a relatively compact footprint, unlike a horizontally mounted motor on grinders like the Mahlkonig EK43 or Bentwood Vertical 63. The grinder model I received had the upgraded 83mm flat “Red Speed Burrs.” These burrs come with a specialized coating that drastically prolongs the life of the burrs and helps reduce fines. Large burrs like this help dissipate heat and provide a more efficient grind time overall. After the grounds leave the burrs, they enter a wide vertical chute (which is easily removable for cleaning) and drop directly into your portafilter.

The Ceado E37Z Barista boasts a large and easily manipulated adjustment knob.

The Buzz, but Twice

There has been nothing too crazy so far other than a funky motor layout. So I grab a portafilter, load up the roughly 2.5lb hopper, and check out the factory settings on the display. With an easily navigable menu, I quickly gather that the E37Z Barista allows you to change the colors and brightness of the touchscreen, and has three programmable dose settings. I select the first setting, which reads “2.50, 1.00.” “Nice that it is programmable to the 1/100th of a second,“ I thought. “But strange it has two numbers, I don’t get what that’s about.” I grab my portafilter and activate the switch. BBBUUUUUUZZZZZZZ, stop, BBBUUUUZZZZZ.

“Wait a minute,” I thought, “did the grinder just pause in the middle of the grind cycle? Is that a fluke?” So I tried it again: same thing, except this time I noticed that during the second portion of grinding, very little grounds came out, if any.

Ensuring my grandfather’s legacy of never reading the instructions, I instead opt to pull off the hopper to watch the exposed burr chamber and try to figure out what the heck is going on. It was at this point that I got to experience what Ceado calls “Sweep Out Dual Spin Technology.” What I observed happening (at the factory setting) was this: The burrs spin the correct direction for 2.5 seconds, the motor stops, and then the burrs spin backward for one second.

Having the burrs spin backward does a few things. First, the burrs are unable to grab any more beans and pull them into the chamber, as the teeth do not engage when spinning backward. Second, the burr chamber is “swept” clean, pushing any retained grounds out of the chute and leaving a clean burr chamber that is ready for fresh new beans on your next dose. And of course, there is programmable timing for both the forward spin and the backward spin. Pretty neat, eh?

This is the photo you want to see: This is what the burrs look like after 20 shots of espresso. Zero retention? See for yourself.

What’s the Verdict?

So, the big question: Is the Ceado E37Z Barista a true zero-retention grinder? I opened up the burr chamber after about 20 shots back to back to find out, and was shocked at how clean the burrs were. Super, super clean. There was a small amount of fines sticking to the chute below the burrs, but so little that my .1g scale couldn’t detect them. Bravo, Ceado.

What does this mean in practicality? First of all, it will mean less waste when adjusting the grind setting. The grind setting adjustment collar is numbered for ease of adjustment, and the large threaded knob makes micro-adjustments super simple. When you do adjust the grind setting, there should be very minimal, if any, need for “purging” old grinds from the burr chamber before pulling a shot. Less waste means more money in your pocket for fancier coffee, and less down time. With the E37Z, making “on the fly” adjustments should be super simple. Second, your espresso should have a cleaner and more crisp profile to it as you can be sure that the grounds are fresh, even when you’ve had a lull in service. Third, if you’re interested in goofy mid-service hopper changes a la Mike Phillips circa 2010, this is probably the grinder you’d want to use for that.

The touchscreen on the E37Z Barista is simple and easy to use while being packed full of features.

Check It Out

If you’re convinced like I am that the Ceado E37Z has some worthwhile features for exploring on your bar, check them out in the U.S. from GH Grinding & Brewing Solutions, or take a closer look in Chicago at the 2024 Specialty Coffee Expo. Ceado will be at booth 929 and GHGBS will be at booth 2034. I’ll see you there!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Taves is the owner and head technician at Dialed Coffee Services in West Michigan. He fixes coffee machines for a living and has been working in the coffee industry since 2006 in all manner of job titles. He is also the inventor of the Cupping Brewer and a 2017 USBC finalist, so he knows his way around lots of different coffee gadgets.

Cover image of the April + May 2024 19th Anniversary Issue

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