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Dec 21, 2007 11:13 AM

Cold grinding for matcha,espresso, soymilk...etc

I've finally found my manual stone grinder! A Quern.

My order of the 6 in coffee and grain grinder just arrived. It's good for both dry and wet grinding. With shipping it cost me about $55. I'm testing it out, "breaking it in" as it advises me to do. It grinds to fine powder quite efficiently.

So far I have plans to learn to make the Japanese matcha (green tea powder) by using my own tea grounds, to grind coffee beans for espresso, and to make small batchese of soymilk (and tofu..etc). I think it may or may not be too fine for espresso grounds, but am pretty sure it'll be great for matcha.

Previously when making soymilk from a blender, I could always smell the scent I have come to call "electricity", that same smell a machine bread maker leaves on the bread that I can't stomach. I couldn't even imagine having that smell ruin tea or coffee grounds.

The journey begins.

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  1. I hope you don't think you can use that for grinding coffee effectively, especially for espresso?

    2 Replies
    1. re: chipman

      I'm just starting to break it in by grinding rice, so I haven't tried to grind coffee bean, yet.

      My sense of the term "espresso" isn't the kind that requires an expensive espresso machine, and all the exact procedures and requirements to qualify. I am only using the term to refer to stove top makers of "very strong coffee", if you must.

      Have you used one of these to grind coffee before? I'd love to hear your experience with it.

      1. re: HLing

        You can't effectively grind coffee to any size without a proper coffee grinder.

    2. It's been 8 months since I first got my stone Quern and i'm still enjoying it a lot, and learning and honing in on a good technique for grinding. Just thought I'd update:

      I ordered a larger one, 8 inch diameter, weighing over 50 lbs. So, the little grinder is reserved for grinding coffee for my Aeropress, the large one is for grinding (wet and or dry) wheat to make bread, grinding buckwheat to make 100% buckwheat soba noodles, and wet-grinding soy beans for making soymilk/tofu.

      There are many other uses for the Quern. The versatility of both wet and dry grinding is a great plus. Probably the easiest thing to use it for is to grind Buckwheat to make Soba, although the difficult part for soba comes in making and cutting the noodles, especially if it's pure buckwheat.

      The most interesting process I've found so far is in the wet grinding of the soaked and semi-sprouted wheat : it encorporates the "kneading" as it grinds so that the gluten develops and you get a wet dough that's great for making digestable bread whose crumb holds together beautifully.

      The soymilk making is a long process, but it's really worth it, as it's not something an electric blender/grinder can duplicate. I've made very rich soymilk that naturally sweet and thick like heavy cream, with regular yellow soy, as well as with black skinned, green fleshed soy beans (which are harder in texture to grind).

      Anyhow, seeing the posts about Matsugen had me feeling at last some kindred spirit in the chow-sphere. It was especially good to see the picture of their grinder - industrial and all, but the grinding parts are the same stone as my manual one.
      While I don't know if they grind their own soy or not, I'm looking forward to trying their soba so that i can compare notes.

      1. Hi, I wanted to know if your stone grinder grinds sea salt really fine and vanilla beans (blended/processed into small pieces first).

        I SO want to get this grinder. I'm thinking the 6 inch would be perfect as a beginning to grind spices and pastes? But, I also want to try the larger one.

        I'm looking forward to upgrading to an East Indian electric wet grinder for $175 when I can afford it.

        8 Replies
        1. re: yuna

          Hi Yuna, sorry i didnt' see your post until now. I think to grind sea salt you could easily use a marble mortar and pestle. As for Vanilla beans...I'm wondering if the pods might be too sinewy to grind properly. Again, I would think a heavy mortar and pestle where you can pound would be more suitable. I'm curious about the East Indian electric wet grinder. What do you plan to use it for?

          A general note to myself in continuation of my Quern journey:

          Today I made black croissants.

          I've been searching for things I can make well with the Quern. Since it's good for wet-grinding soaked (and semi-sprouted) wheat berries I've been doing that to create a nice and creamy whole wheat wet-dough that, upon research, some bread and pastry recipe actually calls for, i.e. Ciabata, (same dough for Foccacia). I found that as many variations of croissant recipes there are, some called for a wet dough to start, too. SO, this has led me on a croissant-making journey. In this Quern-exploring process, i can't ONLY grind, I have to follow through.

          At about my 5th attempt at croissant making I finally started to have a sense of the "hows" of croissant making, thanks to various recipes and the Julia Child/Esther McManus video. I also decided to make use of some soaked black sesame seeds.
          I ground the seeds with the wheat berries to make a integrated dough. Added very little yeast for slow rise. Used honey, and condensed milk instead of sugar and regular milk. Then added some organic unbleached white flour. Mainly, I finally added the full amount of butter!
          The result was strange looking, but good tasting croissants! If you were blind-folded you would taste and hear the flaky, shattering crispy whisp of the outer layer and the tender inside folds. It needs a little jam to counter the slight bitterness of the black sesame, but the wheat flavor is very wholesome without being dense.

          For what it's worth, this might be the ONLY black croissant ever made anywhere....

          1. re: yuna

            meant to attach a photo of my black croissants

            1. re: HLing

              Thank you for your reports! I've been thinking about getting a grain mill. That is so cool that you've made soba noodles with it. I can imagine how difficult it must have been, especially as you didn't add any wheat.

              How long does it take to grind approximately 1 cup of buckwheat?

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Miss Needle, once you get the hang of it buckwheat is one of the easier things to grind. I rarely JUST grind buckwheat but always follow through with the noodle making and cooking since that's the point of stone-grinding the buckwheat groats in the first place. But I'm thinking about making some soba soon, so I'll time myself then.

                Otherwise, the whole process from grinding to cooked and ready to eat is about 2.5 to 3 hours. It's easier to make a small batch enough for just 2 - 3 people.

                By the way, for those who want to make soba straight from buckwheat flour (Soba ko), I saw a 2 lbs bag for sale at St. Mark's Sunrise Market.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Miss Needle, thanks to you I made some soba last night :)

                  I timed myself: grinding 1 1/2 cup of buckwheat groats took about 25 mins. This is a good amount for the 8 inch diameter stone grinder because that's about how much of ground flour the grinder's outer channel will hold, and you would have to unload and sieve at that point. 1 1/2 cup of groats gave me 1.75 cup of fine buckwheat flour and 1/4 cup of the rougher parts.

                  I then wet-ground some black sesame seeds that were starting to sprout. Added that to my buckwheat flour and made soba. Pictures attached.

                  1. re: HLing

                    Wow! What wonderful pics! I'm sure they were delicious!

                    I admire you so much for doing it. I'm still trying to decide whether I've got that type of dedication (and kitchen space). I have to admit that I can be lazy, and it may be easier to go to Matsugen (and pay really high prices) to get my soba fix.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Miss Needle, thank you for your supportive words, though some on this board and maybe some of my friends might tell you, "Dont' encourage her any more....!!"

                      I still can't justify eating out yet, so Matsugen will have to wait. Luckily I don't feel deprived at all with all that I can make right here in my own little kitchen.

                      Also, to update on the coffee-grinding of the Quern:
                      It really matters HOW one grinds when it comes to the resulting grain size and uniformity, which in turns changes the taste of the coffee. So far, if I start the Quern slowly turning first, without anything in the feed, then keeping the speed, feed one, 2 coffee beans at a a certain interval..the size of the first grains of coffee that comes out will set the size for the rest of the batch. I've found that ground size finer than French Press grounds tastes best for my Aeropress, and so I would very patiently gear for that grind. But, if I wanted to grind it coarser, I can also just feed a bit more at a time at the onset of the grinding to achieve that result.

                      I like this sort of connection to my grinder. Sort of like driving a stick shift vs. automatic. So for those who actually decides to give the Quern a try, I have to say, don't give up too soon.

                2. re: HLing

                  Those black croisants look cool!

              2. I just wanted to share with any future buyers of the maifan stone mills my HORRENDOUS experience while trying to get one of these mills.

                I came across this site while researching to buy a grinder to grind tea into matcha. I was so excited to get to the web site and even more excited to find out the very reasonable prices and shipping.

                I immediately order one. I waited, and waited and waited.... then, I got an email from the representative of the company telling me she had some dead in the family and that she'll respond to my email in a few days.

                She responded only to tell me she was not satisfied with the mills she had in stock (literal words) and that I had to wait some more (2 weeks or more) until she got some more mills from the manufacturer.

                I told her, in very nice words (I even started the email giving her my most sincere condolences for her loss) that that was not a very professional way of doing business.

                I then asked her (as a "payment" for her unprofessional attitude) if she would not mind trying to find out if the mill could grind tea into matcha even if it meant to test it on her own products.

                Next thing I know the woman is sending me an email telling me she refunded my purchase!!! (Now I am the bad guy here)

                Anyway, to end this little story, I have never encountered such school yard type way to run a business! Now I am left without such nice mill and have end up buying an 8" granite mortar from Amazon (not the same thing but a bargain at only $41.00 with shipping!!)

                I'll have to do more elbow greese work but I should get same result?? (I hope)

                PS: The woman raised the price of shipping after I suggested some links and she saw a comparison of other mills' prices!!!! (it used to be an unbelievable $3.00-4.00 !!!!)

                So there you have it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: javusa

                  I'm sorry to hear that you weren't able to get a stone grinder from cwtrades. Also that they are going through personal hard time. I've never had any issue with them being "unprofessional". In fact, to me, part of their charm is the very personable and candid approach. I feel I can trust them. The $3 shipping was a mistake they said they made on their end, but they honored it.

                  Yes, these are the grinder that the japanese use to grind fine gyokuro leaves into matcha. I've tested it myself. It does take practice and experience to get the speed of the turning, and the amount and interval of feeding right so that it is the fine matcha fineness from the start, but this IS the traditional way of grinding for matcha. Not much elbow grease involved in the actual grinding, unless you are using the large one, in which case it's the lifting of the unit itself that requires strength.

                2. hi there im trying to find a stone handcranked grinder to grind rice i saw your story about grinding coffee i know it been awhile how this get to you need to know where you purchase grinder.