Hacking the Cuisinart SupremeGrind for Espresso





Introduction: Hacking the Cuisinart SupremeGrind for Espresso

The Cuisinart SupremeGrind is one of the least-expensive burr coffee grinders. In fact, it can be had refurbished on Amazon for under $20 (DBM-8 model), or twice that for the newer-but-nearly-indistinguishable CCM-16FR model. The major problem with the machine is that, even at its finest, it's unable to produce an espresso grind.

However, it's actually a rather trivial operation to shim up the stationary burr to shift the grind in a finer direction.

Don't get me wrong. If you've got a great espresso machine, don't skimp here: get a Jolly or a Rocky or something like that. But if you were considering a Gaggia, a Baratza, or other low-end espresso grinder, give this a whirl: once modified, it easily compares with that class of grinder.

Step 1: Remove the Stationary Burr.

Using a Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the three screws holding the stationary burr to the bean hopper outlet. With a bristle brush (I use cheap natural bristle artist's brushes from BigLots for such cleanup chores), clean both the burr and the hopper outlet of all grounds.

Step 2: Cut the Shims.

Place the burr mounting face down on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (20 micron thickness), and with a hobby scalpel, carefully score — and then cut through — the foil around the outside and inside edges of the burr.

You'll probably need between two and ten shims, depending on your machine. The Supreme Grind isn't as precision-manufactured as some, so your finest grind will be somewhat finer or coarser than that of other machines: you may need more or fewer shims than I did.

Step 3: Fit the Shims to the Machine.

Carefully stack the shims in the stationary burr mounting well, with all holes aligned with the screw posts. You can carefully jiggle them into perfect alignment once the burr is in place and you're putting the first screw in, but do try to make sure they're not grossly misaligned.

Be sure to both tighten the burr completely (though be very careful not to strip the screw-post threads), and ensure that the shims are not wrinkled or positioned in any way that could cause vertical misalignment of the burrs.

Step 4: Check the Grind.

You'll have to repeat steps three and four several times to get it right. After putting a couple shims in, dial the grinder all the way down to the finest grind. If the burrs are not touching (that would definitely be a Bad Thing), depress the safety and let 'er rip.

The burrs should not grind against each other: a sign of poor alignment. If they do, but they didn't touch when the machine was off, you have some wrinkles or inconsistencies in your shims, making the stationary burr higher on one side than the other.

If they're not yet as close together as possible without touching, you can add another shim or two.

Once you've got the grinder shimmed to the point that the finest setting nearly touches the burrs together, you're done. Congratulations. You've just made a decent espresso grinder on the cheap! Of course, it's nowhere near Jolly or Rocky quality, but it'll put up a good front next to a Gaggia or Baratza.



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Well, I shimmed the stationary burr using a small washer under each screw, and although I was able to get the burrs very close together, the grind is still coarse (although finer than before). Are the burrs just dull?

I wonder if it would be possible to use a feeler gauge to measure the original gap, and them someone provide a measurement of a modified machine so the shim could be calculated. Then you could measure various washers etc. to see what's appropriate for each machine.

This is exactly the fix I needed. Thank you, thank you. Awesome hack!

Try Nashua 324A Cold Weather metal tape. It's thick and has an adhesive back so it's very easy to apply and cut with a hobby knife. One layer and I have 0.0015" between the burrs.

The screws on my top blur are too tight to remove, so I adopted studiogrynn's approach and that works.

It's been a couple years since this was posted. To everyone who has tried it: how are your grinders now? Still working? Any problems grinding fine enough for espresso?

This is a very cool mod. I just modded my grinder in preparation for my new machine! I actually used a glossy business card that I cut with an exact knife. It looks like 4 or 5 is my espresso grind and factory "fine" is now a few clicks past medium. the burrs seem level and I am producing finer grind. Well see how it stands up to the Silvia when it comes! I do plan on getting a better grinder in the near future but i think this will do for now. I think my grinder may or may not be different from others. I used to use setting 3-4 from fine and anything finer used to clog up my krups machine.

Thank you so much for posting this! This same method worked on my coffee grinder too. Apparently many coffee grinders are built the exact same way... I have a Mr Coffee BVMC-BMH23 Automatic Burr Mill Grinder. I used 10 aluminum foil shim/washers and now the grinds perfect.

I modded one of these a few years back using a different approach. I think I like your system better though. I removed the hopper and ground off the limiting tab. Opened the grinder and bypassed the cut off switch in the top. That allowed me to turn the hopper down past the factory limits and get a fine grind. Using a feeler gauge I ran the hopper down until I had just over .001 clearance between the plates. Used a sharpie to mark that spot on the top of the grinder so I would not adjust past it in the future. Then I could get down really fine for the espressos and keep the ultra coarse for the french press. Grinder eventually failed and I have since replaced it with a better unit. Served me well for several years and it was a great bargain for the $20 I spent at Sam's Club.

I tried this on my grinder, its a Black & Decker one, but the mechanism is the same and I must say sir, I FRIGGIN LOVE YOU!!!

Great work! Thanks!!! Now, my grinder ultra-fine grind!

This is a great idea. If I may offer a more simple, if slightly more expensive procedure: Order some .020" precision shims part number 93574A188 18-8 SS Precision Bearing Spacing Shim .020" Thick, .123" ID, .178" OD from McMaster Carr. You have to buy a bag of 25 and it runs about $8 Remove the top burr, place one shim over each of the three screw holes and reinstall the burr and screws. This was done to a grinder that had been putting out a uneven grind, too coarse for espresso, three times daily for the past two years. At the two finest settings on this grinder the burrs now collide. At third finest setting it puts out a very nice even grind fine enough for Turkish coffee.

I did some measurements that might be helpful. (All in inches) My burr was 1.5775 outside diameter and 1.0 inside diameter. Shim of 0.013 was minimum required and .0475 was way too much. There is a second safety switch on top of the burr grinder and if the shim is too thick it prevents that safety switch from engaging. About 10 layers of thick foil did the trick for me. I cut the interior foil out after mounting to the hopper with screws. Drill for screw holes can be 1/8 inch or #30 drill.

I inspected the plastic screw holes at this step and found that 2 of 3 where cracked. Also my stationary burr showed a fair amount of wear. We have used this for three or for years. I beefed up the cracked areas with epoxy putty. Seems to be holding well now, but this old girl is on it's last legs.

Thanks! I used cheap thin foil (it was all I had) and needed 14 shims. I guess one advantage with thin foil is that you can fine tune it. At 15 shims and the finest setting, the burrs touched, at 14 shims they don't touch so it's the finest my grinder will go.

Great Hack. The aluminum foil shims work great. I am even able to grind for turkish coffee now. Thanks

one other suggestion for a ready made stand-off, spacer, is to use #4 or #6 washers... I suggest metal, so there would be no compression issues. You can pick up a pack at homedepot for $1.00 or you can order them online for $.02ea...Anyway, just place one under each screw, and continue these great instructions! By the way, thanks for these instructions!!!! Picture is of a #6 image, not to scale of course.

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Hey clepard thanks for the great suggestion. I got so frustrated trying to cut out the many shims, even with a new scalpel blade, that I gave up, went to TrueValue, and got 3 #4 brass washers for $.13 each. Carefully installed them and it works like a charm. You have to be careful not to mesh the burrs. I just turn on the grinder without coffee in the hopper and turn the collar toward Fine until the buzzing sound just starts and then back it off a click or two. That's it. Now Coarse is the new Ultra-Fine. ;-) Even if you do mesh the burrs occasionally no harm done because the blades are recessed below the rim. Now I get an incredibly fine fluffy grind and a noticeably improved flavor from a machine I paid $11 for new at Sam's Club. Thanks sehrgut for pointing out that this could be so easily modded. I never would have thought of it.

thats realy cool. i did the same thing myself with my black&decker;.