Intro: 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 â and then cut through â 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.