Here at Baratza, we love getting geeky about coffee grinders-it’s why we started designing and innovating home grinders over twenty years ago! For people who have that same itch to tinker, we’ve made parts, guides, and a support team full of real people available to help get you started.
So, when the term “hyper-alignment” sprouted up several years ago, it naturally piqued our interest. It has many names (e.g. hyper-alignment, alicorn-alignment, zero-point alignment) but within the context of Baratza, they all refer to adjusting the parallelism of the flat burrs in our Vario and Forté series grinders to a degree only achievable through careful hand-tuning.
We think it is brilliant when folks outside of Baratza get geeky about coffee grinders, too; hand-tuning your grinder can be a lot of fun! But it’s important to note that out of the box, our grinders perform wonderfully offering delicious, elevated cup quality! Hand-tuning is not necessary for the vast majority of coffee enthusiasts, but if you delight in an exploration of physics–a blend, a union, of mechanics and coffee–then this can be a fun and rewarding experience. For others, it can be an overwhelming undertaking with underwhelming results.
Think of it this way: the step up from blade to burr grinder is enormous and the perceivable difference is undeniable. However, the jump from out-of-the-box to hand-tuned is an adjustment measured on the scale of thousandths-of-a-millimeter, or microns, which is so slight it can be hard to appreciate in the final cup. Before jumping into hand-tuning, there are lots of variables that should first be considered when it comes to extraction (dose, time, yield, water TDS, temperature, pressure, etc.). For example, your water drops off several degrees of temperature from when a drop leaves the spout to the moment it hits your brew bed- another slight variance to consider that can have a much more noticeable impact!
At the end of the day, we think exploring parallelism of burrs at the micron level is pretty dang cool! It’s also amazing to hear that some folks are going as far as buying used, “as-is” grinders to fix and modify, which directly falls in line with our “Don’t Dump It, Fix it!” ethos. Although offering hand-tuned burr alignment is not something we do or have on our roadmap, we always want to encourage you to explore your curiosity. If things don’t go as planned, US customers can always send the grinder in for our grinder repair program and we can fix the grinder up and bring it back to the factory specifications!
If you’ve made it this far, then chances are you’re deep in the rabbit hole! So here are some answers to often-asked questions:
Does Baratza “hyper-align” grinders?
We do not offer the service of hand-tuning burr parallelism beyond factory calibration. It’s important to remember that “hyper-alignment” is not a fix, it’s a deeper exploration!
Is ‘hyper-alignment’ available through the repair program?
No, our repair program restores grinders to the original factory condition and calibration.
Factory condition? What does that mean in terms of alignment?
Our grinders are built to deliver an exceptional grind for extraction methods from as fine of a grind as needed for espresso, to as coarse of a grind as needed for press pot. The exacting conditions of the espresso extraction process depend on the burrs to be aligned to provide a sufficiently even and fine grind. Our factory assembly process ensures your grinder will be ready to grind for espresso (as well as the rest of the range) right out of the box!
Is this covered by warranty?
No, the Baratza warranty covers defects in material and workmanship for one year from the original date of purchase. Issues caused by disassembling the grinder to adjust the burr alignment yourself at home are not defects in material or workmanship and are therefore not covered by warranty. However, we’re not going to leave you high and dry if you get in over your head and need to bail out. You can follow our guides to put your grinder back together. Or, if it’s gotten beyond what you can handle, you can pay for a grinder repair and we’ll restore your unit to its original factory condition. As stated before, the repair does not include hyper-alignment as a service.
Why do it?
Do it because it’s fun! While it’s not necessary for high-performance grinding, the procedure and ultimately the pursuit of the perfect extraction, (the “god shot,” if you will) can be rewarding unto itself. If you’re going to try it, there’s plenty of information on the methods of adjustment online and we recommend doing your research to see if this is something that fits your needs!
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