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Grinders, what do you get for your money?

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In light of the current trend for people going after better grinders and upgrading their grinders I thought I would put together a thread on what people are actually getting for their money.

 

Firstly let’s examine what people actually want from their grinders. I will break this down into various areas and attempt to answer some of the common questions that get asked.

 

1. Grind quality

2. Retention/ single dosing

3. Doser or Doserless

4. New or second hand

 

Grind quality

 

So what does this actually mean? in my opinion it equates to the consistency of the grind i.e. the amount of fine grinds in a given dose and the particle size and eveness. Entry level grinders that are referred to on here i.e. the MC2, mignon, vario will give you a different quality of grind compared to the next level up i.e. mazzer sj, eureka zenith, brassilia rr55 etc or the next level up mazzer royal, mazzer major, eureka mdl, la cimbali magnum etc and again to the "titan class grinders (most expensive) Compak r120, mahlkonig ek43, mazzer robur, eureka mythos, compak k10 and hg1 etc.

 

In general the bigger the burr size the better the quality of the grind and in general the slower the spin speed the better, so the smaller grinders with smaller motors have to spin much faster (hotter) in order to grind beans evenly, whereas the bigger motors that drive the bigger burr sets have the torque to grind at slower speeds and thus tend to treat the coffee kinder! In my experince the bigger grinders produce a much more consistent grind and the results are immediately apparent in the cup especially with espresso. A mazzer royal (83mm burrs 800 rpm) releases much more complexity in the cup than a mazzer super jolly (64mm burrs 1400 rpm), so you get what you pay for as the bigger the grinder the more they cost, a eureka mignon is £280, Zenith £500, mythos £2000 ek43 £1920, (new prices). Most members that have moved up in the size of their grinders have noticed significant improvements in the resulting cup and I feel as a community we understand the inherent benefits of getting the best grind quality we can afford!

 

Retention and single dosing

 

As we tend to just make one of two coffees, most of us prefer to have the ability to weigh the beans in at the start and get out roughly what we put in, however i the world of grinders there are very few that will give you an output very close to the input without modification (compak r120, EK43, HG1, versalab, Pharos, hausgrind) so we have to either consider modifying our grinders or accepting that we might waste a little in the process of making our coffee. On demand grinders like the eureka zenith, brassilia rr55, mazzer electronic versions or even the big conicals like the compak e10 WILL retain coffee in the grind path and also need a weight of bean to get the functions to work (accurate dosing) and to get the best grind quality, so a sacrifice has to be made if you are considering one of these type of grinders.

This retention is largely due to path that the grinds have to follow. Grinder design has not evolved much over the past 30 years, most grinders have a flat grind path whereby the ground coffee is pushed out of the exit shute by the coffee coming along afterwards and as a result there will be coffee that will go stale, remaining in that path. Now the bigger the grinder the more retention, especially if you go up to the conical grinders, the grinders with the least retention have a more vertical grind path i.e. the ek43 or eureka mythos (45 degree), however if you are prepared to carryout modifications to your grinder you can create zero retention grinders through the use of lens hoods, sweep clean mechs etc, but these will tend to be dosered grinders.

 

Doser or Doserless

 

The convenience of pressing a button and having a lovely fluffy mound of coffee in your basket comes at a price. As mentioned before, one cost is retention, but the other cost is the extra money you have to pay for the delivery system of these grinders. Electronic doserless grinders cost more money than dosered equivalents either new or second hand, but are more convenient to use, in a busy environment the repeatability of pressing a button and having a portion close to your desired dose is invaluable, but is it so important in the home? I like using my robur as it is amazing grind quality (paramount for me personally) is quick and mess free, however I have to put up with 30grams of retention!!!! the equivalent dosered version has a lot less retention and cost a hell of a lot less to buy (especially second-hand) it can also have a timer added to it and sweep clean modifications done, it requires a little more effort but in the long term would cost you less (due to wasted stale coffee). So you have a choice, if you want to single dose (get out what you put in) you need to spend a lot of money or modify a dosered grinder which leads me onto my final point.

 

New or second hand

 

Buying a new grinder comes with its benefits, you get a warranty and ergo piece of mind, you get something that you wont have to clean or sort out, if you buy an on demand grinder you probably wont have to do any modifications as you would have already accepted the points above, however it will cost you twice as much(in most cases) than buying a used or reconditioned grinder. For the same money you spend on a brand new grinder you can get a much better used grinder, I will use a grinder i currently have as an example. For £1000 I could by a mazzer major electronic or a compak e8 (just) or an hg1 hand grinder all decent grinders in their own right, however for £800 I bought a used Versalab (£2000 new) which is zero retention, amazing grind consistency small and compact and beautiful looking (IMO). It knocks spots off all those other grinders (including the HG1). If I take this to the other end of the spectrum, for £375 I could buy a brand new vario, or I could buy a used and modified mazzer major or a brassilia rr55OD at a stretch I could find a dirty mythos ( i found one for £250 once) and spend some time bringing it back to perfect, all of which knock spots of the vario, however I will take a risk on having a warranty, but then if a commercial grinder is working perfectly the likelihood is it will continue to do so for many more years in a home environment.

 

At the end of the day it is entirely up to you, but my advice is do your research, don’t jump into a deal because others tell you to, get some hands on with a grinder if you can, get the best that you can afford and enjoy the coffee you make with it!

Edited by coffeechap

AKA Toffee chips

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Great advice and write up CC, I'm sure this will be a massive help to the newbies thinking about upgrading.


Espresso: Quick Mill Verona

Grinder: Mythos and loving it

Tampers: Reg Barber flat 58.35

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Excellent resource Dave. Should be archived as a forum resource as an article.


Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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Very nice! Really useful info in here.


DE1Pro, EK43 SSP, bloody tasty coffee!

GrindScience.com - My blog of coffee related ramblings

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Very informative CC , what mid level grinder would you recommend for brewed coffee? Would it be different to a mid level grinder for espresso ?


¿ ǝsǝɥʇ pɐǝɹ ǝuoʎuɐ sǝop

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I would recommend a santos grinder for brewed coffee, however price is going up on these as people are hacking them for EK43 bases


AKA Toffee chips

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Very useful post Dave - thanks


Londinium L1 | Compak E8

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Really useful write up coffee dude


a grinder a lever and some beans

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Question, why would a doser robur have less retention than the electronic version. Aren't they identical internally and exit the burr chamber via the exact same chute. If I'm not mistaken, the robur has no wire mesh etc to keep grounds back, so I can't get my head around the doserless one retaining more?


Mazzer Super Jolly - Expobar Brewtus IV-R - Knock 58.35mm Tamper - 17g LM Strada - IMS Screen - Inker Cups

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You can almost single dose a robur not a robur e as the electronics on the robur e mean than you have to have weight of beans on them to make them work as they should, you can then get a lens hood on the input chamber and clear more cofee through, if you let the robur doser run and keep pushing down on the lens hood you can get rid of a lot more of the grinds and thus waste less coffee. It is pointless doing this on an OD robur as the whole ethos is portion control and speed, hope this helps. oh and the robur e has a wire mesh which does keep the grinds back but the doser version does not!!

Edited by coffeechap

AKA Toffee chips

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Thanks cc, great write up.


Gaggia classic (OPV, steam wand and auber PID), HG one, hausgrind walnut, rattleware handle free, bottomless pf, 15g, 18g and 20g vst, torr goldfinger, 3 cup chemex, 8 cup chemex, 3 cup siphon, ceramic v60-01, kalita wave 155 and an aeropress.

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There goes my wish to ever have a robur-e then ;)

 

I am getting slightly sick of having a doser grinder haha, I miss just flushing out a few grams at start of day on the quamar and then letting the electronics handle the rest.


Mazzer Super Jolly - Expobar Brewtus IV-R - Knock 58.35mm Tamper - 17g LM Strada - IMS Screen - Inker Cups

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Great concise write up Dave. Great guide to grinder buying.


Sage DB; Mazzer Major; VST 15g, 18g & 20g Baskets;TORR Trapez & Perger Tamper

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Nice work, thank you very much cc, very useful. I love the look of those Versalabs, the size is makes it a very attractive proposition at £800. Shame they seem as rare as rocking horse poo second hand.

 


Rocket R58 & Versalab M3

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I really love the versalab so much so that it will probably be one grinder that will stay me for good, unless something else as compact and great looking as that comes along!!


AKA Toffee chips

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I would recommend a santos grinder for brewed coffee, however price is going up on these as people are hacking them for EK43 bases

 

What's the going rate for a santos?

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ha ha said an ek43 owner!!!!!!


AKA Toffee chips

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I used to be able to pick them up for nowt, now you are looking at around £200 minimum for them in crap condition.


AKA Toffee chips

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I just want the base...

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That was really useful and it's answered a question I was going to ask! Instead of buying a new Mignon what could I get second hand for around the same price? (say up to £300)

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I just got a bit of a semi when I saw pics of the Versalab.

 

Errrrr...

Mental note to Coffechap don't invite Hoff to see your grinder ......:)


I write a blog, it's nothing to do with coffee ...

https://rjwinc.wordpress.com

Instagram - rjw_inc

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