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Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espresso)
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smarch
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smarch
Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Omaha
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Carezza
Grinder: Le'lit PL53, Capresso...
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 10:37am
Subject: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espresso)
 

Hey everyone,

Would appreciate some input on my imminent grinder purchase.  I currently have a Gaggia Carezza that I have been learning the espresso ins and outs on and (unfortunately) have it paired with my Capresso Infinity.  I originally had no intention to get into espresso and was only doing Aeropress and press pot, so the Infinity worked just great.  However, I now find that the optimum grind setting would be right in between '3' and '4' on my grinder (this is a difference of ~35 seconds on the pour).

SO, this has all led me to believe that I need to go ahead and shell out some money for a dedicated espresso grinder.  Given the fact that my main gripe has been with a lack of customization, I was thinking I'd go with a stepless grinder.  Also, I don't really need a doser since I only make about two double shots a day.  I would also like to keep the spending down to < $300 since I am by no means rich.  

This has led me to the Le'lit PL53, ascaso I-mini and Cunil Tranquilo.  I'm leaning towards the Le'lit after reading the massively positive review thread over at home-barista.  

Any thoughts.
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smarch
Senior Member
smarch
Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Omaha
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Carezza
Grinder: Le'lit PL53, Capresso...
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 10:42am
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

Plus, the Tranquilo is just really, really bad looking.  I can't really put a finger on it, it just reeks of ugliness.

And I've heard the I-mini has static problems.  Although I don't see why you can't just wedge a dryer sheet in there.  I've had flowers in a cup before, why not mountain freshness??

smarch
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RAS
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RAS
Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 403
Location: Southern California
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PV Lusso, Cremina, Oly...
Grinder: OE Pharos
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Manual (funnel)
Roaster: Heat gun
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 1:04pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

smarch Said:

Plus, the Tranquilo is just really, really bad looking.  I can't really put a finger on it, it just reeks of ugliness.
smarch

Posted October 20, 2008 link

I'm covering my Tranquilo's ears... or eyes.

Yes, she certainly won't win any beauty contests, but when it comes to what the Tranquilo was born to do, it does an excellent job. I've made a couple mods to mine, which is now a back-up grinder to my Cimbali Max Hybrid, and I would highly recommend this grinder. There are times (last night being one of them) that I use it instead of my CMH because of how darn easy it is to work with. And the grind is fantastic... and it's quite fast in doing what it does. Finally, I see that Sovrana Imports has them for $235, which I personally think is the grinder deal of the day.

Negative points? Sure - not a single grinder doesn't have one - or more. For the Tranquilo, the hopper is way too big. Solution is to not use it. I have a small inverted bottle (actually part of a spray bottle) that fits perfectly in the throat of the grinder. I also have a Tupperware lid (actually I think it's Anchor Hocking, or some other off-brand) that fits the bottle opening perfectly .

Next negative point is that the grinder is a bit noisy. Once I lined the inside of the case with Dynamat then isolated the grinding funnel with a thin piece of rubber, the grinder is quieter than a Super Jolly when grinding.

Another issue is that the grinder has a stepped adjustment ring. Oh well, I find the steps are set quite acceptably close. I did try to make mine stepless, but this proved to be a mistake. Didn't quite work as I wanted it to (not easy to hold the grind adjustment wheel in place), so I converted it back to stepped.

A final complaint of mine was that I didn't care for the way you adjust the grind-timer (with a small slotted screwdriver). I solved that by replacing the timer with a toggle switch.

Now my modded Tranquilo is great grinder that will last for years, and in many ways, is still the best grinder I've ever used.

 
Bob
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smarch
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smarch
Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Omaha
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Carezza
Grinder: Le'lit PL53, Capresso...
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 2:30pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

RAS,
Thanks for the input.  I suppose I let my superficiality get the best of me there in that second post.  I think the other two issues I would have with the Tranquilo is that I actually kind of like the idea of a grinder with a small footprint.  Right now I live with roommates that I know would appreciate less counterspace taken up.  The Le'lit is quite a bit smaller.  Also, I think I would really like a stepless grinder, especially if it will be dedicated to espresso.

Also, I get this nagging suspicion that the Tranquilo is just too good to be true.  I mean, huge flat burrs with super-solid Rocky-like construction (and weight) and good doserless system for $230?  What gives?

I suppose the above post probably isn't totally fair since it's clear which way I'm leaning...
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RAS
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RAS
Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 403
Location: Southern California
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PV Lusso, Cremina, Oly...
Grinder: OE Pharos
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Manual (funnel)
Roaster: Heat gun
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 4:47pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

Could be that there was a large order placed before exchange rates got ugly... Not sure.

The Tranquilo is quite utilitarian... Strong motor, good 60mm burrs and basic shell. Nothing fancy. OK, the timer circuit would be considered by some as a nice feature - for me, it was the one thing I didn't like... and that's why I've bypassed it.

I can certainly appreciate the desire to have a grinder with a small footprint - the Tranquilo isn't bad, but there are far better if that is an important consideration.

 
Bob
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wenus2
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Joined: 2 Oct 2008
Posts: 621
Location: Reno, NV
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astoria, Oscar, GB5
Grinder: Mazzers
Vac Pot: TCA-5
Drip: Drop...clever
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 5:48pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

smarch Said:

RAS,
Also, I get this nagging suspicion that the Tranquilo is just too good to be true.  I mean, huge flat burrs with super-solid Rocky-like construction (and weight) and good doserless system for $230?  What gives?

Posted October 20, 2008 link

The catch is that its fugly and stepped, really thats it. It really seems to be the bang-for-the-buck winner, tech wise.
Of course the size and appearance of the Ascaco iMini is far more appealing, throw in it's stepless adjustment and the fact that it's plenty adequate for most home users and it's an easy sell.

You'd likely be happy with either for at least a while, It's a personal choice.

 
enjoy the journey
-jw
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smarch
Senior Member
smarch
Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Omaha
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Carezza
Grinder: Le'lit PL53, Capresso...
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 5:53pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

Agree re: the iMini, however I'd think the PL53 wins simply because of the pressure-fitted chute that can be pulled off for easy cleaning.  I've heard the iMini can hold back up to 10g (!) of grounds in the chute.  That's a lot when you're only grinding 16 g at a time for a double shot.  I think the le'lit looks a little funky, but you can't really go wrong with stainless.
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Chang94598
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Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 213
Location: SF Bay Area
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 8:42pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

I owned the i-mini and currently uses the Tranquilo in the office. The i-mini gives excellent grind. It however has a small chute and grind tends to accumulate and stalls it. It stalled at least weekly and required opening the top cover to dislodge the grind. It also required shaking back and forth at end of each session to clear the chute. Appearance-wise, it looks "cute". It is stepless. It is light enough to bring on trips. Eventually I gave it away.

The Tranquilo, stepped, is good in an office setting where multiple people make espresso. I have the doserless version. The plastic chute accumulates grind due to static and requires a good brushing at the end. The timer can occasionally be confusing. It never stalls like the i-mini. It is industrial, definitely function over form. It's also heavy enough I don't have to worry about knocking it over. Grind quality is also very good; espresso has less "tiger skin" than the i-mini, but my gustatory difference is probably purely psychological. It has four small openings right next to the hopper in the front, where coffee grind can fall through into the casing; do not know the long term effect.  Due to stepped nature, I adjust dosing to obtain a 25-30 sec shot. It's not as optimal as a stepless grinder, but works for me in the office.
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Dink0617
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Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 101
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Pro, Sama Export, La...
Grinder: Ascaso I-Mini, Rossi RR45,...
Vac Pot: Silex
Drip: Krups FME-4, Chemex
Roaster: Hearthware Precision, Gene...
Posted Mon Oct 20, 2008, 10:45pm
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

I own an I-Mini and a Astra/Cunill Tanquilo, I haven't really used the Astra(it came with the Astra Pro I bought used) because I already owned the I-Mini and the Astra has "issues".   I really like the I-Mini, it is what I was looking for in a grinder, small footprint, stepless and doserless.  I haven't noticed any problem with static and as far as grinds getting stuck in the chute a light smack on the side dislodges most.  I also like the easy cleaning, remove one screw and the whole top comes off.  Removing the outer burr carrier is a bit more involved but by no means difficult.  I am not sure about the Le'Lit but I believe I read that getting access to the burrs is a bit more involved.  

Not wanting to hijack this thread with my CT issues I will just say that mine has an issue with the bottom burr spinning or slipping under load, I will be starting another thread on it.  I will say that it appears to be a very well made grinder and capable, although it is not the most attractive.

Cheers,
David
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smarch
Senior Member
smarch
Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Omaha
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Carezza
Grinder: Le'lit PL53, Capresso...
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Tue Oct 21, 2008, 4:42am
Subject: Re: Any input - Le'lit PL53 vs Ascaso I-mini vs Cunil Tranquilo (dedicated espre
 

Thanks again for all the advice, everyone.  It sounds like everyone likes their I-mini's and Tranquilo's quite a bit.  Here's the next question:

Does upgrading from the I-mini to the I-2 get you anything besides a beefier outside casing and a clear plastic chute?  I can't tell if the burrs are housed differently (leading to better longevity, maybe?) or if the difference is solely in the outside casing.  If the inside workings were engineered a bit more solidly, it seems like it wouldn't be a bad step up.  Thoughts?
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