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Virtouso vs Hand
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Virtouso vs Hand  
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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 2:46am
Subject: Virtouso vs Hand
 

Hello,

Im sure there have been simliar topics on this, though I had somewhat of a tough time navigating the search function.  Plus, im more-so looking for an opinion.

Im, for all intents and purposes a espresso NOOB.  Tho not coffee.  Coffee has been my drink forever. I love it.  I understand the importance of fresh beans, ground at home, and will have it no other way.  But espresso? I know what a good shot is, but pulling one?  not yet.   It started with a steam-toy, of course, and I've been hooked ever since.  Now, we also have a french press.  Idk what brand the burr grinder was.  There was no logo on it anywhere and I searched online for weeks trying to find it, nothing.  But, it ground evenly, static was in the medium-low range, there was some.  For the french press, it works great.

Heres the question.  My steam toy broke.  I have been saving to buy a Gaggia baby or classic(havent decided).  But, since the toy broke, I needed something to make espresso with, and I needed it now.  So, I figured I only needed something for about 2-3 months, tops.  Plus I had 4 lbs of espresso in the mail from klatch that I didnt want going stale.  So,(brace yourself) I bought a delonghi ec140.  WAIT!!!  Its only to get me through for a month or two.  I got it for 55 bucks, shipped, brand new.  I figured it was better then a steam toy(my steam toy was a benjamin medwin, but not the stove-top, it was electric) and if nothing else, It would make a passable latte.  But, of course, my grinder broke.  Just burned out.  So now, Im stuck.

So basically, knowing that you would be making a machine/grinder purchase very soon, (probably gaggia baby/mdf or rocky) but needed a grinder now, what would you buy?  The baratza virtouso?  Or a Zassenhaus mill? Something else entirely? I figured the zass, but I was wondering your opinions.  Keep in mind, I highly doubt I will care about taking the time to grind the beans, even with a horrendous coffee habit.  I drink mostly espresso, or espresso drinks, but I do drink regular coffee as well.  Prob 75%/25%.

So its known, if your suggestions are expensive, I DO NOT CARE.  To me, price is no way to judge somethings performance.  Ive gotten a lot of heat for buying the more expensive product from my family, who thinks its silly to spend so much on certain things.  (IE: Im a young chef, my family cant cook past macaroni and cheese or meatloaf.  My tools are expensive, and I dont expect that my espresso equipment will be cheap either.  The brewtus III is my dream machine right now)

Thank you ahead of time!
Jeff




p.s.- And btw, you can have all the fun you want about the delonghi(small d).  Believe me, Im not one the people on amazon reviews complaining that their 50 dollar machine wont make espresso like they get at a cafe', but I figured it was better then another steam toy. I would never pick this machine as the one to save up and buy, but it will allow me to hone my technique and play with for a month or two.  But yes, lets laugh at it for sure. I know I am :)  ...........I want my gaggia soo bad!!

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 6:14am
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

Jmanespresso Said:

So,(brace yourself) I bought a delonghi ec140.  WAIT!!!  Its only to get me through for a month or two.  I got it for 55 bucks, shipped, brand new.

Posted January 28, 2009 link

Yep, you should have waited.

Let me get this straight; you paid $55 on a machine to get you through a couple months.  Now you're looking at spending $200 (assuming you're buying new) on a Virtuoso to, again, hold you a couple months?  Two things come to mind, A) for $250 you could have bought a latte for 2 months with money left over and B) you could of taken the $250 PLUS the price of a new Rocky that you plan on getting, and have enough for a Macap M4 or a Mazzer Mini.  

OK, I own a virtuoso, but have never used a hand mill.  The Virtuoso is pretty borderline for espresso; it's not that you'll never get a good shot, but you'll never know which ones they will be.  None the less, with fresh roasted, good quality beans you'll end up with a product better than a lot of cafes and certainly better than starbucks IMO.  I would take the Virtuoso over the hand mill ONLY because you're left with a great press/drip grinder and that will leave you MDF/Rocky for designated espresso.  so ultimately the BV isn't a bad purchase.  The other option is to buy nothing right now, bite the bullet, and save this grinder money to upgrade the grinder you plan on getting.

Jmanespresso Said:

So its known, if your suggestions are expensive, I DO NOT CARE.  To me, price is no way to judge somethings performance.  Ive gotten a lot of heat for buying the more expensive product from my family, who thinks its silly to spend so much on certain things.  

Posted January 28, 2009 link

Agreed, price alone doesn't depict quality, but just because it's inexpensive doesn't depict a good value either.  I realize the you "DO NOT CARE", but I'll say it anyways, a grinder isn't something I'd skimp on.  There are exceptions, but grinders do seem to fall under the "get what you pay for" adage.  I would highly suggest buying a grinder in the $500 ish range for the sake of getting a solid grinder with stepless adjustments.
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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 1:51pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

Alrighty , the point about just save, save, save, for the grinder, I can live with that.  A mini would be nice, I must say.

Ive been told that the hand mills main downfall is speed, but that quality is very good.  I thought they looked real vintage and "cool" as well.  Maybe somewhere down the road Ill have one as a backup.  Or when I win the lottery :)

Thanks I appreciate the response!
Jeff

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 3:29pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

I think they're "cool" as well.  

They are supposed to give a good grind.  The newer Zassenhaus are from china and aren't supposed to be as good as the originals from Germany.  PeDe is another brand that did respectible in the Titan Grinder Project on HB.  But yeah, may not be the grinder for you if you don't want to do the cranking.  But hey, before there was high tech there had to be low tech right?

I think ultimately, saving for a stepless grinder would be best as far as espresso is concerned, but again, the BV isn't a bad buy if you enjoy press/drip as it works great for that purpose.
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JWFokker
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2008
Posts: 77
Location: Kingston, NY
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Baby
Grinder: Capresso Infinity
Drip: Aerobie Aeropress
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 4:39pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

If you read the threads concerning someone buying their first espresso grinder, the bar is generally set at $200-300 for a decent entry level grinder (though you could get a refurbished grinder in the $150 range) or a Zassenhaus or refurbished vintage PeDe or Kym mill. Joel B mentioned Zassenhaus mills being made in China now, but I've only heard that from one guy on the forums and I've not seen it actually substantiated.

The most popular suggestions I see are the Le'Lit PL53, Nemox Lux, Cunill Tranquilo, or refurbished Mazzer Super Jolly, Rancilio Rocky or Gaggia MDF. They're all well regarded grinders in the $200-300 range. The Le'Lit PL53 and refurb Mazzer Super Jolly are particularly popular.
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 5:09pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

JWFokker Said:

 Joel B mentioned Zassenhaus mills being made in China now, but I've only heard that from one guy on the forums and I've not seen it actually substantiated.

Posted January 28, 2009 link

perhaps I spoke too soon, so thanks for keeping me honest.  Apollogies.  I had read that from more than one person (at least I thought it was from more thane one?), but no, I didn't verify.  


JWFokker Said:

If you read the threads concerning someone buying their first espresso grinder, the bar is generally set at $200-300 for a decent entry level grinder....

Posted January 28, 2009 link

My recommendation of a more expensive grinder was because the OP was looking at an inexpensive grinder now and upgrading to rocky or mdf.  It seemed to me the money would be better spent on a higher end grinder in the long run vs. two entry level grinders.  It's easy to play monday morning quarterback, but most people wish they started out with a higher end grinder in the first place.
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Master_Hobbit
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jan 2009
Posts: 50
Location: Tampa, FL
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Mypressi Twist v1
Grinder: Bartaza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: Chemex; Hario V60; Clever;...
Roaster: Fresh Roast SR 500
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 7:28pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

I would recommend a hand grinder. I just got one from orpahespresso.com and could not be happier. It is an amazing, tactile experience, grinding by hand, and it really only takes a minute or so. It's not that big of a trade off for me (but then again, I make 4 shots max a day), I really don't understand why you would *need* an electric grinder that costs (a minimum of) 4 times the hand grinder if you're only making a few shots daily and not terribly pressed for time. Maybe it's just me being enthusiastic about finally being able to make drinkable straight shots, but they seem to be really good for entry-level baristas.

On the other hand, that machine strikes me as rather eh. Mind you, I'm not one to talk, since I use a Hamilton Beach machine, but I'd think it would be a better bet to save for a bit and buy from a local coffee shop than to plunk down x amount of dollars on a temporary machine and grinder.
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wfallon
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 212
Location: Providence, RI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vibiemme DoubleDomo Manual...
Grinder: Baratza Vario!
Vac Pot: Yama (broken..)
Drip: CCD
Roaster: Popcorn poppers!
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 8:52pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

Master_Hobbit Said:

I would recommend a hand grinder. I just got one from orpahespresso.com and could not be happier. It is an amazing, tactile experience, grinding by hand, and it really only takes a minute or so. It's not that big of a trade off for me (but then again, I make 4 shots max a day), I really don't understand why you would *need* an electric grinder that costs (a minimum of) 4 times the hand grinder if you're only making a few shots daily and not terribly pressed for time. Maybe it's just me being enthusiastic about finally being able to make drinkable straight shots, but they seem to be really good for entry-level baristas.

On the other hand, that machine strikes me as rather eh. Mind you, I'm not one to talk, since I use a Hamilton Beach machine, but I'd think it would be a better bet to save for a bit and buy from a local coffee shop than to plunk down x amount of dollars on a temporary machine and grinder.

Posted January 28, 2009 link

I agree completely with that. I've posted enough in the past couple days about hand grinders, and as a newbie to the forum I dont wanna be "that guy" who won't shut up about his hand grinder. lol. But if you'd like I can take a few pictures of my pede, or more importantly the grind quality if you're interested.
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,238
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 8:57pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

wfallon Said:

But if you'd like I can take a few pictures of my pede, or more importantly the grind quality if you're interested.

Posted January 28, 2009 link

Hey, that'd be cool Bill, both please! {;-D

 
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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Wed Jan 28, 2009, 10:33pm
Subject: Re: Virtouso vs Hand
 

Yes pictures would definatly help out a lot.  Especially grind quality.  To be honest, the time for the grind doesnt seem to matter much to me.  Quality espresso is what Im after, and if I can use a hand grinder to pull top quality shots, over spending say 500 to pull the same shot, Im more then okay with a hand grinder.

From reading this and also thinking while I was away from the computer, the Baratza is out of my mind.  Maybe if the vario was out, I'd consider it, but probably not.  I really had my heart set on the rocky when I first got into espresso and started putting together my list for equipment.  Maybe now the lelit will be better.  Idk, It seems that once you are in a certain price range, most if not all are capable of producing the grind needed, so I guess its on personal preference and aesthetics.  Am I right in assuming that?

Believe me, if money was flowing out of my ears Id have a Mazzer super jolly or better.  But thats not the case.  If the hand grinder will do the job well, then thats the choice.  Yes, down the road, Im sure Ill upgrade.  But if the handmill can do it, why not use that?  Speed?  Ease of use?  Those are the main things I think of when I see arguments being made for buying an electric over a manual, which are valid.  Tho quality is what were all after right?  and 100 sounds way better then 600-700.  I think we can all agree on that lol.

I really appreciate the information for you guys.  The machine is an easy choice.  The grinder decision is driving me mad, but Im also enjoying the search.  Thanks!

Jeff

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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