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A grinder for a up and comer
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bobertstowers
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Sep 2011
Posts: 19
Location: St. Louis
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus II
Grinder: Starbucks Barista Burr
Posted Wed Feb 8, 2012, 11:19am
Subject: A grinder for a up and comer
 

Hey folks,
I have been reading this forum and website for a couple years now and have made a couple posts so if you haven't come across me on the site...HELLO!!
I started my love for coffee working at the dreaded greened aproned death place for coffee...of course I say this jokingly as I'd do after all have tem to thank for my love of coffee and my desires to explore it more. After I quit working there I bought a Gaggia Baby...the old school red and black one, I think they call tithe Classic now. It recently bit the dust and wasn't really worth fixing (this is what happens when a newbie has no clue how to clean and maintain an espresso machine) so I decided to upgrade and found a great deal on Craigslist on an Expobar Brewtus II. While I was deciding what machine to get I put up a post here about what I should do about machine and grinder. Of course everyone told me to go for a lesser machine and a better grinder. I guess I wasn't making myself clear because I had a grinder, though it wasn't great, and no espresso machine and was wanting to upgrade both. So I decided to go with the espresso machine first and then later upgrade the grinder. I think it was a good decision and now I'm ready and have the funds to upgrade my grinder.

So my question...I am an over analyzer and want the "perfect" equipment so I know that I'm getting the best I can...I know that isn't possible and that the perfect grinder and machine doesn't exist. However, I want to get the best I can with the money I have. I have been going back and fourth on a few but would love to get suggestions. I've heard great things about Minis, Juniors, M4s, etc. etc. Remember this is just for home use and typically brew 4-6 shots per day. I don't keep beans in my hopper because I don't use enough. Most of the reviews on grinders I've read recently are several years old. Are there newer grinders I should consider?
I've read a lot of discussion on the Doser vs doserless debate and feel like the answer always ends on..."really it depends on the user"...which isn't helpful.

So looking over this I am seeing that it's really long so I will stop. Any thoughts/suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Bobertstowers
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TimEggers
Moderator
TimEggers
Joined: 3 Oct 2004
Posts: 2,946
Location: Tiskilwa, Illinois
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Anita, Cappuccino Amore
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Mazzer SJ
Vac Pot: Antique McKee, Santos
Drip: Pour Over, Bodum Presses
Roaster: RK Drum
Posted Wed Feb 8, 2012, 11:29am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

I'm a big fan of the Baratza Vario for my coffee making based on its excellent grind quality and ease of use.  Since getting one my Super Jolly has been dormant (but still on the ol' coffee cart).

 
Tim Eggers
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Feb 8, 2012, 12:10pm
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

HI, sorry about the "it depends on the user" answer but that is the closest anyone can get to the subject. It really comes down to how YOU feel about it, how YOU like to work. There are advantages to both sides, my PERSONAL opinion is that I would rather have a doser than not.

That said, my current grinder on the bench is doserless, well it really isn't doserless or dosered, it is an automatic, it grinds, weighs and drops the grounds into the PF all in one shot, taking about 4 to 5 seconds for the whole operation.

I have 2 SJs on standby, one with and one without dosers. I MUCH prefer the SJ WITH a doser and I think I will soon reinstall the doser to the one that has the Mazzer doserless adaptor on it, that is if I don't sell one or the other first (I have 3 total SJs    :O )

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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russel
Senior Member
russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 447
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Conti Princess 2grp, GS/3...
Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,...
Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Wed Feb 8, 2012, 10:09pm
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

I think that the biggest decision to make when assembling a set up on a generous budget up would be consumer vs. commercial equipement.  There is a huge difference in size, longevity, and cost when you cross over into the commercial side of things.  As you move from consumer to commercial you cross the line of rapidly diminishing returns for your investment.  Commercial equipement is built for precision and very high volume, the later of which you will never really push at home.  What you do get in the commercial realm is choice.  The well regarded high end consumer grinders would be the Baratza Vario (regular or W, I had a regular and loved it), and I guess the Mahlkoenig ProM...and not much else.  Once you cross over into low end commercial equipement you suddenly have more choices:  burr size, burr type, timer/manual/auto, doser A, doser B..., doserless, stepped, continuous adjustment, worm gears, built in catch tray, separate catch tray, etc.  Having choices is great, even better if you can find a way to test out the options with your hands instead of you eyes and imagination.  The problem is that commercial equipment is always a compromise in the home.  Its just not made for home use the way a Baratza Vario is.  Everything you do to make it work will be a hack of some sort or involve a lot of purging and a lot of wasted coffee.  The physical presence of commercial equipement is a concern too.  Its big.  Really big.  It's big in way that will remind you that it was not ment to live in your home.  This may irk you or it may turn you on.  I have a conflicted relationship with my commercial grinders.  Some days they are exciting and powerful and on others I know that they smack of excess and a bit of shallow amateurish posturing (I'm sort of a quasi-coffee professional, but I don't run a cafe, I'm not a barista, there is no practical reason for me to have as high end a commercial grinder as I have).  

As you may have noticed, my gear puts me in the commercial camp, but I'm well aware of its short comings and reminded of them on a daily basis.  The non-technical differences between commercial and consumer gear often falls to the wayside as burrs size and motor speeds come into play, and you can quickly find yourself in an arms race agains no one.
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bobertstowers
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Sep 2011
Posts: 19
Location: St. Louis
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus II
Grinder: Starbucks Barista Burr
Posted Thu Feb 9, 2012, 9:18am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

Russel...I'm trying to read between the lines of your answer and feel like I'm having trouble. It sounds like you are advising against commercial machines yet at the same time advising towards them. There are things I like a out the vario and things I don't one of the biggest downsides would be all of the plastic. It seems as though something like a mini would last longer than the vario. Another thing would be the stepped grinding. I don't have any experience with stepless but like the idea of the "infinite" possibilities.
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HTDAVE
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Jan 2012
Posts: 16
Location: los angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: La Spaziale vivaldi II...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Thu Feb 9, 2012, 9:23am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

The vario, with about 240  steps" is for all rational purposes stepless.

go ahead and get the biggest baddest grinder you can afford.  They start at about $650 and go to $3,000 plus.

but make certain they are doserless.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Feb 9, 2012, 9:35am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

Really?
Personal opinions are fine but to make a blanket statement ... this is again, a personal way to work. There are advantages to whichever way you want to go, my preference IS for a doser, I do not advise EITHER WAY, I TRY TO FIND THE NEEDS OF THE OP AND DIRECT THEM TO WHAT WILL WORK BETTER FOR THEM, I DO NOT INSERT MY PERSONAL BIAS INTO ADVICE.

There are as many pro reasons to have one as there are against them and visa versa, there are reasons to go commercial as well as consumer and size isn't the only thing to take into account, nor is budget.

Please try to remove your bias from your advice and answer to the best solution for the needs of the person asking the question!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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JtothaR
Senior Member
JtothaR
Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 683
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Faema D92/A1 Smart
Grinder: B VARIO, Krups Conic
Drip: Manual Pour-Over, Bodum...
Roaster: Redbird, Metropolis
Posted Thu Feb 9, 2012, 9:50am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

bobertstowers Said:

Russel...I'm trying to read between the lines of your answer and feel like I'm having trouble. It sounds like you are advising against commercial machines yet at the same time advising towards them. There are things I like a out the vario and things I don't one of the biggest downsides would be all of the plastic. It seems as though something like a mini would last longer than the vario. Another thing would be the stepped grinding. I don't have any experience with stepless but like the idea of the "infinite" possibilities.

Posted February 9, 2012 link

What he's saying is that there are so many choices in grinders that you have to decide whats right for you.

Commercial grinders can be overkill/oversized but if it makes you happy go for it.

Consumer grinders can be more practical, economical and sized to fit in a normal kitchen. They wont be as fast or last as long as commercial(theoretically).


HTDAVE Said:

The vario, with about 240  steps" is for all rational purposes stepless.

Posted February 9, 2012 link

I have a Vario and I love it. If you dont want to buy a commercial style grinder, the Vario is probably the best choice you can make.


HTDAVE Said:

go ahead and get the biggest baddest grinder you can afford.  They start at about $650 and go to $3,000 plus.

Posted February 9, 2012 link

The grinder is the most important thing in your setup. That doesn't mean that I would recommend simply buying the most expensive one you can. In the $300-$1000 range the best choices are going to be the Vario and the Mazzer Super Jolly.

HTDAVE Said:

but make certain they are doserless.

Posted February 9, 2012 link

This is a matter of pure opinion and unless Dave knows more about you than even you do right now, this advice is ambitious.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

On Doser vs Doserless:

Doser grinders tend to be large, commercial in nature, and slightly messier that doserless. They will outlive most humans and the doser is an advantage when it comes to basket prep(no clumps and even distribution). Used properly, they can make some of the best shots in the world.

Doserless grinders come in a wide range of choices. The lower end ones can produce a clumpy grind and require WDT to fix distribution issues. Under the $800+ range, they are usually very consumer in nature. The best ones go for $1300+. Examples include the Mahlkonig K30 Series, The Compak K10 Fresh, Macap M7DK, and the Mazzer Robur and Kony E-models. The Baratza Vario is what a statistician would call an outlier. It is a consumer grinder that produces in-the-cup results on par with the K30. It is constructed with some plastics as opposed to the heavy metal construction of the commercial grinders.

Oh, and I should add that i would not recommend a Mazzer Mini. If you're set on buying one, I'd recommend either the Vario or the Super Jolly instead.

Good luck,
-James

 
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:01am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

A few additions to the above.
a USED Super Jolly is in the price range quoted, new they crack $700. In good shape, they will last nearly for ever so for the most part, all a used one need (aside from possibly a coat of paint) is a new set of burrs at around $50.

My personal discovery between doser and doserless, even on the same grinder is that a doser, for me, is vastly cleaner than doserless, I guess that is what makes a horse race though huh?

As for the mini, if you get a steal of a deal on a used one, they are good grinders, not as good as a SJ though, which sell at a very reasonable price when used. At the new price of the mini, I would not put it on my long list, not to mention the short one.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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JtothaR
Senior Member
JtothaR
Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 683
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Faema D92/A1 Smart
Grinder: B VARIO, Krups Conic
Drip: Manual Pour-Over, Bodum...
Roaster: Redbird, Metropolis
Posted Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:15am
Subject: Re: A grinder for a up and comer
 

calblacksmith Said:

My personal discovery between doser and doserless, even on the same grinder is that a doser, for me, is vastly cleaner than doserless, I guess that is what makes a horse race though huh?

Posted February 9, 2012 link

In the case of Mazzers this is very true.

If i was going to buy any model Mazzer it would not be the Electronic model.

 
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