Posted Sun Jun 3, 2012, 10:07am Subject: Advice on a grinder gift
Hello fellow geeks,
I come to you needing a bit of advice. Every year, my husband goes to Japan for three weeks and does some personal training with a Japanese man who loves coffee. For the past three years or so, I've been sending a pound of freshly roasted, single origin coffee with him to give as a gift, but given the culture, there is no way this gentleman would ever say anything like "that's very nice, but I don't have a grinder", and the coffeegeek in me balks at the idea of sending a pound of pre-ground beans. We have no idea if he has a grinder or doesn't. Each year, he smiles and thanks Mark and seems pleased, but...Odds are reasonably good that even if he does have a grinder, it'll be a whirly blade chopper.
This year, the husband told me he wants to get him a pound of coffee...and a grinder. He told me this yesterday. He leaves for Japan Thursday morning. We're pretty sure this gentleman just does drip coffee or french press, and since most space in Japan can be pretty limited, we want something with a really small footprint. The Baratza Virtuoso I got for my Mom a few years back is likely too big. Honestly, I was looking at the Capresso Infinity. It seems small, I remember people saying it was a decent drip coffee grinder in the past, and I won't agonize at that price if he already has a grinder and never uses this one.
The other issue is the directions. My husband doesn't think this gentleman reads English, but my comment was that most grinders are pretty simple to operate. I can show Mark "here is how you change the grind setting, and here is where you turn it on" and that should be sufficient, I would think.
Thoughts? Ideas? Amazon free two day shipping is a nice bonus as far as the Infinity is concerned. My local area doesn't have a brick and mortar store that carries this kind of equipment. The closest thing is $Bux.
Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:20am Subject: Re: Advice on a grinder gift
Is a hand grinder an option? If so, go with the Skerton (which he can pick up there). That's a great option and small. The Baratza Encore is a great grinder for drip and press, but it's just about exactly the same size as the Virtuoso.
Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:28am Subject: Re: Advice on a grinder gift
My first thought was that a US electric grinder might not work in Japan. After a quick Google I see they use 100V so I'm guessing it probably would be compatible with a US 120V/60Hz unit, since it's just a motor.
My second thought was a Hario Skerton hand mill which your husband should be able to purchase in the USA or preferably Japan, since these are Japanese grinders. The only potential draw back is that hand grinders take a bit of effort to grind larger quantities of beans. Two 10oz mugs ie 35g coffee is about as much as I'd care to grind at one go. On the plus side these are compact and store away easily.
Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:23am Subject: Re: Advice on a grinder gift
Shipping isn't an issue, since my husband is traveling there himself in a couple of days, and he has plenty of room in his luggage.
The hand grinder is a great idea, although I'm not sure if he wants to get him something that would take so much effort every morning (apparently the gentleman really loves his coffee, and will drink several cups a day). I'll talk it over with him and see. He also might have trouble finding where to buy one in Japan, but he speaks enough of the language that he might be able to track one down.
Oh, and the electrical outlets will be compatible. My husband's been using them for everything from his laptop to his ipod, to his electric shaver for 11+ years, with no problems.
Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 9:25pm Subject: Re: Advice on a grinder gift
I know that this is a little late...but if it fits in your gift budget, a LIDO from Orphan Espresso seems perfect. It's a hand made in the US by two of the nicest people I have ever corresponded with, who really care about what their're doing. It's a great ambassador for the American specialty coffee community.
I lived in Japan for many years and my wife is Japanese. I have a signficant amount of experience with the voltage issue. Japan uses 100V / 50 hz. Most electronics (like laptops and PCs) have power supplies that work from 100-120 Volts / 50-60 hz.
A grinder though just has a motor most likely powered directly from the outlet. Motors can be both voltage and frequency sensitive. I would not assume a grinder made for the US would work perfectly in Japan (though it might).
I noticed on the Baratza site they list the grinders as good with 50 or 60 hz and 110 V so they may work, but I'd ask the manufacturer first. My guess is they might run a little slower in Japan.
PS: Couldn't you just ask him how he prepares his coffee and whether he uses a grinder? I understand the Japanese politeness thing well, but if it's not asked as you're handing him a bag of whole beans you might get a straight answer.
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