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The next step up... Recommendations?
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > The next step...  
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russel
Senior Member
russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 423
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: 73' Cremina, '74 Club,...
Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,...
Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Sun Aug 12, 2012, 9:24pm
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

emradguy Said:

I can't think of anyone who has real hands-on comparison experience between the Vario and the M4, K3, Mini, Cimbali Jr. class.

Posted August 12, 2012 link

I almost fit that bill, just ramp it up a tier.  I like the Vario for home use, I think the Vario W is a great buy because it can make the move to dedicated drip/brew grinder if you get into something for robust for espresso.  I don't like the build of Baratzas, but with the level of service that they offer, it doesn't really matter.  I didn't like my Mini.  It was all of the clunky-ness of big Mazzers but louder, slower, and worse in the cup.  For a while I used a Vario along side a K30ES.  The K30 was better hands down, but the Vario outlasted it thanks to its size and convenience factor.  I found adjusting the K30's timer physically annoying compared to the logical interface of the Vario.  For a time the Vario coexisted with a single dosed Compak K6, and the K6 put the Vario to shame on a regular basis, enough to beat out the Vario's convenience.  

If you can swing the cost, I think a K30 Vario is the best all around high end commercial grinder for the home (or maybe the cheaper K8 Fresh, but I returned that before really forming an opinion).  The Baratza Vario is a grinder that I think will remain useful and appealing a lot longer than the little sudo-commercial flat burrs.  I'm actually thinking of ditching my LPG and Kenia in favor of a Vario W due to the massive gains in size, convenience, and effortless dose consistency.

That being said, a Baratza Vario is unlikely to ever be my primary espresso grinder.  For that I like the K6 as a starting point.  Mine was fast, quiet, had a great doser, and made better coffee than my SJ.

emradguy Said:

$900 for an M4?  Wow!  I think I paid a little less than $600 for each of my M4s.  It seems like a huge price difference to add on the digital component.  I just looked on aabreecoffee and they have it for $750 USD.

Posted August 12, 2012 link

In a cafe it's worth the difference, hands down.  I work at a cafe using a Major E and an SJ.  I hate having to use the SJ...hate it.  Its just so much more time and guess work, and just a much less streamlined and logical workflow.  At home it's not a big deal, by comparison you have all the time in the world.  Get all ninja with the on/off switch.  Timers are inaccurate, so if you want 0.1g precision you are going to grinds out a little extra here and there anyway.  Single dose if you want actual precision and are willing to trade some wasted coffee for chute sweeping.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,742
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 8:18am
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

russel Said:

In a cafe it's worth the difference, hands down.  I work at a cafe using a Major E and an SJ.  I hate having to use the SJ...hate it.  Its just so much more time and guess work, and just a much less streamlined and logical workflow.  At home it's not a big deal, by comparison you have all the time in the world.  Get all ninja with the on/off switch.  Timers are inaccurate, so if you want 0.1g precision you are going to grinds out a little extra here and there anyway.  Single dose if you want actual precision and are willing to trade some wasted coffee for chute sweeping.

Posted August 12, 2012 link

Hey Russel,

To clarify, what I meant was the price difference between the non-digital and digital seemed to be much larger than it ought to be. The $750 I quoted (really was $749) was actually for the digital version.  I just didn't want OP to pay more than he should for the digital version.  Of course, he's in Canada, and I don't know exchange rates.  I meant only to suggest he shop around more before throwing away an extra $150.

Have you tried a Versalab?  I'm curious how you would compare it to the Compak grinders.  And while you're at it, where would you put the Pharos in there, on a quality level?

(Sorry, I don't mean to hijack the thread, but had to ask.)

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 6:15pm
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

emradguy Said:

The $750 I quoted (really was $749) was actually for the digital version.

Posted August 13, 2012 link

My main concern about buying from American equipment supply houses is the horrendous customs fees Canadians have to incur.

Considering that it is $150 less, I suspect that after customs, it's only going to be $50 less. Regardless, any savings is better than no savings at all.
The excellent exchange rate right now is helping somewhat.

emradguy Said:

in Canada, and I don't know exchange rates.

Posted August 13, 2012 link

A neat way to check exchange rates quickly is to go to www.xe.com

emradguy Said:

I meant only to suggest he shop around more before throwing away an extra $150.

Posted August 13, 2012 link

Thank you very much for suggesting this vendor, I'll consider them when the time is right.

emradguy Said:

Have you tried a Versalab?

Posted August 13, 2012 link

You know, I'll admit that this one awesome looking grinder. It's too bad that the one which is for sale is missing the doser and hopper. Strangely
enough, the owner ordered it on my birthday, which is just a strange co-incidence. My wife would kill me if I dropped $1500 on a grinder though.

If money was no object, I'd consider one. Personally though, I get the feeling that this kind of grinder is the kind of thing which you buy when you
feel like buying a La Marzocco GS/3 with the paddle. I might be able to afford one of them, if it was dropped off the back of a truck... :-)

It seems to me that I can find what I'm looking for without spending more than $1000. After that, I'm in commercial grinder territory, which is
total overkill. Having company over, they'll think I'm drinking 24 double shots a day. :-)

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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strfish7
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Aug 2009
Posts: 178
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Cremina, Europiccola,...
Grinder: HGOne, Pharos, Vario
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 6:34pm
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

If you can manage a hand grinder at all, I certainly would recommend the Pharos.  While it can be a challenge to dial in, for the most part, I have pretty effortless adjustments (and they aren't needed that often).  The grind quality is superior to my Vario, and the time involved to grind and dose is reasonable.
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marlap
Senior Member
marlap
Joined: 5 May 2012
Posts: 48
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Starbucks Barista Athena
Grinder: Braun KM 30 (modded)
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 7:06pm
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

Right now exchange U.S. exch rates are roughly at par. Duty rates for Domestic food grinders are duty free under Tariff 8509.40.90.90

http://i.imgur.com/WuP9S.gif

Brokerage shouldn't be that bad by UPS or Fedex, of course you can always clear it yourself at Customs.

qualin Said:

My main concern about buying from American equipment supply houses is the horrendous customs fees Canadians have to incur.

Considering that it is $150 less, I suspect that after customs, it's only going to be $50 less. Regardless, any savings is better than no savings at all.
The excellent exchange rate right now is helping somewhat.



A neat way to check exchange rates quickly is to go to www.xe.com



Thank you very much for suggesting this vendor, I'll consider them when the time is right.



You know, I'll admit that this one awesome looking grinder. It's too bad that the one which is for sale is missing the doser and hopper. Strangely
enough, the owner ordered it on my birthday, which is just a strange co-incidence. My wife would kill me if I dropped $1500 on a grinder though.

If money was no object, I'd consider one. Personally though, I get the feeling that this kind of grinder is the kind of thing which you buy when you
feel like buying a La Marzocco GS/3 with the paddle. I might be able to afford one of them, if it was dropped off the back of a truck... :-)

It seems to me that I can find what I'm looking for without spending more than $1000. After that, I'm in commercial grinder territory, which is
total overkill. Having company over, they'll think I'm drinking 24 double shots a day. :-)

Posted August 13, 2012 link

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russel
Senior Member
russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 423
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: 73' Cremina, '74 Club,...
Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,...
Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 7:56pm
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

emradguy Said:

And while you're at it, where would you put the Pharos in there, on a quality level?

Posted August 13, 2012 link

My feelings about the Pharos are mixed...and I think they highlight the importance of thinking about how you use something and not just lusting after huge burrs.  I don't use my Pharos as a primary grinder any more.  I have other grinders for my everyday use.  I want to use the Pharos as a single dosing supplement to my primary grinders.  Maybe I've picked up a new blend or roasted some new beans.  Maybe I'm playing with a new machine or testing a mod project.  Most of the time, when I try to use the Pharos, it's for the first time in at least a week and some major component of the setup has changed.  This means that most of time...I don't remember where it was set last, so I have to burn more shots adjusting the grind than I would on a regular grinder.  If after the first shot I find that I want a slightly tighter grind I have a 50/50 change on adjusting in correct direction, and forget about getting that tiny change on the first try.  I often need to find a new dose, so that makes it that much more difficult.  When it's on it's great, but I'm currently trying to use it in a way that means it's off a lot more than it's on, and it's annoying.  

When I was using it everyday for every shot it was great.  I don't do that anymore, and its not great.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,474
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 Tue Aug 14, 2012, 6:54am
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

Russel, you said,

In a cafe it's worth the difference, hands down.  I work at a cafe using a Major E and an SJ.  I hate having to use the SJ...hate it.  Its just so much more time and guess work, and just a much less streamlined and logical workflow.  At home it's not a big deal, by comparison you have all the time in the world.  Get all ninja with the on/off switch.  Timers are inaccurate, so if you want 0.1g precision you are going to grinds out a little extra here and there anyway.  Single dose if you want actual precision and are willing to trade some wasted coffee for chute sweeping.

Well, I can't respond to a Cafe but I have run a SJ on a digital timer and the consistency is very good, well within normal use for a Cafe to be consistent shot to shot while having a hopper full of beans. It may not be within 0.1g but it is darn close in my use and for normal day to day use on a timer model SJ, it is turn the timer on the SJ on, then push the button. If the timer is next to the SJ, it is one motion from the SJ to the timer, very fast and easy.

If you are trying to "eyeball" a dose from the SJ, yep, it is a pain when single dosing.

Just saying, YMMV!

 
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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hankua
Senior Member
hankua
Joined: 29 Aug 2009
Posts: 238
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Salvatore One Black
Grinder: Pharos,Rossi RR45OD, Lido,...
Drip: CCD
Roaster: Yang-Chia 800n
Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 7:47am
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

The Compak K3 touch looks like a good doserless match for the Sylvia. I don't see a reason to spend so much money on a grinder unless your planning a huge upgrade. Sure you hear grinder, grinder, grinder; but I'll take a GS3 and Rocky over a Robur and Sylvia any day of the week. Your local dealer carries the Compak and Bezerra line, and he may just have a demo or return unit. Personally I'd be saving up for a Bezerra before dropping a grand on a grinder.
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cappuccinoboy
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Jun 2009
Posts: 798
Location: MILANO
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Milano pod, Milano fully...
Grinder: grind on demand
Posted Thu Aug 16, 2012, 9:52am
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

calblacksmith Said:

The issue of doser/less etc is one of how you like to work, it really isn't a big deal either way and each has its pros and cons.

Doser.
Pro you can grind while doing something else, .............

Doserless
................
con must stand at grinder while using, more of a mess on counter

MY personal use, I either use my autogrind/dose grinder or a grinder with a doser. I like the ability of grinding for a single shot while going to the fidge for the milk or while pulling shots, I like the extra time I get to do something else while it grinds, yes you can grind per shot and that is the only way I use a dosered grinder. .................... add.

Posted August 8, 2012 link

Wayne pls let me understand since you always praise dosered grinders for the ability to do something else while...
Now from my personal experience the silliest 38mm conical burr grinder when set for espresso will grind 1-1.2 grams/second, and that to me means 7-8 seconds to grind for one single : what else could you achieve in those few seconds ?? and meanwhile you have to keep wacking to keep the dosered cleen : clearly going doserless should be the way (time to be set in tenths of seconds), and of course you want that to deliver into the portafilter.
Could it be that your grinder needs new burrs ???
Or maybe you are pre-weighing beans and grinding time is much longer due to popping ?? but then the very rule of fifteen tells that it is perfectly OK to keep in the hopper at least three days worth of beans....and feed according to use...
Ciao, Pietro
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Thu Aug 16, 2012, 6:52pm
Subject: Re: The next step up... Recommendations?
 

Well, I think I know what I need to save my pennies for. It seems like anything I decide on will do the job.

My biggest pain in the rear is having to do the following:
  1. Pop out portafilter basket from portafilter.
  2. Take out postal scale and tare the basket
  3. Grind 13-15 grams of coffee into the basket and weigh
  4. Grind a bit more and weigh again.
  5. Get a teaspoon and spoon out enough coffee out of the basket until the scale weighs 16 grams.
  6. Put the basket back into the portafilter and tamp
  7. Lock, Load and Brew!
  8. Clean up mess made by grinder afterwards.

I tried the whole "Remove the spring" idea, but you can imagine what happened when I used the knockbox. :-)

I think that the biggest inconvenience about a time based grinder is that you have to keep adjusting the time
to get the right dose if you change the grind. Once it's dialed in, the dose will stay consistent, well, at least in
theory anyway. Maybe over time, I may wish to make the grind a little finer, so I would just bump up the time
and weigh the dose once to make sure I wasn't updosing.

I think that either a weight based or time based grinder would significantly reduce the steps above and would
make the coffee making experience a little less OCD-Based.

I also think that it would take years of experience before I could eyeball it. Before using the scale, I was either
downdosing or updosing like crazy. (Sometimes to the point of having a little trouble locking in the portafilter!)

I appreciate all of the advice here, it's been very helpful. I'm actually a little surprised by Hankua's comment about
a GS/3 and a Rocky. My guess is that he really hates the Robur.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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