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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Grinder upgrade...  
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MadDawg1076
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Apr 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Dallas, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Apr 18, 2013, 8:15am
Subject: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

First off,
Thank you all in advance, I am thrilled to be a part of this community, and I hope to continue my quest of becoming a true coffee enthusiast. I apologize if I am too vague, or am not using the proper information to help you help me. I will gladly provide any more information that I have if needed, I just do not want to over-share at the expense of a needlessly long post either.

So I am stuck with a hard decision, and it seems like a have a few logical choices. I am hoping you guys can help me make the right one, or even suggest one that I am not thinking of currently.

My current setup is a steam toy, but I have a Breville Infuser coming in tomorrow in the mail. I currently have a Capresso Infinity that I got from a retail store with a great return policy. I know that it will likely not meet my needs with the new espresso machine if I chose to use the non-pressurized baskets. For those that are unaware, the machine comes with 4 baskets, both a single and double of pressurized and non-pressurized

Here are what i think my options are:
  1. Keep the Infinity for Drip/Press, get a hand grinder for espresso, and save for a better grinder/good used deal
  2. Use the pressurized portafiller until I get a good deal on a used/refurbished grinder. I could get a dedicated espresso grinder and keep the infinity for pourover-press grinds, or get one that will do the entire range and return/sell/give away the infinity
  3. Return the Infinity and get a Breville Smart Grinder from the same place I bought the Infinity from. With the 20% off coupon I have it will only cost me about as much extra as keeping the Infinity and getting a hand grinder.

I plan on mostly drinking milk-based drinks or americanos, but I hope to learn to enjoy plain espresso. My alternate primary method of coffee drinking will be a press-pot but I plan on grabbing a chemex soon so I will be able to make enough/smoother coffee for guest that might not like americanos or press-pot coffee.

I have access to very high quality and consistent coffee, I buy a fresh drip blend and espresso blend about once a week. Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting The Pearl Cup in Dallas will know what I mean. I know the espresso can produce a fantastic result, because I am able to see it first-hand in their cafe. Heck, it even taste great from my steam-toy...

Thank you again for all your help,
Chris
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OttoMatic
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 78
Location: Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario,...
Drip: Capresso MT500+
Roaster: Cast iron dutch oven
Posted Thu Apr 18, 2013, 9:00am
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

I used a Capress Infinity for a while with pressurized & non-pressurized PFs in a Breville machine that's similar to the Infuser (not sure on the precise details, but it's probably a predecessor to the Infuser from a few years ago).  The Infinity can get you by, and I also used it with my Expobar Brewtus.  Of course, you're on the right track to find a more appropriate espresso grinder.  

I ended up with a Mazzer Mini-E, and that is more than suitable for espresso.  As you probably know, it's all but impossible to use it for both espresso and drip grinds, and that's the case for many "espresso" grinders.

I don't have any experience with a hand grinder, nor do I think I'd personally want to use one, but I understand people get good results with some of them.

I probably wouldn't go with the Breville Smart Grinder.  The Baratza Vario is highly regarded for its ability to switch between espresso and drip grinds and is very popular and fairly priced.  It's gonna be more money than the Infiinty or the BSG, but probably be very useful to you in the long run.

So, what would I do?  I'd either go for the Vario now/soon, or use the Infinity to the best of its capability while eyeing a Mini-E or the like.  And...  I would definitely consider buying used, which can get you a lot further with the same amount of money.  I recently just bought a "new to me" grinder from the BST forum here on CG, and I'm selling my lightly used, 3-month old Mazzer Mini-E there now.  Other things come and go all the time.

That's a start...

Good luck!
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MadDawg1076
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Apr 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Dallas, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Apr 18, 2013, 9:36am
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

I have been eying the Vario quite a bit lately, as well as the Preciso, which is much closer to my ideal price range if bought refurbished from Baratza.  However, I did want to clarify that buying the BSG would not set me back much, because I could get store-credit for the infinity + a 20% coupon off and it would only be about an extra $60-$70 investment.  I would still be in the market for an upgrade in the future for espresso, if not all-purpose grinding.  If I were to go with something else, that I cannot buy at the specific retail store I bought the Infinity from, then I would be out the full amount, and I am at best a few months out from that purchase.  That is why I am considering the hand grinder also, something to tie me over for a few months.  I guess the real question is how the BSG compares to a hand-grinder in the under $100 range, and how they both compare to the Infinity.  The extra $70 for the BSG or $40+ for the hand grinder would delay me getting a real grinder, but not more than an extra month or so;  if it could put me off for long enough, I might be able to get something really nice, instead of settling for a Preciso Refurb.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,722
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 Fri Apr 19, 2013, 5:52am
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

I am not a fan of Breville products but some have the smart grinder and SEEM to be happy with them so others who have used that grinder may be of more help to you  with that specific grinder.

As to general setups, most of us have at least two grinders and some of us have a lot more than that. I personally am a fan of dedicated grinders but others who have the Vario seem to be able to get multi use from the one grinder and are quite happy.

Get the best grinder you can afford, then add a little more for the grinder. Steam toys are not very good and you know that. Even a base espresso machine with a pump will produce better quality coffee.

My personal feeling on upgrade paths is to skimp on the machine if money is tight and splurge on the grinder then upgrade the machine later if need be. The Baratza referb program is quite good and they stand behind the grinders as if new so I would not worry there.

Should you get a motorized grinder or a hand one is up to you. My own trip through the grinder world starts with a SJ and a Soliss 166 (when I got to real grinders, there were some junk ones before these and I do not advise anyone to go that route.) and I have moved up from there. I still have a grinder for espresso and another one for "other" use.

The Infinity would serve well as an OTHER grinder and it does represent a good price to value ratio. Sure there are better grinders for other use but as a good starting point that will not need to be upgraded for a while, the infinity is a good place to start.

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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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,035
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Apr 19, 2013, 9:21am
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

Wayne, you don't think the 166 is junk too?  I sure do...though I haven't yet figured out how best to get rid of it.  Well, I've also hung on to it for two other reasons.  1) I spent a little time and effort doing a thorough cleansing and 2) I need something for drip (forgot I got rid of my crappy drip brewer, so no drip iuntil I get around to picking up a Brazen - my current choice), press pot, and moka pot.

Like Wayne, I'm a strong believer in having dedicated espresso grinder(s) and then something separate for all other methods.  I also feel quite strongly that you should get the best grinder you can possibly afford (or the best one you can get past your spouse/significant other without starting WWIII).

I use both electric and manual.  My manual grinder is a Lido, and it's been my experience that the act of grinding is simple and straightforward and takes very little extra effort or time. Of course, I use this grinder for press pot at work, and actually have NOT tried to make espresso with it.  The grinder on my dream setup list (which will be the next real purchase I make) is the HG one.  I plan to pick up both burr sets.  A couple of months ago I had the cash stashed away, waiting for the right time to buy (without starting WWIII in my house), and then...*poof* it vanished (no, my wife didn't find it and spend it...I just ended up needing it).  now I'm trying to reaccumulate it, but I won't have it beofre the May shipment from HG one, nor will the coast be clear by then on the home front (freakin' property taxes!).

You're in a different situation, as you pretty much already committed the cost of the infinity to that store, so now it's drop alittle more cash and get something mediocre, or be out that cash yet have something good for non-espresso and marginal at best for espresso.  Kinda like being between a rock and a hard place.  I don't know what hand/manual grinders the store you would potentially have credit at has, but the Harios are supposed to be pretty good for espresso, and they (at least the Skerton) can be modified for press for about $15 (mod bearing from Orphan Espresso).  I've got one of those too, but...again, like my Lido, I haven't actually used it for espresso...and it's out on loan to a friend with the bearing mod, so I can even test it for you (as a comparison to my Macaps - which are on par with the Mini).

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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MadDawg1076
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Apr 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Dallas, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Apr 19, 2013, 9:22pm
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

Thank you all for the advice, here is an update.

So Tl;DR version: I did end up getting the BSG.  I am very glad that I did after seeing tasting my results.

Now here is why:

So first I made a double latte with the pressurized filter from the infinity.  It was a good cup, about as good as you could hope for from a pressurized filter I would think.  Easily as good as what you get at a major chain, but nothing like what you would want from a good cafe.  All of this was just for a baseline.  I do not ever plan to use that filter again except maybe to let a friend use the machine if I do not have time to show them the entire process.

So now I busted out the 'real' filter and got to work trying to get a decent double.  I was measuring my doses and was using a stir, then tamp process each time.  The first three settings I tried choked the machine, but the next one ran in about 15 seconds.  I went back to the setting before that, adjusted the dose slightly, and got it to pour in about 40 seconds.  This is the first one I tasted; I do not think I have the ability to describe how bad it was, so lets just say it was bad, and you can use your imagination.  So then I held the machine in between those two steps and managed to get the right grind for a 5sec preinfuse + 25sec double.  I was using 16g of grounds and got 2oz of espresso including crema.  The color/texture looked great.  I was expecting it to taste wonderful...  But it did not taste wonderful, it tasted like I had brewed the espresso with lemon juice, then grated pecan shell into it.  I experimented with a few more attempts and managed to get something passable in a latte, but I would not have touched it without milk.

So I went to the retail store, and traded in the Infinity on the BSG +$60.  When I got home I tried about 4 grind settings before I found the correct one for 16g->2oz in 5+25 seconds.  The shot was immediately drinkable in a way that none of mine from earlier in the day were.  I had saved some of the grind from the infinity so I could help estimate the setting on the BSG, and compared the two.  Compare really isn't a fair word here, they were quite different once I found the proper setting on the BSG.  The grind was much coarser,  I decided this was because it had significantly less fines in it.

Tonight I made my wife a latte, and she enjoyed it.  Therefore I am declaring this at least a short-term victory.  I do still plan on upgrading to a dedicated grinder in the next few months.  Hopefully I will be able to find a good used one, but until then at least I will be able to enjoy an espresso or two, even if not the best they could be.  At the very least I now have a much better 'other than espresso' grinder than I did before, and at worst I can return the BSG at any point in time.
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MadDawg1076
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Apr 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Dallas, TX
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Apr 19, 2013, 10:17pm
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

Just in case anyone is wondering, I am in between setting 3-4 of the espresso range on the BSG so it looks like I have more than plenty of growing room.  I haven't tested the finest setting yet, but I suspect that it is going to be pretty much powder.  I think the limitations will be power to grind fine enough on hard or oily beans more so than the range of grind available.  I will chime back in once I test press grind though, it may be possible that mine is shimmed too fine.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,722
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 Sat Apr 20, 2013, 9:22am
Subject: Re: Grinder upgrade choices to pair with new Breville Infuser
 

Sorry for the sidetrack here, I'm glad you like your new grinder, may it serve you well for a long time:-)

Ron, I like the 166 for other than espresso. For espresso it is not a good grinder, I'm sorry, I thought I was clear on that, my mistake, sorry.

 
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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