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Grinder choice
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Grinder choice  
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GiveUpTheCrema
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: New York
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Vario, Hario Skerton
Posted Sun Nov 17, 2013, 12:32am
Subject: Grinder choice
 

I'm upgrading from a french press + simple hand grinder and plan to enter the land of espresso. I'm getting a grinder+espresso machine. There is a separate thread on the machine but I will probably end up with an HX/E61 type machine in the 1500-2000 USD range.

For the grinder, I want the following:
1) best possible quality of espresso
2) cool looks
3) smaller is better
4) portafilter holder is better
5) clean operation is better

I'm leaning towards the Baratza Vario line (Vario, Vario-W, Forte). It seems to hit (1). It looks OK, not great, but is very small. The Vario has a portafilter as does the Forte. Any opinions on whether they are clean to operate or get grounds all over the place ?

I quite like the looks of the chrome MACAP M2D. This model does not seem to be sold much in the US. It is a stepped grinder, perhaps the step sizes are too small for getting good quality espresso ? In any case this is a serious contender.

MACAP M4D is interesting too although I'm a bit concerned about reports that old grounds tend to stay in the machine so the first cup can be bitter. I will be mainly grinding for 1-2 shots at a time with several hours or a day in between. I prefer the simple chrome appearance of the M2D.

Other machines I'm looking at:
Mazzer Mini E --- the doserless looks a bit funny in my opinion, not a huge fan of the big thing in front.
Compaq K3 Touch --- these actually look pretty cool
Mahlkonig K30 --- probably too big
Mahlkonig ProM --- an option, especially if I can get it used since it is a bit pricey

What do the experts recommend ?
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Shawn12
Senior Member
Shawn12
Joined: 19 Oct 2012
Posts: 72
Location: Barrie,ON, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07
Grinder: Vario/Virtuoso...
Vac Pot: Yama 5/Balancing Siphon
Drip: Brazen
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Nov 17, 2013, 7:19am
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

Well you are all over the map in terms of price. New machines 400- 1600. The k30 is actually the most expensive  not the pro m.  If you can afford it and fit it in I would go with the k30. That would eliminate any feeling of a needing to upgrade down the road. If you are that undecided though and looks seem to be  very important to you I would go to a store with all those  models to try out and see them live. Pictures only tell you so much.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,070
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Sun Nov 17, 2013, 12:13pm
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

I'd go with the Macap M4 for various reasons.  Built to last years, looks great and is right in the middle with regards to price range.  If you go Macap DON'T buy stepped. I can speak from experience that Macap steps are large and once you really break the burrs in (30+ lb) your gonna get stuck trying to dial in the right grind in between 2 settings.  Stepless tho is absolutely amazing! Best espresso I've had so far.  Macap motor's and burrs have enough push to really push out the grinds.  I have a doser MX and don't usually get more than 0.5-1g left behind. The rest shoot into the doser. If you wanna keep the burrs clean then a doser model would be easier to do so. IMO your gonna have grounds left behind with any flat burr grinder. If that's important then go with a conical burr grinder.  I'd forget the M2 models.. M4's are there smaller models now.

I plan to use my MX stepless for another few years until I'm selling enough coffee to swap it out for the M4D or M7D.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,070
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Sun Nov 17, 2013, 12:17pm
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

Oh I forgot to mention.. The worm drive on the stepless models allow you to jump from really course easily.  I just marked my espresso range with a china pen for easy dialing. :)
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EndTwo
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Mar 2013
Posts: 89
Location: Denmark
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Apscaso uno steel prof
Grinder: Mazzer Major DR + Mahlkönig...
Drip: french press, ceramic v60...
Roaster: skillet
Posted Sun Nov 17, 2013, 11:11pm
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

Well... if money wasn't an issue, as it doesn't seem to be, then I'd go mahlkönig k30 vario or compak k10 fresh. Depending on flat or conical burrs...
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nobbi4711
Senior Member
nobbi4711
Joined: 20 Apr 2005
Posts: 338
Location: Germany
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Dallacorte Mini EX4
Grinder: Casadio Instantaneous
Vac Pot: none
Drip: French Press
Roaster: Mini-500/800N drum roaster;...
Posted Mon Nov 18, 2013, 3:21am
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

The ProM isn't very good in timer settings, as it grinds a little more than the double amount of espresso if pressed for a double portion.  Also the electronics of early models had some bugs. The ProM Espresso in my eyes is a much better choice. Extremely easy to handle, special espresso burrs (no mulitpurpose as the ProM). For the K30 there exist smaller hoppers. The Vario nevertheless will do anything you need an espresso grinder for, with a high comfort in handling and a good espresso quality.

Greetings \\//

Marcus
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,024
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 Mon Nov 18, 2013, 10:43am
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

The Macap M4 is only made stepless these days, so no worry there unless you're looking at an older used model. I can attest they are extremely well-built and excellent grinders for the class. In fact, I own two of them and have been very, very happy with them both for several years. However, I am pretty sure (based only on reading) the M4 doesn't come close to matching the quality of the K30 in the cup. In other words, if you have the space and the money, go big! Otherwise, the M4 is a very good choice.

Also/However/?  I don't see how the M4 worm drive allows one to go coarse easily (as Chris suggested). In my experience, it seems like it would take 5 minutes of constant turning to get the grinder into the coarse range, and then just as long to go back - only to have to redial it in to get the shots just right. I'd assume also that in doing this one would be changing beans. I personally wouldn't ever think of using this grinder for anything other than espresso.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,070
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Nov 18, 2013, 11:18am
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

emradguy Said:

The Macap M4 is only made stepless these days, so no worry there unless you're looking at an older used model. I can attest they are extremely well-built and excellent grinders for the class. In fact, I own two of them and have been very, very happy with them both for several years. However, I am pretty sure (based only on reading) the M4 doesn't come close to matching the quality of the K30 in the cup. In other words, if you have the space and the money, go big! Otherwise, the M4 is a very good choice.

Also/However/?  I don't see how the M4 worm drive allows one to go coarse easily (as Chris suggested). In my experience, it seems like it would take 5 minutes of constant turning to get the grinder into the coarse range, and then just as long to go back - only to have to redial it in to get the shots just right. I'd assume also that in doing this one would be changing beans. I personally wouldn't ever think of using this grinder for anything other than espresso.

Posted November 18, 2013 link

The worm drive is held in place by 2 small Phillips screws which need to be taken out to disengage the worm drive to remove the collar and clean the burrs. I just left them out and marked the espresso sweet spot.  I usually only dial back to drip when cupping coffee and press once in a blue moon. Even turning the worm drive with both hands from espresso to drip takes maybe 15 seconds.  I have never had to dial back more than a half turn of the collar for any type or brew method.  If your thinking of single dosing with say the Macap M4 then leaving the worm drive screws out for easy dialing is great but I wouldn't recommend it if your thinking about grinding a lot and or keeping the hopper full.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,024
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 Mon Nov 18, 2013, 11:40am
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

I thought you have an MX...did you get an M4 too? I ask because I wonder if the mechanisms are exactly the same. I've taken the collar off my M4s without removing the worm drive...someone posted it on H-B a few years ago. Just takes a little tilt and slide, and then you can get to the throat and burrs no problem. I did it that way because I found it difficult to get a good angle on the worm drive screws and they weren't budging.
I meant to do a pictorial essay on the burr change/cleaning, but haven't gotten around to it.

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


Joined: 26 Oct 2013
Posts: 7
Location: New York
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Vario, Hario Skerton
Posted Mon Nov 18, 2013, 12:17pm
Subject: Re: Grinder choice
 

Thank you for the opinions.

The M2 is definitely off the list based on your comments. I've decided that the K30 is unfortunately too large for my kitchen. The price tag on the Mahlkonig is a bit offputting too.

I think my short list at this point is the Vario and the M4D. From my research online I've read that the M4D suffers from grind retention, i.e. you need to reach in to scoop out the last couple of grams of grounds and even then there may be some left in the device. People seem very impressed by the low ground retention of the Vario. Thus I'm leaning toward the Vario even though it looks a bit less nice.

Another consideration is that it would be nice to be able to occasionally use the grinder for grinding french press, especially when there are too many people to reasonably make espresso for everyone, etc (rare in my household to be honest). I could in principle hold on to my POS blade grinder for this purpose.
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