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Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
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leejyt
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 10:30am
Subject: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

Hi everyone,

I'm relatively new-ish to the whole coffee thing.  I've tried roasting with my popcorn popper with some random beans my coworker gave me, then bought an iRoast2 from someone here.  I've had an Aeropress for several years now and recently got a Bialetti 3 & 6 cup Moka pot (the 1 cup pot just wasn't enough for me) as well as a Yama vacuum brewer for when I have guests over.    Unfortunately I was using a kitchenaid blade machine (doesn't deserve to be called a grinder I assume from other people's posts) and last year I "upgraded" to a $30 crappy inconsistent  Capresso.  

Well I'm through with being stupidly cheap now and ready to get a real grinder.  I'm looking to keep it under $250 as my fiance would give me the evil eye if I spent $500 on a single use item.  I've looked at the Baratza Virtuouso, Encore, Vario, Rocky Rancillo (recommended to me by my coffee sensei), Breville smart grinder, and the Capresso Infinity.  I have a Tonx membership so I can get the Baratza's new for cheaper than Amazon which is pretty nice.  Unfortunately, I've read so many mixed reviews on each grinder that I have no idea what is good or not.  I've read that there are cheaper grinders that are equal to that of Rocky's level.  I've also read that Baratza grinders break often, but have superb customer service.  I've searched this section for similar topics but it seems everyone has an espresso machine, which I don't so I'm not sure if that makes a big difference or not.  

Here's my criteria:
Under $250-ish (flexible-ish)
Grinds for espresso/Moka pot/aeropress/Vacuum brewer
Reliable - I'd like for it to last me forever even though that's completely ridiculous
Consistent grinds
I prefer to buy it new to keep the warranty, but if there is a super reliable used/refurb grinder that works too.

Are there grinders that fits within my budget or is it all a pipe dream?  Forgive my lack of knowledge in advance!
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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 Fri Nov 22, 2013, 10:55am
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

Tim, welcome back!

You really should come here a bit more! Rocky has seen his better days, there are better for less grinders out there now.  The Vario is about the lowest price grinder for multi function going.

There are only two camps pretty much more or less that all grinders (well all grinders that are worth a darn, the toys sold at BB&B etc don't count) fall into, Espresso and everything else. While you can get a reasonably good general use grinder at about half your budget, espresso is another game entirely. About the least expensive espresso grinder I feel comfortable advising is the LELIT PL043. It usually sells for at or slightly above your budget.

The trouble with trying to use an espresso grinder with other methods of brewing, aside from the different grind profile (not size but KIND of grounds) is that espresso grinders are designed to be adjusted in very small steps as the grind for espresso is very fussy and needs to be tweaked all the time. When you move the "dial" to grind for say, FP, that is a HUGE movement and it will take like 5 or 6 pulls to find your proper espresso grind again... if you are lucky. This is why most of us have two grinders. One for espresso and one for everything else, don't ask how many grinders I have LOL.

The Vario seems to be one grinder that can do both jobs at a fair price. There is a lot of plastic on it but that is one way to keep the cost down. There have been some issues with the grinder but then what product does not have issues? The customer service though is second to none and they are always willing to help any way they can.

 
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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MikeReilly
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 304
Location: Vancouver Island
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Cimbali Junior Gaggia...
Grinder: Pharos CC45 Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cuisinart
Roaster: Behmor, I-Roast 2, Popper
Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 11:14am
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

I'll just echo the previous reply.  If you want to be able to grind for multiple types of coffee, the Baratzas are pretty much the way to go.  Bomb proof grinders that last forever means things like Mazzers, Macaps, Ceados, Compaks and the like (the Rocky is as well, but it's not really that good for espresso.)  You can get the entry level grinders from the latter manufacturers used if you are patient and look around.  Espresso only grinders like the PL043 are pretty good for espresso but are too hard to change grind for multiple uses.  The nice thing about the used market is that the commercial grade grinders do a very good job on espresso and (most of them) are easy(ish) to change to other coffee grind settings.  They also last forever unless seriously abused.  Another option is to get a Rossi RR45 and convert it to stepless if you are handy.  You can get them for under $200 used, they have 64mm burrs similar to the Super Jolly, but their stepped adjustments make them a bit less friendly for espresso.  If you convert them to stepless following one of the older posts here or on HB, you should be able to get an excellent grinder that can do it all for cheap.

That said, I have one that was rescued from a fire at a local restaurant that I wanted to convert to stepless, but never got around to since the process is somewhat irreversible and there are no longer spare parts made (other than burrs), so if you break the adjustment collar while modding, you are SOL.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 11:21am
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

Your honestly better off getting a cheap good grinder for coarse stuff, like the Baratza Encore which is like $130 or something like that, and getting a decent espresso grinder for that need (refurbed Preciso is a great deal). I love my Preciso for the $ for espresso, and while it can be changed back and forth to work at both ends... doing so on this machine puts a lot of wear and tear on the adjustment ring which can then break or have to replace from wear frequently, I've replaced mine twice and use it only for espresso now (use my modded Hario Mini Slim for coarse stuff now). Vario is the same, it's capable but a lot of people after awhile end up saying their chasing grind settings vs previously from the extra wear and tear.

Or just get a good espresso grinder and cheap hand grinder like I have if funds are tight vs two electric machines, that way you'll have a good espresso machine (Virtuoso is the same machine as the Preciso even same burr set, however lacks the Micro adjustment arm which makes a night and day differences for espresso as it makes the Preciso act stepless.)
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leejyt
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 1:19pm
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

Thank you all for the detailed responses!  I really appreciate the advice mixed with helpful suggestions.  

I have one more question.  For the types of brewing methods  Aeropress/Moka pot/ I'm using do I even need an espresso level grinder or will something like the Encore/Hario Mini Slim be better?  After I did a quick search it seems that the consensus is that Aeropress just needs a grind level finer than drip , same with the moka pot.  So once again I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 1:46pm
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

leejyt Said:

Thank you all for the detailed responses!  I really appreciate the advice mixed with helpful suggestions.  

I have one more question.  For the types of brewing methods  Aeropress/Moka pot/ I'm using do I even need an espresso level grinder or will something like the Encore/Hario Mini Slim be better?  After I did a quick search it seems that the consensus is that Aeropress just needs a grind level finer than drip , same with the moka pot.  So once again I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Posted November 22, 2013 link

Espresso is espresso grind only and can only be done by an espresso capable grinder (plenty of even cheap grinders go fine enough but just b/c they can go fine doesn't mean their suited for espresso), any other means can be handled by basically any other grinder. For Aeropress, Moka, Drip, Pour Over etc even a Baratza Encore is more then enough for most (though I'd go with the Virtuoso for more adjusting and better Preciso burr set). French Press is really the less forgiving of the coarse grind coffee's and needs good fines control (Aeropress is more forgiving), the Hario Skerton has a bearing kit that is sold by orphan that makes it better and consistent for coarse use especially French, as stock it doesn't have good fines control.
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wabbitt
Senior Member
wabbitt
Joined: 2 Jan 2010
Posts: 134
Location: california
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: stovetop pots,aeropress
Grinder: skerton, SoloGrind
Drip: melitta cone, chemex
Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 1:47pm
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

I only do Aeropress, Moka pot, and pourover.  I have a Hario Skerton.  Great hand grinder for fine grind, just a little less great for course because of wobble down the shaft.  There are mods to stabilize this.  I thought I was tired of hand grinding and bought a SoloGrind.  Cheap enough I could afford to try it.  It's a burr grinder and a nice little size on my counter.  However, it produces a lot of powder (contributing to bitterness) and the consistency of the grind is all over the place.  I taste it in the cup, but at least it's still better than a whirly blade. I can live with it but I still prefer the Skerton when I have time and energy.

So unless you go with one of the recommended grinders, even if it seems like overkill that you don't do espresso, you'll get a lot of fines and poor grind consistency.  You'll probably taste it and wished you held out.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 2:02pm
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

wabbitt Said:

I only do Aeropress, Moka pot, and pourover.  I have a Hario Skerton.  Great hand grinder for fine grind, just a little less great for course because of wobble down the shaft.  There are mods to stabilize this.  I thought I was tired of hand grinding and bought a SoloGrind.  Cheap enough I could afford to try it.  It's a burr grinder and a nice little size on my counter.  However, it produces a lot of powder (contributing to bitterness) and the consistency of the grind is all over the place.  I taste it in the cup, but at least it's still better than a whirly blade. I can live with it but I still prefer the Skerton when I have time and energy.

So unless you go with one of the recommended grinders, even if it seems like overkill that you don't do espresso, you'll get a lot of fines and poor grind consistency.  You'll probably taste it and wished you held out.

Posted November 22, 2013 link

Yup that's the thing, coarse grinding especially press style needs good fines control, that's why the budget friendly electric grinders like the popular Capresso Infinity or Bodum etc suck for coarse, a Hario Skerton modded will beat them, and I don't know why anyone would by those similar priced machines over an Encore that's just flat out better in everyway from quality to grinding. In the 100-200$ range, you have the Encore, the Breville Smart Grinder, and the Virtuoso is like $230 but can get on refurb for cheaper, and all three of those not only work great for coarse but have great fines control. Actually the Breville Smart Grinder can be had for about $120-$130 (think even SCG has it for 120, just checked), excellent deal.
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leejyt
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 2:54pm
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

Thanks wabbitt!  Those last 2 sentences sold me!  I really hate inconsistency.  

CMIN Said:

Yup that's the thing, coarse grinding especially press style needs good fines control, that's why the budget friendly electric grinders like the popular Capresso Infinity or Bodum etc suck for coarse, a Hario Skerton modded will beat them, and I don't know why anyone would by those similar priced machines over an Encore that's just flat out better in everyway from quality to grinding. In the 100-200$ range, you have the Encore, the Breville Smart Grinder, and the Virtuoso is like $230 but can get on refurb for cheaper, and all three of those not only work great for coarse but have great fines control. Actually the Breville Smart Grinder can be had for about $120-$130 (think even SCG has it for 120, just checked), excellent deal.

Posted November 22, 2013 link

Alright thanks!  I'm just trying buy the right tool for the job.  I guess I'll be getting a Skerton and either a Virtuoso or Precisio.  I was thinking about getting a refurb, but I guess like being reassured that at least with a new one the first year will be covered by the warranty.
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moosepucky
Senior Member
moosepucky
Joined: 6 Jun 2009
Posts: 153
Location: USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90 auto
Grinder: Super Jolly - Forte BG -...
Vac Pot: Cona - Santos
Drip: Bodum - Chemex - Hario -...
Roaster: Hottop KN-8828-B
Posted Sat Nov 23, 2013, 6:40pm
Subject: Re: Indecisive, new-ish coffeegeek looking for your grinder wisdom!
 

leejyt Said:

Alright thanks!  I'm just trying buy the right tool for the job.  I guess I'll be getting a Skerton and either a Virtuoso or Precisio.  I was thinking about getting a refurb, but I guess like being reassured that at least with a new one the first year will be covered by the warranty.

Posted November 22, 2013 link

Virtuoso or Preciso will be a good coarse/drip/pour over grinder but they are expensive for that task.

Preciso is "kinda ok" as a "stop gap" espresso grinder (not really though).

Get a skerton and a mini.  Mod the Skerton (the OE PFP mod).  Then you will have a fine espresso grinder (mini) and a fine pour over / press / drip grinder (Skerton)

moosepucky: kyo_mini.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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