calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,672 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 Dec 17, 2013, 6:57am Subject: Re: Hand grinders?
Well, you will not get an espresso able grinder for $150 new, you MIGHT buy a well used starter espresso grinder in that price range but I doubt it.
Hand grinders are fine, I don't know where you got the controversy idea from. Like all grinders, some will work for espresso and others will not. There are some very nice hand grinders for espresso but they are out of your price range. I am not up to date with the hand grinder market, I never was in it and honestly, I have not paid much attention to it. Someone with more information than I will help you out for sure :D
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!
gtj Senior Member Joined: 17 Nov 2007 Posts: 7 Location: Dublin Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 7:54am Subject: Re: Hand grinders?
While your best bet would be an orphan espresso lido (version 2 due out end of Jan) which would be an exceptional grinder, the price is unknown but the original was under 200. Consider saving the extra until then as it will be a considerable jump in grind quality and build over a budget unit.
If you need something now I would buy something that will work well and you can grow with until you want to step up to a Baratza or a better hand grinder.
Really under the 100 mark I would either go for a Hario Skerton or a Porlex. Both can be found for under 50 on amazon and will be a great starting point and will last long enough until you want to upgrade. I have the Sketron and its a good grinder but will eventually wear out. I've had it for over a year and in the last 6 months since moving abroad have used it 2-3 times daily.
Keep in mind that grinding for espresso will be far more effort as the grind size will be much tighter. I normally hand grind for pourover and it is a chore in itself (but one that i enjoy) but for espresso will require even more effort. The grinding will wake you before the coffee does! ;)
I would put the savings aside and keep an eye on a used Rocky/Mazzer/Baratza in the 200+ range
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 7:58am Subject: Re: Hand grinders?
I've got a bit of experience with hand (manual) grinders. Just beyond your price break ($150) is the OE Lido. OE (Orphan Espresso) is coming out with a new version (any time now), so the old one is likely to start popping up used shortly thereafter, and it would likely go for less than $150. I own version one, and it's fantastic. I'll definitely be ordering a Lido 2, but haven't decided if my Lido 1 will be up for sale or not. I use mine almost exclusively for press pot, but it'll grind well for any method you desire - even turkish. People say the espresso grind quality is on par with the Mazzer Mini class of grinders. I have to say, I find it difficult to dial in just right for espresso, probably merely because I use it primarily for press, so I never take the time to pull successive shots to get it just right - but it's certainly capable for that.
The Hario Skerton and Slim are perhaps the most popular manual grinder for espresso, in that they cost about $50 and $40, respectively, and do a good job. I don't know if the mods I'm about to describe for the Skerton translate exactly to the Slim, but maybe someone else does? For the Skerton, there are two mods you should consider, if you go that route. One is to make it stepless. It requires removing the lock mechanism and replacing it with a special posilock washer. you should be able to find a brief how-to through the search tool. If not, look for posts by "Burner0000". The other mod is for stability of the upper burr, when doing coarse grinds for press. I'm pretty sure that you can do both mods and then have a much better grinder for both ends of the spectrum (espresso and press). The coarse grind mod involves replacing a bearing and adding a washer (I think). The kit costs about $15 and is available from OE (same OE as above). They also have a how-to video posted on their website for doing the mod.
Other manual grinders I don't know that much about in your price range include the Zassenhaus line, the Porlex line, and...I can't think of any others off hand. Way out of your price range are the Rosco, the OE Pharos and the HG one...so don't even waste your time looking at them.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
Posted Tue Dec 17, 2013, 8:59am Subject: Re: Hand grinders?
Hand grinders - a "one size fits all" for both FP and espresso is going to be hard to find... that is because engineering a grinder to do BOTH coarse and espresso equally well is a challenge - it is typically a "lean" towards one more than the other. (same goes for motor driven machines in a lot of ways).
For example - if you are "hard and fast" on the $150 budget, and might go plus or minus $20, AND do mostly FP / drip, and occasional espresso then I would get a LIDO from Orphan Espresso. That grinder is top 'o the heap for drip and FP, and "passable" (as Doug puts it) for espresso. There are folks that use it for espresso, and it will do it, but not the best IMHO. I personally would not use it for espresso, but YMMV.
On the flip side, if your budget is flexible to plus (not minus) $100, and you do more espresso than FP / Drip, then there is the Pharos from Orphan Espresso. It's espresso grind is as good as, IMHO, $1000 grinders due to the 68mm burrs... and again, it is "passable" for drip and FP.
If it were me, and I did ANY espresso, I would stretch the budget to $250 and get the Pharos - reasoning is Espresso is less forgiving on the grind, and getting it right is critical - ESPECIALLY on the cheaper espresso machines - the mantra is that the best upgrade for a lower end espresso machine is the grinder. Then the Pharos will make a "passable" FP / drip grind - and I bet the Pharos would be more than adequate and better than many grinders for this purpose.
Oh, BTW, I own both the Pharos and LIDO. (go figure, eh) The LIDO is my FP / drip grinder... and the Pharos will be my espresso grinder *again* when I finally decide on my next Espresso machine!! BUT, I will have a motor driven grinder TOO for both purposes, but that is just the gearhead in me needing options.... ;-)
EDIT: After further thought, and if your $150 budget is a "hard stop and you cannot go over" - you could get some combination of two cheaper hand grinders - maybe like one "modded" Skerton that will handle coarse grinds well, and maybe a Zass or other hand grinder that can do espresso well. Bbut I don't think *IMHO* you will find ONE hand grinder that does everything well... just my two cents.
Oh - and have I used ALL the grinders I mentioned? Almost, so some of my recommendations are based on what I have read here and other places (like the Zass grinder) but all other ones I have used.
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