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Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,072
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Thu Jan 2, 2014, 6:25pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

Lelit PL53 makes a much better espresso grinder than the Preciso.
....but Lelit is not a site sponsor so do research elsewhere as well.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,181
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Jan 2, 2014, 7:43pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

SpaceTime Said:

So the knock on hand grinding is inconvenience... ?

Posted January 2, 2014 link

Yes.  Also, some hand grinders are less convenient than either.  For instance, the HG-1 is much friendlier than the Pharos.  

More generally:
  1. I'm not sure how the term frikkin' superb could be taken as anything other than high praise, but you misunderstood what I had to say about the Pharos; and
  2. Try not to take this stuff personally. I'm not attacking you, your equipment or your opinions.  Relax.  Breathe.  Drink less coffee.  Wait.  No.  Relax.  Breathe.  Think happy thoughts.  

But a Pharos is still better than a Vario for grind quality, IMHO and the opinion of many others.

Not just better but far better, if you ask me.  I have to ask though, why bring up the Vario?  I didn't.

And I would go a step further and compare the Pharos in the cup quality to the Super Jolly, Majors, and even K10's of the world - you know, just like all those high-caliber coffee afficianado shoot-outs done by folks here on CG and HB...  I don't recall the shoot out results comparing the Pharos grind quality to a Conico or T48.... ?

  1. Have you tried the grinders you're writing about?  
  2. Fiorenzato Doge Conico and Quamar T48 ARE "Titan" grinders (more later); and
  3. For goor or ill, I am a high-caliber. coffee aficionado, even if I wasn't posting on alt.coffee about "reverse temperature surfing" in 1992; partly because I had a Livia 90 HX, and partly because I was posting about astronomy, not coffee then; and
  4. As far as I'm concerned, your opinion is as good as mine, Dan Kehn's, Mark Prince's or anyone's.    

Comparing apples to apples, the Doge Conico IS in the same class as the K10, with a very similar signature; perhaps a little less convenient, but with less tendency to overheat in a volume situation, or at least so David Schomer wrote about the K-10's problems in that regard.  

The T48 is better than either the SJ or Major, with better separation and depth of flavors; it's comparable to an Anfim Super Caimano, or Ceado E37, and very close to a Mazzer Royal.  Supposedly the Compak K8 is in the same class, but I've never tried a K-8.  

Based on a few samples separated by too much time and distance to create more than an impression:  The Pharos grinds as well as the Conico and K-10.  

As to the flat burrs, it's not really a fair comparison, but it's no insult to the Pharos to be put in the same sentence as the T-48; nor is it an insult to the T-48 to be associated with the Pharos.  Both great grinders, both great values.  

Put a set of Pharos burrs next to the K10 burrs and they are identical in near every way, dimension, etc.

Size and geometry are important but they aren't everything.  By way of example, a Mahlkonig K30 is a hugely better grinder than a Mazzer Mini E.  Similarly, swapping out the stock Bunn burrs for Ditting burrs, made a monster difference in my Bunzilla.  Go figure.

I don't know enough about the specifics or the subject in general to express an opinion on whether Compak burrs are better than Pharos or vice versa in those other respects.

And when you turn them with coffee beans stuck between them, the result is also surprisingly similar.

Not sure that "stuck" is the right word; but yes.  Nice, silky shots, with good high-notes and plenty of nuance; but a little light on the low end.

Except, of course, the Pharos operates at a lower RPM without electricity, so it grinds cooler and some say this makes the result in the cup a tiny bit better...

Who are these some?  I've used a few K-10s and never ran into heat issues. My guess -- and just a guess, mind you -- is that it's more of a volume than a home thing.    

Cheers Boar.

Same to you.

BDL
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Gallansio
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 33
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jan 2, 2014, 8:19pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

Roundup:
  1. Breville Smart Grinders are ok.
  2. Breville isn't consistent enough.
  3. Rocky Rancilio
  4. Hario Kerton
  5. OE Pharos.
  6. OE Pharos.
  7. Breville Smart not good enough
  8. Not Hario Kerton. Not consistent enough.
  9. Preciso is good enough to get started.
  10. Stretch and get a Vario.
  11. Kerton is better than blade. Pharos/Lido better for $250.
  12. Pharos
  13. Lelit PL53
  14. HG-1 friendlier than Pharos

Thoughts:
  1. No Breville
  2. Maybe Hario as a stepping stone?
  3. OE Pharos looks interesting, but can't find any place to buy it.
  4. If I buy the Vario will it be the only grinder I'll ever need for home use?
  5. Still not ruling out Preciso
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,181
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Jan 2, 2014, 8:55pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

No Breville

Right.  Good choice and very good value for non-espresso if you do a lot of FP.

Maybe Hario as a stepping stone?

Very low end, borderline okay.  Not nearly as good as the Preciso.  Cheap as a salesman's promise, though.

OE Pharos looks interesting, but can't find any place to buy it.

It's only sold by the manufacturer, Orphan Espresso (hence the "OE").

If I buy the Vario will it be the only grinder I'll ever need for home use?

Possibly but probably not.  There are issues with using it for both espresso AND non-espresso.  The internal plastic arms can get screwed up from too much back and forth.  Baratza says the failure rate for that is 3% of all Varios per year.  Also, the Vario is a good grinder; it is not a very good grinder and certainly not an excellent grinder.  When and if you do upgrade your machine it's quite possible you'll upgrade to a machine beyond the level of the Vario.    

Still not ruling out Preciso

It makes more sense to me than the Vario for your current espresso machine.  But remember what I said about "adequate."  You'll outgrow the Preciso the second you upgrade your espresso machine to anything decent.
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SpaceTime
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Dec 2013
Posts: 271
Location: Virgo Cluster
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
Grinder: HG One, Pharos, LIDO
Drip: Freiling 33 & 44oz FP,...
Posted Thu Jan 2, 2014, 9:24pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

It's only sold by the manufacturer, Orphan Espresso (hence the "OE").

The OP might have tried to purchase at OE - and for the last three weeks, with Doug / Barb out on year end vacation, you can't buy one even if you wanted to.  That is one thing with OE, there are a small mom and pop operation, and are out on vacation what seems like 6-8 weeks every year.

Plus, support for their products is not very snappy - they have no phone contact information, and getting support on email is hit or miss.  I have multiple emails to them for support on the Pharos that just plain go unanswered.

If I had to do it over again, I might think twice when buying the Pharos.... it is a serviceable grinder once you either spend another $300 for the Voodoo Daddy mods, or plan on a couple of shop days re-aligning, tweaking… but with hit or miss support, tough to extract the grinds out, it is more of a weekend grinder where you have time to tinker and kill.
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Gallansio
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 33
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jan 2, 2014, 11:27pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

  1. Skerton: I just saw a video that shows how to adjust the grain size. It looks like a pain and I would prefer explicitly notches so I can remember where it is. It's a lot easier to remember "9" than it is to remember "turn it 3.75 turns". I also want to go from Aeropress to Espresso quickly. It also looks pretty wobbly. I have to hold it and crank with pressure in the opposite direction. Maybe that is just how manual grinders work. Thoughts?  I'm ready to rule that one out.

  2. OE Pharos: No offense, but there's no way my wife is going to let me put that thing on my counter.  It looks like a shop tool. I'm sure it's a fine grinder, but it ain't going to happen. Ruling this one out too.

  3. I'm still leaning towards the Preciso.

Thoughts on the following?

  1. Gaggia MDF

  2. Lelit PL53



To recap my requirements:
  1. It has to look sleek.
  2. It has to have explicit notches (I guess that is called stepped)
  3. It has to work well for Aeropress and espresso. I go between the two often.
  4. It has to be something I can grow into and will work well if I upgrade my espresso machine someday.
  5. I pull at least 4 times a day.

I have a Starbucks Barista espresso machine and want to push it to it's limit. After I get a good grinder I want to go unpressurized PF.

Thanks for all the tips!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,181
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Fri Jan 3, 2014, 12:40am
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

Gallansio Said:

Skerton: I just saw a video that shows how to adjust the grain size. It looks like a pain and I would prefer explicitly notches so I can remember where it is. It's a lot easier to remember "9" than it is to remember "turn it 3.75 turns". I also want to go from Aeropress to Espresso quickly. It also looks pretty wobbly. I have to hold it and crank with pressure in the opposite direction. Maybe that is just how manual grinders work. Thoughts?  I'm ready to rule that one out.

Posted January 2, 2014 link

The Skerton IS a pain and it IS wobbly.  

OE Pharos: No offense, but there's no way my wife is going to let me put that thing on my counter.  It looks like a shop tool. I'm sure it's a fine grinder, but it ain't going to happen. Ruling this one out too.

OK.

I'm still leaning towards the Preciso.

When all is said and done, probably a really good choice for you.

Gaggia MDF

Nowhere near the quality of the Preciso.

Lelit PL53

No grinder really does a good job of going back and forth between brew and espresso.  The Lelit is worse than most.  As an espresso only grinder, it's the equal of or maybe better than the Preciso.  But used AP (all purpose), not so much.  1st Line is explicit about using the LeLit single grind only.  

To recap my requirements: It has to look sleek.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It has to have explicit notches (I guess that is called stepped)

I get where you're coming from, however that's actually not a good thing for espresso.  But for now...

It has to work well for Aeropress and espresso. I go between the two often.

If you had a better espresso machine and a better budget, you'd get a Baratza Forte.  However, "It isn't what it isn't."

It has to be something I can grow into and will work well if I upgrade my espresso machine someday.

May it be soon.  Almost anything is an upgrade to your espresso machine.  But the Preciso doesn't leave much room for growth.

I pull at least 4 times a day.

Impressive for a man your age.  Does your wife know?

I have a Starbucks Barista espresso machine and want to push it to it's limit.

Locking in a dosed portafilter pushes a Starbucks Barista well beyond its limits.

After I get a good grinder I want to go unpressurized PF.

The third and fourth step towards good espresso.  The first is buying good beans, the second is using them when they're fresh.  

BDL
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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 Fri Jan 3, 2014, 9:09am
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

Gallansio Said:

Thoughts:

Maybe Hario as a stepping stone?

Posted January 2, 2014 link


I have a Kyocera CM-50 (same grinder as a Hario Skerton).  I've modified it for pour over and press grinding (OE - PFP lower bearing mod).  It is now a fantastic medium to coarse grind hand mill but not so good for espresso any more which is what is expected with the modification.

I also have a Hario Mini hand grinder I use for espresso.  Nice consistent fine grinds.  Nice hand mill.

I do not have a LOT of hours on either as I mostly use my electric grinders unless the hoppers are full and I want to drink something different, then I will pick up one or the other hand mill depending on HOW I want to brew.  For me they are "alternative options" when I don't want to try to empty one of my electric grinder hoppers for a cup or two of something different.

If you do not grind larger quantities (brew 10-12 cup pots of drip) a hand mill may be all you need as an interim.  I don't know your patience tolerance level but understand that using a hand mill takes a little more time to weigh, then grind your beans.

You could get a Hario Skerton (or Kyocera CM-50) to use as an espresso grinder until you get the funds together for a nice electric espresso grinder.  You can then mod the hand mill to be a better medium to coarse grinder and have an interim second grinder until you get a good pour over electric grinder.

Gallansio Said:

If I buy the Vario will it be the only grinder I'll ever need for home use?

Posted January 2, 2014 link

No.  There is no such animal as a one size fits all grinder (IMHO anyway).  If you want a good quality, consistent espresso grinder to use in a home environment the Vario (or Vario-W weight model) with ceramic burrs should be an acceptable choice for a single purpose espresso grinder.  If you are going to grind mostly pour over I would steer you to the steel burr Vario model or another model or brand altogether

Gallansio Said:

Still not ruling out Preciso

Posted January 2, 2014 link

If it were my choice it would be the Preciso.  It should be acceptable for espresso and it is more than enough grinder for medium to coarse grinding as it does not throw that many fines to be a real problem machine when brewing through a screen (press) or a glass filter rod (vacuum pot).

Get it with the idea that it will get you by until you can justify spending a fair amount more on a dedicated espresso grinder.  Keep the Preciso for your other grinding needs after you get a good quality espresso grinder.

As I have said previously I have never used my Preciso to grind espresso as I have always had dedicated espresso grinders and the Preciso was purchased to grind my medium to coarse pour over, drip, and press brewing needs.

Understand that any grinder you get and use for multiple functions (espresso, drip, and press) will have to be a compromise as the requirements of each type of grinding are different enough that no grinder I have come across will handle everything and keep you smiling.

Baratza has great customer service and availability of replacement parts.  Grinders break.  Burrs wear out.  Gears strip. Fact of life.  A company that provides good support should be factored into any decision.
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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 Fri Jan 3, 2014, 11:15am
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

Gallansio Said:

I have a Starbucks Barista machine

Posted January 2, 2014 link

Sorry, somehow missed this part of your post/question. Coffee Geek reviews of machine here

Do you still use the pressure basket?

If you do, you should not notice much of a difference in performance regardless of what you use as a grinder or coffee in the machine (which is the main reason for the enhanced portafilter).

I used a Starbucks Serena for a while (years ago).  The pressure basket parts consisted of a rubber plug and round gasket that were easily removable, leaving a standard 58mm portafilter.  That machine performed acceptably well (not stellar) with the pressure basket internal parts removed but with them in, I could use any type of coffee (brand or grind) and it would make "coffee" no matter what I put in.  Using it as a pressure basket machine I could not get anything different regardless of what I put into it (grocery store canned pre-ground or fresh ground beans performed the same).

I am not familiar with the machine you have but if you can remove the pressure basket parts (or replace the portafilter if it is not easily done), you should do this before you spend anything on a new grinder.  You should not see a difference in performance regardless of what you use for coffee or how you grind it using the pressure basket parts (i.e. the grinder is unimportant).  You will notice a difference in taste between fresh coffee and old store shelf coffee but the cup produced should be identical in appearance no matter how you grind your coffee (coarse to fine) or what you use to grind it with.

Pressure basket machines will always make decent looking espresso and it will taste acceptably well if you use fresh roasted and ground coffee but you won't see those subtle differences a good grinder will make if you are using a more conventional espresso machine (non enhanced portafilter model)
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Gallansio
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Jun 2013
Posts: 33
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jan 3, 2014, 2:14pm
Subject: Re: Time to get a new grinder. Looking for something around $200.
 

What do you guys think about a used Rancilio Rocky. Will that be better than a Preciso?
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