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Cunill Grinders - All - Eric Wooten's Review
Posted: September 8, 2003, 11:02am
review rating: 7.8
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Cunill Grinders - All
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Arrow The Cunill Grinders - All has 26 Reviews
Arrow The Cunill Grinders - All has been rated 7.65 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Cunill Grinders - All reviews have been viewed 169,579 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Daniel Hanna 8.88
Aurelio Stella 8.25
William Baguhn 8.00
W. Warner 7.91
Duncan McKillop 7.85

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 7.4
Product Reviewed: Tranquillo
Manufacturer: Cunill Quality: 7
Average Price: Varies Usability: 7
Price Paid: $169.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Sovrana Store Aesthetics 6
Owned for: 1 year Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Inexpensive, commercial grade grinder.
Positive Product Points

Beefy and consistent grinder. No doser to collect old grounds. Dial-in grind timer delivers reasonably accurate quantities over time and between different beans (when it's working). Funnel-shaped delivery "doser" allows for less mess. Overall, seems to be commercial-level grinder at very reasonable price.

Negative Product Points

Though doserless, some small amount of grounds collect where the grind outlet and the delivery chute mate. Not much, but a gram or two is always in there.
A simpler method for dialing in the grind timer would be appreciated, as it is, it requires a very small screwdriver and is somewhat of a pain to access (fortunately, you really don't need to mess with it much).
Lack of numbers on the grind-fineness collar is an inconvenience.
The portafilter stand isn't terribly useful, and is hard to slot a 58mm basket into.

Detailed Commentary

I was looking for a doserless grinder that combined a high level of performance and a reasonable price. At nearly a quarter of the price of the Mazzer Mini (whose specs seem closest to the Tranquillo) and yet only marginally more than a Maestro Plus, this seemed like the grinder for me. Likewise, the expense of the Rocky Doserless (why is it that the version with fewer parts is more expensive??) as well as some sour comments relative to RD's (as well as Isomac's) overall performance led me to decide on the Cunill.

It's largely metal, with some plastic parts: the hopper, hopper lid, dosing chute and catch-tray are all plastic. Everything else is black-painted metal. Plenty heavy, and somewhat bigger than I expected. Certainly in the Mini ballpark, though a bit shorter due to the squatier design of the hopper.

I've found that the Tranquillo grinds consistently and can go quite a bit finer than the choke-point on my machine. The grind settings have sufficient gradation between clicks to allow a fairly precise "dial in," though numbers on the collar would help to codify where the ideal setting was for a particular blend of beans.  I'll probably add some sort of marking myself to fix this, there's plenty of space on the collar.

The dosing chute seems to work well, though a gram or two of grounds inevitably collects where it meets the grinding output. This is easily cleared, though, as the lid of the chute pops right off. On a single shot grind, there is very little mess as the grinds fall neatly into the filter; though on doubles I do get a few stray grinds wandering as the level reaches the top of the portafilter. Static is a complete non-issue. Overall, not nearly as messy as most doserless grinders are made out to be. Ultimately I'm not entirely sure that a doser would actually retain significantly more grinds than does any doserless setup...probably some do, but a well designed doser: probably not. That said, the nearest competition pricewise seem to sport very poorly made dosers that require end-user modification or constant cleaning.

Noise-wise, it's quieter than other burr and blade grinders I've been around, louder than others; but I've not heard a Mazzer or Rocky in an "otherwise quiet" home setting to really judge by relative to its most obvious competitors. The noise level doesn't seem excessive, though, but there's no doubt it is in operation.

Grind-time is fairly brisk, a few seconds for a single...press twice for the double. The button could be easier to hit, it is rather small and on the side. But I'm glad you aren't required to hold the portafilter against it, as is the case with many other doserless grinders. The timing is an excellent feature, which more or less eliminates one more variable in process. I find it drops the same amount of grinds time in and time out (within reason, of course; an analytical scale would no doubt show milligram variations).

Though I use the bean hopper sparingly, it does feed well and can hold a whole lot more beans than I've ever put in there; I would assume at least a pound will fit. It's set up to come off easily should you wish to swap beans while some remain in the hopper.

Buying Experience

Smooth as silk with the Sovrana store. Prompt shipment and well packed.

Three Month Followup

Three months now, and it still works. I had to send the first one back after a couple of weeks due to a faulty timing board; Sovrana store was more than accomodating and it was a breeze. I suspect the ease of the return was due to the frequency of said returns, though, as the replacement's board has become rather quirky after a few months of use (read: post-warranty). Sometimes it works, sometimes not. However, it gets stuck "on" when it gets stuck, so I just use the master power switch and dose by eye. Not really a major problem, but also not the sign of top-quality craftsmanship...

I'm less convinced than ever about the "savings" relative to no doser. I think this is absolutely a problem with every grinder I've ever seen. Some more, some less. This one not so much (~3-4g) as some others, but still there. My kingdom for a direct path grinder!

Grind quality is excellent, and pretty fast. No complaints whatever with the actual output of the mechanism. It is a bit noisy, and the styling is, shall we say: utilitarian. Beans do like to accumulate in a little lip where the hopper meets the grinder collar. I suspect this would never be an issue with a full, or even fullish hopper (the more likely commercial setting), but since mine is essentially always "empty" it does occasionally require some jiggling.

Overall, I'm not sure I would buy it again, but I'd at least consider it. At the price point other, more compact and/or stylish grinders are starting to show up. I'd say overall: It is a heavy duty workhorse (after a fashion), but definitely comes with some caveats.

One Year Followup

My thoughts at three months still pretty much cover the experience so far. Continue to have a balky timing mechanism that rarely works anymore, but it's really not an issue for me. Plumbing the alt-coffee world will net you several potential solutions to the issue, but it just doesn't bother me enough to warrant my time and effort as yet (and I suspect it won't ever...it's just too convenient to use the master power switch instead).
Grind quality is still spot on and the motor shows no signs of ever quitting, at least at my volume. Were it not for the cost cutting in the electronic control department, this would truly be a tank-built grinder. As it is, at least the business end seems to be basically bulletproof.

Overall, if buying tomorrow, I'd still give the Cunill very strong consideration, though several other contenders are now around the same price-point. There are definitely several good options out there now, and it likely boils down to what fits your particular setup and preferences amongst the two or three highly capable but mid-priced grinders.

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review rating: 7.8
Posted: September 8, 2003, 11:02am
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