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glenn

Coffee Grinders: Models, Sources, Maintenance/Hygiene

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Actually.... there are still some good wall mounted mills and knee grinders (box grinder with crank for use while sitting down). For press or drip pot coffee you'l get a better quality set of burrs for $100 or under than you wil in an electric grinder - just a little more work required. The real shortcoming of the hand grinders is that most of them are not really suitable for espresso grind. If you dont' make espresso I think they're a great choice.

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Actually.... there are still some good wall mounted mills and knee grinders (box grinder with crank for use while sitting down). For press or drip pot coffee you'l get a better quality set of burrs for $100 or under than you wil in an electric grinder - just a little more work required. The real shortcoming of the hand grinders is that most of them are not really suitable for espresso grind. If you dont' make espresso I think they're a great choice.

The salter is rather unique. It looks like an old-fashioned meat grinder, and grinds like a mortar and pestle. Maybe I can sell it on ebay.

For anybody who's considering hand crank, definitely, wall-mount is the way to go.

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I have this capresso model. Until I went with my grind and brew coffee machine, this one was a great grinder.

I have this same Capresso unit and for some time really liked it. Lately though, it's really disappointing me. The grind is inconsistent (some fine powder, some at the right level of coarseness, some huge chunks) and the coarseness level is hard to adjust. I've had the machine and have used it on an almost daily basis for over two years now - probably closer to three. Maybe I've just reached the end of the useful life for this kind of thing. If it weren't over $100, I'd probably get a Solis Maestro.

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The new Solis Maestro Plus is about $150. The regular Maestro model is now widely available for under $110 with free shipping. The predecessor to the regular Maestro.... I believe it was sold as the Solis 166.... had some ergonmic issues but did as good a job as the Maestro on the grind. Starbucks has sold that model for quite some time with their name on it and occasionally puts it out at a blowout sale price. Check some of the better onine vendors who carry Solis (Sweet Maria's, Aabree, 1st Line) and look at hte pics of the regular Maestro. Starbucks is likely sellign a rebadged version of this one as well and the sales are worth waiting for.

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What's the difference between the regular Maestro and the Plus?

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What's the difference between the regular Maestro and the Plus?

Never mind...I just found the answers here.

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i've got a gaggia mdf that i bought on sale at zabars about 20 years ago. and it's still going. i replaced the grinders on it three or four years ago and it works perfectly. if you're serious about espresso machinery, this is a very good site: whole latte love

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if you're serious about espresso machinery, this is a very good site: whole latte love

Whole Latte Love has one of the best and most user friendly web sites out there as far as doing equipment research goes. They also have very competitive prices but there have been numerous reports of people having issues with the consistency and reliability of service after the sale. I purchased from them once and never needed service so it was no big deal but both a coworker and a friend of mine also did so and had numerous problems dealing with them when they needed service. YMMV but the price spread between online dealers is minimal - I suggest going where the service reputation is stellar.

My perosnal favorite, based on my own experience and that of a number of friends, is Chris Coffee. His customer service is the best I've ever recieved for any consumer product anywhere, anytime - it's that good. Friends of mine have purchased from him and had similar experiences. The catch is that he only deals with higher end gear - he does stock the Rancilio Silvia due to demand but he tends to focus on grinders in the $200 and up range and espresso machines in the $700 ands up range.

1st Line in NJ and Aabree are two others that I have heard consistently good reports aboiut over the past few years. These are just a few but they happen to the the ones I have seen consistent positive referecnes to in other forums.

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This is why I love egullet - reliable answers & information to all your food issues!

Thanks for all the recommendations.

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Most any burr grinder works well, as long as you don't expect blade volume from it. My Pavoni has the same problem with high-maintenance feed, but the grind is still super-sweet. The $15 Salton I got for my dad works just as well; good thing I bought the Pavoni for $2 at a resale shop, or I'd feel quite the fool.

If you're using it for a pump-action espresso machine, any burr grinder and only a burr grinder will do. If you're using it for any other chingadera, swallow your foodie pride and use a plain old blade. They have them at dollar stores now.

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Yes...  the Solis grinders, either the Maestro at about $100 or the Maestro Plus at about $150, are good grinders. They'll do a great job for press pot and drip coffee and are about the least expensive grinders that are suitable for getting good results with a decent espresso machine.
Most any burr grinder works well, as long as you don't expect blade volume from it.

There seems to be some difference of opinion about the level-of-entry for burr grinders. I have a Braun Type 4045 that I paid about $60 for a decade ago. The current KMM-30 model appears very similar and sells for about $50. I was getting very inconsistent results from my grinder. Even on the finest setting there were big chunky pieces mixed in with the finer grind. Coarser settings were absolutely useless. I decided to try to salvage my grinder before giving up and buying a new one.

I'm glad I did. After disassembly and a thorough cleaning the grinder works better than ever. At a medium-fine setting it produces a great grind for my French press. The finest setting results in a very fine and even powder that looks appropriate for espresso. Can't test that since I don't own an espresso machine.

Now instead of buying another grinder I can spend my money on a roaster.

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I stopped in at Starbucks today to look at the grinder. Was told they go on sale tomorrow (Tuesday, February 17th.) The burr grinder was $120 and will be on sale for $90+. The young man I spoke with wasn't sure of the exact sale price. I said I'd be back tomorrow! Forgot to add that this is in NJ. I don't know if the sales are national or regional.


Edited by birder53 (log)

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I've found that those brushes that you buy for baby bottles work well for brushing out my burr grinder. (The brushes are no longer needed for their original purpose.)

jayne

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Ah, hitting a topic of slight marital discord at our house.

I like to give a rough clean to our grinder every time I use it. My wife does nothing to get the excess, essentially overground coffe out. If she makes the coffee three days straight there is a ring of scudge below the blade, at the junction of stainless steel and plastic AND coating the plastic cup.

How does she live this way?

That said, I do what Steve does: damp paper towel to remove the accumulated flotsam, dry one to, well, DRY it.

C--

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The absolute best way to clean a blade type grinder is this way, and it works better than Martha Stewart's - I have been doing this since before Martha was ever heard of. I used the same routine to clean my blender between grinding dry stuff (washing was not an option because it would take too long to dry and I needed it to grind something else.)

Place two heaping tablespoons of dry baking soda in the grinder. Add 3 broken saltine crackers.

Apply the top and run the grinder, shaking it up and down and turning it upside down and back a couple of times (holding the top on, of course).

Dump the powder out and wipe with a dry paper towel.

This will remove oils from grinding coffee beans and spices, will polish the interior and will also kill any lingering odor from spices or coffee, etc.

This works and is simple. Grinding raw rice is really tough on the blades and will dull them ater a time.

I collect antique electric appliances and I use a barely damp cloth and dry baking soda to remove the burnt on grease that in some cases is nearly 80 years old. This is the only thing I use because it will not scratch or dull the chrome on these early beauties.

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Oats work well, too, and are gentler than rice. But, the baking soda is a new twist. I like it.

Alas, I have come to the conclusion that until I purchase a burr grinder, simply tapping it to get as much coffee out as possible is good enough for me.

But, the last time I was in a dentist's chair, my old roommate from college (now in residency for maxillofacial surgery, where I happened to be having a filling replaced) came over and told his "favorite" story about me. This would be the one where, after a hard night of cramming for a Japanese final, chugged about 1/2 a pot of 3-day old, cold, percolated coffee to be able to make it through the final.

So, I suppose my cleaning tastes can be filed under "philistine".


Edited by jsolomon (log)

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For those of you on this thread who've mentioend that you're consideringpurchase of a burr grinder.... I'll sing that tired old song once again... all burr grinders are not created equal. Check the pinned coffee topics index in this forum for the grinder thread.

Espresso bars ans cafes that follow rigid process control typically clean their grinders quite throughly on a daily basis. My small commercial grinder only grinds a few doubels each day and I never use dark oily beans. The only cleaning I've done is with a brush but it's still spotless after two years of use.

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I'm trying to decide between the Rancillo Rocky or a grinder by "Innova." Has anyone checked out the Innova grinders? They are relatively new, but look like they could be a serious competitor to the Rocky. I would love to get some opinions.

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I'm trying to decide between the Rancilio Rocky or a grinder by "Innova."  Has anyone checked out the Innova grinders?  They are relatively new, but look like they could be a serious competitor to the Rocky.  I would love to get some opinions.

Thanks for pointing out this new offering James - and welcome to the Coffee & Tea forum! I haven't personally tried or handled an Innova grinder but just scoped out the multiple Coffegeek Innova Grinder Consumer Reviews.

The consensus seems to be fairly consistent - it's a great grinder for the money but not a true competitor for the Rocky. If you can grab one for the $155 - $175 price point that many people seem to have paid It appears to be a far better value than the Solis Maestro Plus is at $150.

Innova has only been distributed in the US for a couple years or so but it's a Spanish company that has been in business for many years and has a decent reputation. Spain has been known in recent years for producing some espresso gear that performs as well as the higher end Italian consumer/prosumer machines but costs a bit less (e.g. the Expobar espresso machine).

Pro's for the Innova:

  • Stepless grind adjustment
    Price point

Con's for the Innova:

  • Fit and finish
    Lighter build quality
    Stuck grounds in doser chute
    Moderately noisy

Stepless grind adjustment means you're not locked into a click stop numbered setting for the fineness of the grind - this can be very helpful if you're trying to "dial in" the exact grind setting needed to get your desired pull time for an espresso shot (when all other factors are properly controlled the grind setting is the one variable in quality espresso production and more flexibility is always better).

Of the ten users who weighed in with consumer reviews, one reported the adjustment ring "drifting" slightly when grinding. Not good but this may be an isolated incident. The only other consumer level grinder available with stepless adjustment (that I'm aware of) is the Mazzer Mini - in a different category at about $400 - $500 retail price.

There were some comments about the ruggedness of build quality - the forks that hold the portafilter in place when you're dosing the coffee appear to be a bit on the light duty side and some people reported getting brand new units with a few scratches or other flaws on the paint finish. A few people also reported that the grind tray (collects spare bits of grounds that fall off when filling the portafilter) slips off to easily at times.

The Innova is a "doserless" unit and Rocky is available with or without doser feature. Let's face it - all espresso grinders can be a bit messy and IMHO the doserless feature doesn't really buy you much. I've become accustomed to just pulling the doser lever a few extra times because I grind per shot but when I have company it's nice to be able to grind enough for four or five drinks and just keep dosing. I like that.

But nearly all users reported that a substantial amount of grounds can get stuck in the doser chute of the Innova - as much as 3 - 4 grams. if you're doing a single shot at 7 - 8 grams or even a double at 14 - 17 grams.... that's a LOT of stale coffee that comes out into your portafilter if you're making your first shot of the day and failed to clean out the chute after grinding the previous day. Grinders like the Rocky and the Mazzer Mini get perhaps a 1/2 gram or so left in the chute and it's easy to clean out with a quick swipe of a brush.

Pro's for the Rocky:

  • Excellent fit and finish
    Appears to be more rugged construction
    Proven track record
    Reasonably quiet

Con's for the Rocky:

  • Lacks stepless grind adjustment
    Higher price point

In summation.... if I was really pinched for money and would be for awhile I'd buy the Innova but the Rocky has a big following for a good reason. It's a well designed unit that's been around for years and performs well.

Paying an extra $100 is not much when buying a good grinder. An investment in a grinder like the Rocky is literally a lifetime investment and the Innova is probably built well enough that the same case could be made for it. But in the long run... especially with a piece of gear that gets daily use... I'm always in favor of spending a bit more to get better usability features and better durability.

I'll also note that although I haven't used the Innova I do have enough experience with grinders to assess the reviews I've seen and offer opinions. I know many happy Rocky owners. I've owned and used a couple different models of Solis gridners and presently have three different models of Mazzer grinder.

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Errmmm...in a spirit of opening up the options (but fearing I'm going to muddy the waters). This site has been set up in an attempt to offer a comprehensive comparison of grinders.

It may be WAY too much information. If so, apologies.

(Owen, I think the Iberital /Nemox Lux/Aerolatte grinder is stepless. In fact, looking back at some of the reviews and recommendations - e.g. Alan Frew - it seems quite a good entry-level choice).

bainesy

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bainesy - thanks for the link. It really is a bit of information overload but if you can get the hang of all the acronyms it's quite helpful although the "Comments" section just gets a bit TOO dense with acronyms!

They don't provide commentary on noise level of the grinder - actually a useful thign to know if you have family or housemates who get up later and don't want to be disturbed in the early morning hours by the sound of the grinder.

I'm not certain that the Iberital /Nemox Lux/Aerolatte grinder is available in the US. If so I think it's not widely sold.

There are some little issues such as static that I don't think about too often (mostly because Mazzer's are not prone to it) but it's a useful thing for potential purchasers to consider.

Personally.... I'm not convinved ot the value of the doserless or "doses direct into portafilter" feature. Unless you have a grinder where the portafilter actually locks on and doses/tamps automatically (e.g. the La Marzocco Swift)... you'll still end up with some grounds on the counter or in the grind tray. I've gotten accusotmed enough to using the mazzers that I have minimal spillage - about the same as I'd

have with a doserless model.

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Hey Owen - I think the Nemox IS available in the US (clicky for 1st-Line) but I'm really out of my depth here :laugh: (how the blazes have I got to the stage of knowing which US retailers sell which coffee grinders...?)

My curve has been a steep one - I went from the Dualit (aka Solis 166 - nice but definitely NOT up to grinding even for my Gaggia Classic) to Mazzer Super Jolly (...suddenly it all made sense). What I would stress to the OP is the hackneyed "don't stint on the grinder...it's as important as the actual espresso machine...etc etc". I persuaded myself for a while that I was making good espresso with the Dualit. I wasn't.

cheers

bainesy

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1st Line does indeed have it and they're a very reputable outfit - on my list of the top three espresso gear vendors in the US. I just don't nose around much these days in the machines Forum at Coffeegeek or on the various vendor's web sites to keep up with what's new - I'm too busy keeping track of what's new in commercial gear.

It looks to be a very good value at $169 but no match for the Mazzer Mini or Super Jolly.

Some phrases have become cliches due to repetitive usage but they still hold true. All the cliche's that advise things such as

"get the best grinder you can possibly afford"... don't skimp on the grinder"... or "spend more on the grinder than you possibly think you can justify".... are true.

It really makes a difference - a big one. Unlike some pieces of gear such as espresso machines where gear heads always want something bigger, better, newer and with more bells and whistles.... (although I am not in that category)... buying a really good grinder is a one time purchase. If you get a good one the only thing you could possibly get by moving to a much pricier model is a beefier motor better suited for heavy duty commercial use.

Oops... did I just say that? I really would like one of these

Mazzer Robur Grinder-Doser

because of the conical burr design (said to produce espresso shots superior to the flat burrs used in most commercial grinders)and the low RPM's of the motor (slower speed means less chance of "burning" the coffee from rapidly rotating burrs). The next time I have $2,500 - $3,000 burning a hole in my pocket I'll be sure to pick one up :smile:

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If grinding for espresso the Mazzer Mini is the best, built like a tank and will be the last grinder you will ever need.

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If grinding for espresso the Mazzer Mini is the best,  built like a tank and will be the last grinder you will ever need.

I agree completely. I have a Mini as well as a Mazzer Major and a couple of Super Jolly's. But I want a Robur. I haven't personally used the Robur but many people whose opinions I highly respect seem to concur that it offers a slight advantage over the other Mazzer grinders for espresso. But it truly is overkill for a home machine. The Mini, OTOH, is good for a small cafe use and the ultimate home grinder. It is indeed a "grinder for life'.

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