Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Which grinder should I buy?

Blade vs burr, doser vs doserless. What sort of grinder should you buy? What is the best grinder?

The spice 'grinder'
We've been asked variations on the above questions for some time, and the short answer is - it depends.
But here are a few simple considerations we emailed to a customer recently. We are particularly keen for feedback from people who have used the grinders below.


Depending on budget, here’s a few.

To start, avoid blade ‘grinders’ (really, they are only good in the kitchen as spice choppers - and for that they do a good job). But for coffee, they are a waste of money and won’t do the job, particularly for an espresso machine.

Sunbeam cafe series
Starting from the cheapest, there is the Sunbeam. They have two, an EM0450 ($139) and a Café Series EM0480 ($199). They both have conical burrs. Conical burrs in simple terms are less likely to scorch the coffee when grinding, while giving an accurate, consistent grind.
What is the difference between the two?
Frankly, no idea. The specifications on the Sunbeam website look the same, but we can speak for the Café series; a friend has had one for a while, and we bought one for our shop, Mug Shots Espresso, for freshly ground decaf.
We can get an excellent extraction using our commercial San Marino 3 group machine, so that says something for the little Sunbeam.

Iberital Challenge
Next up, the Iberital Challenge, about $320. It has similar burrs to the Sunbeam,  but with a more substantial motor. The upside is it can be endlessly adjusted, to finely calibrate the grinder to get the best extraction from your machine. The downside is it can be finely calibrated, and sometimes you feel like you’re just endlessly adjusting it. We had one at home and I got a few good years out of it.
Rancilio Rocky (with doser)

Top of the range is the Rancilio Rocky. Of our three grinders in the shop, we have a commercial Rancilio grinder (as well as a Boema, and the Sunbeam listed above). We have a few friends who have the Rocky and swear by them. It’s regarded as one of, if not the top grinder for home use. But to be honest, $540 is a lot of money, and we wouldn’t be able to get one past the finance committee at home.
That said, we actually do have one at home, but in our defence we bought it second hand off a friend for half price. We also got one with a doser on it (similar to a commercial grinder) and we like it for its ability to give a consistent amount of coffee and a consistent shot.

At the end of the day, any of the grinders above will give an excellent result.
The other big debate is doser vs non-doser: that comes down to a consistent amount of coffee vs mess and wastage. A personal choice with no impact on most home setups.
Our last two grinders at home have had dosers, for the ability to give a consistent shot. And of course the shop grinders have dosers too.
That said, it's not essential, so it really does come down to a question of mess and choice. For the neat freaks, go for the non-doser.

We're always happy to answer questions from our customers about the gear they're using. So contact us.

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