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  • Does a grinder really matter that much.

    Hi all,

    Ive been reading a ton of information on grinders in this forum, and more often than not there is only around 6 or 7 grinders with worthy mentions. I got so caught up in which one to buy that I was going to PM peppino to buy his M4D and compliment it with something more fitting than the recent sunbeam single boiler I purchased.

    Whats really been bugging me is what my local Barista said to me today which was quite contrary to the impression ive taken from this site. I will not mention the baristas name or where he works as I do not wish to alienate him, but for the record (according to the forum) a few CS regulars in this forum have bought beans from him on more than a few occasions.

    I asked him about the M4D and his thoughts on other grinders he would recommend. He smirked at me and said, Ive got the M4D and its a beaut but its far from necessary (for a cappuccino). His reasoning was the final product would not be distinguishable to even most coffee connoisseurs He said the only reason why he bought the M4D was to try it out. It is clean and quick and that was basically it. I questioned him about the temperatures, dose etc.
    His reply was - "to be honest all this business about bur temperature, clumps, exact amounts to the gram etc is really nonsense to all but maybe a handful of people in Australia. The tamper is important, but you only need a cheap grinder to get almost identical results. He then went on to tell me of a simple test he uses all the time using his $200 Delonghi. Apparently when fellow coffee lovers come over for a cuppa at his place. He pretended to use one of his high end grinders and switches to the Delonghi and nobody is the wiser. They then spend the next 10 minutes raving on about the flavours, aromas etc etc. He says only 2 persons have ever mentioned anything, and it was in the same group which to him, it simply could have been a bad pull.

    Is there any weight in his opinion?

    This got me thinking. How many CSs could honestly say they could taste the difference in say a double blind test without another coffee to follow and compare?

    its not my place to judge and its certainly not my intention to belittle the shiny toys that we all love but with everyone buying these mazza minis, M4/D, k3s etc on recommendations made is it really best bang for buck? Is it just the placebo effect?
    Has the wrong type of coffeesnobbery taken place?

    Once again Im not judging at all, Im just trying to feel out what is real and what is not.

    Thoughts all?

  • #2
    Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

    OK Ill bite.
    What machine is he comparing teh M4D to?

    Originally posted by 31393B540 link=1246006661/0#0 date=1246006661
    but you only need a cheap grinder to get almost identical results.
    Whats he define as cheap?
    My first grinder was a Gaggia MM - about $150. My second is a Mazzer Mini - about $750 at the time of purchase. It made all the difference in the world to the quality of my shots. I didnt need any further convincing about grinder lore.

    Sometimes a very small adjustment will affect the pour and make the difference between a fair shot and a great shot.

    You dont have to spend a fortune on a grinder but the advice to buy the best grinder you can afford isnt an old wives tales.

    But hey, dont take our word. Buy a cheap grinder, use it for a while. Then, if you get a chance, buy or borrow a M4D or similar and see if you notice a difference.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

      Originally posted by 4C4446290 link=1246006661/0#0 date=1246006661
      He then went on to tell me of a simple test he uses all the time using his $200 Delonghi
      He has a few other higher end grinders. He didnt specifically mention the M4D as a comparison, (he mentioned he did own one)he just said that when he compares his Delonghi to one of his high end machines.

      He was just trying to prove a point that the emphasis on an expensive grinder doesnt mean its grinds will outperform a much cheaper one.
      I personally couldnt see myself buying a 1k+ grinder and defaulting back to a $200 special, Im just trying to get my head around how he could fool seasoned coffee lovers. Super coffee machine? God like technique? got lucky with an low end grinder?

      The only grinder I can see of Delonghis around that price has had very mixed reviews so Im baffled.

      Emo

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

        To add,

        Im still a little hazzy as to how the grinder can make such a difference at the pointy end of the scale. Someone mentioned that there was a big difference between a 1k grinder and one of those I mean business commercial grinders. surely there is a point of diminishing returns and the price range that goes with it?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

          you can get a great grind from something as far down as a sunbeam EM0450. where you benefit is from the ability to make finer adjustments as required, and from enjoyment of use. I went from sunbeam to mazzer and noticed the difference. I dont know that I could necessarily notice much improvement from a modified rocky to a mazzer, or a mazzer mini to a robur, but I only really make coffee for me, and one or two at a time. If Im making 50 coffees, Id probably appreciate it more for capabilities sake. i think its diminishing returns as you go up, and only you can make a judgement as to what value you put on the grinder.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

            emo
            For that matter you can get great grind results with a hand grinder

            IMO the
            1) build quality and design
            2) performance
            3) longevity
            4) ease of use and adjustment
            All contributing factors good grinder performance

            Another example
            A Hyundai is cheap and gets you from A to B
            A BMW is a little bit more & gets you from A to B
            A Ferrari is expensive and gets you from A to B

            If price is no barier which would you prefer  :-/
             
            You really need to live & use a machine to appreciate all of those differences

            KK



            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

              I too went from a Sunbeam em0480 to a Mazzer Mini. The difference between the 2 is quite noticable. The Like most doserless grinders the Sunmbeam is MESSY I was very keen to get away from that and have something I will never have to replace and that I can fix myself.

              My Sunbeam the grind wandered and Mazzer is rock solid.

              Going from the 6900 to the Giotto was a HUGE improvement in shot quality with the sunbeam grinder. Not ideal by a long shot however the coffees I were making were much better that you can get from most cafes.

              The step from the EM0480 to the mini mazer is just as big as step in shot quality.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                Emo coffee isnt always coffee!! But for a lot of people it is- thats why they drink instant "pond scum", but those who r snobs or enjoy their coffee it is as much about the enjoyment and challenge of making the "perfect cup" than it us about drinking it. So saying that u want to use the best equipment possible to highten the enjoyment of making it.
                :
                But as far as not being able to tell between $200 grinderand $1k+ grinder this is about both enjoyment and consistance of use but also that it will definatley improve ur coffee!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                  Hi Emo,

                  I think you can safely inform him that he is no barista.

                  He clearly has no idea and/or no talent.

                  Thankfully he doesnt make mine for me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                    Youve also got to remember,

                    We aint just caffeine junkies around here, we want and expect to get the best quality brews from the bean that we possibly can so our yardstick of comparison may not be the same as that of every Tom, Dick or Harriet. My son and I have been able to discern a measurable jump in quality each time Ive bought a new grinder, from a Lux originally, a Rocky and through to a recent La San Marco SM-90A and now the Macap M4. The M4 and the SM-90A are on a par as flavour in the cup is concerned and neither of us could reliably pick any difference.

                    Ive setup Single Blind Taste Tests (I knew what he was drinking but he didnt ) at various stages through this grinder acquisition progression and the higher echelon grinder always wins by a convincing margin. Sure, if you grab the average consumer off the street and run proper Double Blind studies, the quality of the coffee used will probably have more impact than that of using different quality grinders. Were all about enjoying GREAT coffee here at CoffeeSnobs and a decent grinder goes a long way to helping new Snobs get to Coffee Nirvana much more quickly and thats got to be a good thing... 8-)

                    Mal.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                      emo I started with a high end grinder - the Macap M5.
                      I then bought a Sunbeam 0450 to use with the EM6910 at work.

                      As stated, it was messy (and noisy) and I soon replaced it with a Gaggia MDF.

                      I did try the 0450 at home to compare with the Macap and I know which one Id keep if limited to one.

                      Now Im the first to admit that my palate is not the best one here, but thats not the only reason for buying a better grinder.

                      Another reason is long term value for money.
                      I dont see that Ill ever need to replace the Macap.
                      I see it outlasting the Sunbeam by many, many years. More than enough years to offset the difference in price.
                      In the meantime I know Im getting a better grind to start with, which gives me more chance of making the best coffee I can.

                      I also trust a few people here, who have a better palate than mine, and although Im an auditor and dont trust easily, I trust them when they say they can taste the difference.

                      As an auditor I can tell you that weight of numbers counts.
                      You say that the one barista youve spoken to contradicts what a lot of people here have said.
                      So do you believe the barista merely because you spoke to them in person?
                      Do you know who these "coffee lovers" of his are?
                      Im guessing not. So how can you give weight to their opinion?
                      You only have the baristas word.

                      Originally posted by 7F77751A0 link=1246006661/0#0 date=1246006661
                      His reasoning was the final product would not be distinguishable to even most coffee connoisseurs
                      I think even I could rustle up more than a few people to prove this to be nothing more than a bold boast.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                        Originally posted by 2F243E2C737A4B0 link=1246006661/4#4 date=1246015973
                        you can get a great grind from something as far down as a sunbeam EM0450.
                        Ive heard about the inconsistancies of lower end grinders, but I guess my barista got one of those abnormally solid ones made on a Wednesday :-?

                        Originally posted by 00242D2D2E2E1400243826244B0 link=1246006661/5#5 date=1246020001
                        Another example
                        A Hyundai is cheap and gets you from A to B
                        A BMW is a little bit more & gets you from A to B
                        A Ferrari is expensive and gets you from A to B
                        KK this analogy did cross my mind, however the impression I got from the forum is not that they all get you from A-B, some with more bells and whistles than others, rather the hyundai will konk out half way to point B. i.e only grinders really worth considering were hovering in the Mezza & MD4 price range.

                        The point of this and the reason I raised this thread, is that it seemed that my barista (to coin a golfing term) took a $200 k-mart special, hit a hole in one. Meanwhile Tiger woods requires an $1000 driver with a small homing device which is contrary to what this forum reitterates.

                        But now im just ranting.

                        Unless otherwise proven wrong, Im just going to put it down to him being a wise/exceptional Barista as per squirrelgrip, having a lucky grinder, some awsome beans and a good brewing machine. Perhaps a little Dr Jekyll behind the scenes as well.

                        Hope that all makes sense.

                        Emo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                          Unfortunatley this guy is neither wise or a gifted Batista. Rather is just nother guy who stands behind his machine trying to make coffee.

                          My advice emo just go buy the best grinder u afford and u just make them and see fresh

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                            If your friendly barista deliberately misled people about which grinder he was using (as it sounds) and gave them nothing to compare, then Im not really surprised that few could tell. Especially as it also sounds like he doesnt care about the quantity of grinds either, and made cappucinos, (steamed milk and cocoa powder) to further distract from the coffee taste.

                            On the other hand if he pulled a few shots with both grinders, with everything else exactly the same, and let the drinkers compare, Ill bet that many could pick the difference.

                            And of course the better the espresso machine, the more likely the difference will be noticeable.

                            The only way to tell whether it is important enough to you to warrant the higher cost is try it for yourself.

                            Even with my current equipment, I cant make shots as good as my favourite café can with a Robur and a Synesso. But then spending in excess of $20 000 on equipment is quite a jump.

                            Greg

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Does a grinder really matter that much.

                              Hi emo,

                              i started my fresh coffee journey about 3 years ago when i bought  the ECM Botticelli from TalkCoffee and matched it (reluctantly, i must say... i had intended to buy a cheaper grinder ) with a doserless Rocky.
                              after the initial running -in phase of both equipment and operator, i was able to produce very drinkable coffee, good crema, nice flavour palette.

                              about 6 months after my initial bling purchase i happened to come across a secondhand, ex-commercial,  Carimali doser-grinder at CashConverters; it had no hopper, was full of old grinds and looked like it had been through 3 wars.
                              i took it home for the grand sum of $50, cleaned it, jury-rigged a hopper and ground some beans... and for the first time i smelled blueberries in the Harrar!
                              i ran both grinders side by side for a while, but short and sweet: the Rocky found another home and Miss Carimali stayed on the bench!

                              even if i am slack and the grind-setting is not quite what it should be for the particular bean i am using,  or  to compensate for the level of humidity in our motorhome, the coffee is richer in aroma, flavour-nuances, crema...just generally  better.

                              the Carimali is not a "top-end" grinder: she sells for about $750... but id say it is the way she is built that counts, the solidity of her parts which make up the 8  kg  weight.

                              now Ms Carimali is going to make way for a brand new M4D, ( from TalkCoffee) ... quieter, less mess, quicker, generally more user friendly and, as i have been assured, of the similar quality build quality as the Carimali.
                              cant wait!

                              i expect  the M4D and the Carimali to produce similar coffees but  if i still had the Rocky i would have been glad to take that double blind test .

                              the Rocky is a great little grinder and i would recommend it to anyone with $500 to spend on a grinder.
                              but, if you can spend more  talk to the sponsors about what suits your needs and, as it has been often said on CS, go for the best you can afford.


                              hope this helps

                              cheers,
                              L


                              * edit:  added some clarifications to text after re-reading. L .*

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