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Grinder upgrade for coffee newbie

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  • Grinder upgrade for coffee newbie

    Hi All,

    I am looking at getting my first burr grinder and need some advice.

    I am tempted by the BARATZA VIRTUOSO, but don't want to waste my money on something that will do a noticeably bad job and have to upgrade in a year. I am probably willing to spend up to $500 if it will make a real difference.

    Pretty happy with my Current setup (past 6 months) = Aeropress + Jura milk frother + Porlex hand grinder. But It sucks when I want to make Coffee for more than one person.

    My plan is to get an espresso machine at some point so I think I need a machine that will do both portafilter and catchment.

    I am new to this coffee business, I mostly drink Bulletproof Coffee Latte's - this probably drops me a few notches on the coffee snob scale

    I have heard that ceramic burrs are a must as they don't heat up the coffee like the steel burrs can.

    Any help would be much appreciated.


  • #2
    Hi timohawk and welcome to CS!

    Quoted from the Baratza blog:

    "Thermal conductivity of the burrs (i.e. The material they are made from) has NO BEARING on the root cause of heat build up in grinders which comes from a combination of internal friction as the coffee bean is crushed, and from minor friction in the actual cutting of the bean by the burrs. The sharper the burrs, the less heat is created in the cutting of the bean. The majority of heat creation comes from the crushing of the bean.

    One could actually argue that the higher thermal conductivity of steel burrs can actually decrease the heat of the ground coffee in small batches. This is because the heat is created IN the bean and is then transferred to the burrs. If the burrs are steel, they will do a MUCH better job of transferring this heat away from the coffee and to the housing of the grinding mechanism.

    The actual surface temperature of the grinding surface will be similar whether the burr is steel or ceramic, except for that heat which is able to transfer through the burr and away from the coffee. In large industrial coffee grinders, the burrs are mounted to a plate that has water cooling running through it.

    The burrs conduct the heat away from the beans (and the grinding surface) to the water. A secondary source of heat in ground coffee comes from heat that is stored in the burrs and grinder housing (from coffee ground earlier or immediately preceding) and transferred back into the coffee being ground in the moment."

    Ceramic is also very brittle, if a hard stone or piece of metal gets into the burr set, chipping, or even shattering, may result.

    For my money, steel is good.


    • #3
      Hello and welcome

      I don't think choice between ceramic /steel burrs is the critical choice, you should probably give more consideration to the grinders ease of adjustability between espresso and filter grind if that is what you are after, build quality, and other features eg timed dosage, consistency.

      For your budget many consider the K3 a great grinder. I haven't used one myself so can comment but I regularly use a smart grinder ( great usability with no mess) and a built in lelit pl43, which I find very messy and more noisy than the breville. I Can't pick any taste differences between these two. Both are much cheaper than your budget and considered a step below the likes of a k3.

      I have read a few people getting out more subtle flavours when stepping up from something like the smart grinder.

      Many are also a fan if the barartza.

      Ideally have a play with a few models and see which one ticks your boxes best.



      • #4
        Up to $500.00 budget.....that should pull in a nice Macap M2


        • #5
          The Porlex does a fine job--especially considering the price. (As do other small conical manual burr grinders.)

          I'd be suggesting that speed would be the major, if not the only, advantage of a $500 electric burr grinder. A lot of the cost of the upgrade would be other than the burrs, i.e. the motor, electrics, and much larger casing.

          I use a manual grinder most of the time 'cause it has better burrs than my electric. I often get guests to grind their own beans while I am making the coffees.



          • #6
            Hi Greg.

            Afraid that would make it a cup of tea for me then