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My First Grinder

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  • My First Grinder

    Could you please help with grinder recommendations? Because I'm new to this, but keen!

    First, a bit about what I'm doing with coffee:
    • I drink a plunger coffee or two most days (I have a good quality plunger).
    • I enjoy good quality espresso, but don't have the means to buy a machine yet. It may become a long-term goal if I get more into this, but we'll see how we go. A stove-top espresso is also something I'm considering in the nearer-term.

    I know that good quality beans and grinder will make the biggest difference in what I get, so that's where I'll put my money first.

    What I'm looking for in a grinder:
    • Something that will suit plunger and espresso.
    • I usually grind one cup's worth at a time, but sometimes two or three for guests.
    • Something that doesn't take up too much bench space, as it's limited (I realise I may have to sacrifice a little here).
    • My budget is up to NZ$300.
    • As I've been reading comments about different grinders on this site, I've noticed a lot of people fiddling with different bits and pieces to get things "just right". I'm prepared to experiment, but remember I know almost nothing. I'm learning as I go! So please don't recommend "Buy X, do the following 5 different mods, and hope for the best..."

    The following models are available here in NZ and in my budget (all prices $NZ):
    • Sunbeam:
      • EM0480 - Seems very popular here on CS, $159.
      • EM0490 - Doesn't seem like a big difference from the 480, $225.
      • EM0500 - Seems like a bit of an upgrade from the 480? $269.
      • EM0700 - Read very mixed reviews; doesn't inspire confidence, $292.

    • Breville:
      • BCG800 - Seems popular also. $219.
      • BCG820 - Perhaps an improvement on the 800, but can't find it for sale anywhere. Obviously it's new; is it worth waiting for someone to stock? Price will likely be higher than the BCG800 (The RRP here is $399! What a laugh).

    • Secondhand:
      • There's not a lot available (or I don't know where to look). I've found a Rocky Rancilio and a Baratza Virtuoso for sale, each for $200 starting (auction), but have no idea how to judge if they're good (apart from age).

    So, am I barking up the right tree? What should I be considering that I may have missed?

    Thanks for your help!
    Last edited by joefish; 25 April 2014, 09:44 AM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    You are definitely barking up the right tree joefish. I would personally recommend trying to get something second hand and semi commercial rather than a domestic unit like a sunbeam, especially if you want to keep it for a long time and upgrade to espresso in the future. The build quality is just far superior and they are designed to be serviced rather than thrown away when something needs replacement. Good luck as I don't know if or where kiwis sell their second hand gear but a Mazzer, Macap, Baratza or something similar will serve you much better over the long term in my humble opinion.


    • #3
      The Breville Smart is probably the best of the cheapies and will do the job. Its a good place to start. Gives you a baseline, so hunt around and see what you can find that is better at a reasonable price, otherwise look seriously at it. A lot of us are happy with them.

      PS As I only make a few cups a day I'm thinking of getting a Pharos hand grinder when they are available again. (minister of finance permitting)


      • #4
        Be careful what you go for. Plunger is at one end of the grind spectrum and espresso is pretty near the other. (I think only Turkish grind is finer) Many grinders can do one very well but don't do the other properly. The 480 is one that seems to handle both pretty well, and as you've seen, they are popular so if you DO upgrade later there should be a ready market. It's pretty easy to work on if something goes wrong; about all I have seen is some of them need shims put under the bottom burr to bring espresso grind back up the scale a bit.

        I agree with the 0700 comment and it came out so soon after the 500 I'm left wondering what was wrong with the 500. (as in I don't think I would buy either of them) I have a 480 (and a 450 for decaf for the missus) and my upgrade based on current market will be to a Mahlkonig Vario Gen 2 - but that's out of your price range at ~$700 (and mine )

        The Breville Smart grinders seem popular but I've never used one and have no info as to how well it might do plunger grind.