Post By Andy
Best of the Worst: Grinderless: Preground v Cheap Hand Grinder v Nespresso
Fairly new to posting here, but I've been a long time reader while planning my espresso set up.
I've recently splashed out and upgraded from the old faithful Nespresso unit to a Profitec Pro 600 - yup Night & Day!
I've also ordered a Niche Zero Grinder, due for Delivery in December. Problem is it's coming from the UK, and I don't know when in December it will be dispatched. So it could arrive anywhere from Mid-December to Mid/Late-January.
So my problem is I have the P600 arriving on Wednesday and nothing to practice with & fulfill the caffeine itch.
I've well and truly blown the budget on the full setup so I don't really want to spend much more for a temporary fix. However, I'm debating whats the best of the worst to get us through the waiting until the Niche rocks up.
My choices are:
- Pre-ground coffee - From everything I've read this is a big no, and we'll never make the effort to get fresh grinds from a local cafe each day.
- Buy a cheap - $50 hand grinder. Tho seems these just don't cut it for Espresso, and to get one that does you have to spend a bit.
- Buy more pods and stick with Nespresso until the Niche arrives
My question is what's the best of the above? I assume stale preground coffee will taste worse then pods, what about handground fresh? Will the issues with consistency & not grinding fine enough be a bigger headache and effect taste that much it's not worth considering?
Ps. Also looked through the pre-loved grinders and can't find anything atm.
Appreciate any advice
Hi, and welcome. All options have their pros and cons. I see it like this:
1. Preground - from a supermarket? Definitely not worth it. From a local cafe/roaster? Yes this could work quite well, but as youíve alluded to you really need to be buying it regularly. Itís still not ideal, but if you can buy 100g at a time for 2-3 days supply then personally I think this is the best option.
2. Hand grinder - this is an equally good option, but again youíve already seen that you could get stuck with a lemon. Iíve owned and used a range of budget hand grinders and the only <$100 ones that would really be up to the task would be the Gefu Lorenzo or Hario Skerton. Other Hario grinders as well as Porlex/Rhinowares models would also give a good enough grind, but theyíre just bloody hard work due to their small size. The Gefu is a surprisingly good grinder that was on special recently from Peters of Kensington for about $60. If you can find one for that price this is what Iíd recommend.
3. Pods - taste like crap, but youíre used to it and theyíre easy.
Hope this helps a little. Cheers.
1: pre-ground from a roaster will be fine for a week or two at a time. The older the coffee is the more you might have to pack in the handle to get a reasonable pour.
2: hand grinders are good if you can put a cordless drill on them else they get boring really fast.
3: find a secondhand grinder on CS for sale area, you should be able to sell it again in a month or two for about the same money if you don't overpay and look after it. Cheap way of "hiring" it.
4: bye bye pods... you can't go back!
Agree second hand and resell or buy a good hand grinder (Lido E in link below) that will grind well and last ages. I have a Lido E and used it for 6-9 months daily for 2-3 coffees while waiting for my Niche. Yes some days it was a chore but at least the coffee was good! I've kept the Lido as a back up and for aeropress an other duties.
Don't forget gumtree as an alternative if nothing suitable on CS.
The lido E is awesome. Suprised it hasn't sold already. Pretty easy to crank and fast!
If preground, it seems to me that if it's a gusher, let it keep extracting till the 30sec mark. It will be a longer black, but reasonably drinkable. Don't shorten the shot if it's gushing.
Worth trying for yourself anyway.
Thanks so much for the useful and great advice guys. Really appreciate it!
Seems I was a little harsh on the preground stuff from a good roaster. I'll try this avenue for the first week since it seems they'll last longer then I expected. Then if i want to up the anti or the Niche takes longer then expected I'll jump on the FS sections and see whats available at the time!
Great feedback guys.
After a bit of feedback on this one. New toy, wanting to learn the tips n tricks
I purchased some espresso ground coffee from a local roaster yesterday. They only had 1kg bags on the shelf which were roasted 4 days ago so thought you beauty, but I found out when he popped the 250g bag into the grinder that the smaller bags were freshly roasted that morning.
It was too late to change but I figured since his grinding them for me perhaps it will last a little longer being freshly roasted? Also perhaps they'll age faster being ground, so not too bad. Tho, I know it's best to allow 5 days+ for freshly roasted beans before using.
- First shot I tried last night was 18g in a 18g VST basket. Did a normal tamp, firm but not super compressed. The shot was super under extracted, gushed out in under 15 seconds, at the 25 mark was up to 90g odd. Tasted horrid and drained it.
- Second shot 18g again, this time used a lot more force when tamping. Marginal improvement, but still way too fast and horrid taste.
- Played around with a few more combos and did some reading. Increased the dose to 20g in the 18g VST (overloaded but not touching the screen). Also used a lot of force when tamping, made sure the coffee was evenly distributed, level, not knocked after tamping, dry portafilter etc. 20g in, 47g out in 25 seconds. I was able to repeat this a few time. Seemed to result in the best looking & taste I could muster, though it was still on the bitter side and not too impressive.
Now I'm interested to know if there is anything I can do on my technique / routine that would improve the shot, or if it's the best that could be expected using freshly roasted beans, and not having a grinder to adjust settings? On a positive note I have had an email letting me know they are expecting to start dispatching the Niche grinders this week & next, so I should have a grinder within the next few weeks.
I do have a bottomless portafilter but without a grinder to correct the grind and using fresh roasted beans I don't really want to create a massive mess, so haven't tried with this yet.
I know this is probably a bit of over analysis but i'm interesting in peoples thoughts & experience!
Yeah I think it the meantime getting 250g from the roaster at a time will work as long as itís ground in front of you.
Sounds like you need to ask them to go one notch finer next time.
Did you notice what they were using for their bag grinder? A Ditting or EK43 or something like that?
Thanks herzog, will keep that in mind. Do you think the roasting date would also be an issue with the taste?
Good question, if you can recognize gear it's this one with the empty hopper:
For your purposes the roast date is going to be fairly irrelevant. More important will be the time elapsed since grinding as it deteriorates very quickly once ground.
Originally Posted by Nugmo
Hence stick to small batches of 250g at a time that you can consume within a week or so.
The grinder in the picture does look to be an EK set up for bag grinding. Itís a simple thing for them to grind your next batch a little finer if needed.
Thanks again herzog. Funnily enough there was a dramatic different in the pour times the following day, without changing anything in my approach the shot no longer gushed out and I was able to extra 20g:40g in 30 seconds. I guess the beans aged a fair bit in the day!
Appreciate the help.