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Thread: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 range

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    Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 range

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi,

    I am new to Coffee Snobs and would like some advice on grinders. I am retiring my Krups 4100 and have a Bezzera BZ02S arriving soon. We drink about 4 to 6 cups of Expresso a day. With a bit of reading I have narrowed my choice to the following doserless models:

    Iberital Challenger
    Rancillio Rocky
    Ascaso i1
    Compak K3 Touch

    Is the more expensive K3 Touch better or are the others quite adequate. Can anybody suggest different grinders. Should I look at doser models as well.

    Regards, Peter

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterR link=1183257508/0#0 date=1183257507
    Hi,

    I am new to Coffee Snobs and would like some advice on grinders. I am retiring my Krups 4100 and have a Bezzera BZ02S arriving soon. We drink about 4 to 6 cups of Expresso a day. With a bit of reading I have narrowed my choice to the following doserless models:

    Iberital Challenger
    Rancillio Rocky
    Ascaso i1
    Compak K3 Touch

    Is the more expensive K3 Touch better or are the others quite adequate. Can anybody suggest different grinders. Should I look at doser models as well.

    Regards, Peter
    Hi Peter and welcome to CS..

    In brief, the answer is yes:

    1. Buy the best grinder you can possibly afford
    2. You gets what you pays for!

    I personally prefer a doser because if used to grind your coffee to order, you will create less mess and be more consistent in your dose.

    In addition, with a machine in your price range, you should match it to a comparable grinder...

    Some suggestions:

    Doser: Mazzer mini manual, Macap M5, Compak K3E, ECM Best (all above $600)
    Doserless: Compak K3T, ECM KS

    Stepless grinders are great, but a stepped grinder with small increments will be fine as well...More info can be found here: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163235531.

    You have got yourself a Ferrari- now dont park an old clunker next to it in the garage ;)

    Feel free to give me a buzz if I can assist...


    2mcm

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Hi Peter,
    Welcome to Coffee Snobs.

    I agree with 2mcm:

    1. Buy the best grinder you can possibly afford
    2. You gets what you pays for!
    If you buy an "adequate" grinder you may just end up replacing it with a better one.
    In my mind thats a waste of money.


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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Thanks for the Link on grinders. Ok, so I will have to budget for a really good grinder.

    2mcm says "I personally prefer a doser because if used to grind your coffee to order, you will create less mess and be more consistent in your dose". How do you use a doser in a domestic situation. I thought the doser chamber needs a fair amount of ground coffee to dose correctly. What do you do with the excess ground coffee in the doser after dosing two filter baskets.

    Regards, Peter

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterR link=1183257508/0#3 date=1183263910
    Thanks for the Link on grinders. Ok, so I will have to budget for a really good grinder.

    2mcm says "I personally prefer a doser because if used to grind your coffee to order, you will create less mess and be more consistent in your dose". How do you use a doser in a domestic situation. I thought the doser chamber needs a fair amount of ground coffee to dose correctly. What do you do with the excess ground coffee in the doser after dosing two filter baskets.

    Regards, Peter
    Hi Peter,

    Check out a great cafe in your town. If they are doing it well, you will hear the rapid thwack thwack as your barista grinds your coffee through the doser, but freshly- just for you.

    When I use a doser grinder there is no (or very little) excess coffee left over. Im quicker than the grinder 8-). The bonus is that static is eliminated and that clumping will also tend to get broken up.

    In addition, if I have to make coffee for a few people, I can leave the grinder running whilst Im doing something else. This makes me a whole heap more efficient...

    regards

    Chris

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    HI Chris,

    Yes I have seen this done. Now it is making sense. A small measured amount of beans are placed in the hopper and the doser is purged of all ground coffee, plus any spills are contained by the doser.

    I have also read the Doser Vs Doseless Poll.

    Now you have me thinking.

    Regards, Peter

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    PeterR,

    Hi and welcome to CoffeeSnobs

    Id certainly agree with Chris. a doser version (used properly) causes far less mess and also produces a better grind in the basket (far less clumping).

    And always budget as much as you can for a good grinder..... other than quality fresh beans, it is the most important thing when aiming for quality espresso.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Ive only ever had a grinder with a doser domestically and couldnt imagine it any other way. After awhile you get a feel for the quantity of beans to pour into the hopper for the desired number of shots (as well as knowing the length of time to grind for per shot).

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    I weigh my beans before putting them in the grinder, I also weigh and grind for each basket so the ground coffee is at its optimal freshness as it goes stale so quickly once ground.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by lucinda link=1183257508/0#8 date=1183341709
    I weigh my beans before putting them in the grinder, I also weigh and grind for each basket so the ground coffee is at its optimal freshness as it goes stale so quickly once ground.
    I cant recommend this practice, Lucinda...

    Chances youll get popcorning as the beans bounce around on the blades trying to grind themselves. This can lead to inconsistencies in grind as well as overheating.

    I suggest that ita a good idea to have at least 4cm of beans in your hopper prior to grinding.

    2mcm

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Hi Peter ..

    I upgraded from a Rocky to a Compak K3 Elite - which has a doser, and have been very happy with this upgrade.

    Going from a stepped grinder to stepless was a huge step for me - as with the Rocky I found my ideal grind was somewhere between steps. The increments were too large. I like the control I have with the K3 elite.

    Myrtle

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1183257508/0#9 date=1183341971
    Quote Originally Posted by lucinda link=1183257508/0#8 date=1183341709
    I weigh my beans before putting them in the grinder, I also weigh and grind for each basket so the ground coffee is at its optimal freshness as it goes stale so quickly once ground.
    I cant recommend this practice, Lucinda...

    Chances youll get popcorning as the beans bounce around on the blades trying to grind themselves. This can lead to inconsistencies in grind as well as overheating.

    I suggest that ita a good idea to have at least 4cm of beans in your hopper prior to grinding.

    2mcm
    Okayyy....

    So why has this advice been given so many times? I only have two to three coffees a day and prefer not to leave beans in the hopper. Also I have a MDF grinder which has a small hopper too.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Hi Lucinda,

    You may well get a CSer or CG suggesting that, but its unlikely that you would get a barista or barista trainer recommending weighing of beans as they would be aware of the risk of popcorning.

    In my case, the issue is that my beans are always too fresh- so I can afford to let some degas in the hopper ;)

    regards

    2mcm

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman link=1183257508/0#9 date=1183341971
    Quote Originally Posted by lucinda link=1183257508/0#8 date=1183341709
    I weigh my beans before putting them in the grinder, I also weigh and grind for each basket so the ground coffee is at its optimal freshness as it goes stale so quickly once ground.
    I cant recommend this practice, Lucinda...

    Chances youll get popcorning as the beans bounce around on the blades trying to grind themselves. This can lead to inconsistencies in grind as well as overheating.

    I suggest that ita a good idea to have at least 4cm of beans in your hopper prior to grinding.

    2mcm
    I also weigh out my beans for each shot. I found that a cheapo alum tamper fits in the throat of my grinder perfectly holding the beans down with only the last few doing the popcorning thing. I have no problem maintaining consistency shot too shot. :)


    Java "Fresh beans please!" phile

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Ive found the same a javaphile. I swap between decaf and regular coffee regularly so using more then I need at any one time will lead to wastage. whilst I get a small amount of pop corning at the end of a grind I have found that shot to shot times are consistent exept for user error in tamping/dosing.

    Chris what do you mean by overheating? I cant imagine it would be a big problem if grinding one double shot at a time. Also re cafe environment you will get grind inconsistencies when down to the last few shots worth in the hopper because the grind is set for a full hopper. when you refill your back to normal. in a home environment I cant see the problem if your doing the same thing all the time and getting repeatable results.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Chris, didnt Ed Vinas used to weigh beans for each shot?

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by kaanage link=1183257508/15#15 date=1183511733
    Chris, didnt Ed Vinas used to weigh beans for each shot?
    Yes Greg....yet another example of a phenomenon called "The learning curve" ;)

    Chris

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Okay - I watched my grinder as it ground my coffee the last few days.

    I had one instance of popcorning and it was bean that did it.

    Once in 7 shots poured. Not being argumentative or disrespectful - just saying this is what I have noticed.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Hrm I still dont know much about grinders, but there is another grinder which no one ever seems to talk about (maybe theyre crap??) that does fit in your price range.
    Anyone know anything about La Pavoni grinders, the company is a good itialian brand right? Surely their grinders must be half decent.
    Their chrome one with the doser is $555... or $495 without..


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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by lucinda link=1183257508/15#17 date=1183692985
    Okay - I watched my grinder as it ground my coffee the last few days.

    I had one instance of popcorning and it was bean that did it.

    Once in 7 shots poured. Not being argumentative or disrespectful - just saying this is what I have noticed.
    The beans dont have to hop around for the lack of weight behind them to lead to an inconsistent grind.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Re Popcorning,

    I dont use a hopper, the beans just sit in the throat.
    Like Lucinda, I have occasionally seen a "popper" but it is an rare.

    What I also noticed, and this may be because of my larger diameter burrs [80mm] and subsequent "grind chamber" under the throat, is that all the beans tend to spin as in a whirlpool.

    They push out laterally with centrifical force into the burrs, rather than down onto them, so Im not sure that the weight would make any difference.


    However, I appreciate the comments regarding the lack of weight, it does make sense and Ive yet to put it to the test.

    At some point, Ill fabricate something to sit on top of the dose and weigh it down and then post my findings.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    I noticed a difference in quality (better) of espresso pour when I have half a hopper full, compared to a few spoons full... Not sure if Conicals are different to Flats in this regards...

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    i also measure out the beans i need for one or two shots...with the Rocky having a fixed hopper leaving 4 cm of beans can be a problem for small-quantity coffee drinkers like myself... i have about 3-4 regular strength coffees per day, and then 2 decafs at night.
    short of picking the Rocky up and up-ending the whole machine, it is imposible to remove the full strenght beans prior to grinding the decaf...
    hmm, might get a small hand grinder for the decaf....

    more toys!! ;D

    L

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    I would imagine that conicals are different to flats in this regard. conicals dont rely on centrifuge to the extent of flat burs to push the coffee through the burrs. rather they rely on gravity. On a conical grinder there is a clear path between the beans in the hopper and the burrs. on a flat grinder the beans get flung into the burrs instead.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Thanks for all the replies so far. As always the grinder has drifted past my original budget of $300-$600 but from the advice so far this can be justified.

    Referring back to the original reply from 2mcm, Chris suggested that in the doser range ($600 +) the contenders are Mini Mazzer, Macap M5 and K3 Elite.

    I have done I bit of reading on all these units. Their design is similar in that they are all direct drive with close RPM, *have quality flat burrs of 58mm diameter, solid brass burr carriers, similar overall dimensions and now including the Macap M5, all have stepless adjustment.

    The Mini Mazzer has an excellent stepless adjustment system but has some issues with leaving coffee grounds on the floor of the doser and dosing off centre into the portafilter.

    The Macap M5 has stepless adjustment but it does not lend itself to quick adjustments as does the Mini Mazzer. The doser is supposed to work exceptionally well.

    The Compak K3 Elite has a very good stepless sdjustment system as shown to me by a local Cafe. The doser also works very well. On the down side the tamper and its support is not removable as per the Mazzer and Macap and from what I have found the only available colour in stock in Australia is Champagne.

    Leaving the slight cost variation between these units aside, is there a clear winner here or is it now down to aesthetics.

    Any comments would be most welcome.

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Sounds like youve done your homework well.
    Better than I did really.
    Ive got a stepped Macap and am very happy with it.
    (First thing I did was leave off the tamper.)

    It will probably come down to aesthetics as you said, or toss a coin.

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile link=1183257508/0#13 date=1183346342
    I also weigh out my beans for each shot. I found that a cheapo alum tamper fits in the throat of my grinder perfectly holding the beans down with only the last few doing the popcorning thing. I have no problem maintaining consistency shot too shot. :)
    Java "Fresh beans please!" phile
    Ive done that a few times -- the tamper in the hopper trick *when the amount in the hopper gets too low and they start *bouncing around.

    But Im with 2MCM on weighing. *Maybe OK at the very very beginning of the learning curve, but too turgid thereafter. *Its pretty easy to judge amounts without weighing. Besides, some grounds are left behind, defeating the purpose.

    And keeping a few extra beans in the hopper for a few hours longer isnt going to adversely affect freshness.

    Also, the Iberital has a timer which helps with dosing. *But if the beans start popcorning --dont *you love the description -- it throws the system out.

    --Robusto


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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by Lizzi link=1183257508/15#22 date=1184057771
    i also measure out the beans i need for one or two shots...with the Rocky having a fixed hopper leaving 4 cm of beans can be a problem for small-quantity coffee drinkers like myself... i have about 3-4 regular strength coffees per day, and then 2 decafs at night.
    short of picking the Rocky up and up-ending the whole machine, it is imposible to remove the full strenght beans prior to grinding the decaf...
    hmm, might get a small hand grinder for the decaf....

    more toys!! ;D

    L
    Been down that path, Lizzie. Iberital for normal beans, hand grinder for decaf. But I coudlnt keep it up. In the end, after 2 decades of decaf, it all got too bothersome and I coverted back to normal beans.
    One grinder does all.
    --Robusto

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1183257508/15#25 date=1184493655
    Sounds like youve done your homework well.
    Better than I did really.
    Ive got a stepped Macap and am very happy with it.
    (First thing I did was leave off the tamper.)

    It will probably come down to aesthetics as you said, or toss a coin.
    Happy owner of a Macap M4 Stepless Doser Grinder

    Well aesthetics played a part but the lack of availability of the Mini Mazzer pointed me to the Macap. Atilio of Cosmorex said he would have new stocks of the Macap M5 this week. Much to my surprise, on display today in shiny chrome was the Macap M4. This is the short hopper version of the M5 (overall height only 430mm) and also featured stepless adjustment.

    Thanks to the site sponsers and members for all the advice.


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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Welcome to the Macap club.

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1183257508/15#26 date=1184498252
    But Im with 2MCM on weighing. Maybe OK at the very very beginning of the learning curve, but too turgid thereafter. Its pretty easy to judge amounts without weighing. Besides, some grounds are left behind, defeating the purpose.
    With my equipment and technique (anal retentiveness according to some) being close on the amount of beans isnt good enough. I aim for perfection on every shot I pull, and seeing as Im doing this at home and not in a commercial establishment I can afford the extra few seconds it takes to weigh out the beans.

    In point of fact it actually doesnt take me any longer to pull a shot weighing the beans than if I didnt. In my environment (an extended period between shots) my Cimbali requires 2 cooling flushes with a set period between them before its ready to pull a shot. If I didnt weigh the beans Id then have to stand there waiting for the right amount of time to pass before doing the 2nd cooling flush. So in the end weighing the beans out adds nothing to the amount of time required to pull a shot and gives me an exactly repeatable shot.

    What grounds are left behind? After grinding I use the handle of an artists brush to clean out the spout, kick the grinder over for a second and while its spinning down I brush all the grounds off of the glass over the star in the doser and then use the brush to get the last few grinds out of the spout and then dose.

    The only grinds left behind are the ones packed into the corners in the grinding chamber. Those are packed in and will not come out in the next grind. The tiny amount of grounds that are left in the bottom corner of the doser weigh approximately 0.04g (Yes, Ive weighed them! :D ). Being the (AR) person that I am as part of my usual morning routine Ill clean this small amount out.

    Varying the dose by a tenth of a gram (more than one bean but less than two for most coffees) can change the extraction time by up too 2 seconds, which is enough to change the flavor in the cup.

    Using this routine gives me the absolutely best shot possible each and every time with no stale beans or grounds left behind to taint the next cup and no wasted coffee.

    Is this regimen best for most people? Nope. In order to get the consistence youll need out of the equipment to notice a difference in the cup youll have to have extremely high end equipment, otherwise variations in such things as brewing temperature and grind consistency will negate any advantage of using the regimen. Such a regimen would not be appropriate for use in a commercial environment either.


    Java "Weighing in on the issue" phile

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Java - you are totally amazing...and I mean that as a compliment!

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    Re: Choice of grinders in the the $300 - $600 rang

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis link=1183257508/30#31 date=1184850369
    Java - you are totally amazing...and I mean that as a compliment!
    Aw shucks. :-[


    Java "Scuffing his toes in the dirt" phile



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