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Thread: espresso grinder $700 limit.

  1. #1
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    espresso grinder $700 limit.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys. We're looking at spending up to or around $700 on a new or used grinder. After reading various reviews I'm thinking:

    New:
    Vario
    macap m2
    compak k3

    Used
    macap m4d
    mazzer mini e

    I don't see either of those used options being something I'm find and I'd rather purchase sooner. So any argument to be made for any one of the 3 new options over the others?

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    Sorry forgot a couple of variables. I'm in Melbourne and prefer doserless. Doser just seems like a hassle.

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    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Hi Rumble
    All good grinders - you'd enjoy them all. M4D would be the fastest - if you can find one second hand in your price range.
    All the others would be fairly similar in usage. I've owned an M4 Doser which was a great grinder, and used an M2 which is just as good. Built like tanks and nice and simple.
    K3 and Vario have a little more plastic - but both great grinders.

    You've got plenty on sponsors around - go for a look and buy what grabs you!

    Cheers Matt

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    Hi Rumble,

    Go visit Chris at Talk Coffee. I was there today, and I know that at least 3 of those grinders were on his demo bench. Definitely worth seeing them in the metal/plastic. I currently have a K3 push which I think is fantastic for the price.

    Cheers, Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rumble111 View Post
    Hi guys. We're looking at spending up to or around $700 on a new or used grinder. After reading various reviews I'm thinking:

    New:
    Vario
    macap m2
    compak k3

    Used
    macap m4d
    mazzer mini e

    I don't see either of those used options being something I'm find and I'd rather purchase sooner. So any argument to be made for any one of the 3 new options over the others?
    Hi Rumble111

    My opinion (having bought over 50 "mainly big commercial" grinders over the years): For home use, Mahlkonig Vario gen2 wins hands down. Incredibly good "fine grind performance & adjustment", minimal grind retention and so easy to live with I bought a second one. Small, quiet, no overheating issue, no "bench mess" - not even one ground yet! My older one has done over 100Kgs, newer one around 10Kgs, and I have to look at my hidden markings to see which one I am using. No wear difference between them on the ceramic burrs or play in the Swiss made mechanism (yet).

    Not perfect
    - like all grinders, when the chamber is full the particle spread goes out the window. At least you can hear the sound change, so you are forewarned. Most roasts take about 750g to fill the chamber, one dark oily mess took 150g.

    - for some unfathomable reason it lacks a "insert p/f to turn on & off switch". Easily its worst fault.

    - the p/f holder is improved (now barely OK) on the gen2, but needs to be adjusted to fit every different p/f or you have to hold it in place (and going from my usual 7g single to a 22g triple in the same p/f changes the fit).

    Together with the lack of a p/f switch, it took me over 6 months before I stopped being annoyed with it. When the warranty runs out I am likely to retrofit (read butcher it if I have to!) a switch.

    Enjoy your quest.

    TampIt

  6. #6
    TC
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveD View Post
    Hi Rumble,

    Go visit Chris at Talk Coffee. I was there today, and I know that at least 3 of those grinders were on his demo bench. Definitely worth seeing them in the metal/plastic. I currently have a K3 push which I think is fantastic for the price.

    Cheers, Dave
    That they are Dave- along with a Mazzer SJ-E (big brother of the mini-e).

    We don't sell the vario though as every time I look at one, I see a souped up Breville Smart grinder- but at twice the price. Way too placticky for me to add to range.

    M4D? Best grinder under $2k hands down in my opinion. They rarely come up for sale though as owners of them use them, keep them, love them.

    We'd be delighted to assist you Rumble.

    Cheers

    Chris
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    From memory the Vario also has plastic gears, not a feature I would want on a grinder.

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    I'm with Chris and Yelta on the vario looking plasticy and has the feel of an appliance product. I've used a "rough" guideline over the years of the number of problem posts there are on a particular product decides whether I rule it out or not. There are 100s on the vario and yet I see so few on the K3 touch and pull and macap m2 and m4 etc. I know mainly people with problems post on the internet but the difference between the vario and others is staggering and I'm sure its not just due to its popularity. Have a look at home-barista.com I have a m4d now but I had a K3 touch for 4 years. I think its the best bang for buck grinder out there.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by barri View Post
    I'm with Chris and Yelta on the vario looking plasticy and has the feel of an appliance product. I've used a "rough" guideline over the years of the number of problem posts there are on a particular product decides whether I rule it out or not. There are 100s on the vario and yet I see so few on the K3 touch and pull and macap m2 and m4 etc. I know mainly people with problems post on the internet but the difference between the vario and others is staggering and I'm sure its not just due to its popularity. Have a look at home-barista.com I have a m4d now but I had a K3 touch for 4 years. I think its the best bang for buck grinder out there.

    Hi Guys

    I suggest you check out the actual construction on the Mahlkonig / Ditting website - it is a completely replaceable module that will potentially outlast most of us in CS still breathing. The reason the EXTERIOR of the Vario is plastic is to save weight & space, the Swiss designed & manufactured mechanism of the gen2 rivals the best I have seen. If you are sold on metal cases, buy the Baratza Forte - basically a ruggedised metal case around the same grinding module - and feel comforted by the lack of plastic... Domestically a complete waste of money in my view as it has worse grind retention plus a few other "worse in the cup" features.

    The reason one of the Vario gear pairs is plastic - if you are careless enough to allow bits of granite, nails etc into the unit by design it will strip that gear. When I last looked, it cost a massive $US4.50 to replace! A bit cheaper than the $350 or so for most new sets of burrs which a "bulletproof mechanism" will usually leave as the result.

    I went to Grinders - Home-Barista.com to see the "100's of problems".

    The first post on Baratza Vario Gone Haywire - Home-Barista.com about a Vario was a stone - and the "user" (I could think of a few other, more appropriate words...) did not bother to remove the stone and kept trying it. Broke a belt as well as the plastic gear (now about $US10 in parts) and is thinking of replacing the plastic gear which saved the grinder with a steel one! Only in the States... Mind you, look at the photo of the 5 year old UNMARKED ceramic burrs from the same Vario "gen1" - that is impressive. FWIW, the most common Vario prob is users adjusting the grind while it is turned off... RTFM you idiots. You want a precision micro adjustment (230 settings!) then follow the rules.

    The next post down was one of my least favourite grinders (replaced far too many sets of "mild steel" [barely] burrs on them to count) Mazzer Super Jolly - what a bad bearing sounds like - Home-Barista.com. Another idiot in the wild, only this one sold the problem to the next guy that believed an SJ was bulletproof - they aren't. Yet another SJ bearing bites the dust (due to the coffee dust getting into the bearing no doubt). I have seen more than a dozen with that problem - and I am not even in the industry.

    Take away lesson - any grinder may be destroyed by ignorance.

    The other thing - any comparison between the gen2 and a smartgrinder mechanism is a complete joke - THAT is a domestic grinder mechanism (and to be fair, a price to match).

    A final point: the narrow particle spread of the Vario gen2 literally thrashes all of those other grinders (plus their big brothers) to an embarrassing degree. Been there, tested them at length and am backed by heaps of reviews. Coffee geeks has a number of them, including a comparison of some other grinders - complete with photos. There is a very good reason why the Vario's two big brothers (the K30 and the EK43) are the official World Barista Championship grinders again this year. Quality counts.

    I know there seems to be a few posters on this site that do not like the facts to get into the way of the myths, however I reserve the right to call them on it periodically.

    TampIt
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  10. #10
    TC
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    When is a test a test? When it's a double blind.

    Just to put all of this into context, we have thousands of clients on our books. A large proportion have also purchased grinders- in the main Mazzer/Compak/Macap.

    Bearing repairs? Zip, nada, niente, nothing. Grinder repairs? Limited to cleaning- like the one which came in on Saturday- fed a diet of yummy sultanas. We were inclined to send some figs and nuts down and try for festive panforte! A handful of burr replacements which are limited to old cafe grinders rebirthed into domestic use. Dropped hoppers. One M7D display which was my fault. It got drowned (long story...).

    It's patently clear that small commercials do brilliantly at home. No need to stock up on $4.50US plastic bits for when they break.

    My comments re the relative value of the vario stand. It would be fair value at a price point of about $400 as that's what it's truly worth. For those who feel inclined to shell out a further $300 to own one, you are most welcome to as it will grind coffee beans- so is fit for purpose. Sorta like a Breville Smart grinder.
    Last edited by TC; 12th January 2015 at 07:15 AM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Something tells me I won't be replacing the Mazzer anytime soon with a unit that needs the plastic drive gear and rubber band replaced on a regular basis.

    Not to mention power boards, these also seem to be an Achilles heel, lots of reports of failures, guess the good thing is it seems to be a DIY job. https://www.baratza.com/wp-content/u...Powerboard.pdf

  12. #12
    TOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    There is a very good reason why the Vario's two big brothers (the K30 and the EK43) are the official World Barista Championship grinders again this year. Quality counts...I reserve the right to call them on it periodically. TampIt
    Interesting.....In that case readers may wish to note that the reason why any manufacturer (of machines, grinders, whatever) is an "official" WBC sponsor/supplier is because they (whichever manufacturer) are prepared to pay the sponsorship fees. Good equipment manufacturers are not all lining up to pay the ransom, and it very much depends on their business plan as to how any particular company decides to spend its marketing dollars OR for that matter, which future direction to take in promoting its equipment over time.

    There are manuacturers that are just not interested to align themselves with WBC for their future direction. That doesnt mean they dont make quality products and dont have deep market penetration for their products regardless.

    Ergo, just because something is an "official" WBC sponsor/supplier, doesnt really mean it is the best at anything or even fit for some other purpose like using it in a home use situation.... That doesnt mean WBC sponsor equipment is not of excellent standard...just that it is not the only good equipment out there that will be fit for whatever purpose it is design to do.

    How many times do people need to reiterate, that "deli grinders" are designed for bench top use in shops selling coffee in "bulk" or in roasteries (ie business use). They are not designed to be used as espresso grinders nor for low volume home use , and therefore within the bounds of the design brief, they are not fit for purpose for the average CoffeeSnobber reading this, who for the most part wont be able to tell the difference between their latte made with a regular espresso grinder, and a deli grinder that someone touted as the "ants pants" in the quality stakes.

    Context please.

    A mack prime mover is able to be used by the missus to take the kids to school in the morning, but that doesnt mean it is strictly fit for the purpose, and this endless silly and highly acaedemic "discussion" is very very tiresome, and for the most part simply results in a small number of people manipulating the market for equipment. In effect, it results in "a robin hooding" of the equipment market. For those that have not understood that, it means that a small number of anonymous internet participants (bonafides unknown) are doggedly working on the redistribution of income to be made by equipment manufacturers through these endless discussions......that begs the only (rhetorical) question possible......WHY?

    EDIT:
    Neither K30 or EK43 are in the $700.00 price bracket and are very much off topic and out of context.....again.
    Last edited by TOK; 12th January 2015 at 11:09 AM.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Well said TOK. KFC buying the sponsorship rights to the cricket doesn't make it's product gourmet, ethical or healthy.... (or even nice).

    Indeed, the book being written about Varios, chapter by chapter, in this and just about any other grinder thread is tiresome...... possibly

    to the point of becoming counter productive. The accusations made against any grinder other than a Vario are not borne out in truth or reality across the kitchens

    of Australia, or any cafés that I know of. In fact, the only two café grinder failures that I am personally aware of have both been EK43's with broken shafts.

    One had a quite a lot of trouble with the repair as well, had to go back to base at least twice.

    Tampit, if you're going to tamp on about grinders; keep it real and maybe briefer.... I don't know of any grinder with $350 burr sets. To quote you from post#Chapter 9

    Quote "A bit cheaper than the $350 or so for most new sets of burrs which a "bulletproof mechanism" will usually leave as the result." unquote. (???)

    In my own client base the grinders in use range from a second hand 11 year old SJ, to 2 year old Roburs and brand new Major's and a couple of other brands thrown
    in.

    No repairs required for any, other than cleaning and a new set of genuine burrs ($55) for the oldest SJ.
    Last edited by chokkidog; 12th January 2015 at 02:20 PM.
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  14. #14
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    Of the grinders on the list. I've had a Macap M4D for the past 15 months or so. I love it, prior to this grinder I'd been using an iberital challenge and a Breville BCG-800 at work until the team was broken up. I recently was round a mates place and used the Breville again recently. Woah, how the M4D does spoil me, it's quick and does a great job, is (relatively quiet). So would recommend one in a heartbeat, including a 2nd hand, good condition model.

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    Thanks for all the advice guys. Really helps. I filed out the quote form and several local suppliers have made contact which is great.

    Unless a miracle happens and an M4D or Mini e comes on the market used, we'll most likely be picking a new M2M up this week
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    I've heard Macap M4D really good!



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