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Thread: Recommendation for a Quiet Grinder in different price ranges

  1. #1
    Laj
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    Recommendation for a Quiet Grinder in different price ranges

    Good afternoon Gentleman,

    New member here; but not knew to coffee.

    I currently enjoy fresh beans in a French press while at home, and an expresso/long black while out. I use a hand grinder of some antiquity. Origin long forgotten. No pedigree. One of the ones in a wooden box with a drawer that comes out and lever on top. Still works ... sort of. Hence French press. Time for a replacement.

    One major requirement of any equipment I buy is that it must be quiet. And I mean really quiet. Sleeping significant other, general noise intolerance etc.

    I am reluctant to take on an expresso machine for that reason. And for the complexity it brings to my life. Frankly all I am up to at 6am is grinding a few fresh beans, pouring hot water over coarse coffee grinds, letting it sit for three minutes, enjoying the aroma, pressing and pouring. Occasionally I'll manage a Moka pot. About the only way I enjoy coffee more at home is Turkish. Which is a whole different thing. And I haven't had one now in a few years: refer paragraph 1.

    I have been to friends houses with expresso machines and I have to say - I've always been a little underwhelmed: seems a whole lot of fuss for a reasonably forgettable experience: then again I never take milk, so problems stand out. Or I'm not that much of a connoisseur. The exception was someone's place who had some very expensive copper Italian Lever machine that made exquisite coffee. Now that was amazing. Forget what it was now. He took it very seriously. Rightly so, rightly so.

    So, back to point: I need a decent grinder: one that does French Press, Moka/expresso and, desirably, Turkish.

    Now, most of the commercial grinders in cafes I have heard sound like 747's (or modern equivalent) taking off. Dosers make no sense to me in a domestic single use environment. I hate the "clack clack clack" , they add a complexity I don't need, and delay the delivery of the fresh grind. And waste beans. I hate waste.

    Ditto (I think) dose measure & grind timers. But above all what I want is quiet. A serene grinding experience that does not shatter my dawn.

    So; please give me your recommendations for the quietest half decent grinder suitable for French press all the way through to Turkish if possible. I'd prefer something that doesn't involve turning a handle (I'm old and getting older) unless it is like eg an HG-1, which has a really cool handle and appears effortless. I have thought briefly about the Rosco Mini Grinder - being apparently well crafted and made in Australia - but am unsure how much effort you actually have to put into it: from experience 1 minute on a hand grinder is a looooong time. As I say - I'm kind of at a stage where I just want to push a button.

    Lastly the smaller and less conspicuous the better. Not because I don't have the space - but because I like compact and small design. I like quality well made products. Hence why although the Breville 820 BSS may serve function well enough, it is largely made of plastic and underwhelming. I can't see it being bought.

    In any event dive in, and don't feel price constrained. I always like knowing what is out there.

    Many thanks

    Laj

  2. #2
    Senior Member Logga's Avatar
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    The Lido E would be good, but it is a hand grinder. I don't think you will get a quite electric one.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Welcome Laj,

    Seems you might be in the market for the unicorn of grinders, no harm investigating if such a grinder actually exists, but don't be offended if we don't come up with any other solutions for you.

    If cafe grinders sound like a 747 to you, what are you actually hoping the volume of your dream home grinder would be? What is your maximum volume tolerance? What is quiet to me may be loud to you, so some sort of analogy to another kitchen appliance might help us help you assess grinders for volume.. I suspect that the HG-1 will probably be your best bet in the end, as in reality, nothing can beat a hand grinder for quietness.

    Al
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    Laj
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    Thank you for the replies and welcome.

    Really? - no one has thought to design a quiet electric coffee grinder? Goodness. Nothing makes less noise than a hand grinder .... I am disappointed.

    I looked at the Lido's and the Pharos, but frankly, listening to them online left me with the impression they were noisy as all get out.

    Quiet to means around 60 - 65 db I suppose - where ambient background noise is 40-55 db at home.

    An alternative may be industrial ear muffs. Cheaper than a HG-1....

    Does anyone have an HG-1 here?

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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    Thank you for the replies and welcome.

    Really? - no one has thought to design a quiet electric coffee grinder? Goodness. Nothing makes less noise than a hand grinder .... I am disappointed
    I'm with you on the wish for a quiet grinder. I'm sure there is a market for one, and if it was economically viable somebody would probably have made it already. The fact that nobody has suggests to me that the torque required to smash coffee beans to dust is just too much to make a quiet grinder that is small enough for the house and also able to come in at a price that's palatable to users.

    As to the lido and pharos being noisy, the only sound is that of the beans being milled, so I can't see it being possible to get any quieter especially once you add a high powered motor to the mix. A large commercial conical grinder may be your only option, as although they are loud, you only have to put up with the noise for 3 seconds at a time, this would bring in a major hassle switching between grinds for different brew styles mind you.

    I'll also add that you can get killer espresso from a small manual lever like the pavoni europiccola or Olympia cremina if you're feeling flush. My pavoni makes less noise than the jug boiling
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    I've looked low and high for a quiet grinder for the longest time as well. There is just none. Even the quietest electric grinder can still be pretty loud. My definition of loud (for practical purpose) - if you grind your morning coffee at 6am, would that wake up that person/family sleeping 3-5 meters away?

    The cheaper electric grinders (especially <$500) are the worst offenders - screech like a banshee. The HG-1 and EG-1 are much louder than most hand grinders due to their open bean chamber. If you want a quiet grinder, I would stay clear of them.

    The Rosco Mini is one of the quietest grinders but it is a hand grinder as you noted. It still generate noise (from bean crushing) but is much dampened compared to others. The Mahlkonig K30 and Robur E I am using are pretty quiet among electric grinders, but are way overkill and still louder than the Rosco Mini.

    There're the Monolith grinders (new grinders from US) reported to be even quieter but at $2k USD, it is way overkill for most casual coffee drinkers....
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    Laj
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    Thank you Samuel Law and Mr Funk. I am in error: the HG -1 is loud it seems: http://www.home-barista.com/advice/l...er-t38171.html

    Pavoni Europiccola you say. I shall investigate. Difficult to use for a dullard?

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    Laj
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    Hmmm, post disappeared. Odd. Anyway K30 appears quiet-ish, not least because it only takes a very short time for a single shot. Large, however. And expensive, it seems, here....

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Why not simply buy a sound shield enclosure as designed for commercial blenders? Whisper Blend seems to know what they are on about and grinders and blenders are similar in shape so they may be worth a look.
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    I have an hg1 and a lido2.

    The lido is quiet. No louder than a tap running. Takes about 40 sec to grind 18g for espresso. (Less time for coarser.) And it'll do your whole range (French press - Turkish.)

    hg1 is a very user friendly grinder, but yeah, louder.

    the manual lever is definitely a good suggestion. I'd say your friend had a La Pavoni or an Elektra. Look them up. Quieter than a kettle as mentioned above.

    Good luck.
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  11. #11
    Laj
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    Ahhh - very good Mr shortblackman (is that an expresso btw?). Lido then may well be the answer. Oh yes - it was an Elektra - I remember the look when I googled it. It made lovely coffee.

    Very well then, perhaps a Lido and some form of Lever to play with. What would people suggest for a novice? Actually which is the smallest - I like small. Requirements are to be able to make a coffee for myself and my wife each morning and a couple on the weekends, no need for steam.

    Something simple. I am not awake before 9am.

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    Never owned one, but one day I want to try a La Peppina as my first lever machine - espresso only, rudimentary or no steam capability (depending on model).
    Extremely simple. Very hard to find.

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    Expresso? If I'm in a hurry, yes.

    la Pavoni europiccola is definitely a great, small machine. I owned a "professional", which has a larger boiler capacity but little or no bigger footprint. I've got a bigger (quiet) machine now, but I was very fond of my Pavoni. It has its limitations, which are discussed in several threads. Those limitations were rarely a problem for me, though.

    if you're in Melbourne, Casa Espresso are great. I notice a second hand is for sale in Sydney too for a good price.

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    Arrarex Caravel (please pick on my spelling, which I think is wrong ) is a really cool little lever as well. Never tried one, but I'd love too. Slightly less rare than the Peppina, I think.

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    Laj
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    Ah yes, those types of Lever look perfect for me - I don't need steam for milk. Does anyone make this sort of thing now? Odd if no one has. I note the Strietman (?) in this respect. That seems rather exotic, however. And in NL.

    Mind you, lot to be said for sticking with my press, moka pot and turkish at home, and wandering down the road for my expresso. They make a very decent coffee. The beans are from Melbourne, as it happens. I buy them for home from them. Name escapes me.

    Thank you to everyone who has replied. It seems I am getting another hand grinder. K30 is not in my budget for a couple of coffees at home.

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    You could have a look at rok presso too. Left of field, fun, but a bit fiddly. It has the advantage of being very portable ( for holidays etc, especially with a good hand grinder) . It's vintage technology (Faema and Gaggia had something like it in the ~60s (not sure) ) but a new design.
    You need a source of hot water as it has no boiler.

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    Laj
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    Good morning,

    Thank you for your thought Mr Shortblackman. I'm not sure if the Rok Expresso would produce the quality of result I am looking for - anyone here made a coffee with it ? (silly question I know).....I see that the same company make a hand coffee grinder. What a pity - read enough reviews to suggest quality is poor with respect to burrs / alignment.

    TCB-Amazon-ROK-Coffee-Grinder.jpg
    Nice idea however. What I really need is for Ross to make something like the Rok Grinder in brass with a closed cylinder aka the Portaspresso Rosco Mini.

    I broke down last evening and ordered a Breville 820 as an interim measure while I find what I am looking for - Choice measured it at 74 db at 1m, which seems loud to me but was on par with the other quieter electric's, and at $199 +$9 shipping, is attractively priced.

    No doubt I shall manage just fine with it and wonder why I was looking at anything more expensive.

    Aghh - annoyingly I ran out of beans this morning .... now when does my coffee shop open? 8am?
    Last edited by Laj; 1st October 2016 at 06:42 AM.

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    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    I have a ROK Presso and a Rok grinder.
    I don't use the Presso much as I bought it for camping, and I have not been doing much of that lately. It makes coffee that I would describe as being between espresso and french press. Closer to espresso, but not quite there. I suspect that it can't generate the pressure required for a true espresso extraction. But with the right beans and brewing routine it does make a good short(ish) black.

    I use the grinder regularly, but only since I replaced the standard burrs with a good swiss made set. The grinder design is great, very ergonomic. The build quality and burr alignment is good, but sadly, the stock burrs are rubbish. It is less noisy than most electric grinders, but it's far from silent while it is grinding beans. My Hario hand grinder is only a lttle quieter, but it takes much more time and effort to grind a shot.
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    I've had some good shots out of Presso, but I don't use it often enough to get consistency from it.

    I think temperature is the big challenge in using the Presso.

    It's not really great as a number one espresso machine, but it is fun to use and left field suggestion. Good luck with your new gear Laj.
    Last edited by shortblackman; 1st October 2016 at 01:21 PM. Reason: 1 more sentence

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    Laj
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    Thank you Mr deegee and Mr Shortblackman.

    Mr Deegee - may I aak where you replaced the standard burrs from? It may well be the answer for me.

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    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    Mr Deegee - may I aak where you replaced the standard burrs from? It may well be the answer for me.
    You may indeed. They are burrs from a Baratza Preciso, made I believe, by Etzinger, who also make the burrs used in some of the LIDO hand grinders.

    Unfortunately they don't just drop into the ROK. The outer burr just slots into place, but the hole in the inner burr has to be ground out ever so slightly to fit the slightly larger diameter drive shaft. Because they are hardened steel they can't be filed, and it has to be accurately done to ensure a neat fit and maintain alignment. It's not all that difficult, I have done two of them, and both of them now grind really well.
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    Sounds like you aren't 100% against a manual grinder as long as it isn't strenuous? If so, the Lido 3 is a great answer, with a great result built very very well, and I have seen an under 5 year old turn the handle with ease. With no motor, there is the bare minimum noise of beans being ground. I would be amazed if a person could hear this a room away. There reasonably couldn't be any solution much quieter than a Lido 3
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    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    The morning quietness issue is difficult to solve. At 6am with everyone asleep even picking up a spoon out of the cutlery drawer can sound loud. Depends how light the other sleepers are!

    The other good thing with the hand grinder is you can take it to another room where noise disturbance would be further minimised.

    Cheers
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    Laj
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    Thank you for your replies.

    Mr Deegee - well that is me out - no access to, nor ability to use, a metal lathe. But a very good idea. Pity they didn't design/manufacture properly in the first place - no doubt outsourced manufacture to China, promises were made etc.

    Mr Melbroaster - Lido 3 sounds like it may well be the answer. I really wanted a small super quiet kitchen-top grinder that I could drop a few beans into, push a button and grind away. I have been hand grinding for a long time and lately have been attracted in my advancing years to pushing a button; but from what I gather I don't see that being compatible with the early mornings I enjoy and my wife does not: entirely different sleeping patterns we have. You are quite right - I can (and do) take a hand grinder out onto the balcony and grind away. Which segues nicely into our living arrangements ....

    Mr Artman - we live in an apartment in Sydney, compact and largely open plan with nowhere to hide from noise, other than out on the balcony. And you are quite correct, picking up a spoon from the cutlery drawer sounds loud at 6am, when I usually begin my day; emptying the dishwasher is done with care! I have made something of a game of it, while the kettle is on - and yes I am yet to find a satisfactory kettle as well. I currently have a Breville multi temp thingi which I like for different teas and my morning brew. I think a stove top kettle may be the answer, and a thermometer. Any suggestions welcome.

    Thank you again to everyone for your replies. It is very good of you all taking the time to assist.
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    Laj
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    As an aside, I ventured out for my usual expresso this morning, and the shop had a different and unknown fellow making the coffee. Very disappointing - bitter, sour tasting and entirely unpleasant. Arrived looking very dark and was entirely separated straight out of the filter basket with a little dark crema on top: looked very unlike the usual I get.

    I bought some more beans off them, but I don't hold out much hope - they appear stale - no aroma, no shine, and worse came out of large plastic tub - usually I buy a sealed bag with valve. I was slightly in shock but didn't want to be rude, so quietly paid and left.

    Perhaps the need to make my own morning expresso is visiting me sooner rather than later. I am disappointed about the beans, which seem destined for the waste bin, or perhaps I can use to play with the Breville when it turns up.

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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    I have a breville quiet boil kettle and it is nearly as quiet as the pavoni

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    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Just dont forget about the whistle on the stove top kettle!! We have a Cuisine art pefect temp stove top kettle. it has a temp gauge, but it doesnt appear that accurate. plus its rusting around the lid opening and other areas (including the warranty replacement).

    You could pre grind (gasp shock horror) 20g the night before and put in a zip lock bag for a pour over/aeropress etc in the morning. should be near silent!

    Cheers

    Cheers

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    Laj
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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Just dont forget about the whistle on the stove top kettle!! We have a Cuisine art pefect temp stove top kettle. it has a temp gauge, but it doesnt appear that accurate. plus its rusting around the lid opening and other areas (including the warranty replacement).

    You could pre grind (gasp shock horror) 20g the night before and put in a zip lock bag for a pour over/aeropress etc in the morning. should be near silent!
    Wash your mouth out & iron your ears .

    I am thinking a Lido of some flavour. Sorry to hear about your Cuisine Art - rusting isn't good. Thank you for letting me know of your experience.

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Can I also suggest you consider the Handground Precision Grinder that Talk Coffee is getting in at some point in the next few months. The rotating lever is mounted in the same orientation as an HG-1 but is obviously still a portable hand grinder. That orientation is a bit more of a natural movement and might be preferable? The advertising spiel seems to imply the same level of build quality as a Lido. However, it's still not _actually_ available yet.

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    Laj
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    Dear Mr Readeral,

    Thank you for the recommendation. Yes, I saw that grinder on Talk_Coffee's website; I also saw that it was not yet available, and Google tells me it has been a long time coming. I agree the orientation appeals - much like the Rok Grinder. The Rok seems pretty much ideal in form, if not in execution or perhaps design. Which is a shame.

    In any event I agree it is definitely something to consider.

    Best Regards,

    Laj
    Last edited by Laj; 2nd October 2016 at 06:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    Thank you for the replies and welcome.

    Really? - no one has thought to design a quiet electric coffee grinder? Goodness. Nothing makes less noise than a hand grinder .... I am disappointed.

    I looked at the Lido's and the Pharos, but frankly, listening to them online left me with the impression they were noisy as all get out.

    Quiet to means around 60 - 65 db I suppose - where ambient background noise is 40-55 db at home.

    An alternative may be industrial ear muffs. Cheaper than a HG-1....

    Does anyone have an HG-1 here?
    G'day Laj

    Welcome to the frustrating world of grinders & espresso. I have gone through well over 50 different grinders over the years, the perfect one is probably going to be using some technology not even invented yet.

    For a domestic electric grinder requiring brilliant performance for Turkish & espresso I would suggest the Swiss made Mahlkonig Vario (about $800, worth every cent - I bought a second one after a few weeks). Very compact, quieter than virtually any other electric (even quieter than two HG1's I know). Oh, and yes the Vario gen2 (or 3) will actually do a true Turkish grind - just about the only domestic electric grinder that my antique Turkish hand grinder does not beat "hands down". Also the Vario has minimum grind retention and does not have a problem with static or any of the other usual electric grinders in a domestic setting. Easiest domestic grinder to live with on a daily basis by a wide margin. Oh, and IMHO most of the Cs'r's who call it a domestic grinder have never tried to pick one up - it is actually a commercial Ditting grinding module under that small plastic skin and it is seriously heavy duty!

    BUT the Vario is now on the gen3 (which is even quieter than my gen2's) and is pretty hopeless for anything coarser than espresso. All the reviews I have seen are for the gen1 - almost a different beast entirely. The "gen1" would not do Turkish properly, was good for espresso (until I tried a gen2!) and still fairly good for plunger / drip. My gen2's are so poor above the espresso range that I regret selling all of my previous grinders - they all outperformed it on coarser textures. The gen3 is probably even further along that path. Note: I only tried one in my home setup briefly - it improved my Turkish and was the same / similar on the fine grinding end of espresso. Mind you, the gen3 is noticeably quieter than my gen2's, although to be fair both my gen 2's have had a lot of use compared to most domestic setups (the first one has done well over 160Kg by now, with zero wear compared to my other < 10Kg one).

    Whether the Vario is quiet enough for you only you can determine.

    The other toy I would suggest you consider is a Rommelsbacher EKO 366 "espresso deluxe" (or the 2/4 cup version but not the glass top one, it has a plastic frame that does "interesting things" to the coffee flavour). The EKO is an automatic stainless steel moka pot from heaven. Simplicity itself to use - fill with water up to the size mark, fill the basket with coffee to the same mark (no tamping, at the coarse end of espresso grind works well although it is very "texture tolerant" - also handles plunger grind), put it together and turn the top until the marks align and hit the switch. About a minute later it stops gurgling and you can pour out some of the best moka pot coffee you have ever made. FWIW I can make a "different but maybe not better" espresso out of my machines, however if I want a caffeine hit it is much higher than standard espresso machines.

    Have fun exploring your current and future toys.

    TampIt

  32. #32
    Laj
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    Dear Mr TampIt

    What an interesting reply, chook full of information and new avenues to consider. Thank you so much for taking the time to post and give me the benefit of your experience. I shall look into all you recommend, and mention, and give serious consideration to them.

    How is the Vario with single dose? Do other folk share similar experience of the variations in the Mk 1 II & III?

    A quiet grinder = first world problems eh?

    Again many thanks,

    Kind Regards
    Laj

    Edit: I enjoy a mako pot from time to time, and have Lebanese friends that swear by them. I found and bought the Rommelsbacher EKO 366 on Amazon.de for A$115 delivered, which considering where it is coming from, and includes an element, is very good value, I would have thought. Looks intriguing. Thank you for the recommendation - I shall enjoy the discovery.

    Edit 2: I watched a few video's of the Vario and, with respect, it doesn't seem especially quiet. Mind you, my quiet and your quiet may well be too very different things. The Vario III in being limited to the finer grinds may also be off putting, as I do like to 'change up' from time to time to different experiences.

    The K30 appears very fast and very quiet: 3 seconds for a double shot is fairly ridiculous. I'm not entirely convinced about the price here - actually I am sure - it is too expensive for 2 coffees a day - but am impressed by the engineering.

    Edit 3: the HG-1 is now in stock for those wishing to order: I am tempted by it, I must say, merely as a piece of industrial design. It is not especially quiet on you tube videos, but would produce a fine grind, I have no doubt. Then again, so would a Pharos or Lido, for comparatively much less money. As I say, first world problems.
    Last edited by Laj; 2nd October 2016 at 08:23 AM.

  33. #33
    Laj
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    Why not simply buy a sound shield enclosure as designed for commercial blenders? Whisper Blend seems to know what they are on about and grinders and blenders are similar in shape so they may be worth a look.
    Mr Vinitasse

    Reading back I see I missed this post - my apologies for not replying. Yes, that is certainly an option, and one well worth giving serious consideration to. It would also have the advantage of protecting a grinder from dirt and dust. I am uncertain how it would work with a portafilter, or even at all absent some sort of opening, which may defeat the purpose. And of course Whisper Blend are in the USA, and shipping is a consideration, as is price.

    Thank you for the suggestion, however.

    Kind Regards
    Laj,
    Last edited by Laj; 2nd October 2016 at 08:46 AM.
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  34. #34
    TC
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    Hello Laj,

    Seems to me that what you desire is the impossible. If a hand grinder is too noisy, you had better compromise and stick to preground with the resultant hit in the cup.

    I continue to maintain that the the Vario is little more that a souped up Breville Smart grinder and would represent good buying at $500, but at $800 represents appalling value for money. In addition they're fragile (at least in earlier builds)- evidenced by plenty of customers who have come to us to to purchase a replacement for a broken one they are sick of.

    One of the quietest electric grinders I have have heard is the Olympia Express Moca which is beautifully built and offers similar performance to other 64mm flat burr grinders in a gorgeous, compact footprint albeit at twice the price of the usual suspects. Poor value for money, but we get to thank Swiss labour charges for that.
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  35. #35
    Laj
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Hello Laj,

    Seems to me that what you desire is the impossible. If a hand grinder is too noisy, you had better compromise and stick to preground with the resultant hit in the cup.

    I continue to maintain that the the Vario is little more that a souped up Breville Smart grinder and would represent good buying at $500, but at $800 represents appalling value for money. In addition they're fragile (at least in earlier builds)- evidenced by plenty of customers who have come to us to to purchase a replacement for a broken one they are sick of.

    One of the quietest electric grinders I have have heard is the Olympia Express Moca which is beautifully built and offers similar performance to other 64mm flat burr grinders in a gorgeous, compact footprint albeit at twice the price of the usual suspects. Poor value for money, but we get to thank Swiss labour charges for that.
    Dear Chris (if I may call you that)

    My wife often tells me I am impossible, so you are in very good company in your assessment Yes, I don't want much do I? An electric grinder that is as small and precise and quiet as a hand grinder, and at reasonable cost.

    First off thank you so much for your website, and buying guides, which I read before I logged on here. They are well written, if I may say, and very informative. A good read. I of course defer to your experience, and value it. Thank you for visiting here and helping me with your knowledge.

    My impression is that there are hand grinders and then there are hand grinders, just as there are with no small differences in electric grinders, both in terms of quality of grind and in terms of noise. The Lido 2 or 3 is by far the front runner with me at the moment. I thought about a Pharos, but cannot see it offers much more for me than the Lido, at double the cost.

    Funny you mention the Olympia. I had seen both their grinder and their Lever machine, and admired each. I have noticed that many forum dwellers overseas happily say each is over priced, and there are many viable cheaper alternatives, as indeed there are, but I haven't seen many owners say anything but good things about each.

    I suppose, and here is the rub, it all depends what I intend using a grinder for. If it is only french press and moka, I imagine a Breville 820 will do just fine - being relatively small and quiet. I doubt I could make Turkish with it. For early mornings (and the occasional Turkish) I suspect I will need a Lido, or something akin to it. Of the Lido's there is the question of 2 or 3, and for Turkish and expresso the E, each having pros and cons. Perhaps two - a 2 and and E..

    Of course if - and it is very much an "if" at this stage - I embark down the rabbit hole that is making expresso at home then that opens a whole new set of requirements, and desires.

    My understanding if I understand your website is that the better machines grind faster and arguably better expresso as you go up in price but that a good $500-$700 grinder (whether stepped or otherwise) will most likely suffice at home where time is not an issue and, outside of early mornings, noise isn't usually a problem.

    Allied with the 'grinder for expresso' question is the "what sort of expresso maker should I buy, if I buy one at all' question.

    A lever appeals for all sorts of reasons - not least noise and customisation of result. Many decry the learning curve and variability of result but they appear to offer control, which may or may not be a good thing. Especially for a novice.

    As I have read over the last week, when I began thinking on the subject - there seems to be many many variables to consider in making a good expresso coffee - the bean, the roast, the freshness (possibly the most important I would have thought), the dose, the grind (both as to fineness and time), the placement in the filter basket (and I wonder why for instance no one use eg a dental plaster vibrator to settle the grounds and remove voids), the tamper, the temperature of the water, the pressure of the water, the pressure profile applied and finally the length of time extraction is applied, according to bean and batch.

    Of course the extent to which you can have influence over all or any of these things depends in large measure on how much the process is automated, or not. The flip side is the less the control you have over different elements, the less opportunity one has to introduce error and/or experience frustration, which is why I suspect most retailers suggest a semi automated or at least a simple machine for the novice.

    Then among the machines, there are single boilers, double boilers, hx, PID'd and not - all with different feature sets and prices, according to want. A bewildering choice. Made no less certain by the complication of the dryness of steam needed for milk, which of course I do not take, nor need. So that is a redundant feature I need not pay for, but seem destined to.

    Have I forgotten anything?

    It is enough to make a complete novice to expresso (me!) go "phew" - pack up my bat and ball and go home, happily leaving those concerns to someone else, and enjoy the simplicity and lack of expense of a Moka pot or french press, which are nice enough in their own way, once you get the hang of them. Then there is cost - I can see how it is easy to spend well into 4 figures without blinking an eye, which I am not certain I wish to do. Nor need to.

    So, my apologies if I appear unable to be satisfied; in truth I haven't decided if I can be troubled with expresso making at home or not, and so am not certain about grinders. And if I do enter the expresso fray, perhaps I should do so at the consumer appliance end - a Breville 820 grinder and Sunbeam Piccolo or EM7000 - where I can get my feet wet and decide if the whole drama is for me, or otherwise, with little or no relative cost, easy resale and a predictable if not outstanding outcome.

    That said, it seems to be a good quality grinder will never go amiss, and that if I want something quiet for my early morning ramblings, then (another) hand grinder appears likely to be what I will buy. I really want one which sits on the kitchen top, instead of holding it in my hands - and having to fight it. But I may well have to compromise in that desire. Dunno yet.

    I know I am not yet enthused about the whole subject yet to buy a HG-1, or have the hassle of importing it - for a french press in the morning. Lovely piece of industrial design it is. A Lido 2, on the other hand - and/or a Rosco Mini grinder, that I can see. The latter being solid brass, inherently dampened for noise and beautifully made.

    As to the Vario, I discount it as not being suitable for a number of reasons. But thank Tampit for his contribution.

    Thank you so much for posting, and for your "how to guides' which I certainly have benefitted from.

    Kind Regards

    Laj
    Last edited by Laj; 2nd October 2016 at 01:04 PM.

  36. #36
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    Oh yes - it was an Elektra - I remember the look when I googled it. It made lovely coffee.
    Bear in mind Laj, it was the operator using freshly roasted good quality beans that produced the "lovely coffee"

    Even the best machinery will turn out swill in the hands of an unskilled operator.

    Small lever machines combined with a decent grinder are capable of excellent results, however there is most certainly a learning curve.

    Yes, machines like the LaPavoni and Elektra are very quiet, however a grinder is a grinder, the very name/nature of the process gives us a clue, even the quietest will involve a degree of noise.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    Dear Mr TampIt

    What an interesting reply, chook full of information and new avenues to consider. Thank you so much for taking the time to post and give me the benefit of your experience. I shall look into all you recommend, and mention, and give serious consideration to them.

    Again many thanks,

    Kind Regards
    Laj

    Edit: I enjoy a mako pot from time to time, and have Lebanese friends that swear by them. I found and bought the Rommelsbacher EKO 366 on Amazon.de for A$115 delivered, which considering where it is coming from, and includes an element, is very good value, I would have thought. Looks intriguing. Thank you for the recommendation - I shall enjoy the discovery.
    You are welcome - one of my early frustrations was the total lack of information when I first learnt about espresso in 1970 - the hard way. I pay it forward.

    I look forward to hearing about your Rommelsbacher experience. I cannot fathom why no one is importing it to Oz yet...

    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    How is the Vario with single dose? Do other folk share similar experience of the variations in the Mk 1 II & III?
    My usual home coffees for myself are (in order of number, probably over a month)
    1) 7g single VST basket medium roast SO shot made into a 200ml (ish) latte.
    2) 7g single VST basket medium roast SO shot as an espresso / macchiato (i.e. "very short black")
    3) Rommelsbacher 2/4 cup one made as a 2 cup (I have a few Rommelsbacher's, courtesy of a friend that commutes between Oz and Germany). A real caffeine hit.
    4) Either of the VST / Rommelsbacher shots used for cooking (e.g. traditional Russian dark rye bread w cocoa and coffee)
    5) Turkish (actually Lebanese style, with cardamom) coffee - in a very "non traditional stainless steel ibrik" from the 1980's. FYI, I used to use a specialised Turkish handgrinder, now I use the Varios with no drop in quality.

    Guests get whatever they want (unless it is Turkish - it uses a completely different roast setup so I need warning in advance). Most of them also get a 7g single latte. Although a few of them now have an espresso setup with their own Varios, none of them use the Vario for coarser grinds (a $250ish Smartgrinder or a $200ish SB 480 gives a better result for that). In the interests of completeness, the Vario is also available with optional steel burrs for coarser grinds - although then it fails on Turkish and does not do espresso as well. I suppose you could get two of them for the K30 price and have one ceramic and one steel burr setup. Personally, I wouldn't do it however it is an option for you.

    As you can tell from 1) & 2) above, the Vario does good single doses. I use a naked portafilter, so to prevent channeling I actually do three separate "dose and tamps" for each shot. I actually set timer 1 for 1.8 seconds, timer 2 for somewhere between 1.5 and 2.2 seconds (depends on the exact grind required by the roast on that day) and timer 3 for 4.5 seconds (for use with my 15g, 18g, 20g and 22g VST baskets). For a 7g, I use 2 * 1.8 (timer 1) and one of whatever timer 2 is set on. The Vario timer is accurate enough to give you a "combination of all three doses" consistently within 0.1g - very impressive. FYI: I use scales for setting the system up for each individual roast, after that I just tinker the pour by eye as the roast ages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    A quiet grinder = first world problems eh?

    Edit 2: I watched a few video's of the Vario and, with respect, it doesn't seem especially quiet. Mind you, my quiet and your quiet may well be too very different things. The Vario III in being limited to the finer grinds may also be off putting, as I do like to 'change up' from time to time to different experiences.

    The K30 appears very fast and very quiet: 3 seconds for a double shot is fairly ridiculous. I'm not entirely convinced about the price here - actually I am sure - it is too expensive for 2 coffees a day - but am impressed by the engineering.
    Quiet grinder - yep. Would be nice, however fixing messes like Iraq and Syria's problems would be a much more important use of human creativity. Following on from Dimal's post, one (shift working) nurse friend uses an acoustic hood which originally housed an old "dot matrix A3 computer printer". She bought it at a government disposal auction for about $10. It easily fits her Sylvia and Vario gen 3.

    The K30 is a big brother of the Vario (both Mahlkonigs, although I think the K30 is from Germany, I know the Vario is from Ditting in Switzerland). The two K30's I know are both a lot noisier than the Vario, do espresso about the same level as the gen1 Vario but they also do coarser grinds well, they do OK+ Turkish, not top quality. They are also much harder to adjust precisely if you change the texture a lot. The Vario has about "75 claimed" / "60 real", espresso steps, the K30 is stepless with about 3cm of the dial covering the "Vario's 60 real" espresso range. FWIW, I reckon my heavier use Vario is slightly noisier than my other one - I suspect all grinders get a little noisier with use. If you really want to go extreme, the Mahlkonig EK43 does it all brilliantly (it actually beats the Vario for Turkish - only electric I know that does) but quiet is not a word I would use. BTW, the K30 is a fairly old model by now, so there may be a gen2 / whatever as a replacement on the horizon. I would suggest you research that pretty carefully before laying out the cash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laj View Post
    Edit 3: the HG-1 is now in stock for those wishing to order: I am tempted by it, I must say, merely as a piece of industrial design. It is not especially quiet on you tube videos, but would produce a fine grind, I have no doubt. Then again, so would a Pharos or Lido, for comparatively much less money. As I say, first world problems.
    The HG1 is a brilliant hand grinder. About equal to the Vario for espresso (if you use the optional large burrs), way better for coarser grinds and not really up to Turkish... you pays your money and you takes your choice... I also love it as a stunning piece of engineering / art. Every time I use the one at a fellow CS's place I am tempted to get one - even though my micro kitchen could not accommodate one at all (even the Vario barely fits).

    Anyway, at least your Rommelsbacher experience should be interesting.

    Regards

    TampIt

  38. #38
    Laj
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post

    Even the best machinery will turn out swill in the hands of an unskilled operator.
    Amen. Given the variables, it is amazing anyone can make anything drinkable, let alone so enjoyable.

    Yes - I guess the hint is in the name! I imagine I had hoped since I last bought a grinder there was a quantum leap forward in tech, which there appears not to have been.

    Thanks so much to everyone for posting. I have all the information I need now, so won't trouble this forum further.

    Kind Regards

    Laj

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Hello Laj,

    Seems to me that what you desire is the impossible. If a hand grinder is too noisy, you had better compromise and stick to preground with the resultant hit in the cup.

    I continue to maintain that the the Vario is little more that a souped up Breville Smart grinder and would represent good buying at $500, but at $800 represents appalling value for money. In addition they're fragile (at least in earlier builds)- evidenced by plenty of customers who have come to us to to purchase a replacement for a broken one they are sick of.

    One of the quietest electric grinders I have have heard is the Olympia Express Moca which is beautifully built and offers similar performance to other 64mm flat burr grinders in a gorgeous, compact footprint albeit at twice the price of the usual suspects. Poor value for money, but we get to thank Swiss labour charges for that.

    G'day TC

    "Vario is little more that a souped up Breville Smart grinder": every time I read you posting things along this line I seriously have to wonder if you have ever used one, or even picked one up. Like comparing a scalpel to an axe.

    Smartgrinder: lightweight construction, conical steel burrs in a plastic housing. 25 settings in all, 4 or less for espresso. Frame? - never pulled one apart to know. Made in China. The Breville manual does not even specify the size or weight of the unit. Probably 1Kg or so.
    Vario: Commercial (i.e. heavy duty) Ditting module (look it up if you wish), using long life ceramic flat burrs. 230 settings in all, 60 plus for espresso (kinda makes stepless grinders a PITA when repeating settings). Strong metal frame wrapped in the smallest housing that it could fit into. A size compromise: it uses light weight adjusters that can be dislodged by barbarians who refuse to lower themselves by reading the manual - a 5 minute fix using a no2 Philips head screwdriver if they succeed. Other than that, built like a tank. Made in Switzerland. Weight - a lot heavier than most bricks of the same size - 3.7Kg!!!

    I finally decided to call you on this one. If you want to keep up the myth of "Italian commercial grinders or nothing", that is your call.

    Personally, having owned a heap of Italian gear since 1970, my call is simple - they are (mostly) good design (often with a few "quirks"), often badly built and generally using inferior materials which are designed to wear out early. Give me Swiss or German products every day of the week, especially when they also outperform the competition as well. LM (Italian) being a rare exception to prove the rule - although I note with amusement that you also regard them as over rated.

    Comparing the Vario to one of your $1000+ grinders would be a more interesting call in terms of cost / value. Especially if you use blind testing and then actually go on to bench test them with a laser refractometer and a chunk of measuring gear to see what they actually perform like in the real world - you may be shocked.


    TampIt

  40. #40
    TC
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    Yes Tampit,

    I have. What I don't do is blindly push stuff which I believe represents poor value for money.

    I maintain that they are a rip off and five senseless or whoever is importing them now must be making some pretty hefty margins.

    I thought it was a while since we'd seen your advertorial.
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  41. #41
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    The Mahlkonig Vario is one of those machines that gets talked about frequently for all of the wrong reasons, suggest do a CS search then spend a little time reading the numerous reports detailing broken plastic bits, pulleys slipping on shafts etc, not a machine I would have on my bench.
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  42. #42
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    Laj,

    Check out the Helor 101 hand grinder. It's awesome. I use it for espresso and pour-over.

    Cheers

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotchparty1 View Post
    Laj,

    Check out the Helor 101 hand grinder. It's awesome. I use it for espresso and pour-over.

    Cheers
    +1

    Received mine on Friday. Shots pouring better than my K10.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Yes Tampit,

    I have. What I don't do is blindly push stuff which I believe represents poor value for money.

    I maintain that they are a rip off and five senseless or whoever is importing them now must be making some pretty hefty margins.

    I thought it was a while since we'd seen your advertorial.

    ... So please tell me and other CSrs' about all the similarities you have managed to discover between a Smartgrinder and a Vario - other than a size than suits a domestic environment. A few facts would not go amiss either, rather than your same old "appliance" rant.


    TampIt

  45. #45
    Laj
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    As an update I bought a Helor 101 hand grinder, and cancelled my order for the Breville Smart Grinder Pro.

  46. #46
    Laj
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    So, gentleman, this morning I picked up the Helor 101, and have been experimenting with silly coarse to med coarse grinds for my V60 and french press. Admittedly using some fairly old (Steadfast - Sensory Labs) beans.

    Upshot is the first sheet of grinds were of course useless - and the useful grinds started at about 3 turns out from fully closed (which I marked with a marker on the base) which I'd describe as french press / heading toward pour over and the final one (at 2 turns out) as pour over heading to espresso. It didn't like lower than 2 turns out out of the box, and of course that was with the non espresso burrs (ie the standard ones). As I can't make espresso yet, I figured there wasn't much point pulling them out.

    My initial impressions are that it is a well conceived and well made product that suits my requirements well - fast-ish, light and quiet. Light years ahead of my old hand grinder. It does pick up a little static and a jam funnel helps loading and uploading (and with the V60 incidentally).

    Overall I am quite impressed.

    Thank you all for the suggestions and recommendation.
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    Last edited by Laj; 13th October 2016 at 04:18 PM.

  47. #47
    Laj
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotchparty1 View Post
    Laj,

    Check out the Helor 101 hand grinder. It's awesome. I use it for espresso and pour-over.

    Cheers
    if I may ask, how is the other (espresso burr set) for pour over?
    Last edited by Laj; 13th October 2016 at 04:18 PM.

  48. #48
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Please, it's espresso, not expresso.


    Java "Pet peeve" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  49. #49
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Please, it's espresso, not expresso.


    Java "Pet peeve" phile
    Grace period OVER

  50. #50
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Please, it's espresso, not expresso.


    Java "Pet peeve" phile
    You can have an expresso with your peeza (pizza) have heard country Aussies use both.

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