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Thread: Iberital Challenge newbie review

  1. #1
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Introductory Comments
    As some of you may know, I have just bought a Silvia and the Iberital Challenge (IC). I had been using a Gaggia Carezza for about 4 years, but not a grinder, so this is basically a newbie review of a grinder who has had only limited experience with pre-ground coffee on a Gaggia which I could never really get right.

    Why review?
    So why is a newbie reviewing a machine? Well, this is more my story or journey of how I came to choose the IC (to go with the Silvia I was always going to get) rather than the two other grinders I was tossing up - namely the Rancilio Rocky (RR) and the Sunbeam EM0480 (EM), and it is a review of my first week of use, having put through about 2kg of coffee. So techinically, this is more story than science... so whatever info may help you here achieves more than I could hope for!

    The outline of this review
    • Technical info
    • First impressions: Packaging, Instructions, General Construction
    • Grinder views
    • Grinder use and performance
    • Why I chose the Challenge over the Rocky and the EM0480
    • Conclusions


    Technical info
    Grinding blades ~ conical
    Power watts ~ 140
    Motor RPM ~ 600 (apparently this is considered low-revving for decreased heat production)
    Bean Hopper capacity ~ 500gm
    Net weight ~ 5kg
    H: 390mm W: 150mm L: 240mm
    Doserless, non-timer model
    Stepless worm adjustment
    Chrome body (I believe there are other body-types available)

    First impressions: Packaging, Instructions, General Construction
    I bought the IC from Renzo and Ofra at Di Bartoli (see my feedback on them http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1175668644/#62). We opened the boxes of the IC and the Sivlia (bought at the same time) there and then to pull a few shots and to adjust the grind settings of the IC.

    In terms of packaging, the IC and Silvia are chalk and cheese! The Silvia comes with a box complete with logo and manufacturing details, extra cardboard packaging for snug wedging of all parts, instruction booklet in plastic zip-lock sleeve, test result sheet... pretty much almost to the level of japanese-level packaging (though not as pretty). The IC on the other hand is almost abysmal. The grinder base sits free in the bottom of the non-descript box (though to be fair, the base of the grinder covers most of the base of the box, so it is not exactly sliding around in there, though the rest of the grinder is not supported in any way) and the hopper is placed in another smaller cardboard box which sits on the grinder base itself in the bigger box. Together it makes a fairly tight fit in the box which may be their form of wedging and padding. And thats it! No instructions, no wrapping, no nothing! Anyway, this minimalist approach seems to not have affected the IC - there is no damage, no scratches, and all is in order. I guess this may either be a result of good management (in transit) or good luck or a bit of both? Anyway, Id certainly check the items in the shop if I was buying this to make sure there are no damages in transit given the minimal to non-existent approach to padding/securing.

    When the grinder first comes out, there is a noticeable heft to the whole thing. Its shiney and new with no blemishes. It feels suitably heavy, though not overly so. It certainly feels heavier and more solid than the EM0480, though I can find the specs for the Sunbeam, but not as hefty as the Rocky (weighs 7.5kg). PF holder is plastic and feels flimsy. Hopper? Plastic... cap/cover fits well... not much to say really. All in all, first impressions are relatively good...

    Grinder views
    Next to Silvia (ICs chrome finish is more mirror like than Silvias SS)


    Front view (plastic pf holder; grounds chute; hopper markings sticker {though these are arbitrary depending how you fit the hopper into the grinder body - there are no grooves or markings for future reference - I added my own: a white marker creates a reference point <one mark on the hopper, another on the grinder body>})


    Left-side view (on/off switch)


    Right-side view (grind adjustment - stepless, worm-drive, clockwise for finer grind; rubber cover on bottom left seems to serve no function)


    Grinder use and performance
    The only other experience I have ever had was when I borrowed my neighbours EM0480 for 3 days. So take my comments as standalone reflections of a newbie.

    On the positive side, the grind quality/consistency seems to be very good. Also, this is ideal for those personality types who want to have infinite control over their grind size. It is thus ideal for dialling up that perfect grind for that God shot, which is basically an excuse for endless tinkering and playing! If youre into that, youll love this! But if youre not, and you just want good espresso, this will do it for you too!

    On the negative, and this is a pretty big negative, if you are using this grinder for any more than ONE coffee drinking style, be prepared for A LOT of turning. TBC...


  2. #2
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    continued...

    I think I can safely say this is ideal for espresso because of the infinite adjustment (cant see why you would need multiple adjustments for other types of coffee drinking) and totally not ideal if you want to regularly use this for more than one coffee drinking purpose. Even dialling in Decaf is a realy pain because, as I have learnt the hard way, decaf beans require a significantly finer grind than non-decaf beans.

    In terms of speed, it seems to be of similar speed to the Sunbeam, though funnily, different beans seem to affect the speed of the grind. In particular, currently using PNG Peaberry and it is significantly slower than most of the other beans I have used so far (Di Bartolis house blend, Campos Superior, some Kenyan SO beans). Didnt take note of actual timings, but it was certainly noticeable.

    In terms of other things, this grinder suffers from some static issues, especially after a clean. For a little while, grinds spray around (maybe for around 15-20 secs) but it settles down. It suffers fairly badly from clumping and grounds getting clogged up in the chute. It needs to be cleared after use or you will get stale grounds in your next shot - I do this by either manually diggin it out with some modified wire or just pushing out the grounds with grounds from the next grind (which is quite wasteful, but easier than digging around).

    Illustration of clogging:


    I recommend using the Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT - http://www.home-barista.com/weiss-di...que-steps.html) if the clumping bothers you enough (it bothers me and I can see the effects of the clumping/poor distribution when I use my naked pf)

    Last issue: on closer examination, the plastic chute has evidence of plastic faults (no idea how to describe this with correct technnical lingo). at the place where the plastic chute joins the body of the grinder, you can see it is cloudy, like it is cracked, though it isnt. Also in use, the plastic pf holder feels like it will eventually break. Otherwise, I am very pleased with the construction of the grinder. Nothing creaks and rattles or gives, although these may be hard to tell when the grinder is on because it sure is loud!

    Why I Chose the IC over the RR and EM
    Reason 1: I was on a budget - I could afford the EM and IC, and could have strecthed to get the RR, but preferred not to.
    Reason 2: I am an espresso only drinker and I am a perfectionist. I look forward to the challenge of getting everything the way I want it. Stepless is a feature I desired quite highly and the IC has it, the other two doesnt.
    Reason 3: I wanted to make sure the grinder would last up to at least 10 years and hopefully longer. I have no confidence that the EM would, very confident that the RR would and am quite confident that the IC would as well!

    Conclusion
    I bought this for around $270. The EM could have been got for about $170 and the RR for about $400.

    I feel that this is the best value-for-money grinder in the low-end for espresso only drinkers. Packaging is fairly appalling, but, at least for me, it did not damage my grinder. Fit and finish is above average for the class, but clearly not high end and not with the attention for detail and quality of materials of the high end grinders. Use and performance requires some effort, but produces great and repeatable results.

    As a match to the Silvia, I couldnt ask for more at this stage!

  3. #3
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Nice review.

    I recomend an artists brush to remove the clogged grounds.

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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Hi benandfaith

    I also have an IC as a first *real* grinder - my previous coffee bean pulverising device being called a "Breville spice grinder".

    Your findings reflect my experience using an IC (nearly 12 months now) very closely indeed.

    The only addition I would add to your conclusion would be to suggest that the resale value when you finally upgrade would be quite good.

    My model is the silver frost painted body with no timer and no doser. This is fine as I have a rather utilitarian outlook on these things - dont care what it looks liks as long as it works!

    I must admit, instead of upgrading, I am currently looking at the finances with a view to buying another IC so I have one grinder for my normal daily blend and another to try new blends and single origin beans that I am playing around with at the moment so I dont have to keep resetting the grind and giving it a clean every time I change beans.

    Thanks for the review

    jeff

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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Good observation about the peaberries. Theyre denser than regular coffee beans which why it takes longer to grind.

    Coffee cherries usually produce 2 beans per fruit, peaberries only come in ones and pack the punch of two beans.

  6. #6
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Quote Originally Posted by Wushoes link=1183623068/0#4 date=1183637705
    Good observation about the peaberries. Theyre denser than regular coffee beans which why it takes longer to grind.

    Coffee cherries usually produce 2 beans per fruit, peaberries only come in ones and pack the punch of two beans.
    Ahh... that explains it! I was pretty baffled, though I was thinking that the different shape and size of the peaberry may have been it - does that matter at all?

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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Yea the Challenge is affected by the shape and size of beans. Because the throat of the grinder is very small larger beans dont fall into it as easily. You will hear the grinder sometimes sounds like its almost out of beans even though there are heaps in the hopper. I always found that if I stopped and then restarted grinding this would give the problem bean the opportunity to get right in the burrs rather the just popping on top of them. The other fix to this is make sure you have plenty of beans in the grinder.

  8. #8
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Great review b&f [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

    Mal.

  9. #9
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1183623068/0#7 date=1183641547
    Great review b&f [smiley=tekst-toppie.gif]

    Mal.
    Thanks Mal!

  10. #10
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Also...

    Ive been asked about my opinion about sounds levels of IC vs RR and EM. Ive never used the RR, so can someone comment on that comparison (IC vs RR)?

    As for IC vs EM, the IC sounds higher pitch and louder, though this is purely from memory (about 1 month apart when I used the EM last). Funnily enough, my 11m.o. baby never wakes up when I grind with the IC, but my wife does! Sometimes when I the hopper lid off, it sounds louder than with it on.

  11. #11
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review

    Great work! Hope youre having fun!

  12. #12
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    Re: Iberital Challenge newbie review


    Great quality pictures too!

    Good to see a well written review!




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