Budget Grinder Shootout
We wanted to kick off the new year with a look at four fantastic budget grinders that are perfect for new users. Check out the video below to see these grinders in action, hosted by yours truly! (And check out our new studio!)
Let’s recap the breakdown:
The Bistro is a grinder with a lot of range and some great usability features. First, it can definitely handle everything from a shot of espresso with a pressurized basket to a press. The grounds are not as consistent as we’d like at either extreme, but fine for both applications and everything in between.
With a layout of grind times and recipes built into the hopper lid, you’ll be able to get started quick with this grinder. We also liked the grippy rubber material on the catch bin as well as the rubber gasket that prevents mess. Unfortunately, due to static buildup, the catch bin can get messy in a hurry.
Otherwise, we had good retention results, but the general plasticy nature of the dials and buttons here leave something to be desired.
The Infinity offers quite simple controls in its timer dial that grinds until it stops. The timer doesn’t match up to seconds, which can be confusing at first. We generally just found it easier to single dose (pour in only the beans you need) or just manually hold the dial in place to grind and then rotate it closed when finished.
The Infinity offers decent consistency and a little less range than the Bistro. With that said we generally liked the quality of the grounds more and enjoyed the lack of mess and low retention. The casing on the Infinity also feels more solid than the other grinders in this lineup.
The Solis Scala is a really nice sweet spot on this list. It offers a pretty solid range that can definitely run from pressurized espresso shots up to presses. It also provides an impressive degree of consistency across its range. Its timer/push button activation is intuitive and it offers some solid retention and limited static.
The catch bin is a little small and the plastic lid might take a little bit of getting used to. This grinder also feels a little plasticy all around, but it’s not quite “cheap” feeling either.
Overall, the Scala is a highlight of this list when you combine performance, price, and usability.
The classic on this list, the Encore is definitely a great option that will last you many years. While we actually think the Scala stands toe-to-toe with the Encore in terms of performance, there’s no denying that Baratza’s grinder offers great range and consistency. We also love the simplicity of this machine.
Static here is minimal, but the Encore does usually end up retaining half a gram of coffee or so. Not terrible, but it could be better. Otherwise, this is a great grinder that is also easy to get parts for, meaning you can keep it running for a very long time with a little bit of elbow grease.
So there you have it! Unfortunately as usual we can’t just point to one of these grinders as the king of the entry level. But hopefully this comparison has helped you understand what makes them tick just a little bit more.