Grinders

The most important set to making great coffee is the grind. Read reviews, learn tips and more.
  • Barista Pro Review

    The Barista Express has been the gold standard for new home baristas for years now. By combining a quality espresso grinder with solid brewing and steaming, Breville build a winner in the Express. It has always been an easy machine to recommend as a first purchase, or upgrade from a cheaper, less powerful brewer. So how does the new Barista Pro stack up? Is it just a higher price tag with a fancier face? The short answer is no, the long answer is a lot more interesting.

    Visual Design

    The Barista Pro features a completely redesigned case that maintains a similar footprint as the Express, but with a totally different look. Most recognizable is the addition of a backlit screen, somewhat similar to the Barista Touch. This screen provides information about grind fineness, amount, and timers. Keeping all of this on one screen makes dialing in the machine a little friendlier. Rather than track numbers in different places, you can review everything about the grind settings at a glance. The screen also offers a shot timer, a huge boon for any machine. Measuring shot time is key to pulling a good shot, so having this information visible on the main display is a great feature.

    Otherwise, the visual design and controls are on par with that of the express. This machine is simple to operate with intuitive controls for pulling shots, adjusting the grinder, and steaming milk or adding hot water. All of this combines for a design package that is a step up from the Barista Express. That said, if these visual improvements were all this machine offered it'd be a hard sell given the price difference. Thankfully, there's a lot more under the hood in this new model.

    Brewing and Steaming Performance

    Breville has always had a knack for fitting powerful heating systems into affordable machines. The Barista line has always been a great example of this, but their new machines push this concept even further. First introduced in the Bambino, the Barista Pro features Breville's new ThermoJet heating system. The Bambino already impressed with its heatup and steam times, but getting this enhanced heating element in a more prosumer machine is exciting. From lightning fast heatup times to a near non-existent delay going from brew to steam, this heating system does work.

    When dialing in, we were able to pull several shots in a row with the Pro heating up. As far as making lattes, the milk steaming both switched on faster, and steamed milk faster than the Express by a considerable margin.

    Another interesting upgrade on this machine is the hot water spout. This spout functions like you'd expect, but it's angled to allow you to make Americanos without moving your cup. Some of this depends on your cup size and design, and it is surprising to see the hot water come out at an angle at first. While this isn't nearly the overhaul that the heating element and look got, it's worth mentioning for even easier Americanos!

    Verdict

    Overall it's extremely easy to recommend the Barista Pro. It's true that its price pushes into competition with machines like the Silvia and CC1, but those machines don't also have a built in grinder. There is certainly an argument for being able to upgrade these devices independently, and both of the aforementioned machines are viable options, but if you're new to espresso or looking to upgrade from the Express, the Pro is a no brainer.

    You do still run into the combo machine issue of sludge in the drip tray, and stepping up into dual boiler machines will provide even faster steam and heatup times. With all that said, we're huge fans of the Barista Pro here, and you should absolutely add it to the list of machines to research before you make your next purchase.

    Check out the Barista Pro on Seattle Coffee Gear here!

  • Video Roundup: 11/9/2018

    Happy Friday!

    We're here with another video roundup!

    First up, our top 3 espresso machines of 2018!

    Next up, we took a peek at the new Breville Bambino!

    Followed by another top 3, this time focused on grinders:

    Finally, Gail's favorites for 2018!

    Thanks! Make some coffee you love this weekend!

     

  • Top 3 Grinders of 2018

    Hot on the heels of our top 3 espresso machines of 2018, we’re back with our top 3 grinders of the year! This year we saw some exciting new releases, so we’ve decided to feature two of those alongside a home espresso classic.

    The Rancilio Rocky

    The Rocky is a classic standby in home espresso brewing. This is a grinder that has existed for a long time and sold loads of units. This is for good reason. The Rocky is built with the same design ethos as Rancilio’s commercial machines. This makes for extremely high quality grounds and a solid built, especially at the Rocky’s price point. This grinder features 55 stepped position adjustments and a set of 50mm flat steel burrs. This burr set doesn’t provide quite the lack of retention of more expensive conical burr grinders, but it makes up for this with consistency and quality. The motor is also extremely robust, giving you the kick you’d expect from a quality grinder. All around, this grinder is just an excellent choice for home use, with very few caveats.

    The only thing that you may notice is a lack of programmability. There’s no timed or volumetric dosing options, and the grinder is controlled by a simple on/off switch. An option with a doser is available for those seeking espresso grinding specifically. The Rocky is a great grinder for a wide range of applications, from espresso all the way up to press and pourover.

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi

    The Baratza Sette 270Wi is a new grinder for 2018 that improves upon the 270 model. Most of these improvements come in the form of updates to the weighted dosing of this grinder, its most compelling feature. Built with scale tech from Acaia, one of the leaders in coffee scales, the 270Wi grinds extremely accurate doses of coffee. After just a few calibration grinds, the 270Wi can grind to three pre-programmed doses, and does so consistently.

    On top of the convenient dosing, this grinder features an easy to clean, drop out 40mm conical steel burr set. Our only word of caution is that the stepped fineness settings really work best for espresso. We recommend a secondary grinder for drip or press brewing. That said, due to the design of this grinder, you’ll likely prefer using it with a portafilter anyway. Other convenient design features include a flip down stopper on the grinder’s hopper to keep beans from flying when you remove it, as well as adjustable portafilter arms. An excellent, well priced espresso grinder that really nails weighted dosing better than most!

    Eureka Mignon Specialita

    The Specialita is one of the awesome new Mignon grinders added to Eureka’s lineup this year. These grinders offer a more compact footprint and are less expensive than some of Eureka’s larger grinders. They also add some powerful noise dampening technology that will keep them from waking up the whole family in the morning. It’s this quiet operation that puts this grinder over the top for us, but it’s not all it offers.

    The Specialita features large 55mm flat steel burrs. While plenty of grinders (especially in the commercial space) have larger burrs, it’s rare to see them of this size in this form factor. The Specialita should easily fit on even the most cramped countertop, and looks stunning, especially in red. We also love the touchscreen. It is extremely simple, but looks great and offers easy access to timed dosing. The portafilter activated button on this grinder keeps grinding simple and easy. Last but not least, smart design features like the wide, anti-clumping chute and easy to access burrs make this grinder easy to recommend. The stepless grind setting adjusts the bottom burr, meaning you can take it apart to clean it without losing your setting.

    These three grinders make a great addition to any countertop, and we hope you’ll agree! For more thoughts, check out our video of these three grinders below!

  • Gear of the Month: Eureka Mignon Perfetto Espresso Grinder

    Eureka!

    This month marks our release of several new Eureka grinders. The burly Atom 65 is more than a contender for the Gear of the Month crown, but given its price point we decided to feature one of the new Mignon grinders instead! These new Mignons come in three flavors. The least expensive of the trio is the Silenzio, which is a no frills, 50 mm burr grinder that runs silent but requires manual dosing. On the high end is the Specialita, which has all of the features of the Silenzio, plus timed dosing and a set of 55mm burrs. Both of these grinders are excellent options, but we decided to focus on the middle brother of the three, the Perfetto!

    The Perfetto strikes a nice balance between the Silenzio and the Specialita. It has the baffled internals for a whisper quiet grind, as well as the timed dosing and touch screen. The only thing that separates it from the Specialita is the burrs, with the Perfetto having the smaller, 50mm burrs. We still think it strikes a great balance between the two machines, and we think you will too! Let's dive in a little deeper.

    Features

    The first and most noticeable feature is how quiet this grinder is. Like the other new Mignons, the Perfetto is quiet enough to use at 4AM without waking the kids or the neighbors. It really is impressive how quiet these things get while still offering fast, consistent, and powerful grinding.

    On the usability front, the Perfetto offers timed dosing controlled by a vibrant and beautiful touch screen. While the interface is very simple, it's a huge step up from the manual control of the Silenzio and other non timed grinders. With a little but of time spent dialing in you'll be able to grind without needing to weigh your dose thanks to this timing. This cuts down on time spent prepping your shot, which is always a plus. It is worth noting that this touch screen is resistive, which means that pressure on the screen is what works the buttons. This can feel a little tacky in the age of capacitive touch phone screens, and you have to be careful not to press too hard. We didn't feel this detracted from how useful and striking the screen is.

    The other major usability feature is the EZ dial. This stepless dial has a guide on it that will help you find the starting point for your brew. While you'll still want to take time to dial in espresso shots, this dial will at least help you find where to start, and gives you a good guide for brewing drip or press. We did find that getting down into the Turkish level was really the sweet spot for espresso, so your mileage may vary.

    Conclusion

    Aside from usability features, this grinder features the solid construction and excellent burrs that you'd expect from a Eureka grinder. While a little smaller than it's big brother, these burrs still do a great job grinding your coffee quickly and consistently. The footprint and durability of the Perfetto is also excellent, we don't expect to hear of many problems with this workhorse.

    Ultimately, the Mignon Perfetto is an excellent exercise in combining simplicity, usability, and durability. Get yours here today!

  • All About Espresso: Part 3

    Hey Coffee fans!

    In this, the final part in our series on the basics of espresso, we'll walk you through dialing in a shot, from start to finish. Note that this process takes time to perfect, so don't worry if you have some trouble with it at first! Let's get started!

    Find Your Grind

    The key to dialing in a new coffee for espresso is finding the right grind to create the perfect shot time. A general rule of thumb is that you'll want a ratio of water to coffee of around 2:1. This may vary depending on the roast, so be sure to try the recommend ratio if the bag suggests one! Note, this is different than drip brewing, so ignore anything that suggests a 16:1 ratio, that's meant for drip!

    You'll want to use a medium/fine setting to start. for most grinders, this is going to mean something around 4-6. This will be different on every grinder. For dose, 14-16 grams is a good starting point. After grinding, be sure to level the grounds to ensure even distribution using a tool or by gently tapping the side of the portafilter.

    Once you've ground some coffee into your portafilter, it's time to tamp! You'll want to apply pressure evenly across the grounds at around 30 lbs. A good way to measure this is to tamp until you feel like you're pressing against the counter top.

    After tamping, you're ready to pull your shot. The best way to really dial in a shot is to use a scale with a bottomless portafilter, but if you don't have access to it, don't worry about it! Just try to weigh the shot or use a measured shot pitcher so you can stop the extraction at around 1.5 oz. You'll want the shot to take 20-30 seconds to pull.

    Where Things Go Wrong

    Here are some common issues that you'll be fighting against while dialing your shot in!

    • Fast extraction: If your shot pulls too fast, try a finer grind, and/or a stronger tamp
    • Slow extraction: If your shot pulls too slow, try a coarser grind, or a lighter tamp
    • Channeling: If your shot is only pouring from one spout, try to make your tamp more even. This is often caused by the grounds being unleveled in the portafilter.
    • Sour taste: If your shot is too sour, it's under extracted. Try a finer grind setting, which will increase the amount of time it takes to brew the shot.
    • Bitter taste: If your shot is to bitter, it means it was over extracted. Try a coarser grind, which will lower the brew time.

    Using these rules of thumb, you should be able to dial in the right grind, tamp, and time for your new bag of espresso. As you get more experienced dialing in shots you'll be able to get closer to the perfect pull from the get-go, which will mean less wasted coffee!

    Stick with it, and remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • Video Roundup: 7/27/2018

    Happy Friday!

    Time for another video round up featuring some awesome clips from Gail and John!

    First, feast your eyes on the Jura S8 in this crew review with Gail!

    Next, we joined John for some portafilter tips!

    Finally, something... Silent? This way comes, in an exciting sneak peak of some fantastic new grinders!

    Enjoy! And make some coffee you love this weekend for us!

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 3

    Welcome to the third part in our educational series on grinders! So far we've discussed burrs, motors, control settings, and more.

    This week we're closing out our Grinder focus with some talk about the odds and ends of various grinders.

     

    Hoppers of All Sizes!

     

    There's no doubt that the stuff we've covered already (burrs, motors, control, etc.) are what really matter when it comes to selecting a grinder. With that said, different options do offer a range of other add-ons that can sweeten the deal.

    Let's start with hoppers

    The Eureka Drogheria (pictured here) is an example of a commercial grinder with a huge hopper. Hopper size is mostly important for commercial settings like cafés, but if you are the kind of consumer that drinks one kind of coffee all the time, being able to dump whole bags of beans in can be a nice feature.

    It is worth mentioned that in many cases you can swap out or replace hoppers down the road. This isn't always the case though, so it's best to find out ahead of time if your grinder choice has the ability to change hoppers before you buy.

     

    If you plan to brew with lots of different roasts for different methods, hopper size may not be an issue for you at all!

     

    Dosers Galore!

     

    Some grinders grind directly into a portafilter or container for quick brewing. Often these grinders will have some sort of control method controlled by a scale or timer to stop grinding. The other option for controlling flow of coffee out of a grinder is doser.

     

    Grinders with dosers feature a chamber on the front that the grounds go into after grinding. From there, you can use a lever to feed grounds into a portafilter or container. It's a great way to control the dose of your coffee and cut down on mess and waste. This type of grounder is particularly useful for espresso, as you'll usually be dosing into a portafilter. You definitely would not need to worry about shopping for dosers if you intend to brew press or drip coffee!

     

    Pictureed here is the Mazzer Mini E Type A!

     

     

    Scales, Timers, and Screens, Oh My!

     

    There's a lot of other odds and ends out there on grinders. The Eureka KRE uses a vibrant, bright display to walk you through options like single or double shots, and uses a timer to grind individual shots. You can set the grind time for single and double shots, then trigger a shot with the click of a trigger!

     

    The Baratza Sette Wi (pictured) offers Acaia scale technology to grind by weight instead of time. This gives your very precise grinding with just a little bit of extra set up time. It also features a screen that provides feedback and details about your grind settings.

    Where to Begin?

    We've discussed all of the basics that you should know before you set out on your grinder shopping adventure. So what's next?

    First, you should determine exactly what kind of coffee you want to make. Are you planning on making drip or press? Pourover? Espresso? This decision will help you avoid wasting time and money on a grinder you'll just replace, and will give you a starting point.

    From there it's all about research. Using the info in this guide, look at things like burr type and size, motor speed, control type, hopper size, dosing control, etc. to really guarantee a great purchase. Now go forth and grind!

    P.S. For some starting points, the Baratza Encore is a great drip and press grinder to start out with and the Breville Dose Control Pro offers a good starting point for espresso!

     

     

     

     

     

  • Video Roundup - 7/13/2018

    Happy Friday!

    It's time for another video roundup!

    First, we joined Gail for a look at preinfusion and why it matters:

    Next, we got the low down on tamping from John:

    Finally, we joined Gail for a Crew Review of the Nuova Simonelli G60!

    Have a great weekend, and remember to make coffee you love!

  • On the Grind: All About Grinders—Part 2

    Last week we talked about the basics of burrs and grinders. You can find that post here!

    This week it's all about control and motors. Let's jump in!

    Control

    Grind control is another extremely important aspect of choosing a grinder. When we talk about "control" we mean opening and closing the burrs of the grinder to achieve a finer or coarser grind. Finer grounds are used for espresso and Turkish coffee. Coarser grinds are typically used for drip and press brew methods.

    There are two different control methods most commonly found on coffee grinders: stepped and stepless. Stepped grinders tend to "click" into place at set intervals. This is very useful if you need to switch between drip and press grind levels. On the other hand, stepless grinders don't feature this clicking between settings. Instead, they smoothly adjust from setting to setting. While this can make switching back and forth a pain, it helps for dialing in the perfect expresso grind immensely.

    But what does this mean for you? You should look for a control type that fits your needs. Stepless is great for espresso fans, while stepped grinders are better if you switch between drip and press methods a lot.

    Motors

    Also of great importance is the motor in your grinder! This can be a hard thing to gauge without trying a grinder for yourself, but it's a key part of the machine. The motor spins the burrs in the grinder, which, of course, grinds the beans. The biggest concern when considering motors is reliability. It's easy to replace burrs, and controls very rarely fail, but a bad motor can be costly to fix.

    Motor quality can be hard to judge, but generally you can feel it when the grinder kicks on. Motors will sound consistent and strong if they are of good quality. You should also notice some torque when it comes on as well.

    The other aspects of a motor are volume, speed, and consistency. Noise reduction can be achieved with baffling and other techniques, but speed and consistency are all in the motor! You'll want a motor that works fast, but stays consistent with it's grinding. This is fairly easy to achieve with home grinders, but often techniques like gear reduction will be used to manage speed and consistency on commercial machines.

    What's next?

    Next week we'll dive even deeper and discuss all of the odds and ends that put grinders over the top. Join us then, and remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • Video Roundup: 7/6/2018

    Hey coffee lovers!

    We're here for another video roundup!

    First up, Gail gave us a great Crew Review of both models of the Saeco Incanto!

    Next, we joined John for a Commercial Crew Review of the Baratza Forte BG:

    Finally, we welcomed the weekend with a White Russian cocktail with Heather!

    Enjoy your weekend, and remember to make coffee you love!

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