Thursday, February 21, 2013

Filter Grinding at Home

Not the easiest of things : grinding coffee at home.
Espresso is almost hopeless, unless you're willing to invest big money and take a training. Filter grinding is a whole lot coarser of course, and .... easier.
A quick guide through some gear and a couple of tips to get the perfect brew at your own kitchen counter.

Hand Grinders are the cheapiest solution if we talk filter.
Nothing as good as freshly ground coffee, and with €35 in your pocket you get yourself a grinder for some daily fresh coffee in your filter or press. Mostly it does not take more than a minute to grind 20 grams by hand. And it's a good early mourning exercise on top. :-)

An overview of hand grinders i've been working with.

Hario Skerton : the classic one. We've sold a lot of these Japanese hand grinders.
It's light, rock solid and relatively easy to adjust.
The grind quality is very good, but ergonomics sucks. After half a minute my hand start to hurt. The attachment of the grinder with the (glass) jar is too wide.
This jar is an extra point though. Looks good and easy to clean. 7/10
(we also sell the Tiamo copy sometimes. It also exists in different cool colors. it's cheaper and i didn't spot a difference in quality yet)

Tiamo Grinder Manual Stainless Steel (old skool look) : It's 5 or 10 euro's more expensive then the classic Skerton, but a whole lotta faster. It looks good to a lot of people. We had 4 in store and they were all sold within a week.
I tested them once with 120 grams - for a Kenya Batch on the Bunn. It worked really well and the quality of grind was good, but I don't really trust the fixation of the shaft with the burrs. It seems to be a bit shaky. And once you start to get a bit of movement on the spindle you risks it breaks off one day or another, because of all the force you put on it. 7/10

Hario Slim Mini Mill : The small and more plastic version of the Skerton.
Once we bought a box of these and had a lot of complaints. All kinds of things seem to go wrong with this grinder. Not the best of options!! 4/10

Porlex JP30 Stainless Steel Hand Grinder : I only tested this once. It felt really good in my hands, it's ergonomical and easy to take with you on holiday. It felt strong but not very easy to adjust.
It's not the cheapest, but I heard a lot of good reactions about it and so I'm willing to give it a 7,5/10.

Zassenhaus Wooden Hand Grinder : These are classic grinders from long ago. Also Peugeot and many other manufacturers build similar 'old fashioned' ones like these.
I once had a Zassenhaus grinder. After the second use it blocked completely and I trew it in the garbage can.
It's not very hygienic either, bad ergonomics and difficult to travel with. 5/10

Grindripper : As far as i know they build the Tiamo in China and the Grindripper in Korea. There are 2 version in my possesion. A couple months ago they sended me a box with Grindrippers, just packed in plastic, with a small plastic coffee tube to attach to the grinder. That's my favourite one.
The others (classic box) we sell since 2 years (easily 30 a year!) and is wrapped in a nice box with a travel bag and a small plastic dripper that works fantastic for small cups.
The Grindripper is very ergonomic. When you put the tube or the small black cap on it, you have a lot of freedom with your hands and I can easily reload it 3 times in a row without getting cramps. (One filling of the container is about 20 grams and mostly a good size for a Clever Dripper or big Aeropress or V60 brew, so you can measure out your quantity like that).
It's easy to adjust, light, the grind is very stable and I never had one complaint about it!)
8/10 for the box set (this one is more expensive). And 8,5/10 for the cheaper version!!

Over to the Electric part :
Starting with the small electric grinders with knife :
Better a knife than pre ground, but I would stay away from these type of grinders.
They cut the beans which isn't helping the taste.
And you don't know how fine or coarse you're grinding. 3/10

Bodem and other small espressso grinders :
They're used for espresso and therefor not so great for filter. On top of it I notice a lot of noise, very static and not the best building quality.
Again, better than nothing, but not recommandable. 5/10

Mahlkonig Vario :
A great and easy to handle grinder.
You have a lot of options and the grind quality is very good.
The steep price sets this grinder 2 points back though. 7/10

Baratza Virtuoso :
Very popular grinder that should be able to grind espresso as well. As most of those lighter espressso grinders I notice a lot of problems. Beans are too tough and the grinder and burrs too light to achieve a solid long term quality grind.
Yes you can use them for filter only, but then the Maestro is even better, and .... cheaper.
On top of that there were manufacturing problems with this grinder last year and we had to return 4 or 5 of them. Great service from the company, but I prefer grinders that do the job all the time of course. 6/10

Baratza Maestro+ :
The one and only.
You don't have coffee stuck in between. 20 grams goes in : the same (but ground) 20 grams goes out!!!
It's very easy to adjust. It's stable. Easy to clean. Very cheap. Not static.
But most of all it gives you a fantastic grind. The Maestros conical burrs are especially build for filter grinders and this you can taste.
Also you have less 'fines' than with the big jumbo grinders and therefor I prefer using this one at home in stead of a big Burr or Ditting.
After a couple of years I notice the rubber is getting less flexible and you maybe need to change burrs sooner or later, but for such a price you can't complain about this. Best Buy By Far. 9/10.

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