I have been asked a few times to compare my Portaspresso Rosco, Orphan Espresso Lido, and Orphan Espresso Pharos hand grinders. I just wrapped up a major work project and finally have some time today to play with the grinders. I will do this as a photo narrative, with my thoughts on the grinders ease of use, and the resulting shots. I did not have the time to do blind comparisons today, I might come back and try that later if anyone is interested.
Without further ado...
This shot is for Dom, as you noted in other posts, the Rosco and Lido have a common burr set, but that is where the similarities end. When the Lido is at a really tight espresso grind I get a burr rub. I had never noticed it before as it does not rub at the drip setting I use normally. The Rosco could not rub a burr if it had to, it is in perfect alignment.
Here is the full spread of gear I lined up, I did a test of each grinder with the same process for dosing and pulling the shot. My .1 gram scale died today, just as I started to get the gear together, so I had to fall back to my brewing scale, 1g, but I tried to hit 18g very close by going bean by bean after 17g until I hit 18g.
Strega will do the honors! I thought about pulling all the shots on the Portaspresso Rossa espresso maker, but I have my limit to cranking in one session! Hand grinding 12 shots was all I could handle.
I bought 500g of a local espresso blend from Passione Coffee. They are a local roaster that does all Arabica, usually a Brazilian with some African, most likely Ethiopian, I have never got the full details from the roaster, he is a tight lipped. It is 4 days old, and I have pulled shots on it with my Strega that are better than what he does on his three group commercial Izzo, so I know what this bean can do and should taste like when pulled correctly.
First up, Lido. I ground 18g in 1 minute 5 seconds, that is a lot of grinding. After 1 minute I was wondering if the grinder was working. I use the Lido for all my drip, at the drip grind setting it grinds a lot faster. I love the feeling of grinding with the Lido, it fits the hand nicely. I hate the way the burr is up inside the bottom of the grinder, and that the grinds fall over and stick to the adjustment mechanism.
I pulled all shots at 18g.
Pulled the shots based on time while looking for blonding. I have shot this blend a lot, and know what a good shot with it pulls like and looks like, to get the taste I want.
Honestly, the Lido in my opinion is not the best for espresso grinding. I use it all the time for all my siphon and Aeropress brews. With my Able Disk and the Lido I get some awesome drips. but when I tried to go to espresso grind level I find the grind setting to be kind of "figidity" it feels kind of sloppy. I tried several shots and found it hard to hit the right grind, I stalled the Strega once and had one pour that was fast. All my Lido shots were thin and missing sweetness. The crema was weak and the body was lacking, I could not locate any of the fruitiness I know to be in this blend. I did get some nice chocolates from the shot, but it was for sure missing some flavors.
Next up, the Portaspresso Rosco from Ross in Australia. This grinder is an absolute work of art. Solid brass, super accurate grind setting, one of the nicest pieces of engineering I have ever held in my hand, like a Swiss watch. It is HEAVY, and the short crank arm means you gotta work it to grind a lighter roast. I ground out 18 grams in 51 seconds, faster than the Lido. It also grinds in to a cup, so grind removal is super easy, no static but lots and lots of clumps. All the grinds from all three grinders I tested got a serious WDT treatment.
Look how cleanly the grinds exit the grinder, beautiful, zero retention. One amazing feature of the Rosco is that the basket that it comes with for grinding shots for the Rossa espresso maker screws right on to the Rosco grinder. It grinds and tamps as it fills the basket. But, the 58mm Strega basket does not fit in to the holder, so I had to use the the alternate screw on grinds cup, it is plastic and is pretty anti-static.
The first shot stalled the Strega, it is so easy to adjust and note grind setting, I knew from prior use to back off just a little on the grind and the second shot was dead on perfect.
Found those fruit notes I knew where in the beans! The Rosco really is designed for espresso, it does its best grinding down in the super fine range. The Espresso Parts 14g HQ baskets are new today for all these tests, and I am really liking the results. The Rosco shots are heavy, sticky, syrupy, I taste them all the way back on the tongue and the aroma fills the sinuses. The body is heavy but the shot is balanced, sweet and very tasty.
Last and for sure not least, the mighty Pharos! My Pharos is a Voodoodaddy custom, thanks to all the awesome upgrades from Will, it is a great grinder. I ground up 18g in the Pharos in 19 seconds, yes 19 seconds. I took it easy for this test, I can actually grind 18g in the Pharos in 14-15 seconds if I really push it.
I use the Pharos everyday for my espresso, so it has a real advantage here of my own experience with it. It is by far the hardest to get from grinder to basket. I use a plastic cup to bang the grinds in to, then tap the grinds from the cup to the basket on the scale. This does some doser like magic and keeps the grinds fluffy, so minimal WDT is usually needed, I did WDT on these shots all the same for all the grinders to keep it consistent.
Look at that crema, and at first taste there are all those fruit notes, with a super creamy silky body, the texture is almost cream like (for all the tested shots I folded in the crema with a solid silver cupping spoon I got from OE). The Pharos shots on the Strega are very clean and smooth, I taste the fruit notes in a very separated way, tasting berries, moving to red grapes, then lemon, fading to milk chocolate, a great shot. So good I shot another.
For me, it is really no contest, Pharos wins by a mile. Rosco is second, doing a respectable shot along with amazing engineering and ease of use. Lido for me is in the back of the pack, as much as I like it for drip, it just will not enter my espresso rotation as long as the Pharos is sitting right next to it.
Damage done, I drank every shot, I am off to bounce off the walls for a while.