So this morning, I decided to take a little departure from the Monolith extravaganza that has been going on in my world for the last 9 days. That has been an amazing adventure, and will continue to be so for the indefinite future. This thread is not about Monoliths - mostly.
My aunt, a fit but very petite 70 year old, recently expressed her desire to get a hand grinder, after experiencing my coffee with Lido 2 (early model, original burrs, glass jar), and CCD. She liked the ritual, the coffee, and the very organic, manual nature of the process. I immediately considered Hausgrind or Feldgrind, as these are the gold standard for compact hand grinders, and I have recycled Harios and a Porlex to grind pepper, finding them unacceptable even for drip coffee.
With all of the recent emphasis in the world of grinder design focusing on alignment, and precision build quality (e.g. Monoliths, EG-1, upcoming Compaks), and the perception of well-built hand grinders being good for the same reason, I thought it would be interesting to try the Helor101 Precision Hand Grinder, and if it was good, I would give it to my aunt.
TL;DR - this little grinder is great, with visually and palpably very uniform grind, suitable for drip, pourover, and astonishingly - espresso. This from a guy who has raised is standards a bit in the last week by using both Monoliths.
Unboxing: Nicely packaged in eco-friendly cardboard box, inside padded envelope for international shipping. Arrived in perfect condition.
Assembly: Put on handle. Put on catch jar. Done.
Build/Burrs: Visually perfectly aligned, tight or loose. No wobble or visible runout. I have no way to measure runout. Feels at least as smooth as a Hausgrind. Way overbuilt for a grinder this small. Weight: 589.5g empty, with handle and catch jar.
Initial grind: The burrs were set at a fine grind, suitable for pourover, or a bit finer. Very uniform, and almost no visible fines at this grind. Same at slightly coarser grind. Without rigorous particle analysis, I can't visually or palpably distinguish this grind from Tanz, Robur, or Monoliths. It is more uniform than my HG1. I have not yet tried it for drip, pourover, CCD, or press. It looks fine at these grinds, and will work fine for all of them, for my purposes. It will be at least as good as my Lido 2, based on the grind appearance alone.
Espresso: I am much more critical about espresso, as some of you know first hand. After much play with Monoliths of late, I thought it would be absurdly funny to try espresso with this "little toy." I was disappointed in that regard. The espresso from this grinder is excellent. 18g ground, RDT/WDT, Slayer style shot with 25-30s preinfusion. Drips appeared uniform. First extraction of 22s after preinfusion - great mouthfeel, a little too fast flow, great tasting shot, with same flavors I'm getting from the same coffee on the Monoliths. A little weak, and muted. Tightened the grind by a little more than half a turn, and 51s extraction, pulled to same volume (short end of normale), and slightly thinner, but still very nice mouthfeel, and great, sweet extraction. This thing is dialing in more like a conical Monolith than like a small "cheap" grinder. Split the difference - 27s - perfect. Excellent espresso, from a very light roast El Salvador single origin coffee. Photos are from the first, too fast, shot:
Sure the Monoliths are a bit better, and they should be. But this thing is good. Very, very good. At least as good as my HG-1, and better than my Lido 2 (non-espresso burrs) for Espresso.
Grind is very fluffy; exactly like Monoliths (in terms of volume in PF with dosing funnel) and fluffier than my Robur E. Static is minimal with 2 fine sprays RDT from Vermouth mister. This is very easy to hold and crank, and 18g takes <100 turns. I did not count precisely.
The ball of the handle looks a bit plain, and I think I will hit it with some Tung oil, when I do my Slayer handles and Monolith tops.
I will be sending this one to my aunt, and will be ordering one for myself as well. I recommend this little grinder without reservations.