User Experience: Helor 101 Hand Grinder

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
mivanitsky
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Postby mivanitsky » Sep 10, 2016, 5:53 pm

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:

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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.

Javier
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Postby Javier » Sep 10, 2016, 7:03 pm

Thank you for your review! You had me at
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.
:D
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CoffeeBar
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Postby CoffeeBar » Sep 10, 2016, 8:29 pm

mivanitsky wrote: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.


Thank you Mike for writing up this Great Review and Heart touching story( I always happy to see younger people to respect and honor their senior member being in family or outsider ) :D

baldheadracing
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Postby baldheadracing » Sep 10, 2016, 8:30 pm

Just wondering - which burrs did you get?

mivanitsky
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Postby mivanitsky » Sep 10, 2016, 8:57 pm

The "contemporary burrs."

Thank you for pointing out that I neglected to mention the burr type!

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FotonDrv
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Postby FotonDrv » Sep 10, 2016, 9:18 pm

Nice review Mike!

Make me want to rush out and buy one :D
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samuellaw178
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Postby samuellaw178 » Sep 10, 2016, 9:25 pm

mivanitsky wrote:The "contemporary burrs."


AKA Italmill espresso burrs. :D I have found the burrs naming to be very confusing for me. Anyway....

Oh, and very nice write-up! I've enjoyed reading it - thank you. I've been using one for a while and agree whole-heartedly. It's a nice little grinder but nothing is little about its performance or build quality. :D

I needed to do RDT when I first received the Helor but now I don't even need that anymore. Way less static after the presumed 'breaking-in' period. The only minor niggle is there's some grind on the grind cup edges (but that's the only thing I could pick on the Helor, everything else is perfect). I've added a gasket on mine to solve that - all the grind now falls cleanly into the cup. Until someone is able to put Robur burrs into a sub-1kg body, this is the perfect espresso-worthy zero-retention travel grinder for me. :D

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FotonDrv
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Postby FotonDrv » Sep 10, 2016, 9:29 pm

samuellaw178 wrote:AKA Italmill espresso burrs. :D I have found the burrs naming to be very confusing for me. Anyway.... Oh, and very nice write-up! I've enjoyed reading it.


+1

They should rename the burrs, ESPRESSO and DRIP/POUR OVER ( or maybe StoveTop)
LMWDP #417. Life is short, so enjoy what you do and what you brew :-)

baldheadracing
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Postby baldheadracing » Sep 10, 2016, 9:36 pm

mivanitsky wrote:The "contemporary burrs."

Thank you for pointing out that I neglected to mention the burr type!

Thank-you for the review! I am very interested in the Helor as I have been looking for something smaller than my Hausgrind.

ETA: See below. For those not familiar with Helor nomenclature - the "contemporary burrs" are, I believe, TreSpade-design 38mm burrs, which are the same design as burrs in Rosco's, Hausgrind/Feldgrind, Lido 1, and many small Italian (and Spanish) espresso grinders.

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Bob_McBob
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Postby Bob_McBob » Sep 10, 2016, 9:57 pm

The "contemporary" burrs are the same ones used in the Feldgrind, newer Hausgrind, and "Italmill" version of the Anonymous 2. The Lido 1, Rosco, and early Hausgrind (at least before mid-2014) use a different Italmill burr set. Peter has been adding some sort of black surface treatment to the Feldgind burrs since the 1.2 update, and I'm not sure what effect it has on grind consistency. Unfortunately Socratic declined to test the contemporary burrs against the Feldgrind in their recent hand grinder round-up.
Chris

 
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