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VERY Interesting Hario Skerton/Kyocera Hand Grinder Sales

Postby orphanespresso on Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:03 am

This post is a bit of a consumer alert....but this consumer may simply not understand the ins and outs of Japanese manufacturing ties....but let me lay out an interesting discovery.

We noticed a while back that there is an ebay seller from Georgia who is selling a Kyocera CM-50 CF hand coffee grinder, which piqued our interest as it is a larger size than the Kyocera CM-45 which we have proven to be a very good espresso grind capable hand mill. A bit of googling found the same Kyocera CM-50 being sold by Amazon as well. From our investigations this grinder is a Hario Skerton in a box printed all over Kyocera...."Made in China, Glass made in Japan" (and marked Hario). These product listings state that the grinder will grind Turkish (they won't) to coarse (rocks and fines).

The Hario Skerton is a reasonable grinder which on a fine setting will grind an espresso for some machines, depending on tamp and on the machine, and for the price of 40 bucks at most coffee places (Visions for one) it is a good grinder for the money for moka pots and drip IMHO, but does not reach well into either of the extreme ends of the grind spectrum. The Skerton/Kyocera on Amazon sells for 60 bucks and we paid 54 plus shipping to the ebay seller. Research shows that the Hario Skerton may be made by Kyocera and rebranded by Hario as the Skerton.

We have gone a long way establishing the Kyocera CM-45 as an excellent grinder for espresso as well as other grinds and have not found the Skerton (or Kyocera CM-50) to produce a suitable grind quality to stand behind it as espresso fanatics and there may be a bit of a coattails effect here for this overpriced Skerton/Kyocera promotion.

Again, the Skerton is a good grinder for the appropriate applications and at a reasonable price point. It grinds near espresso fine at about 100 turns per tablespoon of beans, it is quiet and has a very good looking ceramic burr, perhaps made by Kyocera. Changing the grind setting is a bit clumsy and the top handle holding nut tends to loosen. If they had included a spring between the top plastic bearing and the inner burr it may have been a reasonable grinder on the coarse range, but this is a simple mod to experiment with.

This is not intended to be a product review, just a note that if you are thinking that a Kyocera CM-50 seems a good idea instead of the CM-45, save a few bucks and get the Hario from a company that does not view it as a crackerjack pepper grinder, and please, NO CLOVES or POTPOURRI! :cry:


PS: Cross-posted to CoffeeGeek here.
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Postby chang00 on Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:33 am

On my Hario Skerton, it was printed the burrs were made in Japan; the glass, anti-slip rubber, and storage lid were made in China, with "Japanese Quality Control and Assembly".

On the box of the Hario "ceramic slim", it was printed "Made in China".

Both were purchased in Hong Kong a while ago before there were US importers.

The Skerton is fine for cupping and drip, but not espresso. The ceramic slim is fine for the Gaggia Factory.
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Postby michaelbenis on Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:26 am

Interesting post, Doug. How does the Porlex fit in here where grind quality for espresso is concerned.

I've been very happy with the Kyocera I got from you. And those Skoy cloths are great as long as you moisten them before use.

Cheers

Mike
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Postby CoffeeOwl on Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:59 am

Thanks Doug!
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Postby orphanespresso on Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:42 am

We have gotten a response from Kyocera US, and they inform us that "this is a new to the US product...the burr is a Kyocera manufacture of Zirconium Oxide, the body is glass, both made in Japan and the rest is manufactured in China." MSRP 49.00 USD. Our puzzlement is that all of the body parts are identical to the Hario Skerton, and from what we hear the Hario burr is made by Kyocera. We simply can't figure out why the body parts are identical and must ask who is rebranding whom here? And why is the Hario 10 bucks less than the Kyocera if they have the same burr and the same body and glass....doesn't that make them the same grinder? Seems to us that they would at least change the body parts a little to seem different but it is tempting to think of a single city in China where they make coffee grinders and nothing else, so they all come out the same, more or less. Globalism at work perhaps.
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Postby luca on Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:34 am

I'm not sure if I'm quite following the ins-and outs of the various names given to all of these grinders, but I'd like to add my $0.02 in case anyone is looking to buy a hand grinder ...

I have been looking for a decent hand grinder to use for non-espresso brewing at work and have played around with four or so different ceramic burr hand grinders, which all of a sudden seem to be cheaply and easily available. I have found all of them to be disappointing in terms of grind quality.

The first of these grinders that I tried was something presented to me as a "Kyocera" grinder. This is a grinder with a brown plastic body and a transparent plastic receptacle that screws in on the bottom. This grinder struck me as fairly awful; it was easy to see that it produced a wide particle size distribution and everything that I brewed with it, including espresso, had a distinct bitterness to it. For steeping brewing methods, this could be fixed somewhat by sieving out the fines. I only had that grinder to play around with for a little while and ended up buying a "Porlex" grinder recently, which seems to have the same burrs as the "Kyocera" grinder, but in a stainless steel body that I found much nicer. The "Porlex" grinder performs similarly to the "Kyocera".

I got to borrow a Hario "mini" ceramic burr grinder earlier this year at the Australian barista championships. It was very difficult to get a drinkable cup of pourover coffee out of it, but it seemed to produce less bitterness than the two grinders referred to above. I recently bought a Hario "Skerton" grinder and am managing to make barely passable aeropress coffee out of it. It might be that aeropress is a better brew method for these grinders because the shorter brewing time gives the fines less time to overextract, which suggests that all of these grinders might perform better for espresso than for other brewing methods.

The "Hario" grinders seem to me to produce a less bitter cup through non-espresso methods than the "Kyocera"/"Porlex" grinders. In all of these grinders, the inner burr can slide around quite a bit because it is basically only attached to the shaft. In the "Hario" grinders, the outer burr is fixed, whereas in the "Kyocera" and "Porlex" grinders, the outer burr is held in place by a few notches and can slide around a fair bit. Perhaps the fact that the "Hario" burrs are held in place better than the "Kyocera"/"Porlex" burrs contributes to the better result in the cup.

I would be very interested to try out something like a Zassenhaus turkish grinder, which I think actually has a mechanism to stop the inner burr from floating around as well as the outer burr. I would also be interested to play around a bit more with espresso with these grinders to see if they are more suitable for espresso.

Cheers,
Luca
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Postby CoffeeOwl on Sat Jul 03, 2010 2:04 pm

orphanespresso wrote:Globalism at work perhaps.

Communism - that is chinese communism, precisely, not globalism.
They learnt the game very well right from the sources, sieved the ideologic stuff out and applied targeted at having most power and most cash.
Making any business with them is unethical and barely stupid, for everyone doing it will finally get f@#cked by the beast (like the USA, like all the car giants, like the cloth brands etc etc.) .

Yet I'm trying to look nicely at some products made there and the Kyocera grinder was one of them, I in a way hope that things will change there. The wall did fell and the USSR did die, though the evil is not fully dead yet, but let's hope for good.
Yet the grinder received very varied feedback (for example on CoffeeGeek) and I'm not really convinced towards it, I think I would have to try it out and compare to some vintage hand grinders.

Now what's this?
orphanespresso wrote:all of the body parts are identical to the Hario Skerton, and from what we hear the Hario burr is made by Kyocera. We simply can't figure out why the body parts are identical and must ask who is rebranding whom here? And why is the Hario 10 bucks less than the Kyocera if they have the same burr and the same body and glass....doesn't that make them the same grinder?

To me it's obvious. Hario is known for many downfalls and Kyocera, though not perfect, stands a bit better. This is a desperate way of trying to sell some more Harios.
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Postby michaelbenis on Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:25 am

For what it's worth I have the little Kyocera and a superbly restored Lehnhartz grinder, both bought from Orphan Espresso. The Lehnhartz is a much superior grinder on every front except portability. It grinds consistently and retains its setting nicely, but above all requires less frequent adjustment and produces a sweeter, more delineated flavour profile in the cup.

Cheers

Mike

PS: I believe the metal parts of the Porlex are made in China, incidentally.
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Postby chang00 on Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:19 pm

Although I am not Chinese, these are my observations from readings and travels to Asia.

It is more common to see the similarities of basic human values, rather than differences. A typical Chinese has similar aspirations to her US counterpart. She worries about school for her child, work, health care, caring for the aging parents, retirement, etc.

Since 1980's, communism in China really is in name only. The communist party might as well be called the Progressive Socialist party. As long as certain redlines are not crossed, like Taiwanese or Tibet independence, one can say anything, including criticizing the government. The business atmosphere is more like Upton Sinclair's America in the Jungle, where unbridled capitalism flourished. It is also mixed with a similar ideology to the American Manifest Destiny, where I believe the Chinese Manifest Destiny is to reunify the renegade and democratic Taiwan.

The food and toy safety scandals that disturbed the US similarly rocked Chinese society. Children crowded pediatric wards due to renal failure. The Chinese equivalent of head of FDA, get this, was executed, as result. People are equally angered by shabby construction and lack of government oversight on building inspection as revealed by the earthquake two years ago.

Regarding trade, the Chinese still feel a sense of unjustice, as exemplified in the Treaty of Nanking, as result of the Opium War. After all, the treaty did not become null as late as 1997 with the return of Hong Kong.

The emotional "China bashing", which may stroke our ego, in the long term probably will not benefit us. For example, the Congress wants China to let its currency to be freely traded. If this were to become the case, it may spell the end to the dominance of US dollar. Imagine if the oil or coffee commodity is traded in RMB, rather than USD. Nations will be buying Chinese T-Bills rather than our Uncle Sam's. We will not be able to fund our Social Security and MediCare programs. Worse, we will not be able to just print paper money to pay down our debt. Similar fate happened to the British Empire after WWII, where the US Dollar replaced British Pound.

After all, the pursuit of happiness, and probably good coffee, is a universal value.
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Postby Psyd on Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:56 pm

chang00 wrote:The emotional "China bashing", which may stroke our ego, in the long term probably will not benefit us.


You're blaming on bigotry what can easily be explained by simple observation. Socio-political and economic influences aside, the association of cheap and shoddy construction is because of the 'Made in China tag seen on many examples of such construction, not xenophobia or red baiting.

Whatever the People's intentions are, that a lot of remarkably inexpensive crap is being shipped from China by the large cumbersome boatload. Personally, I think that American greed is the cause, not Chinese inattention or inability to perform well. Everyone here is looking for the cheapest price, damn the quality of an item, and everyone wants everything. We're eating steaks every night, with absolutely no idea how we're going to sustain our Dairy Farm...
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