Ceado, Mazzer, Quamar - Commercial Espresso Grinders

Behind the scenes of the site's upcoming equipment reviews.
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Postby HB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:09 am

This review will cover three 64mm burr espresso grinders, the Ceado E7, Mazzer Super Jolly, and Quamar M80.

The Mazzer Super Jolly was one of the darlings of the Titan Grinder Project, standing toe-to-toe with grinders costing 3x as much. The Super Jolly is a solid 64mm flat burr grinder used in cafes worldwide and in Starbucks until they switched to super-automatics. Most grinder manufacturers offer a grinder using 64mm burrs, however information on them is scant. By choosing three grinders with similar burrs but differing price points, we hope to provide buyers an overview of the strengths/weaknesses of each so they can make an informed selection of the best fit for them.

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Sponsored by WholeLatteLove (Ceado) and 1st-line equipment (Quamar)
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Postby Nuprin » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:23 pm

Since the grinders in this review are all commercial grinders, I accepted Dan's offer to test them out in my shop, New World Cafe. For the last few weeks, I've alternated between these three grinders; I hope you find this feedback useful. All the grinders have similar size 64/63mm flat burrs and in blind taste tests, they produced virtually similar taste results, so I focused on functionality and build quality. First up, the Quamar M80.

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Ceado E7, Mazzer Super Jolly, Quamar M80

Quamar M80

This grinder deploys a flip switch on/off button. In a fast paced mode, it becomes a bit tedious to "feel" for the switch because you may not be looking directly at the right side of the grinder while speaking to a customer. However, this shouldn't be an issue in a home kitchen.

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Toggle switch with protective cover

The Quamar seems to grind just a tad slower and the doser dispenses a bit slower then the other two. However this was not measured so perhaps it's the way it sounds combined with the slower moving doser. Adjusting the grind setting is easy with the stepped turn and lock lever. Unless you really want to dial it into the millimeter, the stepped settings will work just fine.

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Steps are closely spaced

The Quamar does not have a removable grind tray like the Super Jolly or the Ceado, which makes clean up a bit more difficult. The built-in "ledge" keeps coffee grounds off the counter, but because it's not removable, a small brush is needed to clean spillage.

Despite the differences in design I found with using the Quamar in a shop environment, for the price, you get Super Jolly quality grinding with seemingly good build quality at several hundred dollars less. If you're opening a small, low volume café and need to maximize every dollar without sacrificing on quality shots, the Quamar is the way to go. Bottom line:

  • Smallest housing and lightest of the group
  • Difficult to clean chute
  • Lowest cost
It's a steal at the current introductory price. Next up, the Ceado E7.

Ceado E7

Straying from the traditional dial or flip switch, the Ceado uses a push button with an innovative second mode. If you press the button all the way in, it grinds until you push the button all the way in again. However, if you to press the button in halfway in before the "click" , it will grind until you release your finger. The only caveat is that as I removed my hand from the dosing lever to find the on/off button, I often missed and allowed a few extra seconds of grinding. If you like to prevent any unnecessary waste with your coffee, then you'll understand.

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Combination momentary/stay on pushbutton

Innovative design, quite performance, super easy grind adjustments and nice look give the Ceado a warm welcome to the market. The only negative is the slightly higher cost compared to the Mazzer and essentially double the cost of the Quamar. Bottom line:

  • Attractive grinder with a nice brushed aluminum housing and a "polished look".
  • Unit seems well constructed. Buttons and levers all have a nice feel.
  • Easy to clean chute.
  • An even easier to use stepless lever for grind adjustment. The best of the group.
  • Smaller grind tray than the SJ but still removable so a leg up on the Quamar.
  • Quietest grinder of the 3 so if noise is a factor, this is your best choice.
For the typical home user, the Ceado is a great choice if you really like the aesthetics and quiet performance (think spouse approval). If you're proudly displaying your espresso machine on your counter, then you will want the Ceado beside it. Just make sure you have enough room under your cabinet for the tall hopper!

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Smooth, easy adjustment; knob can be re-centered

Finally, the Mazzer Super Jolly.

Mazzer Super Jolly

I won't go into too much detail on the Mazzer Super Jolly since there have been so many reviews, including the Titan Grinder Project, but the dial switch is the easiest to use (and find without looking). Also the grind tray is the largest of the three and makes for very convenient clean up.

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Solid easy-to-find turn switch

The Super Jolly's retail price is between the Quamar and Ceado. With a proven history for build quality and good performance, it's hard to go wrong with the Super Jolly.

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Postby HB » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:15 pm

Thanks Mike for your review comments and insight as a cafe owner! Over the next few weeks, I'll contribute my thoughts on the ergonomics and strengths/weaknesses of each grinder. Before leaving Mike's shop, he helped me make this short video comparing the sound levels of the three grinders:



The clack-clack-clack of the dosers have different tonal qualities, but basically the same volume. On the other hand, the Ceado's motor is noticeably quieter than the Quamar M80 and Mazzer Super Jolly.

First up, the Mazzer Super Jolly...
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Postby HB » Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:51 pm

Mazzer grinders are admired for their quality of workmanship, durability, consistency, and solid performance. The Super Jolly model featured in this thread is especially notable thanks to its well-earned reputation as a value-priced performer under the harshest treatment; prior to Starbucks replacing their semi-automatic espresso machines with super-automatics, the Super Jolly was paired with the chain's La Marzoccos. I was among the buyers of an ex-Starbucks "fire sale" Mazzer grinder and despite looking like it had be drop kicked across the concrete floor of a warehouse a half-dozen times, all it needed was a new pair of burrs.

Mazzer Super Jolly

The Titan Grinder Project features conical grinders, but also included the Super Jolly as comparison against a well known and representative flat burr grinder. Below are excerpts about the Super Jolly from that review:

RapidCoffee wrote:The conical burr Macap MXK pours are sharper, edgier, with more cleanly defined individual flavors, and more of a bitter finish. The flat burr Super Jolly pours are softer, rounder, more blended, sweeter, and more chocolatey. The Robur lies somewhere in between. I've been sampling each pour as straight espresso, then with sugar, and then as a cappuccino. These tastes come through quite clearly in milk.

RapidCoffee wrote:In terms of forgiveness: I found the conicals to be more forgiving of grind setting than the SJ. But I honestly can't remember if one conical was notably more forgiving than the other.

another_jim wrote:It looks like Dan is giving the nod to the Kony, and fitting the Max Hybrid and Super Jolly in somewhere in the middle, between the conicals and the small flats. John and Dave on the other hand, think the Super Jolly equals the conicals, and Ken has the same opinion of the Max Hybrid. So while my take of the conicals versus the semi-pro grinders is probably the consensus of all the testers, we are heading for some disagreements about how good the "full commercial" flat burr grinders are.

HB wrote:Prior to the start of the Titan Grinder Project, I thought the Kony would be the one to beat. Surprisingly, the Super Jolly has held its own round after round. Although the Kony won 8 of the blind taste matches, it was usually a close call, just as it was today where 0.5 point separated the two espressos. Does this mean then that it would be a waste of money to upgrade from a Mazzer Mini / Mazzer Super Jolly to one of the conicals represented in this review? Not necessarily. One difference that has been evident to me is the relative "forgiveness factor" of these two classes of grinders.

Concluding thoughts... Tuned to the optimal extraction, the Mazzer Super Jolly and Kony are very close. Maddeningly close. With some blends, especially those with booming chocolate notes, they were nearly indistinguishable.

cannonfodder wrote:Interesting, I thought the Super Jolly produced more body with my selection of coffees.

cannonfodder wrote:However, it's noteworthy that [the Mazzer Kony's] unique cup characteristics were not always favorable. I found the shots to be too acidic and edgy for my palate. The Super Jolly produced a less defined cup, but with smoother edges and no harsh attacking flavors. Given all the hype about conical grinders, it was not the outcome I had expected. I wanted to fall in love with the Kony. But in the end, I found myself not enjoying the drinks I was producing.

The TGP wrapped up almost 4 years ago. Since then my full-time grinders for testing are the Mazzer Robur and Compak K10 WBC. Returning the Super Jolly these last couple weeks and having re-read the comments above just now, my impressions are unchanged: It's a solid performer that's fast, produces an even taste profile (perhaps tending towards bass notes), and is slight more fussy than its larger conical burr cousins about grind setting.

Mazzer design features

All the Mazzer grinders have a similar burr adjustment mechanism. The upper burr carrier "floats" on three springs. The chrome adjustment collar encircles the throat of the collar, holding it at the desired height above the fixed lower burr assembly:

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Threaded adjustment collar in chrome and upper burr carrier (L), close-up of upper burr (R)

This close-up shows how the lower portion of the spring suspension of upper burr carrier assures no thread slop. Under the tension of the supporting springs, the carrier is pressed tightly against the bottom of the chromed adjustment collar:

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Lower burr mounted atop the motor's shaft (L), close-up of support spring (R)
(from Mazzer Mini Component Photos)
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Postby HB » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:20 pm

The Mazzer Super Jolly, Ceado E7, and Quamar M80 are all 64mm flat burr grinders, but they represent different price points. Like Mike's review, the next few posts will focus on ergonomic and convenience features that distinguish one from another before revisiting taste notes.

Ceado E7

More and more vendors are creating product introduction videos. Some are simple how-tos, some are about features, and a few have technical details. This one by Whole Latte Love with Todd Salzman and Mark Jackson is a good mix of features and construction details:



For those who don't want to watch the 12 minute video, below are excerpts of the key points:

  • NSF/ETL approved
  • Doses coffee straight down
  • Threads of upper burr carrier are not exposed
  • Quick burr chamber access with unique "no grind setting loss" reassembly
  • Nearly idiot-proof espresso zone - can't be adjusted outside of range w/o tools
  • Adjustment knob can be centered to "start here" setting
  • Motor's lower rubber mounts reduce vibration noise
  • Lifetime warranty on heavy-duty doser spring
I really appreciate the quiet operation, clean doser sweep without modification, and the straight drop into the basket (no Schectermatic Shnozzola required). The grind adjustment is smooth and micro-adjustments are easy without the two-handed grip some grinders require. That said, I agree with Mike about the on/off button: It's small, a sharp contrast to the fumble-proof Mazzer timer twist.
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Postby HB » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:18 pm

While all the grinders in this review have 64mm burrs, they differ in ergonomics and design choices. The Ceado has a neat upper/lower burr design that makes it easy to disassemble/reassemble for cleaning. Most grinders have a threaded upper burr assembly that screws into the grinder's lower burr assembly. In contrast, the Ceado has independent upper/burr units that bolt together:

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Three Phillips head screws secure the upper burr assembly into body of lower burr assembly

Unlike the Mazzer design that requires the barista to rethread the upper assembly against the tension of three springs (see detailed instructions), the Ceado has zero resistance assembly. In addition to being a no-brainer to reassemble, unlike other grinders, the grind setting is not lost, nor is there a risk of clogging the threads with coffee grounds since they're shielded in the upper assembly.

Below is the before/after cleaning of the lower burr after nearly two months of use (most of that in Mike's cafe, New World Cafe). A thin ridge of coffee stuck between the burr assemblies is visible, as is a smudge of coffee grounds adhering to the three sweeper vanes:

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Before cleaning and after cleaning; cleaned with Grindz plus a minute or two of scraping with needle

The raceway around the outer rim of the burrs is narrow and the exit chute is small; there's not much room for coffee grounds to collect. Note the acorn nut holding the lower burr in place; because there's no risk of trapping a finger, the Ceado is certified NSF/ETL even though the hopper has no guard at the bottom. The practical advantage of the no-guard hopper comes when cleaning -- you can wash/rinse it top to bottom without having to work around a criss-cross of plastic impediments.

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NSF/ETL certified: No hopper guard required, no exit chute guard required
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Postby HB » Sun May 15, 2011 10:13 am

And finally the last 64mm flat burr grinder in this roundup, the value-priced Quamar M80. Mike has had it in his cafe for months and reports good, consistent results. I borrowed it again last week.

Quamar M80

Since Mike put some mileage on it, I gave the M80 a quick cleaning before putting it back into use at home. This revealed one subtle difference between these grinders:

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Clean photo of chamber (right) courtesy of 1st-line's Quamar M80 page

The M80's entry into the grind chamber is wider and deeper than that of the other two grinders. In fact, to fit the short hopper available for the Mazzer grinder into the throat of the M80, 1st-line sells gaskets that close the gap between the base of the Mazzer hopper and the M80's throat. While not evident from the photo, the floor of the entry is slightly sloped toward the hole at the bottom. For those who single dose (i.e., dumping enough coffee for a single/double espresso into an empty hopper and grinding until empty), a narrower opening will funnel the coffee more readily toward the grind chamber than a wide, deep, flatter entry like the M80's. If you're into single dosing, you may need to swipe the entry to grind the last remnants (alternatively search on "single dose grinding" for tips and/or refer to single-dose modifications like this one).

Since I prepare 4-6 espressos in a given session, I fill the hopper with enough coffee to weigh down the beans at the bottom. Dialing in the grind setting was straightforward, only two clicks from Mike's setting. As he noted in his writeup, the increments are closely spaced and the adjustment is easy. The doser sweep is clean, though being made of plastic, the handle doesn't have the firm clack-clack feeling of the Ceado and Mazzer. Ergonomically the Ceado and Mazzer are more refined than the Quamar, but where it matters - the cup - it's hard to beat Quamar's price/value ratio.
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Postby HB » Sun May 15, 2011 12:37 pm

Conclusion

The purpose of this review was to introduce three 64mm flat burr grinders with differing price range, workmanship, and ergonomics. I didn't compare them side-by-side on taste, but Mike had them in his cafe for several weeks each and has these thoughts to offer:

nuprin wrote:The Ceado has some great design/ergonomic features; easy grind adjustment, modern design and especially low noise, that produces a similar cup to the Mazzer Super Jolly. The premium in price over the Super Jolly is debatable without a noticeable difference in grind quality.

After spending more time with the Quamar M80, I noticed its grounds tend to have a different feel. Softer, fluffier and less channeling under a bottomless portafilter. While it does lack in some design conveniences, it has produces some excellent shots considering price. In fact, it's pulled some of the best shots of Counter Culture Coffee's Toscano from the 3 grinders we've tested so far on the Linea. On a side note, there was an issue with the doser vanes not turning once in a while and I've had to manually twist the inside pillar of the doser to get it going again.

On a loosely related note, I spoke with company representatives at Ceado during the SCAA conference in Houston and they were very interested in hearing about how they could improve their grinders' appeal to high-end home baristas. As I noted in my commentary, Ceado's design improves on the usability of the already well-regarded Mazzer; I hope some "friendly competition" between grinder manufacturers will lead to better designs for all concerned.

In closing, I would like to thank WholeLatteLove (Ceado) and 1st-line equipment (Quamar) for the loaner grinders; I would especially like to thank co-reviewer and owner of New World Cafe, Mike Zhu, for his insightful feedback on these three grinders. This concludes the peer review; follow-up questions are welcome.
Dan Kehn

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Postby the_trystero » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:59 pm

The electronic, doserless version of the Quamar is now available from 1st-Line. I just ordered one, can't wait to use it.
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