In the cupPharos
The Pharos produces a nice cup when you can get the grind dialed in correctly. As I mentioned earlier, the lack of indexing makes adjusting it a pain. For espresso, the smallest adjustment will have a big impact. I had fits getting it dialed in for shots. I was constantly too coarse or too fine, rarely hitting the sweet spot. When it was on, it produced a nice clean cup. The coffees had a nice separation in the flavors typical of most big conical burr grinders. The small hopper works good for espresso but if you are grinding for a press pot or drip pot you will have to refill it multiple times.
One of the curious things on the Pharos was grind retention. Weighing beans in and grinds out I was losing a half gram of coffee, and that was after clanking the burrs to make sure it was empty. The grind across the board was fluffy and light with next to no clumps but again after all of the shaking to empty out the grinds through the small hole in the bottom into a container then from the container into the basket most clumps would have been broken up.
Most espresso-centric grinders do not do well with coarser grinds. They produce too many fines. The Pharos was not exempt from that. A coarse French press grind produced a lot of fines and dust leaving you with a lot of silt in the bottom of your cup. The brew itself was unbalanced with the fines being over extracted and the larger chunks being under extracted. There was a sweet spot between espresso grind and drip grind where everything appeared to balance out. It produced a nice vacuum pot but I had to reduce the steep time and stir the grounds during the draw down to prevent the finer grind from plugging up the filter. You can use a fine grind for a press pot as well, you just have to adjust your steep time accordingly and take care during the press or you may plug up your filter. In my vacuum pot the Pharos appeared to produce a very large bloom, nearly coming to the top of my vacuum pot.
The Pharos ground 17 grams of coffee and an espresso grind in 40 seconds. I did not test the drip pot grind times because the hopper on the Pharos will only hold 23 grams of coffee filled to the very top of the hopper. You would have to stop and refill it multiple times so timing the grind is not very productive. One other note on the Pharos, it popcorns, a lot. You have to keep the rubber flapper over the charging hole or it will spit coffee bean chunks out and onto your table.Lido
The Lido is, in my opinion, the easiest of all the grinders to use. The hopper is large enough to handle enough beans for a press/vacuum pot, but if you are grinding for something like a 12 cup drip pot you will have to add a few beans part way through the grind. The hopper is easy to empty, just unscrew it and dump the grinds into you basket or other brew method container.
For espresso, it pulled a good shot. The flavors are not quit as separated and clean as the Pharos, but frankly, the adjustment fits I had with the Pharos made the Lido even more attractive. Throughout the testing, I kept finding myself reaching for the Lido much more than the Pharos, especially if I needed to make grind adjustments like espresso to vacuum pot. The grind retention was next to zero and like the Pharos, it produced a nice fluffy grind with few to no clumps. The espressos were quick to dial in and still bested most flat burr grinders. While I never had a god shot from the grinder, I rarely had a sink shot. There is a very small amount of burr wobble due to the bushing arrangement but not enough to disqualify it as an espresso grinder and it is head and shoulders above any other manual grinder I have used, most of which are not suitable for espresso.
It is interesting that they market the Lido as a cupping grinder. It appears to use a standard espresso grinder burr set, nothing unusual. Like most espresso grinders the Lido also suffers from fines when grinding for something as coarse as a press pot. That leaves you with an unbalanced up but like the Pharos, if you tighten the grind up to just a little finer then you would normally use for a drip pot the flavors balance back out.
With the Lido set for a comparable espresso grind I was able to grind the same test coffee with a 17 gram dose in 51 seconds. The large hopper on the Lido gives you enough room to charge it up for a drip or vacuum pot. I measured the hopper maximum capacity at 67 grams. I used a 45 gram dose with the Lido set for a vacuum pot grind. It took 2:15 to grind the coffee. As I mentioned earlier, the Lido stopped feeding the beans into the burrs multiple times and I had to stop and shake the grinder to get it feeding again which prolonged the grind time. The Lido also popcorns the beans but the tall hopper keeps the beans from popping out for the most part. I would occasional get a small chunk flying out the top of the grinder.Porlex
Well, it does grind beans, but is no comparison to the Lido or Pharos. The burr arrangement prevents the Porlex from grinding fine enough or even enough for espresso. The steps are too large for fine adjusting and the wobbly burrs prevent you from getting a grind. Having said that, this grinder was never designed for espresso.
It is the smallest, lightest and most transportable of the three grinders making it nice option for those backpacking/camping where space and weight are a premium. The stainless construction and ceramic burrs also make it nearly rust proof if you happen to get caught in the rain while camping or take a dunk while canoeing. It is a serviceable grinder for drip and vacuum pot coffee, but like the other two grinders, when you adjust it for a heavy press pot grind, it produces a lot of fines making for a bitter unbalanced cup of coffee. It works best at what I would call a drip pot grind.
The cup it produces has an average flavor. You get a melding of flavors without the clear separation and clean crisp notes that the Pharos and Lido produce. It is on par with grinders like the Zassenhaus but comes in at quite a bit less expensive than a Zass. The grind was again clump free and relatively void of static.
The hopper will hold enough beans to grind for a smaller press or drip pot and the pull off catch basin makes emptying the grinds into the brewing container easy. If you were looking for drip pot backup grinder, the Porlex would do the job. If I were packing for a hunting trip, I would also reach for the Porlex due to its light weight, compact size and nearly unbreakable design. If I was trying to decide between a Zass at around $100 and the Porlex at $65, I would take the Porlex.