CHEAP grinders (that do ok)- and a grinder by any other name

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by Vindibona1 »

Having just upgraded my espresso machine (from a Gaggia Classic) I gave the Gaggia to my daughter. It's got a PID and all the upgrades that can be done to it.

The problem is she doesn't yet have a grinder. At the time, maybe 10 years ago, with some shims, I limped by with a cheap Cuisinart burr grinder (amazingly still available). It's ok, but the collecting cup is clumsy and it does produce a lot of fines and the port needs de-clogging regularly. That would be an option. But I just got through watching a video of James Hoffman comparing a bunch of dirt cheap grinders and the one he liked was the one formerly available at Herrods; the Andronicas World Coffee grinder.

And so I'm wondering if there isn't a sub $100 grinder that will do a good job. The Cuisinart is still there, but James Hoffman seemed to like the Andronicas. And I found at least two grinders that look nearly identical from the outside. I'll attach a composite photo below. But in the meantime, is there something sub-$100 that will get her by and do a decent job. If she gets into it I'll eventually give her my Sette and by something better. But for now, it's Budget City.

Thoughts and/or suggestions?


#2: Post by boren »

$100 may be borderline sufficient for a manual grinder or a second hand electric one. I wouldn't bother with a new electric grinder at this price. It's practically guaranteed that your daughter will want to upgrade after a short amount of time.

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#3: Post by Jeff »

For espresso, it is difficult for me to recommend anything less than a 1Zpresso JX-Pro at around $160. Less than that you've generally got one or both problems of poor grind quality in the espresso range and insufficiently small steps of adjustment.

James Hoffman reviews 50£ grinders (under about $75) and my takeaway was no, don't bother. Your interpretation may be different.

There are some import grinders in that rough price range ($100-200) as well, such as those reviewed by Lance Hendrick. I have not tried any of them.


#4: Post by boren »

The Kingrinder K4 is frequently sold on aliexpress at around $125 and from my experience compares very well with the JX Pro (which I own). It also produces great quality grind, but is quicker and uses an external grinder level adjustment, similar to some of the more expensive 1Zpresso grinders. The difference in steps (16 micron vs the JX Pro 12.5 micron) is negligible. I also own a 1Zpresso K-Plus that uses 22 micron per click and have no challenges dialing in espresso with it.


#5: Post by Oskuk »

I'd give away the Sette, or find some hand grinder, they are cheaper than these motorized ones, and really need the interest of the thing, as they are so slow and hard to work.


#6: Post by boren »

Manual grinder with no ball bearings and tiny burrs are slow and hard to use, but the ones that use ball bearings and larger burrs are actually quite swift and pleasant to use (at least for medium or dark roasts).


#7: Post by Oskuk »

But a sub $100 ?


#8: Post by boren »

Kingrinder K2 should fit the bill. I didn't personally use it, but expect it to be very similar to the K4. The main difference seems to be the grind adjustment ring - internal in the K2, external in the K4.


#9: Post by MemPast »

If you are comfortable buying used grinders, spend some time on Facebook market place and craigslist, you may find decent Rossi/obel/zip/mazzers/rocky at around 150, and sometimes less. You will most likely need burr replacement. It is above your budget, but I think it is worth it.

Vindibona1 (original poster)

#10: Post by Vindibona1 (original poster) »

Oskuk wrote:But a sub $100 ?
It's funny you should question that, as I have. But my second espresso machine was a Saeco Sirena, same as was hawked at Starbucks and it's hard to believe that I used a $39 Cuisinart grinder that I added shims to from the tops of Pringles potato chip cans. I used Starbucks French roast beans that I got from Costco and got better flavor and consistency than I got with a Sette 270, a tricked out Gaggia Classic and a subscription from La Colombe where I suspect the beans were about 5 days off the roaster.

You just gave me a thought... I still have that grinder which I use for "emergency French press" use when I didn't have access to my other equipment. Perhaps I should drag the grinder over there and test mine. Those plastic shims really got some fine grinds. I don't remember using it with the Gaggia though as I ordered the Sette at the same time... in 2017. If it works well enough I'll get her a new one and put shims in it like I did mine. The only problem with the Sette is that it does not grind course enough for French press and at the time the Niche wasn't a thing and I didn't want to spend more than $400. At the time the Sette was super innovative and it actually does pretty well.