Grinder recommendations on small(er) budget

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

#1: Post by Arafel »

Looking for some helpful recommendations. I work as a paramedic and switch stations every month. I have my old Starbucks Barista machine, and am looking for a grinder to pair with it. I'm not looking to spend much, because down the line I plan to buy a high-end single dose (Lagom, Versalab, or Monolith) and use my current Eureka Silenzio as my workstation grinder. Because of that, I'm not looking to spend much. Items I've considered include the Breville Smart Pro, Sette 30, and even the Vario or Encore. Like I said, hoping to just get a semi-decent grinder to tide me over for up to six months. Anybody have any ideas?


#2: Post by luvmy40 »

I got good results with the Smart Grinder Pro with medium to dark roasts and my BDB. It struggles with light roasts and realy won't grind fine enough for a light roast anyway.

Another option might be the Ascaso iMini. The newest version with the metal upper burr carrier/adjustment ring does a pretty good job for the money. I modified one for single dosing and used it for a few months untl I got the Niche Zero. The retention on it, un adulterated is a bit high in comparison to the NZ but with a few taps and forward tilt, it's acceptable.

There are several hand grinders that are in the $200+/- range that get good reviews. I'm waiting on the Arco from Goat Story on the kickstarter myself. I have the Timemore Chestnut slim and it does OK for my travel rig with the Flare Pro2 but the adjustments are a bit coarse and you have dance with dosing to really dial it in.

Hope this is of some help.

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#3: Post by Jeff »

I started with a Saeco Rio Vapore, which was later sold as a Starbucks Barista. Fun machine and probably would have made tastier coffee with a better grinder. If you're using a conventional basket (not a pressurized or "crema" basket), I think you'll find you need better quality and adjustability than those good "drip" grinders can provide. If you're only pulling a couple shots in a session, one of the espresso-proven hand grinders would be a good choice. When I was looking at one for the office, before COVID-19 pushed that into the future, I was considering 1Zpresso, Commadante C40 w/RedClix, and Kinu M47. I'm still confused by so many 1Zpresso models!

Arafel (original poster)

#4: Post by Arafel (original poster) »

Yes, I'm usiing the non-pressurized baskets. The Breville grinder has 60 steps of adjustment, so wondering if I can make it work. I'd be likely using medium roasts. Again, I really only want something for up to six months. Thinking of trying to a Monolith Friday, and also considering a Verslab and Lagom. Then I can use my Silenzio for my EMS stations.

Arafel (original poster)

#5: Post by Arafel (original poster) »

If I go for a hand grinder, would a 1Zpresso JX Pro work?


#6: Post by pcrussell50 »

I'm as big a Breville fan as anyone, but I would not get one if you want room to grow, under the following circumstances:

1) If you are reasonably handy with small tools
2) Can grab a factory refurbished (not some other, but factory), Vario for a bit under $400

This grinder with ceramic burrs will grind better espresso straight out of the box, than a small conical like the Breville or other Baratzas. But the raison d'être for the suggestion is if you are handy with small tools. If you are comfortable with the level of work in Jakes' video, you can get world class alignment. And world class alignment is what you are paying for when you buy a premium grinder. This grinder will be able grow with you all the way until you are ready drop the bomb on one of the hyper-expensive elites, if you are willing/able to align it. (I have lived with it side by side with both a Monolith Flat with SSP burrs and a Monolith Max, so I can comment). The key thing about this grinder being that it is alignable. With many other grinders with a pretty good reputation, alignment is left as a matter of faith. If you are handy, you don't have to merely hope.

I have heard good reviews about the 1Z. A mate of mine has one. He uses it as a travel grinder, and I plan to get one as a travel grinder too. But we know nothing about it's alignment and how to fix/adjust it if need be. I should say for completeness that it's likely that conicals don't need to be as precisely aligned as flats, so there is that in the favor of the 1Z.

LMWDP #553


#7: Post by walr00s »

Kind of strange to me that no one is pushing the Vario. It's certainly in the low-end espresso class of grinders, unlike the other grinders you named. There's also quite a few advocates on this forum that suggest a hyper-aligned vario (instructions easily found on HB) performs much like a high-end flat in the cup.

I have a Lido E and would strongly recommend against it, and probably any other hand grinder for espresso. It's a ton of work and if you're particular about your shots, you'll have to debate with yourself about the pain of hand grinding another one vs. the pain of drinking the shot you just pulled. It wasn't a fun place to be for me, especially when I was already in need of caffeine.

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#8: Post by pwhinson »

If I knew it was temporary I'd probably buy a Sette 270 -- Baratza has them for $299 refurbished and I just don't think you can beat that price. Even if you look at it as a throw away.


#9: Post by pcrussell50 »

walr00s wrote:Kind of strange to me that no one is pushing the Vario. It's certainly in the low-end espresso class of grinders, unlike the other grinders you named. There's also quite a few advocates on this forum that suggest a hyper-aligned vario (instructions easily found on HB) performs much like a high-end flat in the cup.
As someone with TWO Kafateks and a hyper-aligned Vario (with Forte burr holders), While I appreciate what you are saying, it This is subtly not quite right in two ways:

1) When taste compared to my Monolith Max, my hyper aligned Vario was not a mimic of the Max. The taste was different. The things is, it was not clear which drink was more enjoyable.

2) What the expensive grinders have to sell, (besides superior look and feel), is the expectation of hyper alignment right out of the box, without having to do it yourself. The ForteVario siblings will have to be checked and aligned by the user. Fortunately, for people partially handy, this is pretty easy.

Anyway, if two different flat grinders are both hyper aligned, then the taste in the cup is not muddied by mechanical faults such as mis-alignment, and is down to a comparison of the burrs themselves.


LMWDP #553

Arafel (original poster)

#10: Post by Arafel (original poster) »

Anyone have any thoughts on the Sette 30 or Virtuoso? Can get either shipped on Amazon new right now for $249