Grinder upgrade?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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#1: Post by drH »

Hi espresso experts!

I am working with two Olympia machines: Cremina and Maximatic. I'm paired with a niche zero and I'm fairly satisfied with the results. But I have to wonder if I'm missing anything in a potential upgrade.
Changing machines is not an option but I could upgrade the grinder. Is there anything that will be noticeably better? Would I be able to tell the difference between the Niche and a Monolith Conical or a Mazzer or a Mahlkonig?
Any other thoughts on upgrades?


#2: Post by Jeff »

Owning both a Niche and a Compak K10, I don't think there's a huge step up within conicals. The Niche usability is first-rate if you single-dose.

As I mainly pull light and ultra-light roasts, I'm tempted by a high-end flat in addition to the Niche. I've already spent too much this year on the hobby to add one right now.

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#3: Post by drH » replying to Jeff »

That's a good datapoint. Maybe a compact flat would be an interesting change. The question then is does it matter which one? I'd love one of the new Mahlkonig E65S grinders, but my machines are small and I don't want a monster towering over them.


#4: Post by Jeff »

In that price range, you might also consider the Levercraft Ultra Grinder, or perhaps the Kafetak Monolith. As people upgrade to the Monolith MAX, there have been "regular" Monolith Flats coming up on Buy/Sell from time to time. Peter ("Mr. BDB") just posted what sounds like a virtually new Monolith MAX today. (The Monoliths are in extremely high demand compared to supply and have a nearly vanishingly small "get on the list" window that requires a bit of luck, then a reasonably long wait for delivery.)

For me, not having had the experience of any of the current-generation flats first hand, some perhaps not-too-obvious things I would consider include
  • How well do they single dose, including actual retention (or exchange), not just in-to-out variance
  • How easy are they to clean out "completely"
  • Are there a wide range of burrs available (selection among coatings and cuts is still "voodoo", from what I've read)
  • How easy are they to align and keep in alignment
  • Is the RPM easily and widely variable (also in the voodoo category)
There are also options like the upper-range Eureka Atom grinders, the Lagom P64, and similar at a lower price point. A "hyper-aligned" Vario/Forte is a lower-priced option as well.

I'm sure I've missed some (Ceado, and probably others), as I've been mainly following the Ultra myself.

Edit: Some links, not exhaustive

Baratza Vario Super Alignment owner experience

The Alicorn: Achieving Precision Alignment with the Baratza Forté/Vario

Levercraft Ultra Grinder User Experience

[PROMO] LeverCraft Ultra Grinder

Lagom P64 Flat (Option-O)

Anything between a Vario and a Monolith?

Single Dosing Grinder Updatable List

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#5: Post by BladeAndStone »

My switch to Monolith was nothing short of spectacular. I wish I had started with a monolith instead of tinkering around trying to "save money". It simply is the best I have used from Compak, Ceado, lower end Baratza grinders and HG1.

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#6: Post by drH »

Which monolith do you have? Why did you choose one (flat/conical) over the other?