Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
We're buying a house, and as part of our move we'd like to upgrade our faithful Breville Infuser and Smart Grinder Pro to something higher end. We've had the Breville gear for 6 years and have loved it, but although we're getting shot quality on par with some of the less good shops around here, we can't come close to matching what we get at the best shops. Since we're moving to the burbs, we want to be more self-sufficient in terms of our snobby caffeine delivery.
For our new machine, we've settled on the Lelit Bianca. We wanted our new machine to be:
- Equipped with a dual boiler (we make lots of cappuccino when we have guests over)
- Straightforward for non-nerds (my wife) while still fun and fussy enough for nerds (me)
- Final (I didn't want something mid-range. I don't want to upgrade for, like, 20 years - or ever)
But I am less sure about the grinder. Although the fussiness of a single dose grinder is appealing to my inner nerd, I'm leaning pretty heavily toward one with a hopper. I've been looking at the Eureka Atom 75, but I don't love the aesthetics of it.
Can anyone recommend a grinder in that price range or below that looks a little bit less commercial on the counter?
[Other Bianca Questions]
- For when we're feeling less fussy - how's the Bianca's performance when leaving the paddle wide open and relying on programmable pre-infusion?
- Can the flow control and pre-infusion 'fight' each other, so to speak, or does the programmable pre-infusion automatically deactivate when the paddle isn't wide open? (Do folks usually turn pre-infusion off if you're going to be using the paddle a lot?)
- Is there any way to set a max shot time and have it kill the shot automatically at some point? Or do you always need to push the lever back down?
I think there's an argument to be made around single dosing being less fussy: If you pre-weigh the beans in little containers your wife can just pop one in the grinder and be done with it. The dose consistency will be much higher compared to a hopper grinder that way.
Plus single-dose grinders just look a lot nicer/less bulky
Something to consider!
Going to a high end single dose simplified my workflow, cleanup process, and improved quality tremendously. I had started in single dose then went to dosing grinders only to miss single dosing. monolith was the best move I made after trying various hand grinders and an HG1.
I started single dosing on my grinder with a hopper and find I get significantly more consistency and I'm fiddling less with the settings. I'm waiting for a niche to arrive because I have liked the experience so much. Something to think about when you're only making coffee for you two. That said I also buy in bulk, I guess if you're buying 12oz bags, the consistency argument may be less relevant (cause you work through a bag relatively quickly).
Sounds like we went through the same decision process.
I ended up with a Bianca paired with a e37s. The e37s isn't the prettiest grinder, but it's built incredibly well and tastes delicious. I also considered the Atom 75, so I can't knock it. The e37s edged it out on taste and reliability. If your main concern is aesthetics, a chrome Atom might pair really well with the chrome Bianca.
You asked about leaving the handle open and using automated pre-infusion on the Bianca. You could definitely do that. I used the machine that way a bit at the beginning, out of curiosity. But using the flow paddle is so easy that I haven't used the automated pre-infusion feature for over a year. Using the paddle doesn't add much extra time or effort, because you have to stay by the machine during the shot regardless.
Also, congrats on the new house!
I have a Ceado E37S and love it. Super good build quality, very easy to adjust and maintain. Highly recommended.
Bianca + Monolith Conical + Bean Cellars = happy caffeinated family
Re pre infusion. It is totally independent of the paddle. It just runs the pump for x second regardless of where the paddle is set. If the paddle were fully closed, you would get no flow.
I won't argue it is the best grinder out there, I haven't tried many, but for stupid easy work flow, it is hard to beat the sette 270wi.
- Team HB
A Niche Zero is worth consideration, as a solid, single-dosing, conical grinder.
Can the flow control and pre-infusion 'fight' each other, so to speak, or does the programmable pre-infusion automatically deactivate when the paddle isn't wide open? (Do folks usually turn pre-infusion off if you're going to be using the paddle a lot?)
Just to make sure you're aware, the Bianca doesn't really have automatic pre-infusion. It turns the pump on at full pressure for a bit, then turns it off to let the water penetrate the puck. I don't really consider this preinfusion. It won't evenly distribute water through the puck, and it might even damage it due to the high pressure used.
You CAN pre-infuse with the Bianca, but you have to do it manually with the paddle. Most machines which do real automatic pre-infusion are crazy expensive, they usually control pressure by controlling the pump. Two cheaper ones would be the upper end Crem One (slightly more expensive than the Bianca), or the Breville Dual Boiler (fairly cheap).