New grinder: $500 budget versus $1000+

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
LG75

#1: Post by LG75 »

Hello,

I'm using my now 8 years+ Ascaso i-mini. The grinder is great, especially when considering the price, but I'm considering upgrading it. If I'm upgrading I want something that would justify the upgrade, performance wise, but I don't want to go crazy with the price. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you can find a grinder that cost up to the $500 area that would give a result that would be hard to differentiate from 1K+ grinder. Yes, the 1K+ would most likely have a better build quality and be faster and may have slightly the upper hand with grind consistency, but we're talking about a home grinder that would be used 1-2 times a day and I think the consistency you can get in the $500 price area is good enough.

Do you have any notes and recommendation? If you think of a grinder that is slightly more expensive, but the price is justified so share.

Cheers,
Leo

Jeff

#2: Post by Jeff »

As I recall, my path through espresso grinders was:

Krups/Braun burr grinder (late 1980s?)
Mazzer Mini (c. 2005)
Baratza Vario (late 2000s)
OE Pharos (2011, to try out "titan conicals")
Compak K10 WBC (2011)
Niche Zero (2020)

I can't comment much in the step to the Mazzer Mini as it also was from a Saeco Rio Vapore to an E61 HX.

During the time I owned the Mazzer Mini (and later), I've owned or had access to Rocky grinders. I can't recommend them for anything but the most budget-constrained users and even then their $370 price seems out of line for its performance.

The Vario was immediately noticeable as better in the cup than the Mazzer Mini

The OE Pharos was somewhat better in the cup than the Vario, but not as big as a step. As a result, I spent on the Compak K10 WBC, which was a bit better than the Pharos.

A decade later, my kitchen isn't as big, so I cross-graded to the Niche Zero. It seems to be comparable in the cup to the Compak K10.

The Niche Zero at around US$700 delivered (fluctuates with exchange rate) I believe you would find notably superior in resulting espresso quality to any other stock, electric grinder under its price.

There have been some threads around "hyper-aligned" Vario/Forte grinders, but I haven't used one or tasted the results from one so I can't comment.

In my opinion, the next step up would be for someone that has tastes that go beyond the typical espresso blends and roasts into SO coffees that are not explicitly roasted for espresso. These coffees can benefit from grinders in the $2,000 and up range. The differences between a Niche Zero and one of these high-end grinders is less noticeable than that between a typical sub-$500 espresso grinder and a Niche Zero, in my opinion.

dreadnatty08

#3: Post by dreadnatty08 »

I think the Eureka Mignon series offers pretty solid bang for your buck for espresso. I have the most basic one that runs about $350 and honestly have no complaints. I single dose with it, retention is pretty low, very little clumping and grind is relatively consistent.

LG75

#4: Post by LG75 »

Thanks for the info. The Niche seems like a cool little grinder. One things bothers me though and it is not related to the grinding capabilities - the price is 500 pound in the UK including VAT. However, unlike other UK merchants they don't deduct the VAT (around 20% in case you're wondering), when shipping to the US. Other than just being annoying, if You're considering ordering from Europe, you can get something like the Eureka Aton at this price more or less, after VAT deduction. I don't think the grinding capabilities of the Niche is on par with grinders in the Atom caliber. It does look awesome though. Can't say that on the Aton.

I know what you're going to say - 220V vs 110V. You can find merchants that can supply 110V equipment. Sometimes it cost a bit extra, but not something dramatic. Another thing is that I moved to the US a few years ago and brought my coffee gear with me. You would need a dedicate transformer for that and the good ones are not that cheap. I would consider the 220V option only if you buy both an espresso machine and a grinder of high quality or buying something very expensive and the delta from the=e US justify the hassle, after considering the transformer cost.

Cheers

Plinyyounger
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by Plinyyounger »

I'd recommend something with 65 mm burrs min. That is the sweet spot imo.