Opinions on high-end grinders?

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

#1: Post by ericpmoss »

Hi all,

Does anyone know anything about this 98mm conical burr grinder? Their website is barely functional, so I can't tell if it's even for espresso:

http://www.brasilia.it/en/grinders/spartacus.htm

Also, I've read that their "Competition" model grinds well but is messy. Any details? I'm trying to decide between a laCimbali Conik, an Azkoyen Capriccio (another awful website that tells me nothing), a Compak K10 WBC and maybe a Brasilia?

Thanks,

Eric

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jesawdy

#2: Post by jesawdy »

The website is not very Firefox friendly, does a touch better in IE.

Given the size, the spout design and the three-phase motor, I'm going to guess that it is meant more for heavier commercial applications and bag grinding. It certainly looks stepless, and might do the job, but did you see how HUGE it is?

As per Dan, no importer of Compaks in the US yet, but Compak reps at SCAA 2007 said they can be ordered direct from Compak. Their website is http://www.compak.es

The Cimbali Conik is likely ridiculously priced, but have you seen it available?

The Azkoyen Capriccio uses 64mm planar burrs.... it's thing is portion control and very fast grinding. Some used ones sold on eBay recently for $600. You can see them in use and discussed in the "Grind on Demand" feature on http://www.coffeevideomagazine.com in the "Barista's Focus" area.
Jeff Sawdy

ericpmoss

#3: Post by ericpmoss »

Thanks for the info.

The CoffeeVideoMagazine video was semi-useful regarding features, though very unclear on the Azkoyen's programming. Nothing was said regarding grind quality, either. But, it's a start.

The literature on the grinders is sparse at best, with the mfgrs' websites offering glossy pdfs about "commitment to tradition" rather than speed, uniformity, temperature, etc. Worthless.

I'm concerned first about getting the best grind, then convenience (reliability goes w/o saying). So, based on what I've read, I'd like to find large conical burrs and either grind on demand or a doser that cleans itself really well. Under $2000 (cough, choke) would be good, too.

I compiled a little list of contenders and what I've gleaned from reading. Anyone have strong opinions on these? Thanks!

Compak K10 WBC (http://www.compak.es)
great grind
not super fast
no grind on demand (how clean is the doser?)

Rio Conico (http://www.esiespresso.com/products.rio.conico.html)
this looks like it IS a Robur with a different badge

la Cimbali Conik
even my Cimbali dealer doesn't know about this -- WTF?

Mahlkoenig/Ditting K30
the same machines, but with their own grinding plates--which is better?
not conical (fwiw)
some have said the grind is TOO uniform

Brasilia MC (http://www.brasilia.it/en/grinders/main.htm)
noone knows anything about it, and the burrs are only 49mm

Azkoyen Capriccio (http://comercial.azkoyen.es/english/molinos.html# if you have f'ing Internet Exploiter)
looks clean and convenient
differing opinions on grind quality
not conical or with large burrs

Mazzer Kony
trusted
not super-fast
Cars R Coffins

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Teme

#4: Post by Teme »

ericpmoss wrote:Compak K10 WBC (http://www.compak.es)
great grind
not super fast
no grind on demand (how clean is the doser?)
I think the K10 WBC should be pretty fast (faster than a Kony, but slower than a Robur). As far as I know, you should expect a 17 gram double in less than 7 seconds.

I think that the WBC spec is a manual grinder, so you can use it for grinding per shot. However, I hear that the K10 retains a fair amount of coffee in the grinding chamber and in the chute (as do all of the conical burr grinders).

I will be able to verify the above during next week when I finally get mine...

Br,
Teme

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luca
Team HB

#5: Post by luca »

I have had at least a brief play with most of the grinders that you have mentioned, so hopefully I can help out. Seeing as this is home-barista.com and you haven't specified a use, I'm going to presume that you want to use one of these as the ultimate home grinder.

Compak K10 WBC

Grinds fairly quickly and well. Looks terrible with the doser cover off. Grind adjustment mechanism is the same as the mazzer, but there are no springs supporting the collar. Instead, there is a little bolt that locks in place to keep it locked in. Doser sweeps fairly clean.

Rio Conico

I think that this is a robur. Plenty has been written about roburs. I would very happily have a robur at home if (a) there were no problems with the size, (b) money weren't an issue and (c) my bench could support the weight. Note that many of the new mazzer grinders will not run unless the safety switch is held down, either by the tab in the hopper or by jamming something in there to defeat the safety feature. Naturally, I take no responsibility if you take the latter course and something bad happens!

K30

Relatively fast and fairly clean after a number of shots. Very good portafilter holder. However, the grind comes out very clumpy, the exit chute seems to be fairly long, the timers are probably much less useful in the home environment than in the commercial environment and the stepped adjustment sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. You would be better off looking into the K30 Vario version, which, as I understand it, has a stepless adjustment mechanism and no timers.

Brasilia MC/Brasilia Competition

I think that this is a rebranded Gino Rossi grinder. I used the GR flat burr grinders a bit and absolutely hated them for their messiness, stepped adjustment, crappy looks and what seemed to be bad build quality. However, I'm forced to admit that the conical grinder is pretty good. It is a very different beast from the RR45, which comes through in the fact that it costs a fair bit more. I list these grinders together because I'm pretty sure that they really only differ in looks and in the doser or lack thereof. I would probably avoid the MC grinder at home. The fit and finish is less than pretty and there is an irritating magnet mechanism that means that it won't grind unless the doser lid is in place.

The doserless version that I have at work looks a bit cobbled together, but it's mostly stainless steel, so it looks a bit more serious, particularly given that it is relatively tall. We nicknamed them "the terminator." The grind adjustment mechanism is another "floating collar" like the mazzer mechanism, except that there is a bolt that locks the collar in place. When released, it is very easy to adjust between whatever grind you want. When locked in, the burr carrier is held firmly in place. Grind adjustment is easier and seems to be more sensitive than other grinders, so I'm grudgingly forced to admit that it is my favourite adjustment mechanism so far. Ours has a tamping stand built into the front, which is very handy. The spout leaves a lot to be desired, with a fair bit of mess, but I'm not sure how reflective of these grinders my comments are, because I think that our spout might not be standard. I heard a rumor that there is a new spout design; this would be worthwhile following up on. The grinds tray is a tiny little plastic dealio that sits on top of the foot of the grinder and really doesn't do a great job.

As for this whole "bigger is better" thing, I go by the theory that the grinder that produces the better cup is better. Again, I have to grudgingly admit that this grinder produces a very good cup. The pours seem to last longer than the flat burrs before going blonde and the resultant espresso is quite thick and rich. This is something that seems to be common to many of the conical burr grinders and I simply haven't done a head-to-head to say whether or not this stands up above the rest of them, but my gut feeling is that, at the very least, it is on par. Small burrs whizzing around quickly seem to be touted as the end of life as we know it. This is probably true for a commercial situation where you are pumping out a million coffees in a row, but seems a bit far fetched when you're only making a few coffees. At work I use it for guest blends and such. The coffee is never warm to the touch. We also have one that we use as a cupping grinder and the difference between that and the (admittedly relatively old) deli grinder that we had is quite pronounced. If this grinder were cleaner it would probably be my number one choice for a home grinder.

Azkoyen Capriccio

This grinder is usually set up to grind one dose and have it sitting in the doser. You insert your PF and the dose drops in. I'm not sure if it can be set up for grind on demand. We had one sitting around to see if we could use it to save some coffee given that the cupping room is relatively low volume and I think that everyone gradually drifted over to a mazzer mini in preference.

Mazzer Kony

Certainly a little slow, but that's relative to other cafe grinders. I think that it's about on par with a super jolly, although I have never timed it. Mazzer's fit and finish strikes me as a cut above the rest. I heard someone a while ago saying that there is some hack to make the burrs spin faster ... you could probably figure something out if you're an electrician ;P The height of the doser on the robur and the kony makes them more pleasant to work on than the super jolly/mini, etc. Something that doesn't often seem mentioned.

The other grinders to take a look at would be the casadio instantaneo and the new elektra grinder that Mark Prince raved about on CG.

Cheers,

Luca
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Grader Exam, Brewer's Cup #3, Australian Cup Tasting #1

Ken Fox

#6: Post by Ken Fox »

You have already received some very useful comments and I am not going to repeat what anyone else has said.

I have seen most of these grinders in person, at least the Mazzers and the Compak. There is not a single one of them that I would have in MY kitchen. They are all TOO BIG and TOO out of scale and I might add, maybe even TOO UGLY. And this comment is coming from a single guy who has 2 Cimbali Juniors and 2 commercial grinders in his kitchen, so you know that I'm off the deep end in this regard, i.e. toleration for espresso equipment in a domestic kitchen. The only person I can think of who is even more off the deep end than I am in this regard is Andy Schecter :P

If you have a spouse or significant other you can just about forget about having any of these big conicals in your kitchen if this person has any taste. If your spouse or significant other has no taste, you should consider replacing him or her :P

And unless your espresso set up is in another part of the house, one easily hidden from view, you really must see these grinders in person and imagine them in your kitchen, before you buy any of them.

ken

addendum: throw Greg Scace into the "off the deep end" group also :roll:
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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AndyS

#7: Post by AndyS »

Ken Fox wrote:I'm off the deep end in this regard, i.e. toleration for espresso equipment in a domestic kitchen. The only person I can think of who is even more off the deep end than I am in this regard is Andy Schecter :P
Ken, that's the nicest thing anyone's said about me in weeks. :)
-AndyS
VST refractometer/filter basket beta tester, no financial interest in the company

ericpmoss

#8: Post by ericpmoss »

Wow, thanks to everyone for their input -- much more useful than the company promo pdfs, I assure you. :)

I *was* going to just go for the ultimate home grinder, since going overboard is my way. Then I decided to go really overboard and set up a small espresso shop devoted to simple quality -- speed and latte art, but only if it doesn't hurt the taste. If the shop fails, I'll keep it all at home so I can remain true to the "home" in HB. :)

So anyway... size isn't a big issue, and ultimate throughput early on in the business's lifetime probably won't be, either. I'll likely be working alone for some time, so features that reduce fiddling around would be good -- hence my interest in grind on demand or the Azkoyen's grind-ahead instant dosing. But a good doser is ok, too.

Despite grounds retention, it's sounding like a Compak K10 WBC would do well for my setup. With the $$, a Rio/Robur might, as well. ;) Maybe the laCimbali Conik if it really exists. The Instantaneo looks like a lot of fun, if kinda oogly, and I'll check out the Elektra, too.

Now for a low-throughput decaf grinder and a semi-monstrous drip grinder...

I'm thinking laCimbali Jr (or Instantaneo?) for decaf and either a monster Compak, a Ditting or a Fetco for drip.

More strong opinions?

Eric

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jesawdy

#9: Post by jesawdy »

Eric-

You might hop over to coffeed.com as well and do a little searching on grinders. I am not trying to run you off, but folks there are speaking more toward the professional shop side of things. I believe membership is by invitation or approval only, so you'll have to ask to play.

I also mention it because there was some discussion of the Cimbali Conik. Klaus Thomsen (WBC champ) talked it up and it most certainly exists.... now whether it is imported into the US, perhaps not.
Jeff Sawdy

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Teme

#10: Post by Teme »

luca wrote:You would be better off looking into the K30 Vario version, which, as I understand it, has a stepless adjustment mechanism and no timers.
Actually the K30 Vario does have the timers (and is stepless). The K30 Competition is stepless without the timers.
luca wrote:Azkoyen Capriccio

This grinder is usually set up to grind one dose and have it sitting in the doser. You insert your PF and the dose drops in. I'm not sure if it can be set up for grind on demand.
Yes, you can set the Capriccio to grind on demand.
ericpmoss wrote:The Instantaneo looks like a lot of fun, if kinda oogly, and I'll check out the Elektra, too.
The Instantaneo is ugly and not very well built, but it is very interesting and the ease with which one can achieve an even extraction with the Instantaneo is impressive. However, I would not recommend it for an Espresso Shop owner as in heavy duty use it does heat up. For home use this is not an issue.

The Elektra looks very interesting.

Br,
Teme