V60 (and future espresso) grinder upgrade suggestions (budget $500-750ish)

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

#1: Post by Brien »

Greetings everyone, first time poster. Currently I brew 100% V60/french press with an Infinity Capresso I found at a Goodwill for $10 about 5 years ago.

As of late I am considering to make Espresso at home as well, with something like a Silvio or entry level HX (cry once syndrome?), so I would like something that can maybe accommodate that down the line (so, maybe not the LAST grinder I will ever buy but ideally not immediately have to buy another). My guess is I will still do lots of V60/french/phin brewing.

My S.O. detests coffee, so it's just me, 22g or 30g max at a time (unless I have a guest which is quite rare!)... so a hand grinder is a very real option as I don't mind as it sounds like the high end ones can make quick work at these doses. Plus, takes up less space, and may actually be faster since I wouldn't have to pull it out of the cabinet, plug in, put away etc. (see earlier 'wife hates coffee' comment).

Unfortunately Reddit was not as helpful as I had hoped, basically seem to push the Encore, Comandante C40, Vario, and Niche exclusively - but no real context. I'm sure they are popular for a reason. My understanding is Encore would be a sidegrade, a Virtuoso maybe a bit better with consistency. I do not want a 'slight' upgrade. I am ideally looking for a "wow, my old grinder sucked" revelatory moment in the cup.

Grinders I've considered:
- G-Iota w/ SSP burrs
- Fellow Ode, also w/ SSP burrs
- Vario w/ steel burrs (to be honest, it's huge, WAF is low and also it's ugly)
- Kinu Simplicity
- 1ZPresso KPlus/JX Pro
- Niche Zero

So what I want to know is:
#1 - What is a noticeable-to-massive upgrade? Something a bit future proof ideally.
#2 - Can a C40/Kinu/etc. hold up against something like a Niche, G-Iota, SJ etc?

malling

#2: Post by malling »

What work for espresso typically don't work for filter/v60, in fact those brew forms tend to pull in opposite directions.

The ode doesn't do espresso not even with ssp, not because it cannot grind fine enough, but because it cannot handle the stress, another problem is it's rather large steps. I have SSP burrs in mine and everything below setting 4 is best to be avoided. The G-Iota with the same burrs however would handle it, so would be a much better choice, the grinder however is focused on espresso and with any grinder that seek fine control it tend to be annoying to use for filter, as necessary changes in filters or from one brew form to another is much larger and it would therefore introduce more time and effort to get to the desired setting, most espresso grinders on top also have mechanisms to stop the speed of the grind, to reduce static, this often contributes to retention and again is problematic in regards to filter. There aren't a grinder out there where it isn't best at one of the things and compromises on the other, or compromises on both. Titus Nautilus might be the only one that have managed to get as close as you possibly can, but still it doesn't change that a burrset that dos great at one thing typically doesn't at the other.

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zefkir

#3: Post by zefkir »

For my part, I would classify those grinders in a few categories.

Traditional conicals. More fines, more blended flavours, more texture. But you can choke a brew or an espresso more easily. That's the Kinu Simplicity, the JX-Pro and Niche. IMHO, the overall quality difference isn't all that worth their price difference. You're paying a lot for convenience. WIth that said, the JX-Pro needs a very high amount of torque for ultra light espresso grinds. And the Niche gets better once the burrs are seasoned.

Filter geometry conicals. The K-Pro or K-Plus and the C40. These grinders offer offer a very similar geometry and tend to generate less fines for a filter brew. More clarity, more flavour separation. I expect this to carry to some extent when you grind to espresso fineness, but I'm not sure.

Then there's the SSP swaps. With the HU burrs, I expect a profile somewhat similar to the C40. With the Unimodal brew burrs, you can expect a emphasis for clarity over body. You may have trouble building up pressure properly for shots. But if you are looking for fruit, florals and are drinking light roasts, it's the best choice.

There's a caveat. The Ode can't grind for espresso and the quality of the G-Iota is reflected by its price. Which is to say, it's not bad, but not great either. Alignment can be tricky and alignment is essential for good espresso grinds.

Then there's the Vario. With the ceramics, it's pretty close to the Niche style of grinds. With the steels, it's close to the SSP unimodals. With the steels, the caveat is alignment, you can only grind for espresso if you get it aligned properly. There's a huge thread here for upgrading the Vario with Forte parts and aligning it, but the success is not guaranteed even if many have managed to do it.

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Brewzologist
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#4: Post by Brewzologist »

Brien; My home situation is the same as you, and I also moved from primarily filter brews (V60,etc) into espresso, but pour-over is still my favorite. IMO, there is no one grinder that does both filter brews and espresso well. Consider how much espresso and filter brew you will actually consume and apportion your grinder money accordingly. And yes, a good hand grinder is a better investment than a so-so electric grinder period, especially if the volume of coffee you grind isn't that much. Here are some thoughts and opinions for some of the grinders I've owned. Anything else on other models would just be conjecture. HTH.

Encore - Great start and introduced me to burr grinders but won't get you very far. Eventually sold it.
Lido ET - Great beefy/solid hand grinder for espresso but not as easy to adjust as other options (e.g. Kinu). Keeping this for travel. On par with the Niche for espresso.
Niche Zero - Great bang for the buck for espresso for an electric grinder. Well built and easy to maintain. Easy to dial in and switch between coffees with due to low retention. Not good for filter brews; too many fines affecting taste.
Xeoleo 520n - Best bang for the buck grinder purchase I've made yet. Current go-to grinder for filter brews and taste blows the others I've owned away for this method. Low retention and few fines. (See: Inexpensive Chinese Ghost Burr Grinder)

Brien (original poster)

#5: Post by Brien (original poster) »

So is it that a filter grinder at this price can't make espresso or just not good espresso?

If I wanted to just get a really nice filter/pour over grinder for $500-ish... what's a better buy? Sounds like the high-end hand grinders would compete against an something like a Vario with steel burrs or an Ode w/ SSP Unimodal burrs? Or are the higher end electrics better than the best hand grinders?

My local shop has an EK43 they use exclusively for V60 and Chemex and I do quite enjoy the clarity, FWIW.

Lots of people say the Apex is great but is very unforgiving.

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Brewzologist
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#6: Post by Brewzologist »

Most grinders in your price point optimized for filter simply cannot grind fine enough for espresso and are not precise enough to grind at the subtle grind size differences needed to dial in an espresso shot. This makes it challenging, if not impossible, to get a well extracted shot and the espresso is sub par. From personal experience I tried this with my Encore with a hack to make it grind finer and indeed it was hard to get any repeatability or quality from my espresso shots.

Conversely, grinders optimized for espresso generally don't grind evenly enough for coarser filter coffee and generate a lot of fine particles, (aka "fines") that affect flow and taste. I originally bought the Niche thinking I could also make it work for filter brews using a technique called "unimodal" grinding where you feed the beans into the grinder very slowly which reduces fines. This helped but not enough. No where near as good a taste quality as the EK43 I am sure, and not anywhere near where my cheap ghost grinder is either.

If you have a total grinder budget of $5-700 for both espresso and filter coffee, I recommend you buy either two good hand grinders optimized for each method, or buy the $150 electric ghost grinder for filter and a good hand grinder for espresso. If you want all-electric for both you will easily be over your budget or sacrificing grind quality, but perhaps others will correct me on this.

EDIT: As to the best filter grinder alone for $500 I will defer to others since I don't have direct experience with any. Plenty of threads here on them as well.

EDIT2: Watch this video on pro/con of upgrading burrs to get a better grinder for less money.

(Note; there is a cool app that lets you take a picture of coffee grinds and gives a particle distribution readout. The distribution is wayyyyy better with my cheap ghost grinder vs the Niche using unimodal technique for coarse grind sizes)

Brien (original poster)

#7: Post by Brien (original poster) »

With all the great feedback so far I am going to revise my ask to the best V60 oriented grinder - hand or electric - for $400-600(ish) and just save more.

Given I have NO espresso capable equipment and the poor quality/consistency of the cheap stuff I think I may be better off just saving two or three thousand for a machine and grinder just for espresso (or just continue to buy it at the local place down the street since they have a Slayer and a EG-1).

PS: Seems there is very few, if any pieces of equipment you can use for both? Scales, grinder, etc. all seem to need to be very specialized. I get it, but it's $$$.

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Westchester

#8: Post by Westchester »

I don't have direct experience with it but the Eureka Mignon Filtro is just north of $200. Eureka has a very good rep and my Mignon Specialita has been great so far.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has experience with the Filtro and especially how it performs compared to one of the hand grinders for pour over in that range.

Edit: you can get a Eureka Mignon Silenzio for espresso for under $500. Buying both the Filtro and Silenzio would put you at just under $700, for two electrics.

Brien (original poster)

#9: Post by Brien (original poster) »

Any opinions on Kinu vs JX-Pro vs K-Plus vs Comandante?

erik82

#10: Post by erik82 »

Avoid the Kinu for filter as it doesn't do a very good job at it even with the brew burr. As fas as handgrinder (or electrical grinder in this case) in your budget the Commandante is very hard to beat. The Commandante really stands out for pourover and can give results as good as electric grinders with 64mm SSP burrs. Even shops like Wendelboe, La Cabra and people like James Hoffmann tend to use the Commandante.

I don't have experience with the JX-Pro or K-Plus.

Just avoid those big conical burrs (68mm and up) for pourover as they give lots of fines and are more oriented towards classical espresso. For me an upgrade to the Commandante will get vou into the high-end 80-98mm flat unimodal burrs and those grinders cost thousands of dollars. But in the end that's worth it if you eventually have that budet. I'm also the sole coffee drinker in our household.