64mm Burr Grinders...Is This the Future?

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
BaristaBob

#1: Post by BaristaBob »

I throw this question out to gather opinions, which might land, well in a mess...but here goes.

I've been looking to purchase a flat burr grinder to compare to my very capable Monolith Conical (68mm burrs) after three plus years of ownership. Of course I had my thoughts focused on a "big" burr titan grinder, defined as burrs 75mm and larger, these were on my radar screen. Now it appears many, many companies are making "excellent" 64mm grinders AND specialty companies in the business of making high quality burrs with cutting edge designs (pun intended) make owning such a grind capable of future updating (upgrading) as an extra bonus...all within a much more attractive price range. I guess my questions is; Is there a noticeable taste difference in the cup for espresso (I'm not concerned with any other brew method for this discussion) that would make any or all of the 64mm burr grinders not worth pursuing?

I value everyone opinions on this Forum. I haven't as much knowledge about grinders as I do espresso machines.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..I've come to drink you once again"

Entreri

#2: Post by Entreri »

I would at least say that I think it is a very attractive platform with much more flexibility than the larger burrs. Within 64mm you have a much wider range of grinders, where you can get "close to titan grinder" results and workflow in a P64, massive bang for bucks in a SSP-upgraded DF64 if you are OK with a slightly less optimal workflow and a bit higher tolerances in build quality - or a fantastic brew grinder in the Ode w/SSP Brew burrs.

dsc106

#3: Post by dsc106 »

I am very curious about this too, I will be watching this thread.

My input... well, first, I have zero experience outside of shops with either large burr grinders or even flat burr. My first flat - the 64mm Ode - only arrives today. I have a Niche 63mm conical for a year. So what follows here is more conjecture and obsessive reading/researching prior to buying the Ode...

As I understand it, it is likely that the most accessible innovation in the near term future will be in the 64mm space. It seems to strike a very nice balance between the quality of grind and the overall cost/size required to drive it. Burrs floating somewhere the around ~$200 USD vs much higher costs for larger burrs. Less requirements on the grinder motor, and smaller footprint. It seems to be a sweet spot where it is big enough to get you 90%+ of the way there, and at a very competitive price.

And these things tend to snowball. Because of that, I suspect there will be a lot of interest here as more people purchase and want to stay in the category. There is a much bigger market for people willing to spend $300-$1500 on a grinder vs those willing to spend $1500-$4000. And 64mm is just getting started... Ode and DF64 will be old news in a year or so. I'd expect a bunch of very competitively priced 64mm flat grinders duking it out here.

I went for the Ode because of this, opting to see it similar to a camera system. The largest format cameras produce the best results, for sure, but they are expensive and heavy. Go to small, and you're pretty limited in quality. But there is a very popular mid-space, and 64mm burrs seem to me like investing in what will be an extremely popular and compelling mount size. At which point, I can collect burrs (lenses) to train and educate my palate, find what I really like, and swap out as needed/wanted. I may eventually end up with a few matching 64mm flat burr grinders in years down the road, each with a different set of burrs to customize flavor for specific beans/methods. I can't see having that versatility in terms of total cost or counter space with much larger grinders.

All in all, not trying to suggest larger burrs aren't "better". Tit for tat, I think a large 80mm/90mm+ burr size will always be able to outperform a 64mm burr size. But at what cost, and how much? For most of us mere mortals, diminishing returns are always a relevant consideration, so playing in the 64mm burr space for the foreseeable future is likely a good investment where there will be lots and lots of accessible innovation for us.

GDK

#4: Post by GDK »

Interesting camera analogy! So, the 64mm flat burr grinders may be like APS-C format for cameras :)

Inevitably makes me wonder how far away my well aligned 54mm Forte AP is... and what if I had 54mm SSP high-uniformity (not unimodal) burrs to play with as a start? In the end, I will likely be stepping up to the 64mm size, may be sooner than later. Perhaps Baratza will step up?

Pressino

#5: Post by Pressino »

GDK wrote:Interesting camera analogy! So, the 64mm flat burr grinders may be like APS-C format for cameras :)
The camera analogy, like most analogies, is not perfect, but I suppose it's generally helpful to understand this burr size/quality relationship. The main inapplicability of the analogy is that there are only a few common format sizes in photography going back to the days of film (which is of course still used), mainly 110, 8x11mm (Minox "spy" film), 35mm, various 120 film formats, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and even larger film image sizes with 35mm and 120 roll film cameras being the most popular. Now with digital sensors most folks, except for some professionals or serious hobbyists, is a "35mm style" camera. But as you note some of these use a "full frame" (35x24mm) sensor and others use the APS-C (23.6x15.6mm) and even smaller sensors. Bigger is better (re image resolution) if everything else is equal, but that's not the end of the story. The design of the sensor itself (mainly how many light capturing pixels it has) is a major factor. I guess the first factor is analagous to burr size and the second to burr design. So far the analogy works.

The problem as I see it is that in photograpy there is good reason to believe that larger format size always allows for higher image resolution "all other things being equal" (like lens quality, film or sensor qualities, etc.). This, so far as I know, has not been proven for the size of coffee grinding burrs. A simple thought experiment suggests there would not be a one-to-one or direct (at least not monotonically direct) correlation between bigger burrs and better grind "quality" however you define that. Imagine a very large burr set (say 10 inches, either flat or conical)...I'm pretty sure even without making such a grinder it would do a lousy job of grinding coffee (especially not for fine grinding for espresso).

Bottomline is I don't know how much any improvement we can get moving from 64mm to say 120mm burrs ("all other things being equal..."). I recently did an experiment converting my Mazzer Mini 58mm to 64mm Mazzer burrs and the only definite "improvement" I noted was about a 20% decrease in grind time for any given quantity of coffee. I do get even quicker grinding and different "taste" with my 64mm SJ, but that's due the different motor power and burr design (the SJ burrs and 64mm Mini burrs are different). AFAIK the main difference one is likely to note between say any 64mm and 80mm burr grinder is morelikely due to the burr design and machine construction than the actual size of the burrs. Based on the thought experiment mentioned above, there may well be some "optimal" burr size say between 55mm and 200mm, but so far I haven't seen any convincing data to say where that optimum size is.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I wanted to make these points. :oops:

BaristaBob (original poster)

#6: Post by BaristaBob (original poster) »

dsc106 wrote: As I understand it, it is likely that the most accessible innovation in the near term future will be in the 64mm space. It seems to strike a very nice balance between the quality of grind and the overall cost/size required to drive it. Burrs floating somewhere the around ~$200 USD vs much higher costs for larger burrs. Less requirements on the grinder motor, and smaller footprint. It seems to be a sweet spot where it is big enough to get you 90%+ of the way there, and at a very competitive price.

All in all, not trying to suggest larger burrs aren't "better". Tit for tat, I think a large 80mm/90mm+ burr size will always be able to outperform a 64mm burr size. But at what cost, and how much? For most of us mere mortals, diminishing returns are always a relevant consideration, so playing in the 64mm burr space for the foreseeable future is likely a good investment where there will be lots and lots of accessible innovation for us.
These are my initial thoughts exactly! Okay, we can all concede large burrs are better, but can my taste palate discern the different between a big burr titan grinder and a 64mm burr grinder that is well designed, installed with state of the art SSP burrs? And at a price point roughly $1,000 less. Give me 90% of what the big guns promise, and I'm there, or at least leaning in that direction. Plus with the promise of even more burr design innovation in the 64mm size, it looks even more attractive.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..I've come to drink you once again"

heytchap

#7: Post by heytchap »

64mm is the future for sure.
64mm burrs are generally around $200 and it makes them accessible - all things considered.

98mm is for the extreme hobbyist nerds and will also be the future.
The problem is 98mm burrs compared with 64mm burrs is that they're over 100% more expensive than 64s, sitting at $500 per set; that's a lot of money. Each burr set is basically 1 "average" grinder and a hard pill for many to swallow.

One consideration here - it seems that 83mm might be the happy medium between the two sides. The company behind the DF64 is getting ready to release an 83mm flat burr grinder and I think that's going to seriously push some attention and innovation in that direction.

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Rice Bowl

#8: Post by Rice Bowl »

BaristaBob wrote:I throw this question out to gather opinions, which might land, well in a mess...but here goes.

I've been looking to purchase a flat burr grinder to compare to my very capable Monolith Conical (68mm burrs) after three plus years of ownership. Of course I had my thoughts focused on a "big" burr titan grinder, defined as burrs 75mm and larger, these were on my radar screen. Now it appears many, many companies are making "excellent" 64mm grinders AND specialty companies in the business of making high quality burrs with cutting edge designs (pun intended) make owning such a grind capable of future updating (upgrading) as an extra bonus...all within a much more attractive price range. I guess my questions is; Is there a noticeable taste difference in the cup for espresso (I'm not concerned with any other brew method for this discussion) that would make any or all of the 64mm burr grinders not worth pursuing?

I value everyone opinions on this Forum. I haven't as much knowledge about grinders as I do espresso machines.
This is such a loaded question because what's considered worth upgrading for one person will be different for the next, as well as potentially the next person after. Yes, 64mm burrs are more accessible, cheaper, and more cost-effective to produce/purchase as consumers. I don't think people will say that 64mm burrs are definitively better than their 75/80/83/98mm counterparts. This question reminds me of Hoffmann's titan grinder showdown/comparison - are there large enough gaps in performance between titan flat grinders, or are they essentially QC burr carriers that showcase the full potential/detract from said potential of the burrs themselves?

I personally greatly prefer the espresso I pull from my MC4 compared to the 64mm v2 MP Ode I own. I'm assuming I would also prefer the espresso pulled from larger flats compared to the 64mm flat I currently own as well. I believe there is a noticeable difference in taste between the larger flats I've sampled and 64mm burrs. Whether or not 64mm flat burr grinders are worth pursuing is a more complex question that will, again, come down to the consumer themselves.