The best hand grinder vs. commercial grinder

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

#1: Post by DavC »

Hi All,

I'm sorry for my lack of knowledge, but how do the best hand grinders perform compared to say a commercial grinder? I know the workflow is totally different. If one doesn't mind putting in the manpower to make espresso, theoretically can it compare to levels like (ie. P64, Super Jolly, ek43). Sorry I understand that no one would suddenly do such a comparison, but I'm just very curious to know.

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#2: Post by iploya »

Hi, I don't own one but I believe the high-end hand grinders include some of the same burr sets or at least similarly high quality burr sets as their high-end home counterparts (e.g., Weber HG-1, Weber HG-2, etc.) and presumably are capable of the same level of espresso (?). These examples and at least one of your examples are home grinders and not "commercial" grinders per se. Then there are the more affordable, portable hand grinders that will of course have smaller and more economical burrs. Lots of threads and YouTube videos on this topic.

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#3: Post by mborkow »

The grinders you referenced are all flat burrs while hand grinders are conical. I believe they will match their motorized cousins because they use the same burrs but if you want flat there aren't really any hand grinder options.


#4: Post by erik82 »

Good handgrinders all have 71-83mm conical burrs and they match or exceed the quality of there commercial counterparts like the Mazzer Kony, Robur or Compak K10. Flat burrs and handgrinders don't work so you can't compare them to a Lagom, EK43 etc.


#5: Post by Jonk »

There is a flat hand grinder that can actually use the same burrs you can put in a Super Jolly or Lagom P64: Custom grinder Bonafabrica from Russia

Not that you really have to do that, plenty of excellent conical hand grinders that will match or surpass at least some of the commercial grinders.

There's nothing like an EK43, but on the other hand some seem to prefer the only mass produced "flat" manual grinder: Orphan Espresso Apex Grinder


#6: Post by erik82 »

And it all depends on what roasting level you like. For darker roasts you don't need or want an EK or other unimodal flat burr grinder as they'll give you worse results then a big conical. Only for pourover and light roasted espresso coffee a flat burr grinder will do a better job.


#7: Post by LewBK »

erik82 wrote:Good handgrinders all have 71-83mm conical burrs

Not sure that's true. Many people swear by the Commandante and its burrs are much smaller than that.

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#8: Post by Jeff »

First, I don't consider the Weber-class grinders "hand grinders" -- they're more full-size grinders that don't have a motor.

My experience is that:

* Hand grinders of 10-20 years ago* were barely functional for espresso. They were adequate for the pour-over of the day.

* The current crop of hand grinders has several that are very good for espresso. I can dial in a shot on a tweaky machine with one that is under US$200 and get an enjoyable cup out of it.

* Above that performance level, I don't think that anyone can definitively answer the question without stating their tastes, experiences, and preferences. Even then, I think "confirmation bias" influences many stated-as-fact opinions.

Look at, for example, the continuing discussions around what are the "best" burrs for even the same grinder. In the 64 mm crop, you'll find devotees of the each of the offerings from SSP, as well as a few that are more than happy or even prefer the stock burrs. You're sort of at the "90% level" and the differences are getting very small. Similarly, I think it is preferences that separate the conical and classic-flat devotees from those that prefer modern, flat burr sets in highly aligned grinders.

* I'm excepting the OE Pharos as it doesn't really fit my definition of "hand grinder". It was a great grinder for me, but effectively needed to be clamped or bolted down to the table.


#9: Post by nameisjoey »

LewBK wrote: Not sure that's true. Many people swear by the Commandante and its burrs are much smaller than that.
Also the Pharos 2.0 has 68mm burrs, which are the same size as 71mm burrs. The only difference is the outer diameter.


#10: Post by erik82 »

LewBK wrote: Not sure that's true. Many people swear by the Commandante and its burrs are much smaller than that.
I've owned a HG-1 for 3 years and own a Commandante MK3 but can tell you those big conical burrs do perform much better. The Commandante does a damn good job for it's size but there's no substitute for great quality big burrs.