Confused about grinders

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

#1: Post by Bar »

If grinders are supposed to be more important than the actual espresso machine why are the pros in this group even talking about inexpensive izpresso kmax grinders? I am new but cant get my head around this.

ira
Team HB

#2: Post by ira »

Not everyone has the money to buy today's current end game grinder? So for some, it's how do I make the best coffee, espresso or pour over for somewhere between the least possible expense and what they can afford.

lessthanjoey

#3: Post by lessthanjoey »

They're also very good for the money. If you're happy to grind by hand.

Bar (original poster)

#4: Post by Bar (original poster) »

Okay I must be mistaken. With my Breville Express it sounded to me like I had one of the cheapest units in the group.

Primacog

#5: Post by Primacog »

Bar wrote:If grinders are supposed to be more important than the actual espresso machine why are the pros in this group even talking about inexpensive izpresso kmax grinders? I am new but cant get my head around this.
I agree that having a great grinder makes a huge difference. However a df64 with ssp burrs can already give an exemplary level of grinding performance that greatly exceeds its $500 cost.

In order to clearly exceed it, you would need to go to the level of the single dosing titan grinders such as the kafatek monolith max, lagom p100, titus nautilus, weber eg-1, ditting 807 lab sweet etc that all cost more than $2.5K and extend to more than 4k. This is basically the cost of many really good espresso machines. For me, I find it hard to countenance spending the equivalent of a whole espresso machine to buy a grinder. The grinder only does one thing- grind the beans to as even and fine regularity as possible. The motor, design of the grind chamber and the burrs and maybe a pre-breaker auger design and that's basically it. On the other hand a espresso machine is a much more complex system. Paying the same money for a grinder does not seem to me to be a good value for money proposition.
LMWDP #729

ira
Team HB

#6: Post by ira »

The reason grinders get expensive is the precision required. There is essentially nothing in an espresso machine that requires holding tight tolerances whereas a really good grinder requires tolerances as close to zero as you can get and tolerances cost. Also, almost everything in a grinder has to be custom made and it's only recently that single dose grinders have started selling in enough quantity to start seeing the cost savings of high production.

FWIW< I had a neighbor with a basic Breville espresso machine with built in grinder. When paired with my Monolith Flat, it was more than capable of pulling an excellent shot, something it struggled with using it's built in grinder.

User avatar
AssafL

#7: Post by AssafL »

I think what confuses people is that "precision costs".

A precision ball bearing looks like an inexpensive Ali express one. On the first the burr will spin perfectly. On the latter it may run perfectly or wobble. Depends on luck.

The 350$ bodine or Oriental Motor in the Versalab or Monolith looks (well not quite) as the small universal motor in the Niche.

Burrs look all the same until you examine the PSD or put them on a jig to measure runout.

Also - checking every grinder with a PSD. Or a refractometer. And adjusting for perfect parallelism and concentricity of the burrs takes time (time is money).

Nearly perfect tolerance can be cheap as well. The best example is thermometers for human use: 0.1 to 0.01C accuracy (not just precision - also accuracy). They are made in the 100's of millions hence the ability to make a cheap precision instrument.

If millions bought grinders they'd be cheap too.

Edit: And it may be that a few taps on the spindle and retorquing the nuts doesn't solve the alignment outrun. In those cases you'd have to replace the motor or bearing or burr. If you use precision stuff the manufacturer will replace it.

But you just spent time trying to adjust, failing, disassembling and reassembling stuff. All that goes into pricing.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.

erik82

#8: Post by erik82 »

Primacog wrote:For me, I find it hard to countenance spending the equivalent of a whole espresso machine to buy a grinder. The grinder only does one thing- grind the beans to as even and fine regularity as possible. The motor, design of the grind chamber and the burrs and maybe a pre-breaker auger design and that's basically it. On the other hand a espresso machine is a much more complex system. Paying the same money for a grinder does not seem to me to be a good value for money proposition.
Following your thoughts an espresso machine is just a stupid overpressure boiler and water heater and also in no sense complex. That's just cutting corners. There's a lot more to a grinder then what you wrote and even then an end game grinder costing 2.5-4K is still cheap compared to espresso machines in the same league costing over 10-15K (Slayer, KvdW, LM Linea etc). You're comparing top end grinder against simple espresso machines. A Kinu M47 is comparable to a E61 in terms of same level.

Making grinders with such small tolerances and runouts is extremely difficult. There's not a lot of machines capable of making such high end parts. And in the end a great grinder paired with a moderate espresso machine will make better espresso then a moderate grinder paired with a high end espresso machine.

PIXIllate
Supporter ♡

#9: Post by PIXIllate »

Anyone who thinks high end grinders aren't important has never tried one. Espresso is hard if you want to have great shots back to back to back. Never again would I want to try to do it at that quality level without a Kafatek. Paired with my modest Profitec 600 flow control espresso machine owning these grinders made it possible to enjoy making espresso and exploring the beans without having any concerns about the gear.

Primacog

#10: Post by Primacog »

erik82 wrote:Following your thoughts an espresso machine is just a stupid overpressure boiler and water heater and also in no sense complex. That's just cutting corners. There's a lot more to a grinder then what you wrote and even then an end game grinder costing 2.5-4K is still cheap compared to espresso machines in the same league costing over 10-15K (Slayer, KvdW, LM Linea etc). You're comparing top end grinder against simple espresso machines. A Kinu M47 is comparable to a E61 in terms of same level.

Making grinders with such small tolerances and runouts is extremely difficult. There's not a lot of machines capable of making such high end parts. And in the end a great grinder paired with a moderate espresso machine will make better espresso then a moderate grinder paired with a high end espresso machine.
I am.comparing the cost of a titan grinder vs the cost of extremely good machines that don't give up much if any oerformance to even the most outlandish machines such as the nurri leva or the acs vesuvius evo - they can be almost the same cost.

I take your point about the exponentially increasing cost of making a precision instrument of greater and greater precision. Still, i think the level of complexity when it arrives at the level of a KvdW or a LM Leva X is on an entirely different level when compared to any grinder - even the most titanic one...

I recall the days more than 10 years ago when a titan grinder like the compak k10 could be purchased for 1.5k and now the entry cost of the state of the art is many times that level cost wise....

I would very much like to own such a titan grinder but i still find it difficult to stomach the cost of these titan grinders. Maybe I wil make the plunge one of these days and find out what im missing....
LMWDP #729