Helor Flux (106) short review and owners thread

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

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 22, 2019, 7:26 am

Peculiar that there are no extensive user reviews (yes I know of moderator TomC's review in Bench forum and few subsequent posts) nor owners thread on the Helor Flux (f/k/a Helor 106). I suspect I know the answer. People are turned off by its heft and price.

BACKGROUND OF REVIEWER/OWNER:
I have been on HB for now a decade. And no reviews posted by me to date. I felt/feel self-conscious that users at my level should mainly be quiet and let the experts talk. Until now, I have read Home-barista 99% of time and posted about 1%. But my palate and skill have greatly improved over the past decade; especially after attending Chicago-Milwaukee home-barista get togethers (GTG) since Fall 2012. That is where w.r.t. coffee and espresso I try to be quiet and absorb another_jim and the other coffee/espresso sages (sages w.r.t. knowledge and experience and not necessarily age). Also I have an oenophile father who offers feedback and loves drinking straight espresso when he and mother visit my home for their grandkids. And I am somewhat a foodie and now since 12/29/2018 an amateur-hour cook.

My palate has not/is still not in the same galaxy as experienced home-barista moderators like another_jim or senior forum members I have met at these Chicago-Milwaukee GTGs. My reviews thus are more global i.e. Siskel & Ebert Two Thumbs Up (with rare enthusiastically up), Split Thumb Up and One Down, or Two Thumbs Down. Those who met and talked in detail with me also know one reason why my palate vocabulary is poor. Good news is my adult son bought his old man a laminated SCA flavor wheel poster for Christmas 2018. I try to look at it with each straight espresso I consume. But hard as Boss refuses it to be hung in kitchen:(

REVIEW SUMMARY:
Overall Siskel & Ebert Two Thumbs and both enthusiastically. In fact it would be a Roger Ebert Great Movie (grinder).

PROS:
* This hand grinder is massive and I LOVE this characteristic.
It is 2185 grams on my Escali food scale. Its grip area diameter is no more than Helor 101 but the overall heft makes it so my teenage daughter does not like holding it. I should say I can palm hold a adult volleyball for long time and my fingers are strong (not Alex Honnold strong) and are somewhat arachnodactyly-like. Also I have (self assessment) stronger hands w/o arthritis (yet). So gripping and cranking the Flux is non-issue for me.

* Built like a tank.
Niche Zero vs. Kafetek Monolith Conical: Which is best in the cup? This thread lead me to the Helor Flux/106. I wanted a titan conical that was easier to use than my Pharos v1.1. I also wanted such grinder to last rest of my natural life (estimated at least another 30 years; my day job and references provide me with this rough estimate).

* Mazzer Robur 71mm conical burr single phase (cost $200 alone on espressoparts).

* effectively zero retention (using Ross Droplet Technique)

* If you love the Helor 101, then you (until proven otherwise) will love this. And yes, I own Helor 101 and use the Helor 101 exclusively for drip with its regular burrs.

* 3:1 gear reduction makes turning the grinder easy peasy (17 grams espresso light medium roast in 35 to 40 seconds with really fast clockwise turning of handle).


CONS:
* Did I mention this thing is large and heavy?
* If you hate hand grinders, then the Flux will do nothing to change your opinion.
* Cost. If you think Monolith grinders or used Cremina espresso machines are overpriced then you will think this grinder is overpriced. I think at $550 USD (used) this thing is a bargain. I also have no hesitation of buying $750 USD new. I went the used route b.c. new ones have been inavailable new for some time on Helor website. And no I was not going to buy new unless from manufacturer or from authorized seller (post sales customer service). And yes I am aware what country it is made in.

My user experience and photgraphs will be in subsequent posts of this thread. Other Helor Flux/106 owners, please chime in.
LMWDP #568

animus128

Postby animus128 » Mar 22, 2019, 8:21 am

I have used my 106 now for almost 1.5 years and am still very happy with it. I feel like grinding really is no effort, even for very fine settings and light roasts, at least when talking about the effort for turning the handle. Weight is the more limiting factor in usability, but I don't mind it. Disassembly for cleaning is also super easy, but not really required often. For me it is the perfect espresso hand grinder as it uses the nice Mazzer Robur burrs but without being a "standing" handgrinder. I use it for anything but super light roasts, there my Tanzania is the grinder of choice. For anything else though the 106 is amazing. One of the nicest things in my opinion is that it is way more quiet than other handgrinders because of its heavy metal enclosure. Together with the CT1 this allows for almost silent morning espressos.

def

Postby def » Mar 22, 2019, 8:27 am

Very nice review. Thank you! I had no idea this hand grinder weighs nearly 5 pounds! I guess it is not something to throw into one's suitcase.

Is it easy to make precision adjustments to the grind, and easy to see/remember the adjustment?

animus128

Postby animus128 » replying to def » Mar 22, 2019, 8:29 am

Its easy to make small adjustements as the threading is pretty fine, however, as there is no numeric scale all adjustments are relative. Also you are a few rotations away from full closing so it is really not all too easy to "remember" a setting.

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 23, 2019, 7:30 am

def wrote:Very nice review. Thank you! I had no idea this hand grinder weighs nearly 5 pounds! I guess it is not something to throw into one's suitcase.

I am debating Cafelat Robot (barista model) vs. Portaspresso Rosco (one w/o air pump thing-ma-jig BUT with pressure gauge) as travel espresso machine. The Helor Flux will be the espresso grinder. Needless to say, I plan on a dedicated big carrying case for both espresso machine and Helor Flux. Gotta have my priorities straight (i.e. my espresso travel kit is bigger and heavier than my clothes and toiletries bag).

On road trips my family already used to my travel kit: Bonavita PID kettle, Helor 101 with drip burrs, two-12 oz each bags of roast-to-order beans, one-gallon distilled water remineralized with ThirdWaveWater packet and have extra TWW packet, Clever Coffee Dripper, stack of #4 paper filters, permanent gold filter, styrofoam cups with lids, scoop, AWS scale. BTW all this fits inside standard USA grocery plastic bagx2 (for two ply strength) with room to spare.

I have never used the purchased Helor 101 espresso burr (they call it contemporary burrs). My Helor 101 is my go-to drip (regular brew) grinder. Prior to Helor Flux, my goto espresso grinder was Orphan Espresso Pharos v1.1. In the cup, comparisons of Helor 106 to Orphan Espresso v1.1 is coming up.

For me the product always trumps the portability.
LMWDP #568

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 23, 2019, 7:37 am

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Helor 101 vs. Helor 106 (Flux). Former is 595 grams and latter is 2185 grams.
LMWDP #568

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 23, 2019, 7:51 am

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Helor Flux catch cup's magnets along periphery stick to VST 58.x mm portafilter basket of the Rancilio naked portafilter.

Look Ma, no hands....just the Force:)
LMWDP #568

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 23, 2019, 7:55 am

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Orphan Espresso (for Cremina double portafilter basket) dosing funnel onto Helor Flux catch cup bottom.
LMWDP #568

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 23, 2019, 7:59 am

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Self explanatory.
LMWDP #568

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 23, 2019, 8:01 am

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For my hands, comfy fit and I love the robust feeling.
LMWDP #568