The Helor Flux Grinder Review

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

#1: Post by TomC » Mar 02, 2018, 6:04 pm

I've been using the new Helor Flux grinder for about two months now gathering my thoughts on it and hoping to convey its features. For reference, this is the Titan grinder in your hands that was being referred to briefly in the prototype stage as the Helor 106. The Helor Flux is a stout 2150g stainless steel hand grinder bearing a set of Robur sized 71mm conical burrs. The first shot I've taken is next to a portafilter for size comparison.

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The tactile impression of the Flux is that it is precisely engineered, robust and overbuilt. It contains a gear reduction mechanism in the top cap that makes grinding even the lightest roast an absolute breeze at the only expense of longer grinding times. It's hefty, weighing in just over 2 kilos, it tops the charts in terms of heft in the hand grinder world. But if it's seen as its primary purpose of espresso grinding, then the weight issues are somewhat mitigated by the fact that you're not grinding a big 60g batch of beans for a drip brew.

Everything I feel or touch is rock solid. There's a rubberized grip around the center of the body that helps stabilize the grinder if held freehand. I found myself switching back and forth from holding it free hand, versus bracing the grinder at a slight angle in my lap if I was sitting down. The bottom of the grinder (the catch cup) is mounted with magnets and holds well and detaches easily.


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My general dose weights hover between 16-20g depending on the machine I'm using. Again, mentioning the gear reduction mechanism built into the cap greatly reduces the force needed to grind. I didn't want to disassemble anything in order to examine the gear reduction mechanism, but it takes up a considerable portion of the upper component of the grinder.

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You can see how stout the build of the grinder is, simply by noticing the thick walls of the center body of the grinder. The three structural supports of the grinder can be slightly restrictive of the largest screen sized beans, but with most coffees, there's no major issues of beans falling thru. The grinder holds about 35 grams of coffee, plus or take depending on bean size and density.

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You can see the grind adjustment knob in the the bottom of the grinder. It is step-less and easy to adjust. The catch cup will easily hold any regular dose of espresso, even up to triple baskets. While I imagine some may choose to use this as a drip brew grinder, the smaller capacity of the catch cup would mean that you'd need to empty it between grinding (and the center column won't hold much more than the catch cup anyway). The magnetic connection is a welcome touch. It's quick and easy to remove since you're not unscrewing anything or worrying about threads getting misaligned or dinged up.

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You can see the thin black rubber grip wrapped around the handle. It's reminiscent of a tennis racquet and provides a positive feel when grinding. I'm betting a micro-knurled surface would look even more "lightsaber-ish" but might also start looking like a tactical flashlight. I haven't noticed any wear on the rubber sleeve and it seems to do it's job well.

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Here's another shot of the mouth of the grinder. You can see the three recesses where the fasteners of the upper section connect to align the grinders shaft with the throat of the gear drive.

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The top of the grinder is clean and smooth with no branding or markings. It looks sleek and minimalistic.

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The pros of the grinder become obvious very early on; precise, titan grade espresso grinding in the palm of your hands, robust build quality, something tells me this thing would outlast pretty much any other coffee making tool I currently own. There's no injection molded or hollowed out parts of the grinder, it's all machined solid stock stainless steel. You can see that the outer burr is actually a structural component of the grinder it's mounted at the bottom of the base.

The cons are few but noticeable and hopefully will be addressed by the manufacturer. The wooden knob squeaks terribly. It literally sounds like 1930's Disney songbirds. Perhaps a teflon sleeve or something in-between the metal of the handle and the wooden knob will fix this issue. But squeaking like this is unacceptable in any tool costing more than $80 in my opinion and certainly shouldn't be present in a grinder set to cost an expected $950. An end user might be able to easily rectify this on their own by removing the hex screw holding the wooden knob in place and see if they can wrap some teflon or pipe tape around the inner sleeve, but as I do not own this review grinder, I opted not to disassemble it to attempt such a fix. I wouldn't be surprised if Helor hadn't noted this issue and addressed it already.

The only remaining "con" is the grind adjustment can be a bit tricky to dial in. You'll want to use all 2 kilos of the grinders mass to bludgeon anyone who moves your grind setting out of where you've dialed it in to without you knowing, because the time it takes to get it set just right can often mean an under/over-shoot. Grinding a single dose of 20g can take about 50 seconds, and although fairly effortless in terms of needed torque, the time it takes to get that one dose out, only to find that it's too fine or too coarse means it's a bit of a drain going back to dial in. But once it's set at the proper flow needed for your shot, it stays there just fine and doesn't creep. I had taken this grinder along with my Cremina down to LA for Christmas and all my family raved about the quality of the drinks made and many wanted to use it themselves since it was easy to grind with.

All in-all, it's an impressively built, solid Titan grade hand grinder that travels easily. It's carving out its own niche in the market at the moment. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll make every attempt to answer them.

John49

#2: Post by John49 » Mar 02, 2018, 6:20 pm

Tom I'm surprised that it takes 50 sec for 20 g. I can get 18 g in under 30 sec on my Kinu M47.

max

#3: Post by max » Mar 02, 2018, 6:32 pm

Thanks for sharing! Being a big fan of Helor, I've been wondering about this grinder for quite a while.
TomC wrote:The wooden knob squeaks terribly.
Some 101's suffer from this as well. I just loosened the screw and added the tiniest amount of lube (had OE lever pin lube at home) on the axle. Not only is it quiet, but the feel of grinding is considerably improved.

ira
Supporter ♡

#4: Post by ira » Mar 02, 2018, 6:51 pm

Old fashioned paste car or floor wax can also work well for lubricating wood on metal:

Ira

User avatar
TomC
Team HB

#5: Post by TomC » Mar 02, 2018, 7:11 pm

John49 wrote:Tom I'm surprised that it takes 50 sec for 20 g. I can get 18 g in under 30 sec on my Kinu M47.
Yes, the gear reduction really slows it down. You don't want to be using this to grind a 60g batch brew...

But then again, it's aimed at espresso and does that quite well.

animus128

#6: Post by animus128 » Mar 02, 2018, 7:44 pm

Now that this grinder is poping up here I decided to finally make an account on HB. I also have been using this grinder for a little over two month and already wrote a few thoughts on the German coffee forum. I bought this grinder to pair it with my newly bought Strietman as an addtion to my v60 and Lido 3. The reason I bougth the 106 simply was, that I really enjoyed the ergonomics of the Lido and don't really like the idea of "stand" grinders like the Kinu M68 or the HG 1.

I have two say, that I am super happy with the purchase, especially for the price I got it add (4250 RMB). I don't have the problem with the knob you mentioned, so I guess that is something not consistent along all the grinders. Addtionally, my grind time is pretty much exactly at 0.5g per second (not counting the last few seconds where there is basically no resistance and there are just the last few crumbs of coffee left). If there is interest, I can also give a little more detailed thoughts about the grinder in the next couple of days. Just one thing to finish on, because of the quality and weight of the 106, using the Lido now feels like a toy ;)

samuellaw178
Team HB

#7: Post by samuellaw178 » Mar 02, 2018, 7:45 pm

Thanks Tom for the review! Curious if taste testing comparison is in the card, or if that's too tedious? :P

treq10

#8: Post by treq10 » Mar 02, 2018, 7:46 pm

Thanks, Tom for the review. I've been waiting a while to hear about how this grinder works.

I have to say, $950 for a hand espresso grinder is kinda hard to swallow. Why not just buy a used Mazzer SJ or Mini and get SSP burrs for a similar price?

If it's about travel, 2 kilo hand grinder for espresso is hardly something to take around on long trips...

I don't really get the value of this thing, even if it's beautiful to look at and sturdily built...For me, hand grinding was always about the price to value ratio given that you're only making a few cups of coffee for personal use or for travel. It'd be interesting to see the grind quality data on the burrs down the road. ~50s for 20g dose and difficulty of dialing in sounds...less than optimal. Just my 2cents.

animus128

#9: Post by animus128 » Mar 02, 2018, 7:53 pm

treq10 wrote:$950 for a hand espresso grinder? Why not just buy a used Mazzer SJ or Mini and get SSP burrs for a similar price which is WAY more bang for the buck?

If it's about travel, 2 kilo hand grinder for espresso is hardly something to take around on long trips...

I don't really get the value of this thing, even if it's beautiful to look at and sturdily built...
Well to be fair, the "real" price in China is 4200 RMB (ca. 550€) which is quite cheap considering that the burrs alone are worth over 200€.

treq10

#10: Post by treq10 » Mar 02, 2018, 7:59 pm

True. But in China, you can also get a HeyCafe grinder which can extract to 20% for 1450 RMB ($250~ USD). I used it for the past year during my time studying there, and I would buy the HeyCafe over the Helor in a heartbeat. If I can get the SSP burrset through Decent Espresso down the road, that's an even better deal...

I think it's really about user preference and experience because I know that many people would MUCH prefer something beautiful and pleasant to use as the Helor 106. But for price to value, I think the 106 gets priced out at any price point above $500 USD. Just imho. :D