OEM vs. third party grinder burrs

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

#1: Post by smillions »

Another newbee (that's me) takes the plunge...

I bought a Miss Silvia in early January, but I could not decide on a grinder so I said to myself, "Self, you should just use your old Krups almost a burr grinder while you do more research. That way you can still enjoy the coffee while you decide on a grinder." (The queue to smack me up the side of the head forms up over there; single file please). Boy was that a bad idea... it is a good thing that I like lattes, 'cause there is no way I would be able to choke down the espressos that I've been making.

So I finally made a decision and purchased a Mazzer Major on eBay the other day. Now I am patiently (yeah, right) awaiting its arrival. While I'm waiting I am researching the cleaning/repairing/rebuilding of Mazzer grinders so that I have a clue of what to do when my precious arrives. Since it seems highly likely I will need/want new burrs, I am wondering about the quality of the 3rd party burrs vs the Mazzer burrs. Are they all within an acceptable tolerance range that it just doesn't matter or do I need to be careful of what I get? There doesn't seem to be much of a price difference (for the Major, the SJ seems to be a different story from what I have seen) and there doesn't seem to be any 'interesting' options (like the duranium burrs) for the Major, so OEM vs 3rd party seems to be the only variable.

Thoughts/comments?

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sweaner
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#2: Post by sweaner »

I would suggest just getting genuine Mazzer burrs. Why take a chance to save only a couple of bucks?
Scott
LMWDP #248

Ken Fox

#3: Post by Ken Fox »

OEM burrs typically cost TWO to THREE times as much as "knockoffs;" it is not just a couple of bucks in most instances. Good "knockoffs" are often made in exactly the same factory as the branded ones, by the same suppliers. Few grinder makers actually produce their own burrs; they are subcontracted out as the Italian (and Spanish) espresso parts business is very specialized with a huge number of suppliers whose parts end up in products sold under a brand name.

Just because a retailer is an authorized dealer for a given line of machines does not necessarily mean that they sell OEM parts when there are identical or nearly identical "knockoff" parts available for a fraction of the OEM parts' prices. I have, for example, bought replacement group gaskets from more than one dealer that was selling knockoffs (for full boat price), that were clearly not OEM.

I have bought Cimbali Junior burrs from coffeeparts.com in Australia (when the currency rates were favorable) and from Michael and Angelo at Espresso Parts Source (818-787-7179). These burrs were indistinguishable from Cimbali OEM burrs. In the case of the burrs from Espresso Parts Source, they were made to identical specs by the burr mfr. who makes the same burrs for Cimbali. I know this because Michael and Angelo told me this, and they are people who can be trusted.

I would not buy any new burrs for a used grinder until I received it and had a look at it. First of all you want to be sure that the grinder itself is functional, because if it is not you may be able to return it to the seller or file an insurance claim if it is damaged enroute. In addition, you might be surprised to find that the grinder did not have much use before, or that the prior owner changed the burrs recently, in which case a burr change would not be needed for a while.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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cafeIKE

#4: Post by cafeIKE »

What Ken said.

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#5: Post by RapidCoffee »

Chris Coffee has particularly attractive pricing on Major burrs. Owen O'Neill (Phaelon Coffee, check his eBay store) also carries Mazzer parts at good prices.
John

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sweaner
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#6: Post by sweaner »

When you are talking 2-3 times the price of OEM, and the OEM price is $50-70 or so then it is not significant, especially given the cost of the grinder in question. If I KNEW that the knock-offs were tested and were of equal quality that would be different.
Scott
LMWDP #248

smillions

#7: Post by smillions »

Ken Fox wrote:OEM burrs typically cost TWO to THREE times as much as "knockoffs;" it is not just a couple of bucks in most instances. Good "knockoffs" are often made in exactly the same factory as the branded ones, by the same suppliers. Few grinder makers actually produce their own burrs; they are subcontracted out as the Italian (and Spanish) espresso parts business is very specialized with a huge number of suppliers whose parts end up in products sold under a brand name.
I was wondering about that. That is one of the downsides to mail ordering parts; it is hard to tell the "Good 'knockoffs'" from the bad. Seems like a good reason to avoid buying from "Joe Anybody" on eBay.
I have bought Cimbali Junior burrs from coffeeparts.com in Australia (when the currency rates were favorable) and from Michael and Angelo at Espresso Parts Source (818-787-7179). These burrs were indistinguishable from Cimbali OEM burrs. In the case of the burrs from Espresso Parts Source, they were made to identical specs by the burr mfr. who makes the same burrs for Cimbali. I know this because Michael and Angelo told me this, and they are people who can be trusted.
That is good to know, I will add them to my list of suppliers.
I would not buy any new burrs for a used grinder until I received it and had a look at it. First of all you want to be sure that the grinder itself is functional, because if it is not you may be able to return it to the seller or file an insurance claim if it is damaged enroute. In addition, you might be surprised to find that the grinder did not have much use before, or that the prior owner changed the burrs recently, in which case a burr change would not be needed for a while.

ken
I was not planning on ordering anything until after I have given the grinder a good cleaning and inspection, for all the reasons you mentioned as well as to avoid excessive shipping charges (cross border shipping can be very pricey). UPS estimates they will deliver my grinder this Thursday; not that I'm counting :) .
RapidCoffee wrote:Chris Coffee has particularly attractive pricing on Major burrs. Owen O'Neill (Phaelon Coffee, check his eBay store) also carries Mazzer parts at good prices.
Thanks. I had noticed that Chris Coffee seemed to have the best price on the burrs at the moment, but the Phaelon Coffee eBay store does not currently have any items for sale.
sweaner wrote:When you are talking 2-3 times the price of OEM, and the OEM price is $50-70 or so then it is not significant, especially given the cost of the grinder in question. If I KNEW that the knock-offs were tested and were of equal quality that would be different.
And given the 600kg life expectancy (at my current volume, that would be about 50 years!) I would have to get the knockoffs really cheap for it to influence my decision. And like you said, if you knew they were the same quality, that would be different.

Thanks for all the input.

Ken Fox

#8: Post by Ken Fox »

sweaner wrote:When you are talking 2-3 times the price of OEM, and the OEM price is $50-70 or so then it is not significant, especially given the cost of the grinder in question. If I KNEW that the knock-offs were tested and were of equal quality that would be different.
For what grinder are you quoting that price? I do not believe that you can buy Cimbali or Mazzer branded burrs (say 64mm or larger) for that price, even if they are from an authorized dealer. The authorized dealer, if he is selling those burrs for that price, is most probably not selling OEM branded burrs bought directly from Cimbali or Mazzer. What they will tell you is maybe different, but I don't believe them because their margins would be miniscule or even negative.

What they are probably doing is buying aftermarket burrs and selling them for that price, while hoping that you will assume that they are branded burrs bought directly through their normal branded parts channel.

The last time I bought knockoff burrs, several years ago, I paid about $30 or $35 for them from reliable suppliers. At this point in time, with the erosion of the US$ and inflation, I'd guess they cost more than that. Real, branded burrs bought directly from the mfr of the grinder are more likely to cost around $100 at retail. The reason you don't see prices like that quoted is that the dealers, authorized or not, know they can't sell those $100 burr sets, so they don't carry them, and they are selling knockoffs.

Given a choice of two identical sets of knockoff burrs being sold for 1x or 2x a given price, I'll take the 1x version anytime :mrgreen:

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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JohnB.
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#9: Post by JohnB. »

You can buy Mazzer packaged Super Jolly(64mm) burrs for $35, sometimes less. I only paid $50 for the duranium burrs although I have seen them as high as $88.
LMWDP 267

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RapidCoffee
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#10: Post by RapidCoffee »

Ken Fox wrote:For what grinder are you quoting that price? I do not believe that you can buy Cimbali or Mazzer branded burrs (say 64mm or larger) for that price, even if they are from an authorized dealer. The authorized dealer, if he is selling those burrs for that price, is most probably not selling OEM branded burrs bought directly from Cimbali or Mazzer.
...
Real, branded burrs bought directly from the mfr of the grinder are more likely to cost around $100 at retail.
Ken, that may be true of your beloved Cimbali burrs, but not Mazzer. Both Chris Nachtrieb and Owen O'Neill are standup guys, and they are selling Mazzer Major burrs for $50-55 (including shipping). The Major burrs I just received from Owen certainly appear to be the genuine article:
Image
Some old burrs atop new burr packaging. 64mm SJ burrs look puny by comparison.
smillions wrote:And given the 600kg life expectancy (at my current volume, that would be about 50 years!) I would have to get the knockoffs really cheap for it to influence my decision.
I like to be conservative, and swap them out at half the rated capacity. That's only a quarter of a century. :mrgreen:
John