Owner experience with Pharos manual coffee grinder by Orphan Espresso

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

#1: Post by michaelbenis » May 17, 2011, 10:56 am

I thought a little review might be appropriate at this stage, both for those waiting for the second wave of grinders to arrive and those who are simply curious at this stage.

The Pharos comes beautifully packed in a little branded box that holds everything nice and snug. All you need to do is fit the handle and start grinding. Once you do you will realise how much experience and thought Doug and Barb have pout into this gem: everything is solid and functional, nothing is redundant and the Pharos in every way embodies the same straightforward design elegance of the lever machines they restore and sell.

That said, don't expect plug and play. Not if you're a klutz like me. Here are a few tips to get you having fun immediately:

The Pharos is in fact a very easy grinder to dial in and use, but for espresso or Turkish grinds there are a few details worth attention that I found can make all the difference. If you watch the Orphan Espresso videos here, you will realise Doug is doing all these things automatically from his own experience with the grinder during development.

1) The adjuster ring comes smeared with a little oil to protect against moisture in transit. Give it a good wipe, and the grinder handle, since they can slip a little when you start grinding, particularly when the grinder is new and the burrs have not yet seasoned.

2) Doug mentions "finding your zero" (the point from which you dial back to get the right gap between the burrs for your chosen grind). This is a matter of feel, of making components touch, not tightening anything to "be sure". If you make the mistake I did (being someone with many thumbs and not much brains between them) of tightening the grind adjustment nut too far against the top bearing you will have two problems: the recommended settings of how far to turn back the handle will need to be increased and you will find it difficult to then loosen the nut to tighten it against the handle without moving the burrs when you release it from the top bearing, making your settings vary. I find it easiest to push the burrs together either by pushing the bottom of the shaft or by pulling the handle upwards and to then screw down the adjuster nut until it only just makes contact with the upper bearing. Then turn down the handle to the zero point but again so that it only just makes contact with the adjuster nut. No screwing it on or in (or up)! Everything is then as simple as you can see in the videos. Tightening the adjustment nut against the handle by hand should be sufficient to lock them together, but in the beginning I still found that a tight grind could still cause them to shift down a little (this was mainly due to what I mention in the next point, but also I think to the burrs being new). I got around this by locking the two together using the little breakout bar pin, but that shouldn't be necessary.

3) Take a look at Doug using the Pharos for an espresso grind. The shots where he is grinding on a table, not holding the grinder between his knees (which is a great way of using it). Look hard (harder than I did in the beginning) and you will see that he isn't so much holding the grinder with a sideways pressure to stop is rotating as also holding it down onto the table. He is also applying a slight downward pressure to the handle. This is the most important tip. It doesn't simply hold everything in place so that the Pharos doesn't shift around on the table, it also ensures the shaft is pushed fully down and that the burrs are therefore the distance apart that you need for your grind as soon as you start grinding. I had a tendency to push that nice solid knob round sideways but not down, indeed almost pulling up on it, which will lock the burrs and beans up at the beginning of a fine grind and can even cause the handle and adjuster nut to screw down, locking things up even more. These are easy mistakes to make (well they were for me, anyway :oops: ) and can make things very frustrating until you realise what you are doing.

Having noted and moved on from all that, using the Pharos properly is very easy and the grind settings repeatable and simple to fine-tune because you just dial the handle like the hand of a clock above the round top plate and it takes quite a large movement of the handle to make a small change.

So what are the results like compared in particular to my Super Jolly and Elektra Nino?

Well, you get a typical fluffy big burr grind, which I am currently dosing into the filter basket using a teaspoon from a bowl into which I empty the Pharos. I must admit I don't find the original design too problematic from this standpoint, though the funnel arrangement does look like an improvement. Sprinkling the grinds in using the teaspoon is enough to get good, consistent distribution without any fiddling.

Moving on to the results in the cup, I should emphasise that from my experience these big conical burrs take quite a lot of seasoning (running in) before they reveal their full potential in terms of speed of grind and taste profile, but the results so far are absolutely excellent.

The Pharos is certainly a very fast hand grinder - the fastest I have ever used. So fast that I could see it happily replacing my dosered Super Jolly as a second grinder. It would be a wonderful first grinder bar none for anyone who doesn't find themselves having to make coffee for more than a few people on a regular basis

Not surprisingly, the way shots pour is also typical of a big burr (Titan) grinder - very predictable, consistent and forgiving. The improvement over the Super Jolly is easy to notice.

The taste profile is sweeter and brighter than the Super Jolly and more layered. It is also a little brighter but I think also very slightly sweeter than the Nino. In short, it is right up there with the top-of-the range Titan grinders for a fraction of the price and kitchen space. It's a tremendous achievement.

Congratulations, Doug and Barb! And many thanks: my travelling days with this and the Bacchi (which suit each other wonderfully in shape as much as anything else) are going to be stellar now! :D



...split from Pharos manual grinder by Orphan Espresso by moderator...
LMWDP No. 237

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim » May 17, 2011, 4:00 pm

michaelbenis wrote:The taste profile is sweeter and brighter than the Super Jolly and more layered. It is also a little brighter but I think also very slightly sweeter than the Nino. In short, it is right up there with the top-of-the range Titan grinders for a fraction of the price and kitchen space. It's a tremendous achievement.
Hallelujah -- I was getting tired of telling people they had to spend $1500 for best in class espresso grinding.
Jim Schulman

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vicroamer

#3: Post by vicroamer » May 17, 2011, 4:43 pm

Great review Michael, thanks for taking the time to share with us.

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Bluecold

#4: Post by Bluecold » May 17, 2011, 4:49 pm

another_jim wrote:Hallelujah -- I was getting tired of telling people they had to spend $1500 for best in class espresso grinding.
Telling people a $250 hand grinder is a great deal will probably be just as tiring :D

PS, great review.
LMWDP #232
"Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death I Shall Fear No Evil For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing."

Paolo

#5: Post by Paolo » May 17, 2011, 6:59 pm

Telling people a $250 hand grinder is a great deal will probably be just as tiring

Why?

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HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB » May 17, 2011, 7:48 pm

Because seasoned members have been saying it's all about the grinder for years, but their recommendations are frequently ignored by new members who splurge on the espresso machine and economize on the grinder, then wonder why the results are less than stellar.
Dan Kehn

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Clint Orchuk

#7: Post by Clint Orchuk » May 17, 2011, 7:53 pm

Really great review of a fine product. Thank you.
.

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doubleOsoul
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by doubleOsoul » May 17, 2011, 8:17 pm

Thanks so much for the in depth review. That was a good read.
Ways to win my heart:buy me coffee, make coffee, be coffee LMWDP #354

asicign

#9: Post by asicign » May 17, 2011, 9:26 pm

I should emphasise that from my experience these big conical burrs take quite a lot of seasoning (running in) before they reveal their full potential in terms of speed of grind and taste profile, but the results so far are absolutely excellent.
Does it make sense to sacrifice a pound or more to get the seasoning on the right track, or just use the grinds right from the get-go? Hopefully my grinder will be ready to ship in the next week or so.

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michaelbenis

#10: Post by michaelbenis » May 18, 2011, 3:10 am

Thanks everyone for your positive comments. I must admit to feeling a little nervous about this having become a standalone review and was thinking of editing it so that everything could be clear to a newcomer who has not read the other thread, from the design and appearance of the Pharos through to its ideal configuration for single dosing and practically zero grind retention. What do you think?

But to answer your question, asicign, I wouldn't bother with sacrificing anything at all. It takes more than a pound to season these big conical burrs (gradually taking off any irregularities and coating them with coffee oil) and the results from the start are so very good that it's really not worth the trouble.

It's easier to do that sort of thing on a motorised grinder, but more to the point, motorised big burr grinders (and the doserless ones in particualr) can be a little inconsistent when brand new, perhaps because they operate at very much higher speeds than the Pharos. There were no such issues with the Pharos.

Even now, after perhaps no more than a kilo through the grinder (I wasn't able to start using it until last weekend due to work pressure), there is no doubt that this is one of the very best grinders I have ever come across for quality in the cup (at least for espresso and Turkish - I rarely drink anything else and when I use a Swissgold filter I use an espresso grind). So I'd say concentrate on being methodical about getting the hang of dialling in the grind and then just enjoy.... You will! :D

Cheers

Mike
LMWDP No. 237