Two Video Reviews Reveal Why New Grinder Reviews Generally Can't Be Trusted

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.

#1: Post by LewBK »

So, about a year ago, Brian Quan purchased a Monolith MC4 and titled his two part video "Endgame Grinder Buying Experience." In it he sings the praises of the MC4 as an end-game conical grinder. More recently, he posted a review of the "shurikone" burr set for the MC4. In that subsequent review he reveals that he basically hasn't used the MC4 for months since he purchased it because he was unhappy with the Mazzer burrs in it, and he talks about their many failings for light roasts. Instead, we should buy the shurikone burrs now, which fix those problems. That means the original purchase wasn't really "an endgame grinder." It was more like a constantly upgrade grinder, and spend more money on grinders because nothing is really an "endgame grinder" to video reviewers. I am not saying Quan lied. In fact, I suspect his enthusiasm in both reviews is genuine. The problem is many people into coffee as a hobby are always looking for the next great product, the next shiny new thing to play with. So, their reviews must be taken with some skepticism. Shurikone burrs cost an additional $495. I would be far more interested if most reviewers waited at least a year after they purchased the grinder to review it, so they really have time to judge it more objectively. Below are the two reviews to compare:
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#2: Post by Ivyb82 »

It's an annoying trend that I've noticed within the specialty coffee world. If something is being labeled as a "end game" grinder, then shouldn't there be diminishing returns for all other grinders? I would definitely question that reviewers credibility for all future reviews.

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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

I'm confused. It isn't as if the performance - and limitations - of the 71mm Mazzer conical burrset hasn't been well-known for years.

He didn't say anything about light roasts in the first video, which is an unboxing video. He just used the supplied coffee, which is solely-Brazil-based "blended and roasted for balance when enjoyed as a cappuccino, latte, or americano," i.e., pretty much the antithesis of a high-quality light roast for filter coffee. Why would one assume anything about how a grinder performs for light roasts when the reviewer has used the unit for only a few hours and has pulled one coffee, and that coffee that is not even remotely a light espresso roast, let alone a light filter roast?

With the Shurikones, he says that they are just like the Mazzers, but better. Not different, better. He did not say that the Shurikones are a match, or even in the same league as, for, example, the various 98mm brew burrs for light roasts. He doesn't recommend the Shurikones for light roasts. Again, I'm confused.

If you are assuming that an "end-game" grinder should be great at everything, then I have yet to taste such a grinder or burrset.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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#4: Post by Capuchin Monk »

LewBK wrote:That means the original purchase wasn't really "an endgame grinder." It was more like a constantly upgrade grinder, and spend more money on grinders because nothing is really an "endgame grinder" to video reviewers.
That's called marketing. It's all for that steady income by steady release of products and make consumers want to buy them. It's not just in coffee world, it's everywhere, sporting goods, audio / video electronics, cleaning gadgets, even more in digital products. In automobile world, it's done by combining with planned obsolescence. We (consumers) are basically perceived as lab rats. :(

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#5: Post by Jake_G »

Well, endgame gets replaced with endergame and then endestgame, the there's the best, even better than best and the most bestest ever!

Then there's the new thing that's way better than the last most bestest thing. Little Caesar's Pizza has it right with there ExtraMostBestest pizzas.

This is why I'm very agnostic to clickbait reviews.

I have called the Linea Micra the easiest espresso machine I've used. I think that's true. But would have felt this way if I was handed this machine 13 years ago, when I first experienced espresso from a machine with a pump in it? It is impossible to answer. So I don't fault Brian for saying "this is fantastic" and then realizing, as his tastes and capabilities evolve, that what was once fantastic has been eclipsed by something else.

Should he have never put out the positive review? Should he have put out a second review, as soon as he stopped using it? I don't know.

I do remember that when I bought my boring gas grill 16 years ago, I did my research and there was a reason I chose a Webber grill over the cheaper alternatives available at the time: It was the age of the reviews.

Char Grill reviews:
  • "I haven't even opened the box, it's great!!! 5 stars
  • Worked great all summer! 4 stars
  • Got it last year, works ok. 3 stars
  • Burner rusted out after 2 years. 1 star
Webber reviews:
  • I finally replaced my dad's 30 year old webber with this new one. 5 stars
  • Had it for 5 years, igniter went out, but still works great. 4 stars
  • 10 years old and going strong. 5 stars
  • Gave my 20 year old grill to my daughter. Bought a new one and I love it. 5 stars
New reviews represent the honeymoon phase. Shiny objects are always shiny when they're new, so I don't pay them much attention. But hey, what's a reviewer to do? Not review things? I review things because I enjoy it and a non-zero number of folks don't hate what I have to say, so I do it. I'm not "a reviewer", but I like sharing my thoughts, so I do.


- Jake
LMWDP #704


#6: Post by coyote-1 »

@Jake_G: I have a CharGriller. It's a fantastic smoker (I use split logs of cherry or apple) and a great small grill (using the smoke box as a grill), and after more than a decade it has zero rust. I also have a Weber propane grill that haz zero rust after 25 years. But the CharGriller Smokin' Pro is very analogous to this espresso adventure. There are folks on forums just like this one, telling you that "you'll be frustrated" unless you spend a thousand dollars on your smoker. And it's balderdash. My ribs and shoulders and briskets etc are always the talk of whatever event I bring them to. I store both grills in the garage. When taken care of, things like this can give you a lifetime of service.

It's not about gear. It's just not.

Going back to the "end game" anything, there will always be something out there to lust for. Some greener grass. If chasing it gets you happy then by all means do it!


#7: Post by flyingtoaster »

If anybody is in doubt whether reviews can be trusted, watch the Timemore 078 "reviews." If you haven't figured it out by then, then boy, I don't know what to tell you.

Regarding the MC5, Brian's dad owns a MAX. Brian has access to the MAX and he prefers lighter roasts. As such, it stands to reason that he is going to use the MAX.

I pre-ordered a September MC5 because there are enough comparisons by actual users to surmise that it would be the best (current) grinder for the medium roast espressos I enjoy.

LewBK (original poster)

#8: Post by LewBK (original poster) »

I don't have a problem per se with reviews. I often find them valuable, even when I treat them with skepticism. I do however have a problem with reviewers champing at the bit to post or do a video about brand new products without testing them properly and putting them through their paces for a while. The goal of posting the first review of that new product supercedes providing a thorough accurate review that can only be realized over time. We have currently on this board reviews of grinders that haven't even come out really for a mass audience or are only just available--the new Niche Duo and the Sculptor--and have barely been tested really. The consequences in this specific case with the MC4 is that Quan hyped the product as "end game" and then basically hasn't used it much for several months because he was unhappy with it for light roasts. Anyone who bought into the new grinder hype of that initial video might well have been disappointed and now is facing the prospect of spending an additional $495 for the Shurikone burrs, which will be "end game" until they're not. Why not wait some months, or better yet a year before reviewing? Or at least warn viewers/readers--look I'm salivating over the newness of this thing and may be a little overexuberant, so take my words with a grain of salt? People are spending real money on these things and may not have the funds to upgrade what they initially thought was their "end game" grinder or buy the next "end game" one.


#9: Post by flyingtoaster »

Did Brian say the MC4 was "end game" for light roasts? If not, I don't see a problem with assuming his audience already knows that conicals are suited for medium-dark roasts. Have you have seen enough reviews to know this too?

LewBK (original poster)

#10: Post by LewBK (original poster) »

He says things in the original Mazzer burr review like "if you get bad tasting coffee, it's probably you," the grinder has "clarity" like a flat burr because of the twin burrs but a "wide sweet spot" and compares the taste to the Ditting Lab Sweet burrs. Then in the second video he acknowledges he hasn't really used the MC4 with the Mazzer burrs for months as he's had some not great tasting coffee with it for light roasts. So, was it "user error" or a problem with the burrs? Then he says the new Shurikones are like the Lab Sweet burrs and they're now the best. That's hype for both reviews really except the first review didn't live up to the hype.