Category Archives: Grinders

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Grinder

How Does It Compare?

The hearty Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a well-rounded machine built with powerful, slow rotating steel burrs and stepped adjustments. With over 40 distinct settings, the Virtuoso makes dialing in you grind a snap. It’s designed to grind for a wide range of brew methods, however, the stepped settings limit you to set increments, which means you have less control over your grind. That’s where the Baratza Preciso Grinder comes in—it’s nearly identical to the Virtuoso but features 40 macro and an additional 11 micro steps for each to create more customization. Both models have 40mm steel conical burrs that can create beautiful, consistent grounds. Just so you know, the Virtuoso is the grinder of choice in the SCG kitchen and it never fails to make the Crew a good cup of coffee! One of the highlights of the Virtuoso is it’s always consistent and not too loud, which for us, means we can make pot after pot without disturbing the office.

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a compact, entry-level grinder perfect for a variety of brew methods.
The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is a compact, entry-level grinder perfect for a variety of brew methods.

Grind

With 40 grind settings, the Baratza Virtuoso Grinder is ready to grind from fine espresso to a coarse French press. Pro Tip: The marked adjustments are in increments of two, so when you’re going from one (fine) to 40 (coarse) just keep that in mind. We took the grinder out for a spin at the coarsest setting and discovered its consistency left more to be desired. That’s not surprising because the coarser you go the more space the burrs have to allow grounds to escape. We usually have our grinder set at about 20 or 22 for our drip coffee maker and noticed it was much more consistent in the drip range.

The Virtuoso features 40 grind settings. Pro Tip: Each marker is in increments of two.
The Virtuoso features 40 grind settings. Pro Tip: Each marker is in increments of two.

The consistency of the finer grind is partly thanks to the 40mm steel conical burrs—steel tends to create more consistent grounds. Pair those burrs with the 40 stepped adjustments and it’s easy for us coffee lovers to replicate cup after cup without much fuss. Even though stepped adjustments are limiting, it does make it easier to dial in and find again if you switch the grind size. In fact, if you’re trying to make espresso, that could be a turnoff with the limited adjustments.

Grade

Sure, the 40 stepped settings offer a wide range of brewing methods for baristas, but there’s a catch. The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder can do espresso but it’s incredibly limited to how dialed in you can get—that’s why there are so many grinders specifically designed for espresso. Even at the finest setting, we felt it would be better suited for a pressurized portafilter. That means you’re probably not using the Virtuoso with high-end machines with only non-pressurized options. If you were interested in using the Virtuoso on a semi-automatic without a pressurized portafilter, we’d recommend stepping up to the Preciso. However, at this affordable price point, we think people interested in the Virtuoso are also interested in pour over, drip or a smaller, entry-level espresso machine.

Glamour

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder runs quietly, thanks in part to the slow 450 RPM  burr speed. All grinders make a little noise, but the Crew appreciates that we can grind enough coffee for a couple of pots without alerting the whole office. Another reason it grinds smoothly is the metal casing wrapped around the top, which helps the stability of the grinder and keeps the vibration down. Fashion and function! We dig it.

The Virtuoso features both a timed and manual option for grinding.
The Virtuoso features both a timed and manual option for grinding.
The timer goes up to 60-seconds of grinding.
The timer goes up to 60-seconds of grinding.

The compact, sleek design is one of its glamorous qualities—the 8-ounce bean hopper only makes the grinder 13 inches high. We bet that’ll clear most cabinets. Most of the specialty coffees we carry are in 12-ounce bags, so we can easily run a whole bags worth. The only catch is that the steel burrs heat up if grinding that much coffee—we recommend grinding smaller amounts and then letting the grinder rest. And with the manual-style 60-second timer, it’s clear to us that it’s designed to grind small amounts.

The 8-ounce bean hopper makes the grinder 13-inches tall.
The 8-ounce bean hopper makes the grinder 13-inches tall.

Conclusion

The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder features a wide range of easily adjusted settings to accomplish drinks from an espresso to a rich French press coffee. We typically see this grinder going home with beginner brewers, but at SCG, we have a wide range of experienced baristas, who all enjoy using the Virtuoso in the morning. It’s compact, quiet and the stepped grind settings make it a user-friendly grinder. What’s your favorite feature on the Virtuoso? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Crew Comparison: Breville Barista Express vs Smart Grinder Pro

How Does It Compare?

We’re comparing grinder to grinder today—but we made this Crew Comparison more interesting by matching the Breville Smart Grinder Pro with the grinder in the Breville Barista Express. We actually get this question a lot: How’s the grinder in the Barista Express compared to a standalone grinder? For starters, most built-in grinders are designed specifically for that machine, which is true for the Barista Express. This semi-automatic comes equipped with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters that’s perfect for beginner to experienced baristas, who want to practice pulling espresso shots. We took the Barista Express’ grinder for a spin with both portafilters and found it could easily be dialed in for different beans, and if you got lazy with the grind, the pressurized basket was capable of compensating and making a delicious shot.

The Breville Barista Express features a conical burr grinder that fine-tuned for espresso.
The Breville Barista Express features a conical burr grinder that fine-tuned for espresso.

In comparison, the Smart Grinder Pro has the capacity to work with other brewers. You could dial it in for coarse French press or fine espresso—extremely fine too. If you’re looking to use your grinder for different brewers, the intuitive digital display on the Smart Grinder Pro makes it easier to dial in. Since it’s designed to use with many brewers, Breville included a grind container with a lid and two portafilter holders for your convenience. That said, both of these machines are made by Breville—who, we might add, consistently includes user-friendly features throughout their line-up—so we took each machine home for a closer look.

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features intuitive and programmable settings that makes getting coffee you love a breeze.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features intuitive and programmable settings that makes getting coffee you love a breeze.

Grind

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro features a manual turn dial to set the “grind size” from one to 60 (60 being the coarsest). The 40mm stainless steel conical burrs are designed to create even particles and fewer fines. Just for fun, we decided to see how long it would take to grind up enough grounds for 12 cups of coffee at the coarsest setting (60 grind size). We clocked it in at 38.2 seconds! Fortunately, the big 16-ounce bean hopper had plenty of beans to accommodate 12 cups worth of grounds.

Bonus: The Smart Grinder Pro has an additional 10 adjustment located on the top of the burr. However, these are intended to extend the life of your machine and not to pull right out of the box and adjust down to the finest setting. Check out this video with Phil McKnight from Breville for a thorough explanation.

To access the burrs, simply unlock the removable hopper and make the adjustments.
To access the burrs, simply unlock the removable hopper and make the adjustments.

The Breville Barista Express is naturally going to be different. It’s designed for espresso so the coarse to fine range is limited. We’ve done this before on Ask Gail and thought you could maybe get a pour over grind out of the Barista Express, but nothing close enough to a French press. We still checked out the burrs and found they were conical stainless steel like the Smart Grinder Pro! The 8-ounce bean hopper is half the size as the Pro, but hey, we’re working with smaller quantities when it comes to espresso.

The Barista Express has an 8-ounce bean hopper.
The Barista Express has an 8-ounce bean hopper.

Grade

We weren’t kidding about Breville’s user-friendly features. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro display is marked with brew methods (press to espresso) to help indicate where your grind setting might be. On top of that, it has three feature on the front: grind amount, shots/cups and start/pause (to clarify, the grind amount is based on a timed dosage, something we see in a lot of grinders). Those are your basic settings for programming your grind, but what’s cool about the Pro is the interaction of each setting. When we’re within the press to drip range, we have up to 12 cups that we can program using the grind amount, which conveniently also says Program under the dial. You only need to turn the knob to the time you want and it’s programmed—voila! Move the grind size on over to espresso and cups turns into shots, which we can set from one to 8. Of course, those shots/cups amounts don’t necessary mean you’ll get one cup since the amount will be determined by the time you have set to grind.

The Pro comes equipped with two differently sized portafilter holders and a 12-cup container.
The Pro comes equipped with two differently sized portafilter holders and a 12-cup container.

So, how does the Barista Express match up? Since it’s designed for espresso, it has two programmable filter sizes: single and double. It features the same timed grind amount but without the digital display. The less to more measurements are useful enough, albeit, not as fancy or convenient as the Smart Grinder Pro. The same can be said for the Barista Express’ grinder size dial, which is located off to the side—you’re going to have to peak over to make adjustments. Like we mentioned earlier, the coarsest setting is still within an espresso range—possibly for drip but not other brew methods.

The Barista Express grinder is designed to create grounds for espresso.
The Barista Express grinder is designed to create grounds for espresso.

Glamour

We rave about Breville’s extra features and it’s no exception with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro and Breville Barista Express. In both, Breville included an activation switch behind the container/portafilter to enjoy hands-free grinding or the option to manually dose. And, of course, the accessories: The Smart Grinder Pro comes with two portafilter holders for 50-54mm and 58mm portafilters, and a container—perfect for a wide variety of brewers. Since the Barista Express’ grinder is designed for espresso, the built-in portafilter is all we need to support our caffeine needs. Both include a removable bean hopper, for those of us who change out our beans.

The Smart Grinder Pro features a user-friendly digital display to make dialing in your grind a breeze.
The Smart Grinder Pro features a user-friendly digital display to make dialing in your grind incredibly easy.

The most noticeable style difference is the Smart Grinder Pro’s digital interface. The beautiful backlight display makes it convenient to dial-in different grind settings and, frankly, if you’re going from French press to espresso, the stepped grinder and markers are ideal. On top of the ease-of-use, this smart grinder is a grammar nerd—yeah, you read that right. If you adjust the Pro from one cup to five cups, it corrects the word “cup” from singular to plural—it’s a Smart Grinder Pro, after all.

Conclusion

By now, you probably know which machine is right for you. Are you looking to brew more than espresso? Then the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is the machine for you. The magic of the Breville Barista Express is that convenience of a built-in grinder ready to produce fresh grounds that can be brewed right away. That freshness is what espresso drinkers desire. The Smart Grinder Pro handles espresso, too, and would pair perfectly with the Breville Dual Boiler or other machines without a built-in grinder. But what makes the Pro a Pro is the wide range of grind settings, so you can enjoy good ole French press too. If you’re interested in learning more about these grinders, check out the links below:

Update To The Update: Breville [Smart Grinder Pro] Adjustable Burr video
Ask Gail: Using The Barista Express Grinder For French Press

Crew Review: Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder

How Does It Compare?

If you’re ready to move away from your old blade grinder, the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is an excellent entry-level machine! The Infinity has features that won’t disappoint coffee lovers. The steel conical burrs, for instance, have stepped adjustments for beginner’s to learn how to perfect their grind for different brew methods. The Infinity’s affordable price places it in the same market as favorites like the Baratza Encore. Both are slated for new at-home baristas interested in brewing on a Chemex, Hario V60 or French press.

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is the perfect entry-level machine.
The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is the perfect entry-level machine.

Grind

Built with steel conical burrs, the Capresso Infinity munches through beans with ease. It doesn’t grind quickly though and that’s actually a good thing. The lower RPM (rotations per minute) of the steel burrs creates less friction and heat build up. This means you’re less likely to burn your beans and retain the flavor profile. Not to mention the slower speed makes this grinder ridiculously quiet. The finer we adjusted the settings we noticed the pitch got higher, but it was still extremely quiet for an automatic grinder.

The Infinity offers 16 stepped settings and a timed dial to start your grind.
The Infinity offers 16 stepped settings and a timed dial to start your grind.

The stepped grind adjustment is perfect for people wanting to learn how to make great coffee at home. There are 16 settings with four categories that range from Extra Fine to Coarse. If you’ve been reading up on grind differences for brewing, it’ll be intuitive to guess what setting you’ll want to use. A little less intuitive is the timer to activate the grinder. The dial features settings from one to 10 that act more as a reference point than actual timed dosage. When you grind at Extra Fine, there is less coffee per second passing through the burrs than grinding on Coarse. We’d recommend dialing in your grind and using the timer as a personal reference for dosage. That does pose some extra work for beginners to become familiar with dosage, consistency and timing.

Glamour

The Capresso Infinity is a quiet machine perfect for apartment living—the Crew has had neighbors complain about their noisy grinders in the wee hours of the morning. The Infinity will keep the peace. It’s small footprint also squeezes into that extra space on your apartment’s small countertop. Another bonus is that the 8.8-ounce bean hopper is compact and doesn’t stick out from the top of this machine, so it’s easy to clear low cabinets—a renter’s dream!

The Infinity's small footprint make it easy to fit into an apartment.
The Infinity’s small footprint make it easy to fit into an apartment.

After grinding up a Chemex’s worth of coffee, it was easy to see that the grounds were sticking everywhere. There’s no anti-static coating on the container, which makes it a bit sticker to remove the grounds. We didn’t lose tons of coffee, but we’d recommend keeping a towel and brush on hand to clean up escapees. The Infinity includes a comically adorable brush—that we upgraded with our Pallo—and scooper to get you started. These are great beginner accessories that we recommend upgrading once you’re using your grinder daily.

Grade

This entry-level grinder is an excellent machine for home brewers looking to make rich and smooth pour over or French press at home. The wide range on the Capresso Infinity offers a lot of grind options, so you’ll be able to dial in and customize your consistency. The Extra Fine and Fine setting on the Infinity, though, don’t quite make the cut for an espresso machine like the Rancilio Silvia M. It doesn’t make consistent enough grounds, so we’ll just tell you now, this grinder isn’t a great match for non-pressurized portafilters. You could use the Infinity with a pressurized portafilter like on the DeLonghi Dedica.

There is no anti-static coating on the container, so you're likely to have some coffee grounds stuck on the sides.
There is no anti-static coating on the container, so you’re likely to have some coffee grounds stuck on the sides.

Conclusion

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is an affordable, entry-level machine. For home brewers emerging into the coffee sphere, the Infinity offers a lot of bang for its buck. Just remember this machine is better suited for Chemex, pour over or a drip coffee maker. If you’re starting your journey with espresso, then you’ll want to pair this grinder with a machine that uses pressurized portafilters. Its compact size will leave plenty of space for an entry-level espresso machine on your coffee bar.

Crew Review: Baratza Sette 270

How Does It Compare?

Here it is, the Baratza Sette 270! We’ll be testing its counterpart, the Baratza 270W soon, but in the meantime, we’ll give you the low down on Baratza’s two newest grinders. The main difference is the Sette 270W measure grounds by weight and features Bluetooth technology while the Sette 270 measures by time (as you’d find on a lot of grinders). Besides the extra technology added into the Sette 270W, these grinders, these grinders feature the same powerful mechanics.

Sette_front
The anticipated Baratza Sette 270 has arrived on this week’s Crew Review.

Grind

Built with 40mm steel conical burrs,the mechanics of the Sette 270 seem similar to most other grinders on the market. We’ll just tell you, they’re not! The Sette 270’s magic is in its design. It’s the only grinder that has the outer burr rotate while the inner burr is fixed. With the motor mounted horizontally instead of vertically, the bean hopper is seated directly above the burrs, giving the beans a straight shot down the hatch—leaving virtually no grounds behind! Seriously, the coffee only travels vertically so the grounds don’t have a place to sit and stale.

The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.
The Sette 270 design create room for the bean hopper on top of the burrs.

This inspired design increases the Sette 270’s speed and efficiency. Baratza clocked the grinder at 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second! If you’re in doubt, check out our Crew Review video for yourself! Outfitted with a stepped macro and a stepless micro adjustment ring, it allows you to fine-tune your grind from French press coarse down to espresso fine. We’ve experimented with the finest settings to see if we could choke the grinder and the Sette 270 persevered! We’re blown away by how fast and efficiently the Sette 270 turns beans the size of pencil erasers into powdered sugar.

Sette_display
Three programmable buttons allow you to save more grind settings.

Once you’ve played around with the Sette 270 and found your just-right grind, Baratza gives you three programmable buttons to lock in time. But let’s say you want to change up your volume, Baratza’s got an answer for that too! Kyle from Baratza calls it, the “pulse” button. If you press and hold it, it’ll start manually grinding until you release it.

Pro Tip: It takes a second to engage the manual grind, so be quick about it! If you only want a small amount, do some trials with the grind and program it to save on beans.

Glamour

Did you know Sette in Italian is seven? Right, right! The name’s in the design. Purely talking about the Sette 270’s looks, the shape is similar to some recent espresso machines that have been released like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II. The angular shape is breaking away from the mainstream style we’re accustomed to and showing off more curves. All these new dimensions are aesthetically pleasing and fit in easily with different espresso machines and coffee makers available.

The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.
The Sette 270 is named after its unique shape. Sette means seven in Italian.

Cleanup has never been easier! With the beans direct path, there are almost no residual grinds. If you do want to do some light cleanup, the bean hopper comes off easily with a door (Kyle calls it a ‘Hopper Stopper’) that swings shut. There’s a handful of beans left over, so you’ll want to either vacuum or tip those out. Afterward, we recommend taking a grinder brush and sweeping out the leftover grinds. A deeper clean is easy to achieve too. You don’t need a screwdriver on the Sette 270, the whole burr twists right off! Take the macro adjustment past the lowest setting and it’ll drop out. This does mean you’ll lose your grind setting, so be aware of the macro setting and be patient dialing it back in. Luckily, there are no loose screws or small parts to worry about.

Grade

We’ve been working our way up to this: What other benefits are hiding in the Sette 270’s horizontal design? Constructed to optimize efficiency, Baratza created the best convertible holder we’ve seen in a long time. The horizontal design freed up space for a container up to 5.75 inches tall and 3.50 inches wide. The width is based on how far the two arms extend. These arms also have a third smaller arm to easily hook in your portafilter. Switch it from espresso to holding a Hario V60—yeah, it can do that. It can handle holding different types of equipment for the different grind settings it offers.

The Sette's 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.
The Sette’s 270 three arms easily support a portafilter.

We know you’re itching for the deets on the Sette 270W. Kyle from Baratza visited us and revealed the in and outs of this new innovation. Both are built with the same mechanics, but the Sette 270W takes this innovation further using weight measurement and Bluetooth. Check out our Baratza Sneak Peek 270W video and let us know what you think!

Crew Comparison: Rocket Fausto vs. Eureka Zenith 65E Grinder

How Does It Compare?

It’s kind of like comparing the same motor inside a monster truck and a racecar. The Eureka Zenith 65 E comes in at 23.5 inches tall and towers over the Rocket Fausto’s mere 17.5 inches. Not to mention the Zenith 65 E’s massive three-pound bean hopper. When we talk about power, man, do they sure put on a show! Both are matched with 65mm flat steel burrs and a whopping 1650 RPMs (rotations per minute) to make quick work of beans. We’d love to see an actual showdown between a monster truck and racecar, but we’ll have to settle a match between the Eureka Zenith 65 E Burr Grinder vs. Rocket Espresso Macinatore Fausto Grinder.

Grind

Both grinders eat through beans like champs thanks to their 65mm flat steel burrs. Both rotate at 1650 RPM (rotations per minute) to quickly and efficiently grind beans. The real catch here is the Zenith 65 E’s 500 watts juice. This level of performance stands up in a busy setting such as a cafe or office full of coffee-lovers. If you’re thinking about making cup after cup, the Zenith 65 E will hold up. Keep in mind, this sort of power isn’t necessary for the casual, one-cup brewer.

Grinders at this caliber are stepless to allow you to fine-tune your grind with every inch of the burrs. This amount of control creates the perfect consistency for espresso and the Rocket Fausto and Zenith 65 E don’t fail to deliver. Both produce less clumping, which is a great accomplishment for these machines since a fine-grind naturally sticks together and forms clumps.

Lastly, what’s a high-class grinder without some programmable features? The Zenith 65 E offers two programmable doses that you can set for your portafilter. To grind, you press the portafilter against a button behind the adjustable holder. The Rocket Fausto also has two programmable doses and dispenses grinds when you press those buttons—with or without a portafilter, so have the portafilter ready to catch those grounds! Really, though, we think both machines take first place in grinding.

Glamour

So clearly the Eureka Zenith 65 E is a monster. If you haven’t seen a picture of it, it’s standing at staggering 23.5 inches and is 9 inches wide. The Rocket Fausto is 17.5 and 6.5 inches, respectively. We’ve talked about the Rocket Fausto a few times before and we were impressed by the one-pound bean hopper—the Zenith 65 E outdoes it with a three-pound bean hopper. Honestly, at Seattle Coffee Gear, we go through a lot of beans and we adore this three-pound monster, but not everyone needs these guy. The size alone would be a puzzle to fit in most kitchens, but we’ve definitely seen it done and admire home brewers with amazing commercial-grade machines like this.

Are such massive machines a glamorous addition to your home kitchen? The industrial-style build showcases raw, utilitarian appeal, especially in the chrome, that brings home kitchens a sophisticated edge. The matte black color also had trend appeal that complements the modern kitchen. Both are doserless with stainless steel adjustable portafilter holders that you’d find in a commercial setting, further completely the cafe-at-home style. You’re probably thinking with all this talk about industrial looks that the noise on these powerful machines is less than glamorous. Surprisingly, these grinders produce the average noise that you’d expect and hear from a smaller grinder of this grade.

Grade

We’re not handing out A’s and F’s for our grinders (but we’d never hand out an F to these guys). What we are dishing out are suggestions for these high-end grinders. When you have a grinder of this grade, you want to pair it with a machine that it will be compatible with. The Zenith 65 E and Fausto both create consistent, fine grounds that are perfect for non-pressurized portafilters. We wouldn’t pair these grinders with a machine that uses pressurized portafilters since the grinders do all the heavy lifting.

The Rocket Fausto is an obvious match for any of the Rocket Espresso Machines. We have our hearts set on the new Rocket Espresso R60v and with a grinder like the Fausto at its side, there’s no telling what sort of coffee-magic it will create.

The Eureka Zenith 65 E, with a three-pound bean hopper and massive stature, sets it up to be used in a commercial setting like your favorite cafe spot. That being said, we see commercial-grade machines in the average home brewers kitchen.  Since these grinders are so similar, we’d also recommend pairing this machine with the Rocket R60v.

Top Three Grinders For Espresso Machines

If you’re looking for a top-notch grinder, then look no further! We’ve picked out our top three grinders for espresso machines. When we’re looking for a grinder to go with our espresso machine, we’re looking it to be super fast and incredibly accurate for the best tasting espresso shot. 

  1. Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder

Rancilio Rocky

Tall, dark and built with pure muscle—no we’re not talking about that Rocky, but we might as well be. The Rocky by Rancilio is a powerful machine much like a certain boxer. Built with commercial-grade 50mm steel burrs, this is a professional machine that’s made for home brewing. This is a true underdog story folks.

This is the only grinder we’ve picked that isn’t stepless and we’re totally OK with that. The Rocky gives you 55 levels of control to grind your coffee beans thanks to ultra-fine threading that lets you go from espresso to French press without any fuss.

2. Rocket Mazzer Mini Electronic Grinder – Type A

Mazzer Mini Type A

Give us a shout if you’re a Type A, too! The Rocket Mazzer Mini is certainly the workaholic of grinders. It’s outfitted with a stepless grinder to allow you to fine-tune the grind, which is great for dialing in your beans. Once you hit that sweet spot, you won’t need to adjust it again.

The Mazzer Mini is also equipped with stainless steel burrs that rotate at a low RPM (rotations per minute) so that your beans won’t get extra crispy. These burrs are big; at 64mm the flat burrs grind beans quickly and that’s why the lower RPM won’t affect the overall speed.

3. Rocket Macinatore Fausto Grinder

Rocket Fausto

We thought the Rocket Mazzer Mini was impressive but man, when it comes to grinders the Rocket Fausto steals the show. The 65mm stainless steel flat burrs quickly and accurately create perfect, consistent grounds. It’s also stepless like the Mazzer Mini, so you have total control.

Now this is love—if you’re like us and make a lot of coffee, then you’ll love that the Fausto’s bean hopper holds a pound of beans. A. whole. pound. And, if you don’t go through the whole pound, there’s a stopper that’ll keep the beans inside so you can remove the whole bean hopper and change them out. Could you image trying to turn this guy upside down to shake out the extra beans?

We make a lot of coffee here at Seattle Coffee Gear and we love all our grinders for different coffee brewing methods. When it comes to getting the best grinder for your espresso machine, though, these three grinders fit the bill.

Pros & Cons Of Having A Built-In Grinder

Let’s talk about built-in grinders. There’s a lot of debate on the benefits of a built-in grinder on coffee machines. You expect it on a superautomatic, but what about those other guys? Built-in grinders can be found on some semi-automatic machines like the Breville Barista Express and some drip coffee makers like the Breville Grind Control. Naturally, we compiled a pro and con list for people out there weighing their options on buying a machine with a built-in grinder.

Built-In Grinder (1)

Our Top Pros

Space Saver:

When it comes to saving room on the kitchen counter, the built-in grinder optimizes every inch of your machine. Instead of having two machines sitting taking up space, you have one compacted unit. Arguably, a machine with a built-in grinder tends to be bigger overall, but we appreciate that it’s more ergonomically designed for space.

Convenience:

As if we needed more decisions to make, after you purchase an espresso machine you’ll need to search for a compatible grinder. Grinders come in all shapes and sizes and not all grinders fit the bill for your machine.

Saves Money:

We debated whether or not buying an espresso machine and built-in grinder saved money and we decided it can be less expensive to buy them together…depending on the model, that is. If you’re buying a grinder and espresso machine at a similar caliber, then it’s generally less expensive when the machine has a built-in grinder.

Compatible:

To pull off a delicious brew, you need a grind that’s consistent—and consistency can be tricky to find in a grinder! In short, you’ll cut out the middle man when you purchase a coffee machine that has a grinder that’s compatible with it.

Our Top Cons

If It Breaks:

Worse-case scenario is your grinder breaks. You generally have two options that will end up costing you extra money. The first option is to purchase a new grinder—which can be a good purchase if you invest in a high-end grinder. The second option is you have the scrap the whole machine and buy a new one. Hopefully, you have a machine that doesn’t rely on the grinder (such as the Breville Barista Express) but if it can’t be bypassed, then you’re out a whole machine.

Bulkier:

While the grinder and machine together create an ergonomic design the overall size is larger than a model without one. If you look at the Breville Barista Express and Breville Infuser, the Barista Express is about an inch wider than the Infuser.

Difficult To Change:

You can’t turn the whole machine upside down to shake out the old beans (well, we guess you could, but we highly recommend not doing that). To remove the old beans you’ll have to grind until it’s empty and waste beans—especially if you have multiple coffees you want to brew. 

One Function:

If you’re interested in brewing a pour over, French press or other brew methods that require a wider grind setting, generally a built-in grinder will only make a grind consistent for that machine. Take the Breville Barista Express again, for example, the grinder makes a fine grind for espresso shots that wouldn’t be coarse enough for French press.

We’ve heard the top concern is that if the grinder breaks down, then you’re stuck with a now completely useless feature. Fortunately for you, we haven’t seen that happen too often, so don’t let this be the number one deterrent. The biggest disadvantage, in our opinion, would be that the grinder is only designed for that machine, and not for other brewing methods such as French press or pour over.

Pro Tip: We recommend investing in a high-end grinder as your first purchase. If you are interested in investing, check out some of our reviews on top-notch grinders like the Rocket Fausto Grinder and Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder. We also recommend the Breville Dose Control if you’re leaning towards something sweet, but not too sweet.

Crew Review: Eureka Zenith 65E Coffee Grinder

“Eureka! I have found it!”

Shout it out! If you’re looking for a commercially designed machine built to change beans into beautiful, consistent espresso grounds, then this is your machine! Are you shouting “Eureka!” yet? On this Crew Review, we’re exploring the Eureka Zenith 65E Burr Grinder and showing you some cool features on this mighty machine.

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Do you have three pounds of beans you’re looking to grind up? Because the Zenith 65E can handle it. The bean hopper holds three pounds of beans and is matched with 65mm stainless steel flat burrs that’ll turn nails to dust—just kidding! Don’t try that at home. But really, these burrs create grounds quickly and consistently, which is what you need for a great espresso shot.

The stepless grinder gives you full control to find your sweet spot—the best grind for your shot—which marries seamlessly with the powerful burrs. You have complete control over the coarseness (as Gail demonstrates in the video). With unlimited options, it’s easy to see how you could lose it. This is what we’d call a double edge sword. A cool feature on the Eureka Zenith 65E to keep your grind is that the bottom burr adjusts the setting. When you go to clean your grinder you’ll remove the top burr and avoid losing your sweet spot!

The Eureka Zenith 65E has a built-in portafilter holder that’s ready for anything. Adjust the holder up or down to hold different sized portafilters and, when you’re ready, activated the grinder by pushing the portafilter into the button directly behind. The Zenith 65E also features an adjustable spout to dispense your grinds at different angels and a spotlight shining down onto your grounds. Didn’t we tell you it was ready for anything?

Once you’ve found your sweet spot and lined-up your portafilter, don’t forget to program your grind! Using two programmable portions, customize your volume for your ideal single or double shot. As long as you keep everything in place, you’ll have a consistent grind to come back to each time.

The Eureka Zenith 65E a worthy machine to bring into any home. Realistically this massive machine and its power might not be best for individual use. It would work wonders in an office, apartment community, commercial setting or a home business where you have people trickling in and out. Fill the bean hopper in the morning and you can pull espresso shots all day long.

Check out the full video below and tell us what you think of the Eureka Zenith 65E by leaving us a comment on our YouTube video!

Crew Comparison: Eureka Mignon vs. Rocket Fausto

Get that barista quality coffee with these professional grinders! Designed to complement high-end espresso machines, the Rocket Fausto and Eureka Mignon got it going on. Both grinders feature stepless grinding, stainless steel flat burrs and timed dosing for a consistent, quality grind that will make any professional barista proud.

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Right off the bat, we can tell you that if real estate is important to you, then the Mignon might be a better option. It’s smaller footprint and boxy design makes it a perfect companion next to a sleek espresso machine or, let be honest, the microwave. That slim size does mean that some features, like the 8-ounce bean hopper, are smaller. Don’t let that deter you! It’s packed with all the bells and whistles you need for a good shot.

Rocket Fausto

The Fausto, on the other hand, is a big kahuna. It’s outfitted with 65mm burrs, a 22-ounce bean hopper and a large chute topped with a programmable digital display. The Fausto spits out a great grind faster thanks to the larger burrs. Its giant bean hopper also means you can grind up more beans. This can be great for multiple cups, but otherwise, it might be excessive for a cup or two.

While we’re talking about the nitty-gritty details, the Fausto’s timer can get down to the second with the easily programmable digital display. It can also save two settings for a single or double shot. That means you can start your morning double shot and end with a pre-lunch single shot. After lunch? Rinse mug. Repeat. 

The Mignon also has a timer to control dosing, but it’s on the side of the machine, meaning you’ll have to reach around or angle the controls toward you. That sort of beats the purpose of its small footprint when you’re moving it around. 

By no means, though, does the Mignon make a disappointing shot! Its small size and the manual timer doesn’t affect the power of those 50mm stainless steel flat burrs. It produces a practically identical grind like the Fausto but without taking up the whole counter.

Both grinder machines complete the whole coffee package for home brewing! Pair one with a machine like the Rocket R60v (we’ve got it reviewed, too) and you’ve got a match made in caffeinated-heaven.

Check out the full review below and tell us what you think about the Fausto and Mignon! As Gail said, “The proof is in the feeling.”

If you can’t get enough of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel here!

Ask Gail: Adjusting Your Grind Based On Roast Level

On this episode of Ask Gail, we were asked if you need to adjust your grinder setting based on the roast level? The short answer is: Yes!

Watch the short and sweet video on how different variables (sounds like high school science class) affect the grind of your beans and, ultimately, the taste of your coffee.

Have some burning questions for Gail? Leave us a comment on YouTube!

Tips & Tricks

You’ve probably been advised not to put dark roasts into your superautomatic. If this is news to you, stop putting those oily, dark roasts into your superautomatic! You’ll just clog it up and get frustrated when the machine stops making caffeinated goodness.