Category Archives: Grinders

Crew Review: Breville Smart Grinder – Updated

Breville have produced many gorgeous pieces of equipment that seem to favor form a little over function. They have some great features that we really love, but sometimes the overall performance isn’t ideal. However, as with every machine, there are pros and cons and the Smart Grinder has a lot of really great aspects to its design: We love the metal casing, the pull rings, the digital interface and how you dial in the grind. Where it didn’t measure up for us, however, was that it indicates you can use it with a traditional non-pressurized extraction and we were not able to do so successfully — it just doesn’t go fine enough right now.

We contacted Breville about this and they are working on ways to improve it so we are really hopeful that this will be a great multi-purpose grinder in the future. At present, it’s a good choice for drip / press pot and pressurized espresso extraction — but stay tuned on any future improvements coming down the line. For now, watch Gail take us through this grinder’s features and test how it performs.

Update 3/16/11: We were able to meet with Breville and they provided us with shims in order to tweak the burrs on the grinder. Watch Gail install and test here:

Clump Testing on the Rancilio Rocky

To clump or not to clump — that is the question! You know that we shoot from the hip very often around here at Seattle Coffee Gear HQ and the whole subject of clumping seemed to be a little bit mythical. After all, you’re pressing down the grounds with the tamper so why would any clumps beforehand matter?

We wanted to see if we could practically notice a difference between shots pulled with coffee ground directly from the Rocky doserless grinder and shots which were stirred up beforehand. Watch Gail experiment to determine whether or not clumping really is something worth considering.

Crew Review: Bodum Bistro Grinder

You know us: We’re always game to take a grinder out for a test drive. Bodum’s Bistro didn’t catch our eye at first (despite its vibrant hue!) but we decided to give it it’s day in court to see if it would make a good budget option for folks not pulling traditional espresso extractions. Watch Gail as she tests it out and we determine how well it performs. And while we won’t be offering the orange color any time soon, we will be adding the black version to our site soon.

Crew Review: Mahlkonig Pro M Grinder

We were recently given the opportunity to test out the Pro M grinder from Mahlkonig, a commercial-grade grinder manufacturer well-known throughout the pro coffee community, but with grinders that are generally too big, size-wise, for the average home kitchen. The Pro M, however, is petite and powerful — we really loved its design and performance and hope to carry it in the future.

Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Available Now

We finally got our paws on the new Virtuoso Preciso, which gives you 11 micro adjustments within the standard 40 macro adjustments (allowing you to dial in your grind more precisely). It also comes standard with the Portaholder. Check out our video review on this from a couple of weeks ago to learn more about this grinder’s basic specs, or watch Gail compare it with the regular Virtuoso and the Vario.

As of this writing, we have 6 to sell until the end of October — Baratza had a very limited initial manufacturing run, so they limited retailers to just 6 this time around. If you’ve been coveting this, grab it soon or you may have to wait until later this month or early November for your chance.

Crew Review: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Burr Grinder

Hitting the streets this coming October is Baratza’s newest offering, which is a variation on a theme: The Virtuoso Preciso takes it’s basic functionality from the popular Virtuoso grinder, but it’s tweaked a bit with some of the dialing-in features available on the more expensive Vario model.

Watch Gail take us through this grinder’s features and functions.

How To: Baratza Vario Burr Adjustment

The Vario gives you a little more control over your grind than you find on a traditional stepped grinder (like its counterpart, the Virtuoso, or the Rancilio Rocky) because it allows you to tweak the fineness within each step of the burrs. If you find that your Vario doesn’t seem to be going fine enough for espresso, or that you have very little room to move on the fineness side of the spectrum once you get to your espresso setting, you may want to adjust the burrs so they are closer together.

Gail walks us through how to do this and demonstrates it on a grinder. Watch and learn!

Compare: Mazzer Mini vs. Macap M4

It’s a tough call which one of these grinders is a better investment — ultimately, we think that they are so similar, the decision is really about the adjustment mechanism.

Gail walks us through the technical specs of the Mazzer Mini and Macap M4 burr coffee grinders, pointing out their differences and demonstrating their grind quality. We’re not sure if this answers the big question about which one to purchase, but hopefully the side by side comparison will serve as a helpful resource.

Espresso Machine Storage Tips

Leaving your machine alone for the winter? Need to store it or move it (by hand) to a new location? Gail gives us some tips on what you should do to prepare your machine so you limit the possibility of damage.