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Recommend an coffee / espresso grinder

VKK3450

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I'd like to get a grinder for the girlfriend. She has a Rancilio Silva machine (sp?), but is currently using preground coffee, which I understand will produce an inferior cup.

Criteria:

- something small (space is at a premium in our kitchen)
- idiot proof (not calling the lady names, but I think we would like something that can be set to grind to a specific size without watching it)
- reasonably priced (I'm not sure what this means yet. She has a good machine, so I dont want the grinder to be the weak link, but we are not coffee freaks so I dont need some artisnal hammered brass contraption. Lets define it as "good value".)

In a couple of threads people have mentioned the Infinity Conical Burr Grinder. Where is this placed on the heirarchy of grinders? What are alternatives?

Thanks in advance,

K
 

Thomas

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I've bene using an inexpensive Cuisinart from my local mega-mart and it does okay with finer grinds. I'd like to be rid of the very fine powder it produces in addition to the proper grind, though.
 

Flambeur

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If you are serious about espresso grind, you definitely need a burr grinder.
 

Dmax

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Unfortunately, there is no such thing as good but inexpensive espresso grinder.
You can make good espresso using an $250 Gaggia machine and a $500 grinder but you can't make it using $1500 machine and $100 grinder.
A good espresso grinder will cost slightly less than your Girlfriend's Silvia. I can recommend Mazzer Mini or Macap M4, though I am not sure what they cost in UK. Rancilio Rocky is a popular companion to your Silvia machine and normally costs somewhat less than the two grinders I mentioned but it gets mixed reviews.

No matter which grinder you get you will need to make occasional minute grind setting adjustments to compensate for bean age, roast level, origin and ambient humidity.
 

VKK3450

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Thanks. I doubt that I would even notice the difference between the preground and the self ground, but I thought it might be nice for the girl. We arent big coffee people, a cup in the am, and a round of espressos when we have people over for dinner.

The Rancilio Rocky runs around 190 pounds, but of more issue it looks like its pretty big, and the Silvia already takes up enough space.

Any other smaller and more reasonably priced ideas for someone who is not a coffee fanatic?

K
 

Tarmac

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okay coffee nazis, what is better? choose one:

coffee ground for you by the seller in their burr grinder and used over the course of a week. YES IT WILL POTENTIALLY SIT FOR A WEEK, THE HORROR.

OR

grind whole beans yourself with a CRAPPY GRINDER at home, fresh, every time.


NAZIS, CHOOSE ONLY ONE
 

Dmax

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I am not sure if you were talking to me, or maybe other members who may have been overzealous in other coffee and espresso threads, but I may or may not have the answer you are looking for.

If you are looking to make COFFEE, in say a french press/press pot, than a cheap whirly blade grinder is fine. Actually that's what I did for a number of years before I bought my first ESPRESSO machine. I would use Starbucks coffee and my $20 Braun bean smasher and it produced a very good cup using a Bodum french press.

If you are referring to ESPRESSO, and if you knew anything about it, you would realize that both of your choices would produce spectacularly craptastic results. If you care to learn, when making espresso, the machine attempts to push hot water through compacted coffee grounds at a pre-set pressure, your job as the operator, the barrista, the man in front of the machine, the MANO in 4 Ms of ESPRESSO (Macchina, Macinzaione, Miscela, Mano) is to present enough resistance to the water so that the desirable coffee oils and flavors are extracted from the grounds.

Using either one of your given choices will most likely result coffee-colored water forcefully gushing out of machine and producing one or two ounces of nasty tasting muck, taking all of 5 seconds. Do you know why? Because, the grind is not fine enough. Because what your local Shoprite, Whole Foods, Starbucks or whatever sells to you as the "espresso" grind is moist likely not ground fine enough for your machine. Because you are not going to get a decent ESPRESSO unless you use your own grinder that can produce grounds that are uniform in size, and are ground fine enough so that it takes 20 to 30 seconds for your machine to produce the shot. It is that simple.
 

Moss

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Originally Posted by Dmax
so that it takes 2- to 30 seconds for your machine to produce the shot. It is that simple.

You meant to write 20-30 seconds. Correct?
 

Dmax

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Originally Posted by threadbare
You meant to write 20-30 seconds. Correct?
Yes. Thanks. I made the correction.
 

Tarmac

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Originally Posted by Dmax
I am not sure if you were talking to me(...) It is that simple.

Originally Posted by Tarmac

NAZIS, CHOOSE ONLY ONE


How do you know the grind is not fine enough?

Let's presume it is. what's your choice?
 

Dmax

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Did you not read what I wrote? Maybe I am not being clear enough...

Your first choice. You go in to a store and ask for a pound of coffee, Espresso grind. You come home, put in your machine, get two ounces of brown liquid in five seconds that taste horrible. Reason - grind too coarse. Your grind, no matter where or who does the grinding has to be within a very narrow range, that will produce the extraction time of 20 to 30 seconds in your machine. You can only get that if you dial in your grinder yourself after pulling a few shots and making adjustments.

Your second choice. You buy freshly roasted coffee and use a $20 whirly blade grinder. You hold down the power button for any number of seconds which results uneven sized, coarse grinds. You put them in the machine - same result as your first choice. Or let's say you use an inexpensive burr grinder. You adjust it to the finest setting and hear the sound of metal-on-metal which means the burrs are bumping into each other. (Because the grinder is cheap and the burrs are misaligned. You get some finely ground coffee and some coffee dust. You put in the machine and get the same result as your first choice, except maybe it takes 10 seconds instead of 5. You know by reading this thread that you need to grind your beans even finer to get a longer extraction time but your grinder will not grind any finer.

Is that clear enough?
 

VKK3450

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Ok, so in other words if I dont go with a 200 pound ($3-400) burr grinder there is no way to get a decent espresso?

How do chain coffee houses serve espressos & espresso based drinks if they are not able to grind fine enough (or is the point that they also serve crappy coffee?)

K
 

Dmax

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Originally Posted by VKK3450
Ok, so in other words if I dont go with a 200 pound ($3-400) burr grinder there is no way to get a decent espresso? How do chain coffee houses serve espressos & espresso based drinks if they are not able to grind fine enough (or is the point that they also serve crappy coffee?) K
Yes, that's what I am saying. Chain coffee houses normally use excellent grinders that cost 600 to 1,000 Great Britain Pounds (Mazzer/Rio/Astoria Super Jolly or Major being very popular) and multiple group plumbed in espresso machines that cost 1,500-10,000 GBP. Basically any coffee house is well covered on the espresso equipment front. Some produce excellent espresso, some barely drinkable, but that's more of a function of personell training and beans quality, age and roast level. If you get a substandard espresso in a coffee house the equipment it is not the fault of their equipment.
 

Philosoph

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Either they serve crappy coffee, or, because it's essential to their business, they're willing to shell out for a decent grinder, whereas most home users aren't.

I don't know enough to dissect a Starbucks to determine whether it's the beans, the roast, the grind, or the actual espresso machine that results in that rancid stuff they sell as espresso.

I just stick with my french press, unless I happen to be in Italy.
 

audiophilia

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Neophyte, here, but I just bought the Starbucks Sirena (discounted $250 with a $160 Barista grinder thrown in). Works great. Double boiler. Fast. Great espresso and Caps.

BMW designed, Seaco guts and flogged at Starbucks.

 

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