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Noob question, kind of

Johnny_Hopper

New member
Jan 20, 2017
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Hey gang. Long time coffee (shop) drinker, first time poster.

Yes I have decided to stop paying ridiculous amounts of money at coffee shops for decent drip coffee or espresso, my main go-to's.

I have gone down a rabbit hole of reviews trying to figure out which grinder to buy for my espresso machine. As courser grinds for drop is no biggie. I don't want to spend a fortune a on top of the line grinder, but these budget options I mean, none of them seem worthy of espresso grind?? Yes there is a budget here to some degree.

I was about to buy the Baratza Encore (after deciding not to go with the Bodium Bistro or Capresso Infinity) as what looks to be the cheapest, good coffee grinder. However, that grinder I am hearing conflicting things about it's grind for espresso.

I am in no rush to upgrade my current espresso machine. It was a gift and works well. it is a De Longhi Bar23 pump machine. I guess I am torn. One day I feel, I will buy a top notch espresso machine. Yes. So at that point, none of these budget options will do for true espresso grind.

But, can I get away with and more importantly, should I buy a machine like the Encore (or even cheaper like the Capresso, etc) which 'should' be good enough for this machine or, just bite the bullet knowing none of them will do one day.

The Breville Smart grinder is one I feel, to be right in the middle. Expensive, but cheaper than other top of the line models, but way more grinder than I need for my current set up.

Should I go with the Encore, or plunk more down on the Breville (or even more, Rocky?) or, go with even a Krups GX5000 which is super cheap and will be 'good enough' for current set up. Opinions please!

Also, ease of clean is a must. Really, I hate cleaning these things.
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,622
15
Central North Carolina
Yeah you will have some saying the grinder is most important yadda yadda yadda... Yes the grinder is rather important, but so is fresh coffee, skill and the espresso machine. Not everybody has tons of money to throw into a setup and must make do with what is affordable and practical. Once you get to a certain point with equipment the end result doesn't necessarily get better just easier to achieve it more consistently.

I've owned/used some really good machines/grinders over the years. This includes a NS Aurelia, LaMarzocco Linea and FB80 on a commercial level and an Olympia Cremina, Isomac Relax and a few other home machines. For grinders this includes a Mazzer Super Jolly, NS MDX, Mahlkonig K30, Baratza Vario, KA Pro Line I retrofitted with Mazzer Mini burrs and a few old, but well made espresso capable hand grinders. I can honestly say that my current and likely last setup, which is a Silvia/Rocky combo, is easily on par with the best extractions I ever achieved with the equipment listed above.

I've read good things about the Smart Grinder for the $ and can vouch for how well the Rocky performs since you mentioned it. For the $ I'd say go for a Rocky as it's built to last a long time and is a very capable grinder for any brew method. Don't listen to the whining coffee snobs about it being stepped, etc. as most that whine about it just don't have the skill set to maximize the potential. Same with PIDs on an espresso machine... IMBHO espresso is an art form and a skilled barista can maximize the potential of any setup regardless of cost, features, etc. The more things become automated for consistency the more boring/lame the process becomes if you ask me.

Also, you might benefit from looking at good used grinders. You can score a prosumer grade grinder and give it a good cleaning/new burrs and be set for a long time. I recently scored the Silvia/Rocky setup for $250 and it had been used no more than a dozen times in 11 years. I gave both a good cleaning, etc and now am set with a great combo for years to come.

Regarding cleaning, this can vary from grinder to grinder as well as the coffee used. Darker/more oily coffees are gonna require more cleaning. Most conical grinders like you mentioned are quite easy to strip/clean. The Rocky is a bit more involved as the hopper must be removed in order to remove the upper burr. This step can be eliminated if the stop screw is removed though, then you can simply unscrew the entire assembly. I use my Rocky for 4-5 doubles daily and strip it down maybe once monthly to brush out the grind chamber, threads, etc., but after each day of use I do brush out/vacuum the grind path and this removes practically anything left behind and only takes 1-2 minutes. Truth be told espresso does require a fair amount of effort to keep everything clean and dialed in, but the end result is always worth the effort/time involved.
 
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Johnny_Hopper

New member
Jan 20, 2017
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Hey Shadow thank you very much for the reply. I will put some of that advice to good use in my search!
 
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Johnny_Hopper

New member
Jan 20, 2017
5
0
  • Thread Starter
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  • #4
Went with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro in the end. It was definitely more than I was initially going to spend but feel it to be the best grinder for the price here. Excited!
 
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