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favorite espresso beans and burr grinder

favorite espresso beans and burr grinder
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    Post #1 - May 25th, 2010, 10:05 pm
    Post #1 - May 25th, 2010, 10:05 pm Post #1 - May 25th, 2010, 10:05 pm
    I would like to get my husband a burr grinder for a gift--does anyone have one they like? We have a picky but wonderful espresso maker (Sylvia) and we need the beans ground fine but I don't want to spend more than $125. Also, I like Starbucks Espresso in our machine, but my man is sick of it--he just got back from Italy and is craving their coffee--does anyone want to chime in on their favorite espresso? It could be local or mail order...
  • Post #2 - May 25th, 2010, 11:16 pm
    Post #2 - May 25th, 2010, 11:16 pm Post #2 - May 25th, 2010, 11:16 pm
    Hi,

    Search is a good place to begin:

    Using the key words burr grinder.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - May 26th, 2010, 6:27 am
    Post #3 - May 26th, 2010, 6:27 am Post #3 - May 26th, 2010, 6:27 am
    You can find a wealth of information, including both "professional" as well as "everyday user" reviews at this amazing site. There are reviews of some 60-75 grinders, not to mention virtually any coffee- or espresso-related item you can imagine.

    Me, I've got a Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder. It's a little noisier than I'd like but does a great, very reliable job. I don't have an espresso machine, so haven't had the opportunity (or need) to use the finest grind, but I've been extremely happy with it. In the several years I've had it, I've had not a single problem (knock wood). I think it cost me around $75 or so, which means it's probably a bit more now. Good luck!
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #4 - May 26th, 2010, 9:10 am
    Post #4 - May 26th, 2010, 9:10 am Post #4 - May 26th, 2010, 9:10 am
    I'll second the recommendation of CoffeeGeek.

    I use a Bodum Antigua grinder at home, and although it gets mixed reviews about how it grinds espresso, I find it does an admirable job.
  • Post #5 - May 26th, 2010, 9:17 am
    Post #5 - May 26th, 2010, 9:17 am Post #5 - May 26th, 2010, 9:17 am
    nancy wrote:I would like to get my husband a burr grinder for a gift--does anyone have one they like? We have a picky but wonderful espresso maker (Sylvia) and we need the beans ground fine but I don't want to spend more than $125. Also, I like Starbucks Espresso in our machine, but my man is sick of it--he just got back from Italy and is craving their coffee--does anyone want to chime in on their favorite espresso? It could be local or mail order...


    You have such a great (and pricey) espresso machine. I think you might be wasting its promise by using a cheap grinder. While you do need a burr grinder to make espresso, you need a pretty high quality one to get grounds fine enough. The lower priced models aren't designed to make espresso.

    I have the Silvia also. It is indeed a picky machine, but there is a payoff: once you gain enough experience with it, it makes espresso as good as models that are much more expensive. I use the Rancilio Rocky grinder. While you can probably get away with a grinder that isn't quite $400, I don't know if you'll be able to get good results from a $125 grinder.

    If well-maintained, a grinder like the Rocky will last much, much longer than a cheaper burr grinder. When something goes wrong with a cheaper burr grinder, you just buy a new one. When something goes wrong with a Rocky (or similar product), it is cost-effective to have it repaired by a local, authorized service person (such as http://www.espressoworld.us/). I discovered this when I accidentally poured water into the grinder instead of the coffee maker! Finally, every few years you can replace the burrs on a Rocky (or similar product), which effectively gives you a like-new grinder. I don't know if you can replace burrs on a cheaper grinder.

    Having said that, that Capresso Infinity is an excellent grinder for the money. I have one and like it for regular coffee. Coffee Geek says the Baratza Maestro (which is in the same price range) is passable for espresso.

    Definitely check out the Coffee Geek website, esp this page:
    http://www.coffeegeek.com/guides/howtob ... etagrinder

    As well as these sites:
    http://www.sweetmarias.com/index.php
    http://www.wholelattelove.com/
    http://www.home-barista.com/
    http://home.surewest.net/frcn/Coffee/HowToEspresso.html
  • Post #6 - May 26th, 2010, 3:02 pm
    Post #6 - May 26th, 2010, 3:02 pm Post #6 - May 26th, 2010, 3:02 pm
    I will second a recommendation for the Rocky grinder and home-barista.com. Another grinder worth checking out is the Baratza Vario but it may be a littler more than you're looking to pay.

    As far as beans go, I'm currently enjoying Belle Espresso blend from http://www.klatchroasting.com. I've also liked several of the espresso blends from http://www.paradiseroaster.com and Black Cat from http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com. I'm planning on trying Red Line from http://www.metropoliscoffee.com in the near future as I've read some who don't like the current Black Cat blend favor it.
  • Post #7 - May 26th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    Post #7 - May 26th, 2010, 8:08 pm Post #7 - May 26th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    thanks a million, friends. I went ahead and decided to try the Maestro Plus and ordered a bag of Lavazza super crema to try with it. We do love our Rancilio Silvia. It has been worth every penny we paid for it. We have used it every day for at least 10 years and it makes better shots than almost any espresso I have had any where else.
  • Post #8 - May 26th, 2010, 8:59 pm
    Post #8 - May 26th, 2010, 8:59 pm Post #8 - May 26th, 2010, 8:59 pm
    nancy wrote:thanks a million, friends. I went ahead and decided to try the Maestro Plus and ordered a bag of Lavazza super crema to try with it. We do love our Rancilio Silvia. It has been worth every penny we paid for it. We have used it every day for at least 10 years and it makes better shots than almost any espresso I have had any where else.

    Ooh, nice...I've got a Maestro Plus, and love it. I unfortunately don't have an espresso maker, but I found that its finest grind was comparable to Illy Ground Espresso Coffee.
  • Post #9 - May 27th, 2010, 6:54 am
    Post #9 - May 27th, 2010, 6:54 am Post #9 - May 27th, 2010, 6:54 am
    My two favorite local espresso beans are Metropolis Red Line (which is my go-to brand) and Intelligentsia Black Cat. I like Paradise Roasters for mail order. Espresso beans should be used within a week of roasting, ideally, so I tend to buy half-pound bags from local places, rather than mail order full-pound bags.
  • Post #10 - May 31st, 2010, 8:51 pm
    Post #10 - May 31st, 2010, 8:51 pm Post #10 - May 31st, 2010, 8:51 pm
    Good luck with that. I have an older Solis-branded Maestro Plus that serves as my non-espresso grinder. It's great for drip/french press, but doesn't grind sufficiently evenly for espresso.

    I'll echo Darren72's comments here. $125 for an espresso grinder isn't going to go far unless you're thinking of a manual grinder. The Hario Skerton (Sweet Maria's link) for $40 is probably your cheapest option, and the Zazzenhaus grinders at $80 are certainly capable.

    One of the criticisms of the Maestro Plus is that the space between the settings is too wide; it's like being able to measure only in feet, not inches. If you're going to stay with the Maestro Plus, you may consider removing the little ball bearing that acts as a mechanism for "stepping" the grind setting - the lower collar has notches set into it, and the ball bearing rests on a spring that pushes it into the lower collar. Removing this bearing makes it a "step-less" grinder.

    If you read on coffeegeek or home-barista, you'll find a common sentiment that the grinder is more important than the machine. I share this sentiment, and would strongly encourage you to reconsider your price point, but can certainly appreciate the desire to stay within budget.

    Then again, you stated that you're already enjoying shots from the Silvia with your current grinder, so all of my opining may be quite moot :oops:

    If your husband "just got back from Italy", it might be helpful to understand where in Italy he visited - a coffee bar in Trieste may produce a markedly different cup than a cafe in Rome or one in Bari. It might be analogous to saying "I just got back from China, and now I love Chinese food"; local variation can weigh very heavily here based on everything from bean selection to preferred roast level.

    The Rancilio Silvia has a well-earned (in my opinion) reputation for being capable but finicky. It isn't particularly tolerant of preparation error, but with good technique and a capable grinder, it can produce pretty decent shots. The Rancilio Rocky, often paired with the Silvia, is capable, as are the Le'Lit PL-53 or the Cunil Tranquilo. Unfortunately, these are all well above your stated price point.

    Good luck with your espresso adventures, and please post about your experiences with the Maestro Plus. I'm really curious to hear other people's opinions about this match (Silvia + Maestro+).

    "Hi, my name is Sherman and I fell down the espresso rabbit-hole."
    -s.
  • Post #11 - May 31st, 2010, 10:31 pm
    Post #11 - May 31st, 2010, 10:31 pm Post #11 - May 31st, 2010, 10:31 pm
    I totally forgot about this until Sherman mentioned it, then the lightbulb flickered on and I remembered: when my Maestro Plus arrived, the first thing I did was unpack it and start fiddling with it ("Instruction manual? We don't need no steenking instruction manual!"). The second thing I did was attempt to remove the hopper all wrong, by forcing it past the largest grind setting until I heard the sickening snap of plastic, followed by the plinko-like sound of something small & hard falling deep into the bowels of the base.

    What I inadvertently did was shear off some small-but-crucial part of the click-adjustment mechanism without harming any other part of the grinder, resulting in my Maestro Plus having "stepless" grind settings. I would NOT recommend attempting to recreate my modification technique ("falling ass-backwards into an inexplicably positive outcome" is probably more accurate than "modification technique"), however. I can only imagine that higher odds of success lie in researching the ball-bearing-removal thing that Sherman mentioned.
  • Post #12 - June 1st, 2010, 6:46 am
    Post #12 - June 1st, 2010, 6:46 am Post #12 - June 1st, 2010, 6:46 am
    Khaopaat wrote:I would NOT recommend attempting to recreate my modification technique ("falling ass-backwards into an inexplicably positive outcome" is probably more accurate than "modification technique")...



    Love it! :lol:

    (From one who ordinarily has a technique best described as "falling ass-backwards into a sickeningly expectable atrocious outcome.")
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #13 - June 1st, 2010, 7:08 am
    Post #13 - June 1st, 2010, 7:08 am Post #13 - June 1st, 2010, 7:08 am
    Khaopaat wrote:What I inadvertently did was shear off some small-but-crucial part of the click-adjustment mechanism without harming any other part of the grinder, resulting in my Maestro Plus having "stepless" grind settings.


    I have no relation to the company, but am a satisfied consumer of their products. With that disclosure out of the way, I'll suggest that replacement parts are easily sourced from the company's website & online store (baratza.com). I recently replaced the burrs on my Maestro+ and am very happy with the performance for my vacuum pot.

    Khaopaat - these things are pretty simple to disassemble and inexpensive to maintain. If you need a replacement part, it won't be a hard thing to work through.

    -s.
  • Post #14 - June 1st, 2010, 8:49 am
    Post #14 - June 1st, 2010, 8:49 am Post #14 - June 1st, 2010, 8:49 am
    Thanks Sherman! I'm sure at some point I'll do something stupid with mine again, only next time I won't be so lucky...at that point, I'll definitely give them a call to get some replacement parts.

    I keep meaning to take it apart to get the broken piece of plastic out, it's good to know that doing so shouldn't be too painful a process.
  • Post #15 - June 1st, 2010, 8:51 am
    Post #15 - June 1st, 2010, 8:51 am Post #15 - June 1st, 2010, 8:51 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:(From one who ordinarily has a technique best described as "falling ass-backwards into a sickeningly expectable atrocious outcome.")

    I usually share your mastery of this technique, which is why I'm befuddled to this day about what happened & how.
  • Post #16 - June 5th, 2010, 7:56 pm
    Post #16 - June 5th, 2010, 7:56 pm Post #16 - June 5th, 2010, 7:56 pm
    Awful--that is how I have found our new additions. The Baratza Maestro Plus--even on the finest setting--is too coarse for our Rancillio Silvia. I called tech support at Whole Latte Love where I purchased it online, and the guy suggested that I fill the portafilter to the top and tamp harder. I found the shot running a lot faster than when I have used my Starbucks espresso--but, I have gotten that ground much finer and I use less coffee per shot, too. I did try what he suggested with newly ordered beans (Lavazza Super Crema)Bland, no bite, not rich. Not sure if its the grind, the coffee, or the whole thing. I feel insecure about a grinder that we have to use on the lowest setting--and fill and tamp so much--we really need a dedicated espresso grinder. That is the only type of coffee we make. I have read Coffee Geek's site--do my fellow espresso lovers think I need to really upgrade to a much more expensive machine. Ack. Thanks in advance for any advice or words of wisdom
  • Post #17 - June 6th, 2010, 8:03 am
    Post #17 - June 6th, 2010, 8:03 am Post #17 - June 6th, 2010, 8:03 am
    nancy wrote:...do my fellow espresso lovers think I need to really upgrade to a much more expensive machine. Ack. Thanks in advance for any advice or words of wisdom


    I'm not sure what you are now asking. Several people pointed out this exact issue to you upthread.

    Why not return the grinder and get one that is made for espresso?
  • Post #18 - June 6th, 2010, 8:03 pm
    Post #18 - June 6th, 2010, 8:03 pm Post #18 - June 6th, 2010, 8:03 pm
    nancy wrote:Awful--that is how I have found our new additions. The Baratza Maestro Plus--even on the finest setting--is too coarse for our Rancillio Silvia.

    This is consistent with my experience trying to grind for espresso using the Maestro+.

    nancy wrote: I did try what he suggested with newly ordered beans (Lavazza Super Crema)Bland, no bite, not rich. Not sure if its the grind, the coffee, or the whole thing. I feel insecure about a grinder that we have to use on the lowest setting--and fill and tamp so much--we really need a dedicated espresso grinder.

    1) yes, it's the grind.
    2) yes, it's the coffee.

    nancy wrote:I have read Coffee Geek's site--do my fellow espresso lovers think I need to really upgrade to a much more expensive machine. Ack. Thanks in advance for any advice or words of wisdom

    Espresso, at its heart, is about the four Ms:
    Miscela - the coffee blend (start with Black Cat/Redline)
    Macchina - the espresso machine (Silvia - check)
    Macinazione - the correct grinding of the coffee blend (the Maestro Plus doesn't cut it.)
    Mano - the skilled hand of the barista

    Buy fresh-roasted (not "freshly-scooped") coffee. Intelligentsia and Metropolis are two well-known local roasters whose products I've had the chance to taste and would recommend wholeheartedly (specifically, Intelligentisa's Black Cat Classic and Metropolis Red Line).

    See my earlier post upthread with regard to a grinder. No, you don't need a new machine. I'm not sure of where on Coffeegeek you would have gotten that impression, but let me be the first to say NO. Oh, and did I mention... NO? ;)

    Good luck,
    -s.
  • Post #19 - June 6th, 2010, 8:49 pm
    Post #19 - June 6th, 2010, 8:49 pm Post #19 - June 6th, 2010, 8:49 pm
    thanks for the four m's...when I asked "do I really need a new machine"--I did not mean my espresso maker--I love my machine--I meant the grinder. I just can't seem to find a dedicated espresso grinder for less than @ $400-- what I guess I was asking was: is there a good one out there that costs less but will certainly do the job?
  • Post #20 - June 6th, 2010, 10:37 pm
    Post #20 - June 6th, 2010, 10:37 pm Post #20 - June 6th, 2010, 10:37 pm
    nancy wrote: I just can't seem to find a dedicated espresso grinder for less than @ $400-- what I guess I was asking was: is there a good one out there that costs less but will certainly do the job?

    scroll... scroll... copy... paste... edit...
    Sherman wrote:I'll echo Darren72's comments here. $125 for an espresso grinder isn't going to go far unless you're thinking of a manual grinder. The Hario Skerton (Sweet Maria's link) for $40 is probably your cheapest option, and the Zazzenhaus grinders at $80 are certainly capable.

    Sherman wrote:The Rancilio Rocky, often paired with the Silvia, is capable, as are the Le'Lit PL-53 or the Cunil Tranquilo. Unfortunately, these are all well above your stated price point.


    Nancy, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here, but it'll be a lot clearer if you have a solid budget. You originally stated your limit at $125. The Maestro Plus is $150 new. A quick check of WLL's site shows that they offer a 30-day return policy, minus shipping. I'd strongly suggest that you send the Maestro back and rethink your grinder budget.

    For what it's worth, I've had good luck perusing CoffeeGeek's buy/sell/trade area. I've bought all but one of my espresso machines there (Rancilio Silvia, Isomac Rituale, and Olympia Cremina). I found an Olympia Coffex on eBay and got super lucky.

    -s.
  • Post #21 - June 7th, 2010, 12:22 am
    Post #21 - June 7th, 2010, 12:22 am Post #21 - June 7th, 2010, 12:22 am
    As others have posted, and my personal research has determined, a high quality grinder is the most important component to goo espresso. The Silvia machine is a decent one but has to be paired with a good grinder. The Rancillio Rocky grinder has been considered one of the lower cost (not low quality) grinders capable of producing grinds good for espresso (especially in the Silvia). The Baratza Vario is a new product that some have reported decent espresso results with. However, neither grinder is in the $125 range. If good espresso is the goal, I'd suggest looking into a higher budget for a grinder.
  • Post #22 - August 6th, 2021, 8:57 am
    Post #22 - August 6th, 2021, 8:57 am Post #22 - August 6th, 2021, 8:57 am
    I think that we are finally tired of using our Porlex manual grinder to make our espresso. Now that my burrs are worn out, I am thinking of buying an electric burr grinder instead of getting the Porlex Mini Grinder II. We are grinding Intelligentsia Black Cat coffee beans and Metropolis Redline coffee beans for the most part and then putting the ground coffee into an Aeropress. Would the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder work well enough for what I am trying to do?
  • Post #23 - August 6th, 2021, 9:03 am
    Post #23 - August 6th, 2021, 9:03 am Post #23 - August 6th, 2021, 9:03 am
    Don't get the Krups Precision Grinder....I dialed it all the way to "fine" which in any other universe was a coarse ground. I had to return it and switched back to my old Mr. Coffee blade grinder which gets the coffee pretty fine. Since I'm looking at a new coffee maker, I might go with the Capresso one that has a burr grinder built into the coffee maker.
  • Post #24 - August 6th, 2021, 9:20 am
    Post #24 - August 6th, 2021, 9:20 am Post #24 - August 6th, 2021, 9:20 am
    HonestMan wrote:Don't get the Krups Precision Grinder....I dialed it all the way to "fine" which in any other universe was a coarse ground. I had to return it and switched back to my old Mr. Coffee blade grinder which gets the coffee pretty fine. Since I'm looking at a new coffee maker, I might go with the Capresso one that has a burr grinder built into the coffee maker.

    I had a Krups grinder before, but saw that it did not do a good job with coffee beans. I ended up using it to grind spices.
  • Post #25 - August 6th, 2021, 10:12 am
    Post #25 - August 6th, 2021, 10:12 am Post #25 - August 6th, 2021, 10:12 am
    shorty wrote:I think that we are finally tired of using our Porlex manual grinder to make our espresso. Now that my burrs are worn out, I am thinking of buying an electric burr grinder instead of getting the Porlex Mini Grinder II. We are grinding Intelligentsia Black Cat coffee beans and Metropolis Redline coffee beans for the most part and then putting the ground coffee into an Aeropress. Would the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder work well enough for what I am trying to do?


    I don't grind as fine when I use the Aeropress as when I make espresso in my Rancilio Silvia. So I think the Baratza would be fine.

    I would read reviews of the Baratza on espresso sites (see the links above). I think of the Baratza as an entry-level burr grinder. Excellent for most types of coffee, including the Aeropress, but may not be able to get a fine enough grind for espresso in a good quality espresso machine.
  • Post #26 - October 1st, 2021, 12:12 pm
    Post #26 - October 1st, 2021, 12:12 pm Post #26 - October 1st, 2021, 12:12 pm
    Deja vu. Echoing Darren72 again, the Encore has replaced the Maestro+ as Baratza's entry level offering; given that Aeropress isn't required to be as fine, you might be able to get away with it.

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