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Which Burr Coffee Grinder Would You Recommend?

CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 07:41 AM

I'm shopping for a gift. This grinder will be used for "regular" coffee made in a drip coffee maker. Is there one brand/model that stands out above the rest without breaking the bank? Thanks!

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  1. Politeness RE: CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 12:26 PM


    Or, if the giftee is not THAT good a friend, http://baratza.com/products.php?itemi...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Politeness
      CindyJ RE: Politeness Feb 18, 2010 02:51 PM

      That's just a bit more than I wanted to spend.

      1. re: CindyJ
        Politeness RE: CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 04:49 PM

        CindyJ: "That's just a bit more than I wanted to spend."

        Had you asked for a burr grinder for yourself, I would have linked to the site that Eiron (below) linked to, for a refurb machine. A refurb direct from Baratza is the best deal in the grinder business.

        A lesser, but still good, option is a Capresso Infinity (made in China). The Kobos Kitchen Store (one location only, on NW Vaughn Street in NW Portland, OR) currently has the Capresso Infinity on sale at a very attractive price; I saw them there day before yesterday, when I went in to get my bi-weekly fix of whole-bean Yirgacheffe. I cannot recall Kobos's exact price for the Capresso Infinity, but it was well under $75. Kobos ships whole bean coffee by mail order (highly recommended: master roaster Brian Dibble really knows his stuff), and MAY ship grinders, also. The telephone number is (503) 222-2181. (I have no relationship to Kobos other than as a customer.)

    2. Eiron RE: CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 02:48 PM

      +1 on Baratza, but I'd recommend a refurb over new.
      I know, I know, "b-b-but, it's a gift!" I bought one for my dad for xmas (Starbucks-branded version of the Maestro, only 'cuz they were out of stock on the regular model) & he couldn't be happier with the product. It comes with a 6 month warranty instead of a 12 month, but otherwise will be identical to a new unit.

      Stellar product for the money & a fantastic upgrade for any coffee lover.

      Take the money you save over a "new" grinder & surprise them with two or three different freshly-roasted coffee varietals from your favorite source. I highly recommend Costa Rican Tarrazu, Ethiopian Yergacheffe & Mocha Java Blend (or Kenyan AA) as a nice, diverse selection.

      20 Replies
      1. re: Eiron
        CindyJ RE: Eiron Feb 18, 2010 02:53 PM

        The reviews of the Maestro didn't exactly leave me wanting to rush out and buy one. The Virtuoso, on the other hand, well, when my own coffee grinder gives out, that's likely to be my replacement.

        1. re: CindyJ
          Eiron RE: CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 04:47 PM

          Hmmm... that's interesting. Which reviews are you reading? Which objections are putting you off?

          I own the previous version of the Maestro (Solis 166 model) & have had nothing but success for the past five years. I bought mine "on sale" for $100, & the Maestro is a fair bit nicer than my earlier version.

          My last employer had a Cuisinart DBM-8 burr grinder in the kitchen area. What a horrible grinder that is! Absolutely no consistancy in grind size, terrible static & mess problems, & the grinds are blasted against the front of the bin & create a large lump of built-up coffee right at the top/front edge of the bin.

          1. re: Eiron
            CindyJ RE: Eiron Feb 19, 2010 04:56 AM

            The "bottom line" reviews here were mixed enough to leave doubt in my mind. http://coffeegeek.com/reviews/grinder...

            1. re: CindyJ
              Eiron RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 10:05 AM

              OK, I can understand what you're saying. Keep in mind that the more "popular" any item is, the more negative (as well as positive) comments it will accrue.

              That being said, I went thru a number of the less-favorable CG reviews on the Maestro, & here's what I took away:
              I wouldn't put too much stock in reviews more than a couple years old. Baratza has improved some things (like the motor) in this model & it's no longer the same as earlier models.
              Do your friends like oily beans? If so, then they may not drop easily into the burrs. I've found that the oil makes the beans stick to the insides of the hopper on my Solis 166, but the Maestro looks like it has steeper sides than my hopper. Here are the CG reviews on my grinder:
              Oily beans will also clog the exit chute easily, requiring poking & scraping to undo the clog.

              But... you have to do what's comfortable for you.
              I'd hate to be the one to talk you into an unsure purchase, & then have your friend not like it. ;-)

              1. re: Eiron
                CindyJ RE: Eiron Feb 19, 2010 02:09 PM

                I didn't realize until now that there are actually two Maestro models. It sounds like the Maestro Plus has the glitches worked out.

                1. re: CindyJ
                  Politeness RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 04:32 PM

                  CindyJ: "I didn't realize until now that there are actually two Maestro models. It sounds like the Maestro Plus has the glitches worked out."

                  I must defend the honor of the Maestro. Yes, the Maestro Plus is an upgrade to the Maestro, which remains a current model in the line. But you seem to have over-estimated the Maestro's "glitches." The Maestro is a very fine grinder in its own right.

                  Hint: when reading reviews on coffeegeek.com, sort on "Quality." The highest "quality" reviews are the ones that other coffeegeek.com members have voted are the most informative. When you read the reviews of the Maestro (full stop) sorted on "Quality," you will see that the knowledgeable reviewers found very few glitches, and the glitches that they found were minor.

                2. re: Eiron
                  scubadoo97 RE: Eiron Feb 19, 2010 05:06 PM

                  As a coffee roaster, if you have beans that are that oily then they are either very old or WAY over roasted. Years ago I use to think oily was good. Now I know better.

                  A lot of Maestro problems stemed from people breaking the tabs on the burr carrier while rotating the hopper to a fine grind setting. After awhile there is a lot of resistance to rotating the hopper. Even the Maestro Plus had that problem. I have never had that problem with my Maestro +. My hopper can rotate to the Turkish setting without much resistance. The reason is I keep it very clean. The upper burr builds up a sticky layer of fine coffee dust on it's outside nylon ring. Easy to remove with a dry tooth brush. I bursh the upper burr at least a couple a times a month and blow out any old coffee. Takes maybe 5 min. With any grinder cleanliness is very important to proper function.

                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    rtms RE: scubadoo97 Feb 21, 2010 08:31 PM

                    I have a Melitta burr grinder that is at least 10 years old. I didn't realize that the burrs need to be cleaned. Mine hasn't been working for about 3 days, about the same time that I started using Starbuck coffee from Costco. (I've used other brands of coffee beans before.) The motor works but there's not grinding. I can't seem to undo the grinder.

                    What's the expect life span of a coffee grinder?

                    1. re: rtms
                      scubadoo97 RE: rtms Feb 22, 2010 04:11 AM

                      If the motors working but there is no grinding going on then at best there is a stuck bean that's freezing up the burrs or worse there are stripped gearsl. Can you manually remove the burrs?

                      1. re: scubadoo97
                        rtms RE: scubadoo97 Feb 23, 2010 04:48 AM

                        I'm going to give it a try - my hands are strong enough - I need to get the right set of pliers. Until burr grinders go on sale I'll 'suffer' with the regular blade coffee grinder.

                        1. re: rtms
                          rtms RE: rtms Feb 24, 2010 07:28 AM

                          thanks scubadoo, apparently it was a stuck bean!

                          1. re: rtms
                            scubadoo97 RE: rtms Feb 24, 2010 11:59 AM

                            Cool beans! Glad it got your back to to the grind

                          2. re: rtms
                            jayt90 RE: rtms Feb 25, 2010 01:52 PM

                            There is a life span to iron burrs, and you have gone past.
                            Cost to replace (easy lift out) on a Baratza is $20, every 5 years.

              2. re: CindyJ
                Politeness RE: CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 04:56 PM

                CindyJ, our countertop grinder is a Maestro. The Maestro is an excellent grinder for drip grind and French press, if you are grinding for one pot at a time. The Maestro can grind for espresso, also, but its range of adjustments in the espresso range are not as finely tunable and repeatable as espresso fanatics require. And if you want to grind an entire pound of coffee at one time, the Maestro is over-matched, and will overheat. If you are using the Maestro for drip grind or French press, and you are grinding a quarter pound or less at a time, it is as good as any grinder out there. The Virtuoso addresses the two weaknesses noted above.

                1. re: Politeness
                  CindyJ RE: Politeness Feb 19, 2010 05:05 AM

                  From the little I've read about grinding for espresso, a serious espresso maven (which I am NOT) would probably own a grinder designed specifically for that purpose, rather than an all-purpose grinder that also (supposedly) offers espresso settings.

                  Well, when my 10+ year old Jericho grinder gives out, the Virtuoso will be on the top of my must-have list.

                  1. re: CindyJ
                    RichardM RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 08:58 AM

                    Cindy, you have to be careful of reviews. Most on coffeegeek are coffee snobs who disparage anything which doesn't cost twice as much as any sane person is willing to spend.

                    I have owned Baratza grinders for over 7 years. The provide a quality grind especially for non-espresso and are very durable. And the people at Baratza are pleasant to deal with should the occasion arise.

                    You can buy a blade or inexpensive burr grinder and replace it every couple of years or buy a well built grinder that will last. Ultimately only you can make that call. If you decide to get one, get a refurb of the base model for best value (<$100). Models with heavy base and switch on the front are for espresso.

                    Good luck.

                    1. re: RichardM
                      CindyJ RE: RichardM Feb 19, 2010 02:12 PM

                      "Most on coffeegeek are coffee snobs who disparage anything which doesn't cost twice as much as any sane person is willing to spend." Funny, I thought it was just ME, taking away that impression. :)

              3. re: Eiron
                hobbess RE: Eiron Feb 23, 2010 12:07 AM

                What's the difference between buying a Starbucks-branded Maestro vs. a Baratza Maestro?

                1. re: hobbess
                  Politeness RE: hobbess Feb 23, 2010 01:29 AM

                  If you go to StarbucksStore.com, you will see that the "Starbucks-branded Maestro" is identified as "by Baratza." Starbucks is one retailer of Baratza grinders. Baratza started out as the American importer of Solis grinders, and made some modifications to the design of the Solis 166, which Starbucks already was selling. Baratza named the modified and improved model Maestro and it became the company's principal product.

                  1. re: hobbess
                    Eiron RE: hobbess Feb 23, 2010 09:34 AM

                    Case color is the only difference. Internals are the same, included the upgraded DC motor & any other improvements made to bring it up to current-model specs.

                    I bought my dad a Starbucks-branded Maestro for xmas, along with three different "premium" fresh-roasted varietal coffees. He loves the grinder & said it makes even less-expensive coffee taste better.

                    My Solis 166 is actually the re-branded Starbucks "Barista" model. You can still find this grinder for sale under the Saeco "Titan" model.

                2. monku RE: CindyJ Feb 18, 2010 02:59 PM

                  Cuisinart makes one for around $40. Burr grinder with a portion setting to grind the amount you need and settings for different grinds.
                  I bought it a couple years ago at Costco, I doubt they carry it anymore. Seems to be well made and trouble free.

                  I also have a $300 grinder made by Pasquini a supplier in Los Angeles, but it doesn't have a portion setting.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: monku
                    MikeB3542 RE: monku Feb 18, 2010 06:58 PM

                    We have an older Mellita burr grinder -- it has worked well, and would consider getting a newer unit. They are reasonably priced.

                    1. re: monku
                      janniecooks RE: monku Feb 19, 2010 03:30 AM

                      Sam's Club has the Cuisinart grinder for at least $10 less - just saw it on their shelves the other day. I purchased one last year and it works great for us.

                      1. re: janniecooks
                        monku RE: janniecooks Feb 19, 2010 05:03 AM

                        When I bought the Cuisinart burr grinder at Costco it was on sale for like $26 and I couldn't resist.

                    2. o
                      onocoffee RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 04:28 AM

                      For home use, the Baratza really is the best deal. Bodum makes a burr grinder that's also pretty good for about $60. And Cuisinart has a grinder for $50 at most outlets (or $30 at my local Costco).

                      I've used pretty much all of them and used to have the Cuisinart as my home grinder, then I brought home a Bunn G1 commercial grinder, then when that went off to work, I started using the Baratza Virtuoso. Truly the Baratza is worth the money. The Cuisinart is very afforable but those burrs tend to crush the beans rather than slice them. The Baratza has conical burrs which give a more consistent (and therefore better brewed coffee) grind and is worth the stretch of your funds. You can expect the Baratza to last you the rest of your adult life.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: onocoffee
                        RealityMonster RE: onocoffee Feb 21, 2010 07:24 AM

                        I second on the Bodum. I use it for my French Press coffee, and some of the best roasters I know (Transcend coffee in Edmonton, AB) sell them and recommend them personally for home use. They're inexpensive, the grind is even, and it's pretty easy to clean. I kind of want a more upscale grinder simply for aesthetic reasons (and because I love new gadgets), but I can't justify that sort of purchase in the least because the bodum does such a good job.

                      2. grampart RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 09:06 AM

                        I've been using a Breville with no problems for the last couple of years. It's probably not the highest rated, but for around $100 it's a pretty good deal.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: grampart
                          johnrebus RE: grampart Mar 26, 2010 05:17 PM

                          I agree. Although I have no point of comparison with other burr grinders, I bought the Breville for a very reasonable price (in the scheme of burr grinders, that is), and it's been a revelation. I had no idea how important it was to use a burr grinder. I wasted far too many years with a blade grinder.

                        2. scubadoo97 RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 02:53 PM

                          Baratza grinders are quite good for a variety of brewing methods. Not especially good for espresso. You will get varying sizes of grinds but I've even seen that from my Mazzer Mini as well. None are dead even. I have a Solis(Baratza) Maestro Plus. Had it for about 7 years now. Still going strong. We grind on demand, some where around 56+ grams of beans per pot. When my daughter comes in who doesn't have a grinder, I roast a 1.5# bag of coffee for her to take back. I can not grind this in my Baratza grinder. The motor gets too warm for my comfort. I will use my big, built like a tank Mazzer. But for light duty daily morning coffee the Baratza will do a good job. Very low static and very clean and quite. This is a big plus over many other brands.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: scubadoo97
                            NickM RE: scubadoo97 Feb 19, 2010 06:36 PM

                            I have used the Solis/Baratza Maestro, Maestro Plus and the Virtuoso. I have used them to grind for drip and for French press, now almost entirely the latter. The Maestro is a very good machine, but it does not provide quite as uniform a grind at the coarse grind level for French press, nor as great a range of grind settings at that coarse level, as do the Maestro Plus and the Virtuoso. If you seek to achieve a more precise balance of full flavor vs. sludge, as many French press users do, you might find either the Maestro Plus or the Virtuoso preferable. Any of the three provide burr grinding of greater precision and uniformity than many fo the competitors, which are also more prone to spraying ground coffee all over your kitchen thanks to static electricity. I have not tried the Capresso, so cannot comment on that machine. Nor can I comment on how these machines compare with more expensive alternatives like the Mazzer.

                            1. re: NickM
                              RichardM RE: NickM Feb 22, 2010 01:48 PM

                              Nick and others -

                              The Maestro and Maestro Plus have EXACTLY the same motor, gear train and burr set. Aside from sample variations they would perform exactly the same. The difference between the two grinders is 1) the Plus has a large cast aluminum base for better stability and 2) it has a momentary switch on the front. Both of these features are designed to allow grinding directly into an espresso machine portafilter. When I replaced my Solis with a Maestro I simply transferred the metal base. You can confirm this by contacting service@baratza.com

                              I have never had any issues with 'static electricity' with these grinders.

                              1. re: RichardM
                                NickM RE: RichardM Feb 22, 2010 04:22 PM

                                Thanks for your comment, Richard. It's possible that sample variation would account for the differences in grind control I found in going from my Maestro to the Maestro Plus, but I still have my Maestro, and can report that I could not -- and still cannot -- achieve the uniformity and coarseness of grind in my Maestro that I got in my Maestro Plus, and which I can now also get from the Virtuoso. Maybe my particular Maestro hasn't been performing quite up to the potential of the machine.

                                Just to clarify, I did not mean to imply that I have had static electricity problems with my Solis/Baratza machines: none of the Soilis/Baratza machines I have used have any significant static electricity problems. Rather, I meant to say that I encountered such problems only with other competitors -- with three less costly burr grinders I used previously. Sorry I can't recall right now which brands I used before, but if their names come back to me, I will comment further.

                                1. re: NickM
                                  grampart RE: NickM Feb 22, 2010 05:17 PM

                                  I used to have a Capresso that exhibited the static electricity phenomenon. It was a messy pain in the ass.

                                2. re: RichardM
                                  scubadoo97 RE: RichardM Feb 22, 2010 04:27 PM

                                  You are correct that the two grinders the Maestro and Maestro + are essentially the same grinder with the + having a larger number of grind settings and a wider range as well as the one touch button. I can confirm that the Baratza grinders have little if any static problem are extremely clean and relatively quiet as far as grinders go. But don't expect any grinder to be quiet as they all make some racket

                                  1. re: RichardM
                                    RichardM RE: RichardM Feb 23, 2010 07:09 AM

                                    Ops! I forgot one other difference. The Plus has a countdown on switch (like an egg timer) and the regular Maestro has an on/off/on/off rotary switch.

                                    1. re: RichardM
                                      Politeness RE: RichardM Feb 23, 2010 08:49 AM

                                      This has been educational to us. We purchased our Maestro (designed by Baratza and distraibuted by Baratza, but then still bearing the Solis mark) before there was any such model as the Maestro Plus. Our Maestro has the front micro-switch and the countdown timer switch.

                              2. Mr Taster RE: CindyJ Feb 19, 2010 03:32 PM

                                I have used the Zassenhaus (mahogany) coffee grinder for many years in my French press. It grinds from very coarse to very fine/espresso (though not Turkish-fine).

                                Highly recommended, a beautiful gift, and it sounds like its in your price range.


                                Mr Taster

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  Mr Taster RE: Mr Taster Feb 24, 2010 12:26 PM

                                  Hmmm..... still no takers on the fine craftsmanship and superb results offered by the Zassenhaus mill? Where are the purists? :)

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                    tim irvine RE: Mr Taster Feb 24, 2010 04:23 PM

                                    I'd be up for it if I were in the market. I still have the old Spong I bought in 1972, and it ground more finely than any electric I have ever used. The only problem was having to use a chopstick to jiggle the beans and keep them feeding through.

                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                      jayt90 RE: Mr Taster Feb 25, 2010 02:20 PM

                                      I have a Zassenhaus, but I am loathe to use it for 4 minutes at 7 AM., when I can use the Baratza Virtuoso for 15 seconds.

                                    2. re: Mr Taster
                                      Nate650 RE: Mr Taster Feb 22, 2011 07:50 PM

                                      Hi, can you explain please how you have the knob adjusted for a French press grind? I found the Zassenhaus box mill to produce too fine a grind for French press brewing. I've fiddled with the adjustment knob and found a good spot, but the grind isn't as even as I'd expect it to be from such a fine gadget.

                                      1. re: Nate650
                                        Mr Taster RE: Nate650 Feb 23, 2011 08:52 AM

                                        I adjusted it per the directions on the sweet marias website.


                                        Mr Taster

                                    3. tim irvine RE: CindyJ Feb 20, 2010 01:18 PM

                                      I haveused other allegedly better grinders and have to say that if the use is going to be drip, the Capresso has been extremely satisfactory. It was marginal for espresso with a pressurized PF and inadequate for a regular PF. I agree about Coffeegeek. If I had three thousand dollars to satsify my quest for the God shot, that would be awesome, but I don't. So when I want a really good shot I go to my local coffee house (Little City) where they use big Rio grinders and a Rancilio three group and (depending on the barista) deliver a great shot. At home I use my Bialetti and make lattes with microwaved, frothed milk and am content with what I have. One comment on the Capresso and good basic coffee: It does a coarse grind very well and makes an awesome pot of press coffee, hands down way better (IMHO) than drip and a lot faster.

                                      1. TorontoEastEndFoodie RE: CindyJ Mar 12, 2012 10:33 AM

                                        I recommend the Cuisinart CBM 8C. It is no longer made, but you can still find them.They cost anywhere from $50-100.
                                        DO NOT BUY THE NEW CUISINART CBN 18C MODEL. After using this product for over a month, daily, I have come to hate it. The CBM 18C static makes a mess. Not only does it put grounds all over the plastic container, it also drops grinds all over the counter. When you take the lid off, more coffee grounds jump off the container onto whatever you are over. I use a drip cone, and I now regularly have grounds in my coffee. Not a good thing, when you use all the coffee brewed. When you go to put back the ground coffee container, the coffee statically stuck to the top of the machine, falls onto the base and stops the container from properly sliding back into place. The indicator starts flashing until the grounds are cleaned out and the container put back in. I even tried putting a static sheet for the dryer around the container, with no improvement. When I contacted Cuisinart, they shrugged it off and said it wasn't a defect. When the grinder puts coffee grinds all over the counter, the grinder, and even in the brewed coffee. It may not be a defect, but it certainly is a major problem. Cuisinart's customer service rate's a zero. They don't care.

                                        1. grampart RE: CindyJ Sep 12, 2012 02:28 PM

                                          I just got this Breville. http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BCG800...
                                          Quiet, no static "cling", and it performs perfectly.

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