jabone Senior Member Joined: 2 Nov 2013 Posts: 17 Location: Vancouver Expertise: Just starting
Posted Wed Nov 27, 2013, 1:46am Subject: grinder opinions
Looking to pair a grinder with my Oscar. Options:
MDX: 450 Cimbali junior: 500 New Macap m4t : 489 New baratza various: 400
I was also thinking OE pharos, but I am way too lazy in the morning so that's probably a bad idea.
I drink a quick espresso and make an americano to go in the morning ( hypothetical, haven't started yet, need grinder). Drinks will mainly be for myself. Plan only using it for espresso. I am cheap so want something that will last. I'm a bachelor so aesthetics are not the top priority.
Im leaning towards the vario but am concerned about durability. I think the mdx sounds like the best combo of grind, commercial quality and grind setting. Feedback is appreciated. I am new to this so I may be judging my priorities incorrectly.
Posted Wed Nov 27, 2013, 8:10am Subject: Re: grinder opinions
I'd say go with the Macap. I am a big fan of the worm drive over any other stepless adjustments out there. I haven't had hands on with the MDX so I can't chime in on that one. Other than that all I've seen and heard on the MDX has been good. For durability Macap and Nuova Simonelli are the top picks of the four. Both grinders are built for light commercial use. I also find Macap equipment to be more affordable too.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,734 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Nov 27, 2013, 8:50am Subject: Re: grinder opinions
The MDX allows the upper carrier to be removed without goofing up the adjustment. It is a simple removal of a couple screws and you are inside. It holds it's adjustment perfectly and I much prefer it to the Mazzer setup. It is every bit the grinder that a SJ is and possibly more, it is a full on commercial grinder, not a light duty grinder. I don't want to sound like I am pushing it, but yah, I am, a LOT! Excellent value for money and I don't know where you got that price but it is less than the last MDX I sold!
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013, 7:41pm Subject: Re: grinder opinions
We're not quite at the level of "perfect grinder" (if such there is), and the others have their strengths and weaknesses.
Your selections are all flat burr grinders, which means that their taste signatures will be slightly loaded towards "chocolate and nuts," and away from "fruits and florals."
Because the Vario has the smallest burr set, at 54mm, and predictably it's the weakest at developing the top end. It's the most kitchen friendly in terms of size and footprint. It's the least expensive (new), but looks the cheapest. It's also got some issues with slop and durability -- which is why Baratza is selling Fortes as fast as they can make them.
Last, don't count on using the Vario for espresso AND brew. It does a piss-poor job of returning to espresso settings and ordinarily critical users find that they have to dial in more or less from scratch every time they return to espresso from something coarser. To be fair though, you can't use any of the other grinders as all purpose grinders either.
The M4t, is a nicer grinder altogether than the Vario, but like the Vario it's also got a fairly small burr set (a couple of mils bigger than the Vario), which is limiting. The built in timer is a nice feature, compared to the other grinders. If you're not going to single dose by weight, but use the hopper and dose by time, and the built in timer will save you some money compared to adding a dark room timer to one of the other grinders. If the couple of hundred didn't make a difference, I'd take an M4t over a Vario.
The other three are 64mm flat burrs. Consequently, grind quality and taste signature are about equal. All of them are true commercial grinders. The MDX is not more commercial than the SJ or Jr. All of are stepless. The MDX and SJ are both 24" tall with hopper, the Cimbali is 16-1/2".
The SJ is the least expensive (new). In my opinion it's as well made as the other two, or near enough. However, it's the most difficult to adjust accurately. Mazzer burrs are very good, but wear relatively quickly. Used SJs typically require new burr sets. However, they're not expensive, and even with the (probable) extra cost, it's possibly the best deal of your group.
Both the MDX and Cimbali Jr run $1000 new. I don't think there's a difference in build quality, and whatever difference there is in performance is minuscule. However, there are design and use differences.
The NS MDX can be easily set up for single dosing. It's micro-adjustment wheel is pretty good, but to be fair it doesn't do small, precise grind adjustment as easily as the La Cimbali. The MDX's doser doesn't sweep as clean. I don't have any basis to comment on MDX burr longevity. The off and on switch isn't as well located as the Cimbali's -- but if you're going to operate your grinder off a timer that doesn't make much difference.
The Cimbali Junior has a great burr set, best micro-adjustment, easiest to dial in to perfect levels of precision, zero slop, the world's best doser, and IMO, is the best to use. At least if it's been recently cleaned. However...
HOWEVER the way the hopper, the deck beneath it, and the transition between deck and throat are designed, it's a royal PITA to keep clean. Because beans and bean fragments can get trapped in unlikely places and go rancid -- it must be cleaned frequently. To add insult to injury, you have to empty the hopper enough so you can unscrew it (!!!) before getting on with the cleaning.
There are a few other, smaller drawbacks. It can't be single dosed by weight (at least not without jumping through a lot of flaming hoops) because it popcorns like an SOB (popcorning only matters if you single dose by weight, it doesn't matter if you operate it with the hopper and dose by time), and it's on the noisy side.
Cimbali burrs last a LONG time (which is why I called them the "great,"), and unless the Jr. in question has seen long, commercial duty the burrs in the one you're talking about you're probably good to go without a replacement.
I have a Max Hybrid (same body as the Jr., different motor and burrs) bought new three years ago. If the grind quality wasn't so good I would have dumped it in favor of something ridiculously huge and expensive after no more than a year. But it is, and I can't see spending $1500 plus to save twenty minutes a month. But if I had to replace it, I'd throw budget to the winds. No way would I ever buy another La Cimbali unless they take care of the issues caused by the hopper/deck.
Of the grinders on your list, I'd choose the MDX if the burrs had any life left.
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