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Senior Member

Joined: 27 Nov 2013
Posts: 1
Location: uk
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Posted Wed Nov 27, 2013, 1:27pm
Subject: Looking for a new smart grinder with portafilter holder

Hi All,

I'm new to the forum, I have been the owner of a Gaggia Classic espresso machine for a year now which I have had teamed up with a basic Judge Grinder as per the link below.

Click Here (www.amazon.co.uk)

To be honest I am happy enough with the grinder, and have set out beyond the mission I wanted to achieve to basically produce coffee (in particular latte) on par with Starbucks. I've actually surpassed that in my opinion.

Other than some inconsistencies with measures, the only real problem I have with the judge is the mess and the time the whole process takes, from measuring out the beans to tidying it all away. I have therefore been looking into replacing with a grinder whereby you can grind direct into my portafilter.

Budget wise I am looking at around £100 - 150 ish

I have seen the following two products which appear to very similar?

Only differences appear to be that the Breville is only available in America and the sage is twice the price?

Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Smart Grinder™ Coffee Grinder
Click Here (www.johnlewis.com)

Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder

I have seen a review that the smart grinder is no good for espresso as you cannot get the grind fine enough? a shim was then designed to improve this and later models are supposedly an improvement. I guess however that it would be suitable for my needs? As previously in my post I love good coffee but I am not there measuring milligrams of grind or milk temperatures

Please let me know your opinions or If you can recommend any other products I may be missing


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Senior Member

Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,091
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Wed Nov 27, 2013, 2:13pm
Subject: Re: Looking for a new smart grinder with portafilter holder

Personally I would wait for the Breville smart grinder to gain some new traction with the supposed improvements before dropping espresso funds on it.  There are other great grinders out there within your price range. You may be able to locate a used commercial espresso grinder in your local classifieds.  I've had luck with the Hario hand grinders. The Skerton modded for press + a posilock nut is a real gem for the price point of $23 EUR.   The Encore for $150 Is another good one.  You can recalibrate it easily for better espresso.

Here are a few ebay.uk finds you may be interested in.  All are what your looking for.

Cunhill MC5
Mazzer superjolly
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Senior Member

Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,683
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Fri Nov 29, 2013, 6:43pm
Subject: Re: Looking for a new smart grinder with portafilter holder

I'm not sure how to say this without sounding insulting, something I don't intend.  So forgive me.

If the Judge is working for you in terms of grind quality -- besides it's shortcoming in speed, mess, and convenience -- you have low standards.  You'll likely find that all sorts of grinders which some people (like me) regard as inadequate would work very well for you.  That's neither a bad nor a good thing.  It's just an "is."  

The Smart is very easy to use, and has a lot of really good things going for it -- including easy cleaning and what has to be one of the world's best hoppers.  I own one which I used for a couple of years for non-espresso grinding, and was quite happy with it until our needs changed.  It's an excellent grinder for its price.  If you liked the Judge, you'd probably be ecstatic with a Smart.  

That said, part of making espresso is shaping the flavor of the shot using the variables of grind, dose and temp.  The (new) Smart will grind find enough to make espresso, but is not sufficiently adjustable down in that very small size range to allow you the real and consistent control you need to "dial in" to the exactly right grind.  

The least expensive grinder which I know that can do that (or at least get close) is the Baratza Preciso ($300USD in the US).  There's another grinder recommended by Calblacksmith and a few other guys on CG which is twenty or so USD cheaper (don't know about the UK), and is supposedly as good.  I'm disposed to believe them -- but can't remember its name.

For the same reason the Smart doesn't do an "adequate" espresso grind, neither do the Encore or Virtuoso -- at least not as far as I'm concerned.  But that doesn't mean that either wouldn't satisfy you.

If you're serious about espresso, it's more than possible that you'll outgrow any grinder in the "marginally acceptable" class very quickly.  

As a sort of rough (very rough) guide, the minimum cost in the US for a given level of quality in the cup for new, powered grinders,  runs about like this:
  • $200 = marginally acceptable (e.g., Breville Smart);
  • $300 = adequate (e.g., Baratza Preciso);
  • $450 = good (e.g., Baratza Vario);
  • $700 = very good (e.g., Mazzer Super Jolly); and
  • $1100 = excellent (e.g., Fiorenzato Doge Conico).

I imagine that UK prices are at least parallel if not identical.  

Note that you can easily spend more than the listed price to get lower quality, but that it's very difficult to spend less and get the same or better quality.

Also note that you can get an excellent hand cranked grinder for under $300 (OE Pharos).  However, be aware that most hand-cranked grinders really aren't very good for espresso; and although some may be had for well under $100, their in-the-cup results means they're not bargains -- at least not if you have high standards.  

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