walkinghispath Senior Member Joined: 18 May 2014 Posts: 17 Location: Worldwide Expertise: Pro Barista
Espresso: Kitchenaid Pro Line (PID'd),... Grinder: Kitchenaid Pro Line (Mazzer... Drip: Krups grind and brew for the... Roaster: Dog bowl and a heat gun
Posted Mon May 19, 2014, 4:50pm Subject: Re: Best grinder for a budget of around $400
You can't go wrong with any of the commercial grinders from Macap, Mazzer, Cunill, etc. Just try to find one without a doser so you're not dealing with all kinds of retained grounds for one or two shots a day. If you happen to have a 3D printer then even that is a moot point as you can just make your own grinds spout. I've used the Cunill Tranquilo and the Macap M4 and they were both superb. Next I'll be experimenting with a Kitchenaid Pro Line by modding the heck out of it. Anyway, hope that helps a bit.
Posted Mon May 19, 2014, 6:12pm Subject: Re: Best grinder for a budget of around $400
The used market is as the used market does. There's no telling what you can find if you're patient and lucky.
In your price range, what you're hoping for is something like Mazzer Super Jolly in good condition, stepless adjustment, and doser/electronics which aren't too bizarre or specialized. There are a lot of grinders in this light-commercial, 64-65mm flat burr class besides the SJ which are pretty much equal in terms of their in the cup performance. The differences come in "use" characteristics like messiness, noisiness, retention and so on.
The ones which I see coming up most online are Mazzers and Rossis, but there are a lot of others. More often than not, used commercial grinders come out of a (wait for it) commercial environment. Expect the grinder to need complete disassembly, thorough cleaning, new burrs, and recalibration.
If you don't have the room for a grinder of that size, I wouldn't bother with anything used in the K3/Mini class -- with the possible exception of a Mini E (whether the A or B model).
The best under $400 grinder which can be found and purchased as easily as any online retail purchase is the Baratza Vario factory refurb. They're small footprint grinders, very user friendly, and grind at a "good" in the cup level.
They run $360, and you shouldn't have to wait for more than a week or two before one comes up on the Baratza website. It's a rare week when Baratza doesn't have several Varios and Vario Ws on the block.
IIRC, Baratza lists their refurbs on a particular day of the week at a particular hour (you'll have to find out when). There's a lot of competition, and you risk losing the opportunity if you're not online at the right time.
MarkPrince Moderator Joined: 19 Dec 2001 Posts: 5,631 Location: Vancouver, BC Expertise: Professional
Espresso: KvdW Speedster Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder Vac Pot: A bit too many Drip: Bonavita Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Mon May 19, 2014, 7:05pm Subject: Re: Best grinder for a budget of around $400
I really like the Compak K3, new or used (hard to find used, they're good grinders!); it's built tough, is as good or better than a Mazzer Mini, and I like the looks too. New it's out of your price point, but I've seen used ones go for $400 or less when the come available.
If you want multipurpose, my standard rec is for a refurb Vario (not the -W version) or a Preciso. They have their quirks but really are the best multipurpose grinders under $500.
If you want a doserless, fine, but there's really no reason to go to all the trouble of modding a doser into a doserless. Dosers are useful. There's a common misconception that they are used to hold grounds, which go stale. When used properly, grounds do not sit in the doser. They are removed either right after or while they enter the dosing chamber. Retention in the doser varies from brand to brand and, while there are mods to decrease retention - such as the sweeper vane mod for the Mazzer dosers, some doser just don't need anything (like the MACAP dosers). Some people like dosers because they tend to have less clumping issues, and others like dosers because there tends to be less of a mess on the counter (so I've heard). I use dosers...and always have...so yeah, my comments are biased...take them with a grain of salt. You gotta get what makes you happy.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,169 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 Tue May 20, 2014, 1:22pm Subject: Re: Best grinder for a budget of around $400
I am not intimate with that line of grinders but very often the seller has no clue on what they are selling and list things that they think may help. I can't tell you how many Super Jollys are called Mazzer Lougie (OK my spelling probably butchered that but you get the point!)
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!
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