The Humvie of grinders. A very solid, quality burr grinder with totally pragmatic simple all metal construction.
Positive Product Points
The Mazzer Mini is a better grinder than the Tranquilo, but it costs twice as much. The Tranquilo costs half as much as a Mazzer Mini, but probably delivers 90% of the real world performance on the working end of the process, where the coffee comes out.
Solid, no nonsense design and materials. This grinder looks like what it is, a unit made for hard use in commercial establishments. Although the layout is similar to many other grinders, bean hopper on top, burr adjustment collar on top of case, switch on bottom side, portafilter rest under chute, and so forth, it manages to have a sort of “auto-shop chic” thing working for it – you’re not sure if you should grind beans or turn some brake drums. For me, this is great.
Negative Product Points
Static can be a problem with all grinders, depending on environmental factors as much as process, and ground coffee can cling to the inside of the dosing funnel. The adjustment for the grinding/dosing duration is a little primitive, requiring a screw driver to make adjustments and trial and error to find the right duration for the amount of coffee you want to grind. But in a café environment this is probably something that would get set once and never be revisited. The only other issue is that there are no numbers on the burr adjustment dial, so you have to find and mark zero, and your other favorite spots in the grind range.
Having recently bought a Spanish made Expobar espresso machine I was intrigued by the also Spanish made Cunill Cafe Tranquilo. It appeared to be made for a no nonsense, working environment, and it also had a very practical Spanish aesthetic, which is hard to describe, but no Italian company would probably make a machine like this. The case of the machine is made from pressed and bent sheet metal, not fancy castings or chromed stainless, with a powder coat black paint finish.
In operation the grinder is as quiet or quieter than a Rocky, and produces what appears to be a very even consistent grind. Unlike mechanical doser style grinders, such as the Mazzer Mini, Rocky and many others, the Tranquilo uses an interesting system where coffee is ejected from the grinder into a cone shaped dosing funnel, and then falls through the outlet in the bottom and into the portafilter. You grind each dose, not a whole load of coffee into a hopper that is then dosed out from a slowly going stale stash of ground beans.
This is a good system, as you grind for each shot, but it does take some practice to get the timer set to make just the right amount of coffee. The adjustment for the grinding/dosing duration is a little primitive, requiring a screw driver to make adjustments of a small screw accessed through a hole in the side of the unit, and the of use trial and error grinding and dosing to find the right duration for the amount of coffee you want to grind. After that you just push the grinding button and the machine outputs a timed amount of ground coffee. Dedicating a pound or two of cheap beans to setting all this up will be time and money well spent.
There is no manual control of the grinding duration. Every time you press the grind button it's a timed event. You can't turn it on and leave it on to grind an entire hopper of beans as you can in grinders with mechanical dosers. The Tranquilo assumes you're wanting to produce a 6-12 gram dose of espresso coffee. That's it's mission in life. Period.
The Tranquilo bean hopper is wide and low, instead of cone like and tall as in the Mazzer Mini. It has a hopper stopper so you can shut off the outlet from the hopper and remove it from the top of the machine with beans loaded. The burr adjusting dial is indented and held at each click by a spring loaded lever you depress to rotate the adjustment collar. There are no numbers on the adjustment dial, so you do have to find zero when you first begin using the machine, mark it somehow, and work off of that for your in use adjustments.
Anyone putting this grinder next to a Mazzer Mini will see the Mazzer sitting there like the BMW of grinders, and see the Tranquilo sitting there looking like a Dodge Ram pickup truck in black. The Mazzer Mini is a better grinder than the Tranquilo, but it costs twice as much. The Tranquilo costs half as much as a Mazzer Mini, but probably delivers 90% of the real world performance on the working end of the process, where the coffee comes out. This is about coffee, yes? It is probably as good overall as the Rocky, and will hold more beans in its removable hopper.
As has been noted countess times about all kinds of Italian and Spanish equipment, none of these companies seem able to hire a wandering American student to translate the very simple texts of the instruction manuals into proper and useful English, delegating it instead, as best as can be figured out from the instructions, to a third cousin of the office manager, who watches a lot of American TV programs. Even by the low standards set by Taiwanese electronics manufacturers, for really odd and sometimes laughable use of English, these Italian and Spanish espresso machine manuals are always excruciating reading. The Cunill instructions break no new ground in uselessness, but they are right in there with the “best”, which is to say the worst, translations.
Cora Inc. was great! You do have to call them directly, their web site isn't really setup for selling online.