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Isomac Grinder - All - James Whitby's Review
Posted: May 26, 2006, 7:05am
review rating: 5.0
feedback: (3) comments | read | write
Isomac Grinders - All
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Arrow The Isomac Grinder - All has 14 Reviews
Arrow The Isomac Grinder - All has been rated 7.93 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Isomac Grinder - All reviews have been viewed 128,090 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Norbert Rawles 9.00
Keith Baldry 8.80
Jeremy N 8.00
Tim Campbell 7.40
Geoff Hudson 7.20

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Product Reviewed: Gran Macinino
Manufacturer: Isomac Quality: 9
Average Price: Varies Usability: 8
Price Paid: $280.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Traders Coffee, Surbiton, UK Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 3 months Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Blade grinder (is this really similar?...)
Bottom Line: Coffee grinder for the masses?  I think so!
Positive Product Points

- Grinds from turkish to press pot
- Quick to move between the different grind settings
- Looks
- Lack of doser (for home use)
- Compact (for a quality grinder)
- Conical burrs

Negative Product Points

- For some the lack of a stepless adjustment would be a negative
- To get a good esspresso grind you need to do a simple modification

Detailed Commentary

BACKGROUND
Like many geeks out there I've been looking for a decent home use grinder for quite a while.  I had 3 main problems with this:

  1.  Size - to get a decent grinder (I'm thinking Mazzer Mini etc here) you seem to need to buy a behemoth of a machine

  2.  Cost - again, the decent machines are all 200+ in the UK ($370+)

  3.  I live in the UK - the range of grinders is pretty poor in the UK.  You need to find a specialist (which I eventually did) or buy off the internet

In the end I found Traders Coffee in Surbiton.  They sell mainly to trade but have a select range of gear for the home user.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This grinder looks good in stainless steel.  The lid to the bean hopper is actually chromed plastic but that doesn't bother me.  It's smaller brother has a plastic settings dial which is what put me off that model.

Crucially it is very compact and doesn't loom in the kitchen like some kind of mechanical Mount Doom.  Next to my Gaggia Cubika it is the perfect partner.

GRINDING
At first I was dissapointed.  I eagerly tipped some beans into the hopper, turned it down to the finest grind setting and pressed the button.  The grind that came out was quick, static free, relatively clump free... and a bit too coarse for esspresso.  Pants...

I checked to see if I had got it to the finest setting and noticed the limiting screw on the right hand side under the dial.  You adjust the grind by turning the entire hopper which screws in and out.  A small screw underneath prevented this from getting too close.  I quickly whipped this out and tried again.

At first I heard the little squeaks and clicks of the burrs touching but a little turn back the other way and an ultra-fine powder came out.  Result!

In short, once the limiting screw is removed you can do a turkish grind easily.

You can also switch from turkish to press pot grind in a few seconds which is good for me as I do both (as well as esspresso).

Some people like a cradle for their portafilter but the lack of one on this machine doesn't bother me - I only hold the portafilter under the chute for a few seconds at a time.

The grounds that come out are static free and not heated up like some cheaper machines can do.  The grind is also fairly consistent (my girlfriend thought I was really obsessing when I was spreading the grounds out over a white sheet of paper to see how uniform they were).

I gave the grinder an 8 for usability because I recognise that the optimal grinder would be stepless.  But I reckon that this has enough settings for all but the geekiest of coffee geeks.

Some common complaints for grinders are that they are messy and/or difficult to clean.  This grinder is neither of these.  Some grinds can get caught up in the chute but a small brush removes these easily.  To clean the thing (and for that matter to replace the burrs) you simply unscrew the hopper and setting dial together.  Easy...

THE COFFEE
Now bear in mind that my esspresso machine is mid-range.  After a few trials with settings on the grinder I was producing good coffee.  I mean goo-o-o-o-o-o-ood coffee.  A thick crema on top, lovely rich esspresso, a nice sweetness- in fact, probably the best coffee I think I have ever tasted!  What a difference a decently *fresh* ground coffee makes.

CONCLUSION
Are you looking for a doserless home use grinder?  Do you want it to look good?  Can you live with the grind if it isn't infinitely adjustable?  Do you want a nice compact grinder?  Do you have a screwdriver?

If the answers to all these questions are "yes" then may I suggest the Isomac Gran Macinino is the one for you...

Buying Experience

Can't recommend Traders Coffee in Surbiton enough.  Helpful replies from emails and phone calls, unbiased advice (they actually encouraged me to buy the cheaper Isomac model), friendly, and a great esspresso while I waited...

Oh, and a free bag o' beans too.

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review rating: 5.0
Posted: May 26, 2006, 7:05am
feedback: (3) comments | read | write
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