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1Zpresso's Manual Coffee Grinders Compared

1Zpresso K-Ultra manual hand grinder side-by-side handle up and down

1Zpresso is still a relatively lesser-known name compared to more established brands like Comandante and Timemore, but the Taiwanese manufacturer has been steadily garnering an impressive reputation in the manual coffee grinder space. From the pint-sized Q-Air to the titanic K-Ultra, 1Zpresso has something for every kind of coffee lover in its impressive and recently expanded suite of top-quality hand grinders.

However, because 1Zpresso has such an expansive and diverse catalogue, it can be difficult to distinguish between each grinder, and to keep in mind what each grinder is designed to do best. Remembering whether the J-Max or JX-Pro is better suited to espresso can be harder than it seems.

For that reason, we’ve decided to write up a handy guide to hopefully help you more easily understand the difference between all of 1Zpresso’s grinders. Read on and find out which 1Zpresso coffee grinder is right for you!

1Zpresso coffee grinders for manual brewing

1Zpresso grinders in this category are specifically suited to pour-over and similar manual brews, and aren’t quite as capable of grinding fine enough for espresso — or at least fine-tuning in that range. Coincidentally, as far as our own shelves are concerned, these are 1Zpresso’s most portable grinders, being the Q-Air and the Q2 S, though we should mention that the JX series fits into this category too. The Q-Air and Q2 S are super compact grinders, which each weigh less than 500g and fit comfortably inside the plunger of a classic AeroPress™. The smaller chassis means that these grinders have smaller burr sets (38mm, which is still pretty big, to be clear) compared to their more substantial cousins, which is the reason that they’re geared for manual brewing.

A 38mm burr set is perfectly suited to grind for most manual brews, and 1Zpresso’s unique heptagonal burrs makes them even more efficient and consistent. Moreover, these grinders offer several dozen 25-micron ‘clicks’ worth of grind adjustment, allowing you to easily and precisely fine-tune your grind and thereby find your coffee’s exact sweet spot, depending on your chosen brewing method. Add to all this a very approachable price-point (relative to other hand grinders of this quality), and there’s really not much more you could ask for in a manual brew hand grinder.

1Zpresso coffee grinders for espresso

A good espresso grinder hinges on burr size and micro-adjustability. To grind fine enough for espresso requires a large and reliable set of burrs to chew through beans with ease and consistency. Moreover, when you’re grinding that fine, even tiny changes can produce significant differences in taste, so being able to adjust your grind setting with microscopic precision is an invaluable asset in a coffee grinder. It’s for this reason that many modern automatic espresso grinders are generally stepless (i.e. the grind adjustment knob turns freely, without ‘clicks’, otherwise known as ‘steps’).

The espresso-oriented 1Zpresso grinders on our shelves, being the J-Max and J-Ultra, may not be stepless, but they arguably may as well be, offering unparalleled precision in the hand-grinder space. They are adjustable in 8.8 and 8 micron increments respectively, and boast a little under 200 clicks of adjustment (grind settings), allowing for meticulous fine-tuning so that you can dial-in your espresso with pinpoint accuracy.

Moreover, both of these grinders sport an impressive set of 48mm burrs. A burr set like this is already easily capable of grinding espresso-fine, but 1Zpresso has gone the extra mile by adding a special titanium burr coating designed specifically for espresso grinding, which enhances burr efficiency, durability and consistency. If you’re looking for espresso-capable hand grinders, 1Zpresso’s are easily some of the very best available to you.

Versatile 1Zpresso coffee grinders

This is the category where 1Zpresso’s brand really shines brightest. It’s one thing for a grinder to be specialised for a particular brew method. It’s quite another for a grinder to do it all.

1Zpresso has a wide range of versatile grinders. Some are more premium than others but the key point is that they can all grind competently for both manual brews and espresso. The main difference between these grinders tends to be in burr size and grind adjustment precision, with those on the more premium end of the spectrum typically offering better adjustments specifically for espresso than more budget-friendly options.

This category begins with 1Zpresso’s X-series grinders, of which we currently stock the X-Pro S and the X-Ultra. These grinders are a bit slimmer and more portable than some of 1Zpresso’s other grinders, though not to the same extent as the Q-series grinders. They also both sport 40mm heptagonal burrs designed to maximise flavour clarity in your cup. While these might grind a little slower than the 48mm burrs found on some of 1Zpresso’s other grinders, the X-Pro S and X-Ultra do offer a few hundred 12.5 micron clicks of grind adjustment, which gives you greater control over grind consistency across a range of settings suitable for everything from a coarse French press to a super-fine Turkish coffee.

On the more premium end of this category are the JX-Pro, the K-Pro and the K-Ultra. All three boast 48mm burrs, though only the K-Ultra’s burr set is heptagonal. These grinders also each offer an impressive range of grind settings. They respectively provide 40, 90 and 100 clicks of adjustment per rotation of the grind adjustment dial, and several rotations of the dial, substantially more than in the case of the J-Max and J-Ultra. This is already a remarkable level of versatility, but what makes it all the more impressive is the grind adjustment resolution. Adjustments on the JX-Pro are in 12.5 micron increments, 22 micron increments on the K-Pro, and 20 micron increments on the K-Ultra. While this is not as precise as the J-series grinders, it’s still ultra-fine adjustment that, paired with the whopping number of settings these grinders are capable of, make the JX-Pro, K-Pro and K-Ultra worthy of being called 1Zpresso’s all-singing, all-dancing flagship grinders.

1Zpresso's hand grinders summarised

By now you should hopefully have a better understanding of 1Zpresso’s fantastic suite of grinders so that, if you’re interested in buying one, you can pick the one that best fits your needs. Ideally, you now also have a better understanding of manual coffee grinders as a whole, and should know what to look for if you ever find yourself comparing and contrasting different models.

Category Grinder Burrs Grind settings Adjustment resolution
Manual Q2 S 38mm, heptagonal ~210 25 microns
Q-Air 38mm, heptagonal ~210 25 microns
Espresso J-Max 48mm, titanium coated ~150 8.8 microns
J-Ultra 48mm, titanium coated ~170 8 microns
Versatile X-Pro S 40mm, heptagonal ~300 12.5 microns
X-Ultra 40mm, heptagonal ~270 12.5 microns
JX-Pro 48mm ~280 12.5 microns
K-Pro 48mm ~450 22 microns
K-Ultra 48mm ~500 20 microns

If you’re still a little unsure, and looking at the sheer number of 1Zpresso grinders mentioned in this post we understand if you are, here’s a quick summary:

  • 1Zpresso’s manual brew grinders are characterised by a smaller burr set that, while unable to grind for espresso, is perfectly suited for manual brewing methods. These grinders allow for an impressive amount of variation in that grinding category too. At the time of writing, these are the Q2 S and Q-Air, the most compact and portable of 1Zpresso’s grinders.
  • 1Zpresso’s espresso-oriented grinders sport large, powerful burrs enhanced by a titanium coating, and offer incredibly fine and precise adjustments. They can grind through beans with impressive ease and consistency, even at the finest of settings. In this category, we offer the J-Max and the J-Ultra, at the time of writing.
  • 1Zpresso’s versatile grinders are veritable Swiss army grinders, and offer grind quality and adjustability suitable for everything from coarse manual brews to espresso. Regarding espresso, they don’t offer the same level of precise fine-tuning as 1Zpresso’s espresso-specific grinders, but make up for it by being able to grind better for other brewing methods too. These make up the largest section of our 1Zpresso shelf, and, at the time of writing, are the X-Pro S, the X-Ultra, the JX-Pro, the K-Pro and the K-Ultra.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. If you still need a hand picking the right grinder for you, feel free to get in touch with us - we’re always happy to help. Happy brewing!


How To Choose The Right Coffee Grinder For You

Hand coffee grinder on wooden table

Is mediocre coffee not for you? Are you trying to prepare the perfect cup? If so, using freshly ground coffee beans is a must. Most coffee nerds would argue that grinding your beans immediately before brewing is the first rule for making good coffee. If you ever smell freshly ground coffee, or enjoy a cup made from a fresh grind, you’ll soon notice that bags of pre-ground coffee smell… rather stale. This isn’t necessarily because the coffee has outright expired, or even because it’s been all that long since it was ground (though many supermarkets sell coffee that was ground several months prior, as an unpleasant necessity of mass distribution). The truth is, coffee technically lasts a rather long time, even once it’s been ground. That said, once coffee has been ground it begins to lose its unique and desirable properties almost immediately. Even if coffee made with beans that were ground a few weeks prior is technically fit for human consumption, it probably won’t taste very good. Additionally, grinding your beans before brewing isn’t just important for quality; it can also be a very pleasant part of the ritual of making coffee every morning.

Why you should care about your grinder

There’s a bit more to the story than just the idea that freshly ground beans are better. How those beans are ground is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of the final cup. If you are looking to improve the coffee you make at home, buying a better coffee grinder is perhaps the single best investment you can make. As coffee nerds, we can be prone to hyperbole, but there really is no overstating this: no matter how expensive your brewing equipment, it will never compensate for stale or poorly ground coffee.

In this article we’ll be going over the basic theory of coffee grinders, why some are simply a cut above the rest and how to find the right grinder for you.

Blade grinders and burr grinders

Coffee Beans In A Grinder

Image by Dan Smedley on Unsplash

All brew methods make coffee using the same basic process: hot water is passed through particles of ground coffee. A huge factor in determining the qualities of the final cup is how many oils and compounds are extracted from each of those grounds into the hot water. How much or how little should be extracted depends on individual tastes, the specific coffee being brewed, and the brew method being used. A good way to influence extraction in either direction is through adjusting the size of your coffee grounds, which blade grinders can’t do in the first place. Regardless, it is generally agreed that extreme under-extraction or over-extraction leads to unpleasant flavours. What can create an even less pleasant drinking experience, though, is an uneven extraction, and this is where the idea of grind uniformity comes into play. If the coffee grounds being brewed are of an inconsistent size - some far smaller or far larger than others - what happens is a combination of over-extraction from some grounds and under-extraction from others. What results is a cup of coffee with no clear character and an array of unpleasant tasting notes.

So what does this have to do with your grinder? There are two basic types of coffee grinder: blade grinders and burr grinders. If you’ve ever bought a suspiciously cheap electric grinder, the odds are it’s a blade grinder. These don’t grind coffee in the literal sense. They work by smashing coffee beans into pieces using a rapidly rotating pair of blades. They are cheap and easy to manufacture, and therefore ubiquitous, but their complete lack of consistency makes for poor quality coffee. In short: because a blade grinder inherently cannot output a consistent grind, using one guarantees an uneven extraction and a less pleasant cup of coffee. If you buy specialty coffee, few if any of the interesting qualities you are paying for will make it into your cup after the coffee is subjected to a blade grinder. Considering the care that farmers and roasters put into their offerings, this is rather sad! Thus, we can only endorse blade grinders if your budget makes them the absolute only option - as they can come in at around half of the cost of the most affordable grinders we will be recommending. Even then, it may be worth simply biding your time until you can get your hands on an entry-level burr grinder that suits your needs.

So, why a burr grinder? By virtue of how they work, burr grinders overcome every issue a blade grinder presents. In contrast to the chopping motion of a blade grinder, a burr grinder crushes the coffee bean between a pair of metal or ceramic burrs, which ensures a far better end result. The distance between the burrs is usually adjustable, allowing the grind to be made more fine or more coarse. The grounds can only leave the grinder mechanism once they are below the required size, ensuring a certain degree of consistency. The result? Burr grinders significantly reduce the degree of particle size distribution, and the user can influence the degree of extraction they desire in their cup by modifying the size of the grounds they’re brewing with.

At least, that’s the idea. Burr grinders still come in many shapes and sizes, and vary dramatically in how well they fulfil their role. If you’re looking to take the plunge and ditch your blade grinder, finding the right option for you can still be overwhelming. There are plenty of options to choose from!

What to look for in a grinder

Coffee grinders in a shop

Image via Crew on Unsplash

The most obvious consideration is your budget, and which grinder will provide you with the best value for money. It’s here that it’s worth understanding that not all burr sets are created equal. As a rule of thumb, higher end burr grinders will achieve a higher degree of consistency. There’s some debate as to whether, at the extreme high end of coffee grinders, perfect consistency is even desirable. Within the scope of this article, we’ll assume that more consistency is always desirable.

Still, this may be an oversimplification. The consistency of different grinders isn’t linear, per se; it can actually begin to vary as you change the grind size you’re aiming for. Some will grind on a coarse setting wonderfully consistently, but struggle as soon as you attempt a finer setting, and vice versa. Consider this in tandem with another fact: different brew methods vary dramatically in what grind size provides desirable results. For espresso, you need to grind extremely finely, far more so than you do if you’re using a French press. The coffee made with a French press will begin to taste worse if your grind is too fine. Thus, the considerations here are a lot more complex than they may seem. A high-end espresso grinder may be sold at a far higher price than a capable grinder meant for manual brew methods, and provide far worse results if you’re trying to use it with your trusty V60.

Aside from consistency, there are many more considerations to make that relate to your specific needs. Are you willing to pay more for the convenience of an electric grind? Do you actively prefer the experience of grinding your coffee by hand in the morning? Is portability a benefit? How much space can you afford to dedicate to your coffee setup?

To deal with the complexity of this equation, we’ve separated our recommendations into several categories considering both budget and intended use.

Absolute budget grinders for manual brew methods

Even at the absolute entry level, you can still get a solid burr grinder capable of grinding coffee which is consistent and suitable for manual brew methods such as a French press, AeroPress or pour-over. The Hario range of hand grinders is the natural recommendation in this category. The original Skerton defined the entry-level space here for years, and today Hario manufactures several revised versions of the iconic product.

The Hario Min-Slim Plus coffee grinder

Today, the most popular variant is the Hario Mini-Slim Plus, at least at Cape Coffee Beans. Small, portable and durable, the Mini-Slim Plus is an obvious choice if you’re looking for a grinder you can easily throw in your travel bag alongside an AeroPress. The trade-off you make for this portability comes in the form of the Mini-Slim’s low capacity. It can only grind around 24g of coffee at a time, which is only enough for one large cup. If you’re looking to grind enough coffee for more than one person, it may be worth opting for its larger sibling, the Skerton Plus, which can handle up to 100g of coffee at a time and features a more premium, glass construction.

Both of the burr sets in these grinders are “stepped”. You can adjust the size of the grind by arbitrary amounts (called “steps”) using a mechanism found inside the grinder. This works well for manual brew methods which do not require the same degree of precise calibration as espresso, and any given grind setting you find works well can easily be repeated in future if you note down how you had the burrs configured. Personally, I keep a notebook with the different grind settings I’ve found work best for each coffee I’ve tried in my AeroPress.

The downside of these more affordable grinders is that the burrs they use are made from a cheaper ceramic. More premium grinders will often use steel burrs, which can grind more coffee faster, or simply be far larger. This can make a big difference when you’re turning the grinder by hand! Either way, the Hario grinders are still a solid choice, and many coffee enthusiasts keep a spare one in the cupboard to use when travelling — or as a redundant grinder when loadshedding disables the rest of their setup.

We’d consider:

The best value grinders for manual brew methods

If you’re looking to spend a little more on a hand grinder, you’ll certainly be rewarded. Recently, there are more and more options in what used to be a “missing middle” price range. Consumers are increasingly able to purchase grinders that offer a more premium experience than the entry-level Skerton without quite entering the ultra-high end realm of hand grinders.

We often recommend the Timemore Chestnut C at this price range. A durable and portable grinder, the Chestnut C exemplifies this emerging category of hand grinders, most noticeably through its attractive modern design and use of premium-feeling materials. It features replaceable steel burrs, which are preferable to ceramic burrs in a hand turned grinder, as they can grind a given quantity of coffee faster and save you from fatigue. While a stepless grinder — which would allow you to adjust the grind size to near infinite precision — might be better for espresso, the Chestnut still features stepped burrs. This isn’t a huge issue, especially when you’ll still be looking to spend a fair bit more if you want a grinder that’ll truly serve you well for regular espresso-making. The C range’s adjustment mechanism comes in the form of a handy, clicky dial that provides satisfying tactile feedback and allows you to easily repeat recipes for successful brews by noting down how many “clicks” you had the grinder set to.

It’s difficult to recommend anything except the Chestnut C in this category, because at the time of writing it offers unbeatable value in its price range. The two nearest competitors, Timemore’s newer Chestnut C3 Pro and the 1Zpresso Q2 will offer more quality of life improvements and marginally better performance, but at a relative cost that may be less accessible to some buyers. Currently, the Chestnut C2 remains our recommendation in this category while it’s available. In future, we reckon the Timemore Chestnut series of grinders will continue to comfortably serve this corner of the market.

We’d consider:

Electric grinders for manual brew methods

If you’re looking to avoid the morning workout that grinding coffee beans by hand entails, you may want to consider an electric grinder. There are two options on the lower end of price that we’ve been delighted to discover perform wonderfully well for manual brew methods: the Severin Conical Burr Grinder Grinder and the Timemore Grinder Go. Both of these grinders feature steel burrs, and offer different approaches to an electric grinder intended for manual brew methods. Which you prefer will depend on your use case.

The Severin, which is marginally more affordable, performs impressively for an electric grinder in this price range. Its featureset makes for a very convenient experience: the hopper has a capacity of 150g, meaning it can hold adequate stock of beans. It can be configured to stop grinding after various set amounts of time (based on a numbered dial), or toggled on and off manually.

While costlier, the Timemore Grinder Go is geared towards those who value portability without compromising on quality. A fully electric grinder in the travel-friendly form factor of a hand grinder, it’s proven perfectly capable of competing with every other grinder we’ve discussed in terms of consistency. The grinder features an adjustable grind size, automatic stop functionality and a battery rechargeable through a USB Type-C port. The downside of being a battery-operated portable grinder is that it may not grind quite as quickly as something drawing power from a wall socket, but this may be a worthy tradeoff as there’s nothing else quite like the Timemore Go around right now.

Baratza Encore Electric Coffee Grinder

If you’re looking to spend a bit more on one of these grinders, one option is the Baratza Encore. Perhaps the iconic electric grinder in its price range, the Encore provides an impressive amount of consistency and can grind at a wide range of sizes. While you can eke out something vaguely suitable for espresso from it, we’d never recommend buying one for espresso, specifically. For manual brewing on the other hand, the Encore has rightfully earned its reputation as a reliable option with a great value proposition.

Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

A unique, innovative and delightful (if pricey) option is the Fellow Ode. A premium electric grinder designed exclusively for manual and batch brewing methods, the Ode is for anyone truly devoted to their pour-over, AeroPress or French press (or other filter-style brewer of choice). The Ode achieves remarkable consistency thanks to its enormous 64mm burr set - the largest of any grinder mentioned in this article, and a size typically reserved for commercial grinders that are orders of magnitude more costly. It is perhaps the definition of a luxury, specialised home coffee product, featuring a gorgeous design, and offering value in a very specific niche.

We’d consider:

Hand-turned, espresso-capable grinders

Comandante MK4 Coffee Grinder1Zpresso J-Max Hand GrinderTimemore Chest X-Lite Premium Manual Coffee Grinder

A trio of high end hand grinders: the Comandante C40 MK4, 1Zpresso J-Max and Timemore Chestnut X-Lite

While none of the hand grinders we’ve covered this far are ideal for espresso, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any on the market that are up to the challenge. It was originally Comandante who stepped up to prove that it was possible to build a super high-end, hand-turned espresso-capable grinder. Since then, 1Zpresso and Timemore have also started selling hand grinders that are more than capable of grinding fine enough for espresso. offering the necessary degree of precision without being troublesome to dial in. It’s also worth noting that more premium hand grinders such as the ones in this section will be far easier to grind with than lower end options. They might not quite compete with a hands free electric grinder, but your arms will certainly notice the difference!

These tremendously flexible grinders may sell for more than twice the price of a Chestnut C, but they provide great value - giving you a point of entry into the world of espresso while also being capable of grinding on a more coarse setting for manual brew methods. If you’re more interested in working with manual brew methods, don’t be fooled by the emphasis on espresso in discussion around these grinders; they’ll still do the trick for you, and perform far better than more affordable options while coming with plenty more quality of life improvements. Where you’ll see variance with price in this range boils down to degree of precision the burrs can be adjusted with, the quality of the build and marginal improvements in consistency. Burr size factors in too — larger burrs are just more expensive to manufacture and build around, but can make a big difference in consistency and ease of use.

The three grinders we have to mention here are the Timemore X-Lite, the 1Zpresso J-Max and the Comandante C40. Timemore’s offering, the X-Lite, is the most affordable of the lot here but its 42mm burrs are just a touch smaller than the 48mm titanium burr set in the 1Zpresso J-Max, though the price point is much lower. You’ll generally find that the larger the burrs the better in this form factor; grinding by hand is tiring, and grinding beans fine enough for espresso even more so, but there is a tradeoff with price.

Another way the C40 and J-Max represent a step up from the X-Lite, at least for espresso, is in precision - the J-Max notably has nearly 400 grind settings, compared to the 43 in the X-Lite. Comandante also sells an official upgrade to the C40 which provides access to more grind size settings.  While any of these grinders will serve you well (and you’d hope so, at their price points), if you’re specifically keen on really dialling in a shot of espresso the J-Max may be the most appealing option. If you’re drawn to the C40 with espresso in mind, it’s also worth considering the official “Red Clix” upgrade: a replacement axle and dial that Comandante sells that doubles the amount of settings the C40 can grind on, allowing you to grind with significantly more precision. If, on the other hand, espresso's not your thing then the X-Lite may offer the best bang for the buck since the extra grind settings are probably less useful for manual brews.

It's worth noting that 1Zpresso actually makes a wide range of similar grinders that serve this price point. At the time of writing, the J-Max is the flagship option and thus the grinder we’re mentioning here. That said, we’d suggest looking over the 1Zpresso collection on our website to see if any of their other offerings may speak more to your specific use case!

We’d consider:

Electric grinders for espresso

Espresso is one of the most intricate ways to brew coffee, and a home espresso setup is the end goal of many budding coffee enthusiasts. Unfortunately, cheaper electric grinders oriented towards manual brew methods will struggle to grind appropriately for espresso. As we mentioned earlier, some options offer a potential starting point on a tight budget, but will never get you truly high quality espresso. We’d never recommend spending your money on something like a Baratza Encore for espresso, and would rather suggest either pairing that grinder with a manual brew method — which will result in an incredible manual brewing experience! — or waiting until a capable espresso setup is within your budget. Espresso is a complex space, and what works for you may be very personalised. It’s here that we’d always recommend reaching out to our excellent team of coffee experts for assistance - online, or at our HQ in Claremont, Cape Town. Either way, we’ll try to give an overview of your options here.

Rancilio Rocky Espresso GrinderEureka Mignon Manuale Espresso Grinder

The ground floor: the Rancilio Rocky and Eureka Mignon Manuale

There’s no two ways around it: the ground floor for espresso, and specifically electric espresso grinders, is higher than any other brew method. The first recommendations we can make here are the Eureka Mignon Manuale or Rancilio Rocky. Neither have the quality of life features of their more expensive siblings - but will serve you well if you simply want to make quality espresso on a reasonable budget. The Manuale is quite impressive for its price range - its core internals are remarkably similar to Eureka’s premium home grinders. It has a 50mm burr set identical to their pricier Silenzio grinder, and has a stepless adjustment mechanism. What the Manuale sacrifices to achieve its price point is the time-based grinding options on the Silenzio. It’s still a great option if you’re on a tight budget, though if you’re looking for a step up the Silenzio is a great option as well.

We’d consider:

High end electric espresso grinders

Eureka Mignon Specialita Espresso Grinder

If you’re looking to really dial in the espresso you make at home, and invest in a truly specialised, premium home espresso grinder, we have you covered too. There are two popular grinders which immediately come to mind in this category.

The Eureka Mignon Specialita is the next step up in Eureka’s Mignon line. It features a larger burr size than the Mignon grinders discussed so far, coming in at 55mm, with extremely precise stepless adjustment. It uses time-based dosing, which can be configured with up to 0.1s of precision on its intuitive digital display. It’s a step up in almost every aspect, but comes in the same form factor and attractive design as the other Mignon models.

Then there’s Baratza’s offering: the Sette 270Wi. This sleek looking grinder offers weight-based dosing, which is one of the most desirable quality of life features a home espresso can offer. The user can simply input the amount of coffee they want to grind, and let the machine handle the rest. The Sette features a smaller, 40mm burr set to its competitors in this category, but don’t be fooled, this machine is impressively fast and efficient due to its unique design. The grinder mechanism is configured with the outer burrs rotating, as opposed to the typical solution where the inner burrs rotate. This design keeps the Sette outputting doses quickly and efficiently.

If the Sette is attractive to you, but the weight-based dosing isn’t essential, it’s also available in a more affordable option that only features time-based dosing.

We’d consider:

But… Why not both?

There’s one more small detail we can look at in the upper echelons of home grinders. While all of the electric grinders we’ve looked at for espresso will likely be able to grind consistently enough to produce excellent coffee for a manual brewing method, it won’t be a particularly convenient experience. This is because of the way these grinders are adjusted. Espresso requires very, very fine adjustments of grind size in a small range - towards the fine end of the spectrum. The adjustment up to a coarser grind to get into the range for manual brewing methods is enormous in comparison. This means every time you switch to using your AeroPress for a day, you’ll have to dial in the grinder settings all over again when you switch back to espresso - a potentially frustrating, time-consuming and expensive process. All those test shots add up when all you have is specialty coffee! Espresso grinders are also often designed only to grind into a portafilter, which isn’t very helpful if your coffee maker doesn’t use one!

That said, many people investing in a high-end electric grinder probably have a cupboard stacked to the brim with various manual brewing tools. It’s natural to wish your shiny new grinder could serve them just as well as your espresso machine. Fortunately, manufacturers know this, and have moved to fill in this niche as well.

Returning to Eureka, the Mignon Perfetto can be thought of as a Silenzio with a smart adjustment mechanism - it packs that same pair of 50mm burrs, and a matching form factor. It’s built in a way that illustrates where the ranges for espresso and manual methods are and how to adjust for both. There’s also the addition of a touchscreen interface usually found on their higher-end machines. It doesn’t sacrifice any other features to achieve this; it’s just as smart, convenient and surprisingly space efficient as the rest of their line.

One of the most noteworthy offerings in this space is Baratza’s Vario+. An upgrade on their original Vario, the Vario+ features an enormous pair of 54mm ceramic burrs - larger than the Perfetto. It gets around the difficulty of configuring repeatable recipes for both manual brew methods and espresso with a clever system. The grind size is adjusted with two dials - one for large, broad changes and another for smaller and more precise adjustments. This gives it the potential to be configured to an astonishing 220 grind settings! It can also be programmed to remember three time-based dose settings, with up to 0.1s of precision. The Vario+ excels in every aspect. Its performance is fast and consistent across the board, it allows a home barista to repeat several recipes of varying grind size and consistency and does all this in an attractive and compact form factor. Its priced competitively too - right on par with the Perfetto.

Our final suggestion is the Mahlkonig X54. Some would say that it’s the best of the best in this category. Mahlkonig is a name typically associated with the utmost quality in the commercial espresso space. It’s only recently that they’ve branched out into serving the home market, and they’ve already made a big splash. The X54 is built to grind coffee perfectly for any brew method you favour. It excels in areas other than just pure performance, too. It has an enormous 500g hopper for holding plenty of coffee. It also packs a pair of 54mm steel burrs, which grind coffee incredibly fast and yet still remain remarkably quiet. It does all of this while staying in a form factor that is acceptable for home use, and at a price point far below what you’d expect to pay to get one of their commercial units. The X54 is an achievement, and an exciting debut in the home grinder space for Mahlkonig.

We’d consider:

Find your coffee grinder

Investing in a better grinder will always improve the quality of your coffee, and no matter your use case, brew method or budget, there’s a coffee grinder out there that will suit your requirements perfectly. This article has outlined most of the categories applicable to a home baristas, but hasn’t even touched on the endlessly nuanced world of commercial grinders, which some devout coffee nerds find fill their needs best. If you'd like to see a similar piece written for commercial grinders, please let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, feel free to contact our team to discuss your grinder options.

In fact, whether you’re settling on something we’ve discussed here, or looking to go deeper into the commercial space, our customer service team will be happy to help you make up your mind, discuss features and tradeoffs, or just give you more information and resources to dig into. It's worth acknowledging that there are coffee grinders that we haven't specifically mentioned here that may be worth considering for your particular requirements. The fact that a grinder isn't listed here does not necessarily mean it's not a good option for you.

We hope this article has been of some help to you in navigating and understanding the world of specialty coffee grinders. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!

About the author

Alice RobusAlice is a writer, programmer and budding academic with a lifelong affinity for specialty coffee. Between sittings reading whatever text has caught her interest for the week or toying with a new game design project, she can be found fine tuning her home espresso setup or learning more about anything and everything to do with coffee.

Avoiding the buildup - How to effectively clean & maintain your espresso machine

La Marzocco Espresso Machine Cleaning

Image by @Crew via Unsplash

One of the most important things you should do with your espresso machine is regularly clean it, a task that is often overlooked and undervalued. Although this may not be the most fun part of using your equipment, regular maintenance does play a vital role in the taste and quality of the coffee that you make with your machine.

Having a dirty coffee machine affects the brewing process and the machine’s functionality, which can lead to serving less than optimal coffee and potentially even suffering machine failure.

We'd like to share a guide to running an effective cleaning routine in this article, bearing in mind that your routine should be customised to the equipment you own, and the amount of coffee that you’re making. We also recommend consulting the manufacturer's guidelines for your equipment. Although the approach to cleaning and maintenance will be similar for most machinery, you’ll want to make sure that what you’re doing is in line with your particular machine’s manufacturer’s recommendations.

Why clean your espresso machine?

There are many reasons that it’s important to keep any coffee equipment, especially espresso equipment, clean. We’d like to think that these are obvious, or at least well understood, but they are important enough to list and elaborate on. Here are the most important ones.

Equipment longevity

If you don’t regularly clean and maintain your machine, it can break; it’s that simple. Coffee, milk and even tap water create all kinds of residue, and that residue can create blockages. Blockages in turn can create further damage that can be expensive to repair. If you want your machine to last a long time, then following guidelines like the ones later in this article will help you protect your investment. Even if the machine doesn’t sustain any significant damage (that can take time), you’ll find that it will work better and more consistently when it’s clean.

Coffee quality

Even if the longevity of your equipment doesn’t motivate you to roll up your sleeves, there is perhaps an even more important reason to make sure that your equipment is clean: A dirty espresso machine makes bad coffee. Of course, this is a matter of degrees, and you may not be able to taste the difference after just one missed cleaning step, but over time, the dirtier your equipment is, the worse your coffee will taste.

Coffee contains oils that accumulate and go rancid over time. This alone can give the coffee a dirty aftertaste. Add in the fact that coffee grounds can also get stuck, and even combine with these rancid oils, and you have a recipe for ruining even the most promising extractions. A consistent cleaning schedule ensures that you avoid these pitfalls and produce the same quality every time you brew.


This may feel like a less important point, but it’s one worth considering. We human beings are visual creatures, and an espresso machine that looks clean and shiny is probably going to fire up that coffee craving a lot more than a grubby-looking one. Perhaps at home, this doesn’t matter, but in the cafe, where you’re trying to sell coffee, you need to make sure that your equipment looks the part.

Setting up a coffee equipment cleaning routine

The key to success with the cleaning of your coffee equipment is setting up a routine. Put it in your calendar, set up a reminder, and do whatever you need to do to ensure that your cleaning is planned for. Leaving it till you think of it is a recipe for procrastination and less than optimal coffee.

How often you should do each type of cleaning will vary depending on how you use your equipment. We have included advice for both home and commercial cleaning below. However, it’s ultimately the volume of coffee that you’re making that will determine the frequency with which you need to carry out these tasks, so you may need to customise these recommendations based on your particular situation.

Cleaning your coffee equipment at home

Cleaning Your Espresso Machine At Home

Image by @Johannes Hofmann via Unsplash

A home barista makes much less coffee than a barista working in a cafe, which means the maintenance requirements will differ. Nevertheless, having an effective and consistent cleaning routine is still vital. Your schedule as a home barista can be adjusted to your coffee usage.

For a typical low volume usage of 1-4 cups a day, we recommend standard daily cleaning and a weekly “deep” clean schedule.


A daily cleaning routine should include:

  1. Flushing the group head after every extraction to force water through the shower screen to remove any grounds that may be stuck.
  2. Wiping your portafilter with a cloth after each session to make sure it's dry for your next extraction.
  3. Wiping down your steam wand after every use and purging to remove any milk residue.
  4. Scrubbing in and around the group head with a group head brush to remove any coffee grounds that may be left, after a brewing session is finished (however many cups you make)


If you make significantly more coffee than the average home user, your daily routine may need to look more like the commercial one described below. Otherwise, your weekly “deep” clean should look very similar to the end-of-day commercial routine described below in the commercial section.

Cleaning commercial coffee equipment

Although there is a fair bit of cleaning that needs to be done after the shift is finished (outlined below), a good approach to adopt as a professional barista is to clean as you work. This is particularly helpful in busy cafes, where leaving everything to build up till the end of the day (pun intended) may not be a good idea.

Daily - during the shift

Flush, rinse & scrub your group head

  1. Flush your group head and let the water run through the shower screen between each espresso shot to remove the coffee grounds stuck in the filter screen. You want to make sure that you are not brewing over old coffee.
  2. Scrub the shower screen and around the rubber seal of the group head with your group head brush every hour or so.
  3. Perform a clean water backflush every hour or so; you can do this for 5 seconds. Water will circulate back to the group head to loosen old grounds.

Keep your portafilter clean

  1. Wipe your portafilter with a dry cloth after every extraction. Ensure that it is clean and dry, with no coffee oil or ground coffee stuck to it, before your next shot.
  2. Separate the basket and portafilter, and let the water run through both parts to remove the build-up formed in the portafilter. You can do this after a couple of shots, or when the cafe gets quiet.
  3. Disassemble the portafilter and soak the parts in hot water with espresso machine detergent for 15 minutes, then rinse and wipe the parts dry. This will remove any oils and dirt stuck in and around the portafilter. You can only do this when the cafe is quiet but it is worth doing occasionally if you can find the time.

Keep your steam wand free of milk residue

  1. Wipe down your steam wand with a milk cloth immediately after each use, before the milk fully hardens. Purge the steam wand to prevent build-up and bacteria in and around the steam wand.

Use clean cloths

Barista Cloth

Clean barista cloth

  1. Use different cloths for each cleaning task around the machine; you can use a colour coordination method to ensure that there is no mixup. You particularly want to keep milk and coffee cloths separate, for hygiene reasons.
  2. Ensure that the cloths you use around your machine are always fresh and clean; you can do so by swapping them out as needed during the day.

Daily - at the end of the day

Backflush your group head

Espresso Machine Group Head

Flushing a grouphead

  1. Use a blind basket or blind disk to perform a full backflush:
  • Pour a scoop of espresso machine cleaning powder into the basket.
  • Start the brew cycle for 10 seconds and turn it off for 10 seconds
  • Repeat this cycle 5 times
  1. Run the brewing cycle with just water, and scrub the group head with a group head brush.
  2. Remove the shower screen from the machine and soak it in warm water with your basket and portafilter for an hour. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly afterward. To remove your shower screen:
  • Central screw group head: Undo the central screw in the center of the shower screen with a compatible screwdriver or tool, this will help loosen it. After you have loosened the screw, your shower screen should naturally fall out.
  • E61 group head: Take a flat head screwdriver and meet it up with the ridge of the shower screen. Start pivoting the edge and lever it down, the shower screen should start to loosen. Once you have levered around the ring of the shower screen, you should be able to remove the shower screen easily.
  1. Wipe inside the group head and around the gasket to remove oils and old coffee grounds that might be stuck.

Thoroughly clean your steam wand

Espresso Machine Steam Wand

Steam wand

  1. Create a cleaning solution using a milk system cleaner.
  2. Soak the steam wand in the solution for about 20 minutes.
  3. Rinse the steam wand with clean water and wipe it down with cleaning wipes or a cloth.
  4. Purge by opening the steam valve to release any residue from the cleaning solution.

Clean & empty your drip tray

Espresso Machine Drip Tray

Espresso machine drip tray

  1. Remove the drip tray from the machine and empty the contents.
  2. Thoroughly wash the drip tray with hot water and soap, scrubbing all the dirt from the tray.
  3. Wipe it dry and insert it back into the machine

Polish your machine

  1. Wipe the surface of the espresso machine with a cloth or dedicated equipment cleaning wipes
  2. Consider using an antibacterial solution to remove stains and disinfect the surface. You want the surface of the machine to be free of germs and look good!

Weekly maintenance

Clean & empty your grinder

  1. Empty your bean hopper and wipe it with a cloth; make sure it is dry before filling it with fresh beans. It will prevent your hopper from being stained by the coffee oil, which can ruin good coffee.
  2. Add grinder cleaning tablets to an empty grinder, and grind the whole tablets through. Then add some old coffee to remove any tablet residue that may be left.

Occasional maintenance

Descale your machine*

  1. Create a 50/50 water and powder solution.
  2. Run the cleaning solution through the machine until you pull a cup of water and allow the mixer to go through the pipes and boiler.
  3. Shut down the equipment for about an hour, giving the solution time to remove the limescale.
  4. Run about a quarter of the reservoir through the brew head and the steam wand, then shut the machine off for the next 20 minutes.
  5. Finally, run the rest of the reservoir through the equipment; repeat the same process with clean water through the brew head and the steam wand. Your espresso machine should be free from limescale.

*Descaling is actually only necessary when there is limescale present. You may need to consult a professional technician to determine if this is the case. You also should consult your particular machine's guidelines on whether descaling is recommended. For some espresso machines, we would recommend that a professional technician performs all of these steps. Descaling may or may not be required regularly, depending on the quality of your water and the nature of your equipment. 

Recommended products to use

We've listed essential cleaning supplies that are effective in machine maintenance; each component has its designated cleaning products.

Portafilter & group head

Steam wand

  • Urnex Rinza Milk Frother Cleaning Tablet - Given milk's tendency to go rancid and the popularity of milky beverages, this makes an effective cleaning regimen for all parts of your equipment that come into contact with milk particularly important. Urnex Rinza Tablets have been designed specifically with milk cleaning in mind.




  • Caffenu Eco Liquid Descaler - Caffenu is a proudly South African brand and has formulated this environmentally friendly, mild descaling product for use with coffee machines, as well as kettles and urns.

Bundle kits


  • Cafelat Microfibre Cloths - Cafelat Microfibre cloths are great for keeping your workspace clean while on the go. These cloths are not only good for coffee bars but would also make a great addition to your home coffee station.
  • Microfibre Barista Cloth With Belt Clip - These handy microfibre cloths, ideally designed to clean milk residue, coffee grounds and general coffee mess, clip to your belt, meaning they're always accessible.

Cleaning an espresso machine is crucial for both the home barista and the commercial user. Maintaining your machine is as important as any other step in the brewing process, even though it is not the most exciting of tasks. We would love to hear about your daily habits and how you ensure your machine is in good condition. Please also let us know in the comments if you think that we’ve left out any steps in the cleaning process. Please share this with fellow baristas who might appreciate it!

About the author

Sibahle Ngqiva

Sibahle is a writer, poet, and entrepreneur. She has competed in national and international writing competitions and won an essay writers competition in 2016. She is also a former barista, who had the opportunity to compete at the regional and national barista competitions back in 2019, an experience she says expanded her view on the coffee culture and ignited a passion and desire to learn more about specialty coffee. She recently joined the Cape Coffee Beans team as a customer service agent, when she’s not helping customers with their queries you can find her behind the brew bar honing her brewing skills.

Back to the grind - A buyer's guide to Mazzer’s espresso grinder range

Mazzer Buyer's Guide

With so many options on the market today, and so many variants in each option, choosing an espresso grinder can be a daunting undertaking. Mazzer grinders have been a force to be reckoned with in the commercial coffee grinder space since 1948, and we thought we’d bring a little bit of our own expertise and help to break down what each of the Mazzer grinders do differently and where they would be best suited.

If you're looking for a short, simple comparison of Mazzer's espresso grinders, feel free to scroll to the end of this post. If you're interested in the details, please read on!

Doser vs. doserless grinders

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this blog post, let's take a moment to talk about the difference between doser and doserless grinders. A lot of Mazzer grinders come in both variants and so we’ll cover this just once. A doser grinder grinds coffee directly into a holding chamber and then doses the coffee into the portafilter, when you need it, at the flick of a lever, while a doserless grinder grinds directly into the portafilter, usually using a timer to measure volume (as the same amount of grind time should yield a similar volume of ground coffee).

Pros of doser grinders

  • Faster to use (particularly with the entry level grinders that grind slower) as you have already ground coffee on demand
  • Cleaner operation as you are grinding into a contained space
  • Generally more affordable
  • Cons of doser grinders

  • Ground coffee goes stale very quickly in the chamber
  • Higher volumes of waste
  • Inconsistent dosing leads to inconsistent extraction
  • Pros of doserless grinders

  • Hands free operation frees up precious seconds for the barista
  • Fresh coffee ground straight into the portafilter will yield the best tasting espresso
  • Measured doses can drastically reduce waste
  • More consistent dosing leads to more consistent espresso
  • Cons of doserless grinders

  • Grinding directly into the portafilter can lead to spilled coffee grinds
  • More costly

  • Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the range of grinders that Mazzer has to offer. 

    Mazzer Mini espresso grinder

    Mazzer Mini Electronic On Demand Espresso Grinder

    The Mazzer Mini is a perfect entry level espresso grinder for coffee as a side offering to compliment your main business (such as a restaurant). It is also a great option for the home espresso aficionado wanting to take their espresso to the next level.

    The Mazzer Mini will perform well in most environments, serving up consistent and delicious espresso, and its compact size makes it a convenient option for operations with confined space; however the limits of its smaller burr set and lower powered motor will become apparent quite quickly under the pressure of higher volumes.

    The Mazzer Mini has a 62mm flat burr set, 250 Watt motor and a 600 gram bean hopper. It is available as an on demand doserless version and a timed doser version. If you are short on space and looking to serve around 10 cups an hour, this is a perfect option for you.

    Mazzer Mini pros 

  • Compact and ergonomic design suitable for small spaces
  • Most affordable option in the Mazzer range
  • Stepless micrometric grind adjustments allow for fine tuning your espresso to get the best tasting shot

  • Mazzer Mini cons

  • Small burrs and motor means it will struggle under significant volume
  • Smaller burrs and motor are inclined to wear out sooner in commercial environments
  • Slow grind speed (1g per second)

  • Mazzer Super Jolly espresso grinder

    Mazzer Super Jolly Electronic  On Demand Commercial Espresso Grinder

    The Super Jolly is Mazzer’s most popular grinder and can be found in thousands of restaurants and cafes around the world. A step up from the Mazzer Mini, the Super Jolly is a great option for businesses that want to take coffee more seriously.

    Slightly more robust than the Mini, the Mazzer Super Jolly is a perfect option for a cafe wanting to expand their offering and implement a dedicated decaf or single origin grinder.

    With a more powerful 350 watt motor and a larger 64mm flat burr set, the Mazzer Super Jolly is comfortable delivering around 20 cups per hour and comes in an on demand doserless version as well as a timed doser version. If you are looking for an add on, or primary grinder to process small to medium volumes, this is the one for you!

    Super Jolly pros

  • Stepless micrometric grind adjustments allow for fine tuning your espresso to get the best tasting shot
  • Reasonably priced
  • Robustly built for commercial environments

  • Super Jolly cons

  • Slower grind speed (1.5g per second) than some of the more heavy duty models
  • There is not a large window for growth as this grinder would reach maximum volume quite quickly

  • Mazzer Major espresso grinder

    Mazzer Major High Volume On Demand Commercial Espresso Grinder

    The Mazzer Major is where things start to get quite serious. This is a high powered grinder designed to deliver large volumes of consistent espresso.

    The Major is a robustly built espresso grinding workhorse for commercial users that are serious about doing a high volume of coffee with quality and consistency in mind.

    The Mazzer Major boasts an 850 Watt motor housing a whopping 83mm flat burr set. This allows the Major to dose up to 4g per second. The Mazzer Major is available in an on demand doserless version as well as doser version, but we recommend the doserless version as we don't feel using a doser with such a high end grinder makes sense.

    Mazzer Major pros

  • Powerful motors and large burrs allow for fast and consistent grinding
  • Designed to easily serve up to 60 cups per hour
  • Robustly built to last in high volume cafes

  • Mazzer Major cons

  • Burrs spinning at 1400-1600r.p.m. can generate heat and may lead to inconsistencies in grind
  • Higher price point

  • Mazzer Robur premium espresso grinder

    Mazzer Robur High Volume Commercial Espresso Grinder

    The Mazzer Robur is Mazzer’s flagship grinder, where over 70 years of expertise comes together to deliver one of the best and most consistent high volume espresso grinders to be found on the market today.

    Mazzer have developed a unique conical burr set that allows these grinders to grind significant amounts of coffee over a very short period of time at a much slower r.p.m than a traditional flat burr grinder. The slower burrs generate less heat keeping the espresso and the grind more consistent through busy periods.

    With a 900 Watt motor and 71mm conical burrs, the Mazzer Robur is designed for cafes doing consistently high volume throughout the day. While a doser version of the Mazzer Robur does exist, we feel strongly that if you make this sort of investment, you should be using a doserless version, so that is the version we offer.

    Mazzer Robur pros

  • Incredibly fast grinding delivering up to 6.7g per second
  • Slow r.p.m.’s prevent overheating and keep grind consistent

  • Mazzer Robur cons

  • Higher retention of ground coffee (up to 12.2g) means that you would need to purge more frequently in quiet periods
  • Significantly higher price point than Mazzer’s other models

  • Mazzer Robur S premium espresso grinder

    Mazzer Robur S

    The newest addition to the Mazzer range is the Robur S: a top tiered premium espresso grinder with a sleek new design which has addressed some of the shortcomings of the Mazzer Robur.

    Boasting the same performance as the original Robur, the Robur S has improved both grind consistency and grind retention, making it a more usable option during the quiet times of the day. The Robur S has also digitised a lot of the settings on the grinder, allowing grind settings to be more repeatable and allowing baristas to share espresso recipes and constantly improve the quality of the espresso.

    The Robur S is designed for high volume specialty cafes that want to go down the rabbit hole of espresso making and are serious about taking their espresso to the highest possible level. The Mazzer Robur S is only available in an on demand doserless version.

    Mazzer Robur S pros

  • Improved grind retention by 52% from the original Robur
  • Digitised and repeatable settings can save barista time and help to push your espresso to the next level
  • Sleek new design

  • Mazzer Robur S cons

  • Most expensive Mazzer grinder
  • Mazzer espresso grinder comparison

    If you're looking for a simple summary comparison of Mazzer's espresso grinders, please have a look at the table below.

    Mazzer Logo Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder Mazzer Super Jolly Entry Level Commercial On Demand Espresso grinder Mazzer Major High Volume On Demand Commercial Espresso Grinder Mazzer Robur Premium High Volume On Demand Commercial Espresso Grinder Mazzer Robur S Premium High Volume Commercial on Demand Espresso Grinder
      Mini Super Jolly Major Robur Robur S
    Motor Power 250 watt 350 watt 650 watt 900 watt 900 watt
    Burr Type Flat burrs Flat burrs Flat burrs Conical Burrs Conical Burrs
    Burr Size 64mm 64mm 83mm 71mm 71mm
    Burr Speed 1400-1600 r.p.m. 1400-1600 r.p.m 1400-1600 r.p.m. 420-500 r.p.m 420-500 r.p.m.
    Avg. time to grind 18g 18 seconds 11.3 seconds 4.5 seconds 2.7 seconds 2.7 seconds
    Recommended volume 10-20 cups / hour 15-30 cups / hour Up to 50 cups / hour Up to 60 cups / hour Up to 60 cups / hour


    Mazzer have an extensive range of options suited for many different purposes. If you have something in mind, or have seen something that is not listed on our website, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help source something for your particular needs.