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Compare Zero Retention Espresso Coffee Grinders

First a quick look at the grinders and then details on the testing procedure.

A Quick Look

So our competitors in order from lowest price to most expensive. We have the ROK manual. It’s an easy to use hand powered unit with a grind straight thru design and stepless adjustment, Next the Baratza Sette 270. It grinds straight thru like the ROK, but the motor makes it easier and super fast. Two more Baratza’s after that; the Vario and the Forte. For years, the Vario has been recommended by many as the entry grinder into higher-end home grinding for espresso. The Forte is similar to the Vario but uses a more powerful motor and has a more robust and durable full metal case. The Mazzer Mini is an Italian grinder that’s been around for a while. I’ll be using the Electronic A version. The ECM V-Titan 64 is made in Germany and features titanium coated burrs. And last up is the Ceado E37S. Like the Mazzer it’s made in Italy. The E37S was updated for 2017 and features the largest burr set of the group at 83mm. It uses Ceado’s steady lock technology and is known for producing very consistent dosing weights.

Testing

To test the grinders I first dialed each in to a grind size that produced a standard double espresso from an eighteen gram coffee dose in twenty to thirty seconds from first drip. Then I meticulously cleaned the grinders using a variety of tools, including brushes, some pokers and a vacuum. Although laborious, it was relatively easy to do the cleaning and maintain the grind setting on all but 2 of the grinders. The ROK manual grinder was a breeze with its straight-thru design and nothing to take apart. Same for the straight thru Sette 270 with an easy to twist out burr assembly. The Vario and the Forte were fairly simple with their top burr that twists out with a custom tool. On the Ceado, it’s just 3 screws and your in with no loss of grind setting.

Cleaning & Reassembling

With the ECM V-Titan and the Mazzer Mini it was a little more challenging to open them up for cleaning and then reassemble while maintaining the grind setting. To do that, I made note of the grind setting, then found the zero grind setting by operating the grinder and turning the adjustment until the burrs touched. I then noted the angle of rotation made between my dialed in grind and the zero grind setting. After cleaning and and re-assembly I returned the grinders to their zero setting and backed them off by the angle of rotation noted prior to taking them apart. That all sounds a little complex, but was actually much easier than it sounds.

With the grinders cleaned and set back to the dialed in grind size I weighed out 18 grams of beans accurate to one-one hundredth of a gram. At times, I was literally splitting beans to nail the 18 grams on the scale. Those beans were then single dosed into a grinder and the grinder was run until no more ground coffee exited the grinder. What came out was then weighed. This process of cleaning, calibrating, grinding and weighing was repeated 3 times on each grinder.

Coffee

A couple of notes on the procedure. I used Maromas Arabea coffee from the same bag for the tests. When practical, any ground coffee that was easily accessible by a brush in areas like a chute were brushed out and included in final weights. And, if you try these tests at home you may see slightly different results based on variables like coffee type, humidity, static and other factors.

Weight

So here are the results showing the average weight dispensed for the three grind cycles done on each grinder. They’re ordered here from best to worst. Taking top honors was the ROK Manual grinder with an average of seventeen point six-eight grams dispensed. The worst performer was the Mazzer Mini which dispensed an average of fourteen point eight grams meaning it retained an average of three point two grams. In this group the mazzer is a real outlier. Why is that? Well, it’s a design that’s been around for awhile. In the mazzer, there’s a lot of space between the burr and the walls of the grinding chamber and then a relatively long horizontal space between the chamber and where the coffee falls into the delivery cone. An anti clumping screen helps to hold coffee back as well.

For the other six grinders, based on my testing, it’s fair to consider them all zero retention grinders for practical purposes. Keep in mind that a half gram of old coffee makes up only about three percent of an eighteen gram dose. I challenge anyone to pick up a difference in flavor from that three percent in a blind taste test.

Factors to Consider

Now grind retention is just one measure of a grinders performance. Other factors include grind quality, dosing accuracy, ease of use, duty cycle, cost and more. For me the big take away here is that with the exception of the Mazzer you don’t need to grind out and throw away coffee to get a fresh dose from any of these grinders.

If you have any questions on this video or anything coffee be sure and use those comments and I’ll get you the answers. Come back for more of the best on everything coffee brought to you by Whole Latte Love.

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