Choosing a coffee grinder for espresso can be tough! When you get to a certain level, it’s an investment you’re likely to be living with for a while. Today, I'm going to present a side-by-side comparison of two popular mid-range prosumer level grinders. I’ll take a look at the obvious differences, but I really want to focus on subtle things, the not so obvious details which affect day-to-day use and might have you preferring one over the other.
So we'll be looking at two very similarly priced grinders: the Eureka Atom in Chrome and the Ceado E37J. Myself and our tech support staff have used both grinders extensively, and it turns out there’s no clear preference. Some do have a slight preference for one over the other, but there is no clear staff favorite.
One thing that is clear? At the end of the day, nobody on our staff could say that one grinder produced a better espresso than the other. So what it comes down to are those little details of day-to-day use.
- Describe what the grinders sound like
- Go through programming and displays
- Share results of dosing accuracy and grind speed tests
- Open up each grinder to look at the build materials and quality
- Check out grind retention
- Look at other usage details
Again, both are mid-range prosumer level grinders. The grinding burrs in the E37J are a little larger at 64 millimeters versus the 60 millimeter burrs in the Atom. The grind can be adjusted by lever on the Ceado, and by knob on the Eureka. The Ceado is 17" tall and the Eureka Atom is 17.3" tall. The E37J is 4 lbs heavier than the Atom. It has a wider stance, lower center of gravity, and a more robust, all metal exterior. In the grinding area of the Atom there is a fair amount of plastic, including the portafilter activated switch and the base of the grinder.
The respective motors of each machine are 300 watts in the Ceado and 450 watts in the Eureka. Both grinders have two timed grinding presets, which are adjustable in 1/10th of a second increments and manual grinding. Warranties are 3 years on the E37J and 1 year on the Atom.
Now many, including myself, have called the Atom one of the quietest grinders of it’s type. However, I do notice it tends to make some pop-corning sounds. To me the E37J is just as quiet, and to my ear, it has a lower and more satisfying note. Now judging the sound is a little subjective, so it really comes down to your own personal preference.
I’ve previously tested both grinders for dosing weight accuracy and grind speed. After dialing in for a 2 ounce espresso in 25 seconds from first drip, the Ceado had an average dose variation of .39 grams and an average grinding speed of 1.8 grams per second. The Eureka was a hair better at .2 grams for dose variation and about 2.4 grams per second speed. So both are very accurate, and I’m happy with anything under a .5 gram of variation
Now let’s talk grind retention. So when you stop grinding, how much ground coffee is left in the grinder? To get an idea, I ground out all the beans from both grinders and then ran them a few times to expel as much coffee as possible.
Remember earlier, when I mentioned the popping noise with the Atom? Well, I got lots of pop-corning of beans when I tried to grind it dry this time, too. That’s because of its impeller. On the plus side, the impeller does help keep beans flowing to the burrs, and that's probably why the Atom is a little more accurate at dose accuracy and speed. On the down side, it’s really hard to grind out all of the beans, as you need some weight from beans on top to prevent the pop-corning.
With the Ceado, there was no pop-corning at all and it took all of the beans in. With the beans ground out as much as reasonably possible, I opened up both grinders to see what was left inside.
Getting into the grinding chamber of the Ceado is very easy. You remove three screws and lift off the burr and the entire grind adjustment mechanism. On the Eureka it’s fairly easy as well, as you remove three screws on the cover and then three more screws on the plate, which holds the top burr. What’s really nice with both of these grinders is that you do not lose your grinding setting when opening up the grinding chamber, which is not the case with many other grinders.
So looking inside, it was fairly obvious there’s more grind retention in the Atom than in the E37J. In my opinion, there are a couple of reasons for that. First, there’s just a lot more space between the edge of the burr and the wall of the grinding chamber in the Atom than there is in the E37J. Second, notice that there are two, what I’ll call, sweeping arms in the Atom and three in the E37J. There's just more space to fill in the Atom before ground coffee gets pushed out to the delivery chute. Now that retention, not a big deal. Most grinders of this style will have some. But if you are super particular and always want an entirely fresh dose, just know you’ll need to grind off more coffee in the Atom to get there.
Next, let’s compare grind adjustment. These are two very different setups but they do share something I appreciate. Both systems keep ground coffee and coffee oils out of the adjustment mechanism. On some grinders, adjustments get sticky or jumpy when gummed up with coffee. With the Atom, grind size is adjusted with a knob. It turns a shaft which runs down to the bottom of the motor and adjusts the position of the lower burr through the motor.
Adjustment on the E37J is by a lever, which moves the top burr up and down. On the Atom, making a precise grind size adjustment is a little trickier. The adjustment knob has a diameter of about 4" so one full rotation of the knob is a move of 4". On the E37J's lever, it’s about a 4" move to get one third of a rotation. So, making an assumption that one full rotation on either grinder will produce a similar change in grind size, the E37J is about three times as precise when making grind size adjustments.
Depending on how you use the grinders, that can be a positive or negative attribute. On the Atom, it’s about 5 full rotations of the knob to go from a fine espresso grind up to a really coarse grind for something like cold brew. You can use the Atom for brew methods other than espresso with its included grind bin. Although, do expect to be dialing in a few shots when moving from coarse grinds back to espresso. With less precision, it’s difficult to get back to exactly where you were in the espresso fine range. The E37J on the other hand is really set up as an espresso specialist. You can set it to coarser grinds but it’s a process. You have to remove the adjusting lever and manually turn the adjustment. It's just not something you’d want to be doing very often.
Both grinders have two programmable presets for timed grinding and can grind manually as well. The Atom’s large display has a slight up angle to aid viewing. The E37J's minimal text display is horizontal so it’s easy to see when operating the grinder and invisible for the most part when not using it.
The Atom wins for ease of programming. Just select the single or double preset and use the plus or minus buttons to adjust the time in 1/10th of a second increments. On the E37J you press and hold the button you want to program then adjust the time in 1/10th of a second increments. When you’ve got the time you want, push the set button to save it. So there are a couple of extra button pushes to program the Ceado E37J. Manual grinding is accessed by pushing a button on the Atom and pressing the single and double buttons at the same time on the E37J.
It can be a little difficult to see grounds filling on the Atom due to the overhang from the tilted display and control panel. On the E37J, the view is unobstructed. You can use both grinders hands-free. I found it easier to adjust the hook on the E37J than adjusting the support on the Atom. That support is removable to accommodate the grounds bin.
The Pros and the Cons
Again, those warranty periods are 3 years on the Ceado and 1 year on the Eureka. The E37J is a tough espresso specialist. It has slightly larger burrs, more precise adjustment, lower grind retention, a better view of the portafilter when grinding manually, more durable build, and I like the easier adjustment of the portafilter holder and wider grind tray.
For the Atom, programming is easier, it’s far more usable as a multi-purpose grinder with the continuous adjustment knob, and included grinds bin. The Atom is quiet, but personally I prefer the lower note of the E37J.
So, I hope this blog has helped you learn the subtle differences between these two grinders and which might better fit your needs. If you’d like more information, check the links here to my previous review videos of the Ceado E37J and the Eureka Atom.
Thanks for reading. I do hope you'll come back soon for more of the best on everything coffee, brought to you by Whole Latte Love.