So I wouldn't normally retread ground after writing about this previously, but I found a variety of things out since initially writing about this, a couple of nice things happened centered around the grinder and generally it's even more won me over. So I thought it deserved turning the original blog post in a more detailed and updated specific review.
If you're in a hurry, my conclusion is that if you are prepared to do 2-3min steady arm work, enough to make your arm tired, when you want coffee, in return for saving a lot of money, then you really can't beat this little gem.
So what were those main reasons to update this?
- I found an extra half click or so on the grind settings which really stepped up my espresso,
- I used it for around 2 weeks with a french press, and found it a little different from espresso and it's worth a few notes on
- I bought a second one with a great purchasing experience.
- I upgraded my tamper and basket, bought some expensive specialist mail order ground coffee to compare it against, and really started to notice the quality of the grind.
Purchasing ExperienceI bought the second one again through Amazon, through a vendor called Japan Syndrome, there is a link at the bottom of this section. The first one was over Christmas and was slow to arrive. This one took 9 days from start to arrival, straight from Japan, which I think is pretty good. It also arrived with all the Japan markings on, which I liked, and second it came with a lovely origami crane and a nice note. I know that's silly, but it made me doubly happy in investing a second time, and just started off the whole experience on a positive foot.
It's straight forward to adjust but not something you want to do every day between grinds, as it's hard to know where your perfect setting was. After fiddling I've found the very finest was maybe a half or full click more than my first review.
So this was the original grind I did, on the almost on the finest setting, it took 2m 10s for me to grind this much, and it leaves my arm tired, but not out of breath.
Having found that extra click, it takes me around 2m 25s to grind my espresso now. How long it takes you to grind is very dependent on how fine you are grinding (more in the French Press section), and how steadily you grind. Steady arm speed leads to the best results.
And this is the Hario ground in the a Gaggia classic 58mm basket. Really nice texture, really nice to tamp, and then polish, you can get an excellent surface. Coffee finish is excellent, no bitterness.
Construction and Use
Lid doesn't come off as handle keeps it on, top half to bottom half screws together very nicely. Packs up into a very small space, the handle just lifts off and stacks by it, and it will fit in any cupboard or shelf. It also travels very well. This is a huge win for me as going manual has released not only, at a premium kitchen tabletop space, but also an additional power socket space in the kitchen. Grinding action is best when you steadily move both arms in a slight figure of eight fashion at a constant-as-possible speed and pressure. If you are sleepy and clumsy you can ping the handle off, but it hasn't happened to me more than twice in the month. I haven't gone into the whole take apart and photo the burrs, but there is another good other review here with photos of the conical sections and rings. Graduations on the cup are very useful and you quickly get to know how quite precisely much you need to grind for your machine and minimise wasted effort and coffee.
One of the major advantages for me is it grinds much quieter than a powered machine, not silent, but pretty inaudible outside of the room. My espresso machine isn't quiet, but if I need a sneaky early morning coffee. I can grind with this and make it in the aeropress to very good results and not disturb anyone. All the powered grinders I've heard or used, have been far to noisy to use when others in the house are asleep.
French Press Performance
What was really noticeable was that on the coarser settings you have to be a lot steadier and use a constant speed to get the best grind. It's overall not as even, and if you go too fast, or speed up and slow down you get a noticeable amount unevenness. It's a lot easier on the arm though. Doing a full grinder cup amount (enough for two people in a medium size french press) on this really quite coarse grind (coarser than I ended up finally using) only took about 1m 50s. But you can see even in the photo the unevenness. The grind I ended up with took me about 2m 50s to do as much coffee as this, whilst making sure I used a smoother arm movement, and produced something much more even.
SummaryExcellent and great value
I've been making about 2 coffees a day with this now for about a month, and the manual grinding hasn't worn thin. I still love doing it this way, it's tactile and involving, and produces great coffee.
Very good fine grind for espresso
Very small footprint and packs up easily
2m 10s of reasonably vigorous arm work - enough to make your arm tired
It's not a big shiny box in your kitchen you can show off (if that's your thing)
Coarser grinds for French press take more controlled arm turning
I've been charmed by this grinder. One of those rare thing that you buy at a price that you aren't too worried about if it isn't great, and then find out that it's exactly as good as you need, and much better than you expected.