Friday, 31 January 2014

Hario Ceramic Slim Grinder or Mill Detailed Review

A detailed review of the Hario Ceramic Slim burr manual grinder or mill after about a months increasingly serious use, with grind timings, espresso and french press examples, and including acquiring a second one!

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?

  1. I found an extra half click or so on the grind settings which really stepped up my espresso, 
  2. 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
  3. I bought a second one with a great purchasing experience.
  4. 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 Experience

I 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.

Espresso Performance


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.

This is a grind comparison between the new grind done with the Hario Ceramic Slim on the left and on the right is some professionally ground coffee from Pact Coffee, their espresso blend and grind which I had for a separate review I'm working on.  Although hard to see from the photos the manually ground coffee is noticeably finer, especially in the machine, it having to work a lot harder for the same portion and tamp.

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

Very good.  

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


I ended up travelling with this for about 10 days and using a french press.  Performance was still very good but not quite as good as espresso.  It took me a while to get the right setting for the grind I wanted and when I found it it got very annoying trying to find it again if I changed anything.  This was solved by second, one to leave on espresso and one for french press or aeropress depending on which I'm using the most.

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.


Excellent 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
  Quality construction
  Very small footprint and packs up easily
  Low mess
  Low noise
  Low cost

  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.


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  2. Thanks John, glad you liked. Unfortunately I think you are probably a slightly more clever than usual bot, using flattery to deceive and leave your comments intact on other real content blogs to link through to posts that you are being paid to promote. For instance linking through to large silica grinding on a coffee post isn't particularly subtle. Similarly with the 453 other posts through the blank google post ID making them. I wonder whether you actually read any of the blog posts you link out from, or whether it's entirely automated based on similar key word searches. Anyway interested to hear back on your business model, if not about coffee. All the best!

  3. Hi Stephen,

    May I know what's your current setting for the espresso grind? How many clicks after the most tight setting? Can you explain how you got that half click setting? I've just got mine and struggling to dial a shot at the moment. Cheers

    1. Hello Amir

      I found to get the finest settings I had to remove all the beans and make sure that the burr was totally free of small debris before giving a harder than usual twist to tighten You could then undo the grind bit by bit to get coarser with the beans in but couldn't reliably tighten up again. So calibrating is a matter of starting fine and working backwards. I find that sometimes it gives you a click when it's wound back and sometimes it moves without a click. So it's hard to give you an accurate reference. So very approximately:

      For expresso in a Gaggia classic the finest setting with any sort of tamp nearly kills it. 1 click back ristretto, 2 chugging but can work, 3 or 4 seems to be right depending on what the beans are. I'm currently between 3.5 clicks from finest but using a nice motta tamper and giving a really firm tamp producing nice results with some Brazilian espresso blends. I got a bit obsessed at the start with how fine I could make it and the machine didn't like me for it. Winding back with a better tamp at the moment is giving a decent crema and acidity balance.

    2. Hi

      I managed to play a bit more with the settings over the past few days. Agreed on the Classic hating the really fine grind! I'm currently in between 3-4 clicks as I've yet to find the half click. Anyways, with 3 click, I find the level of tamp to be very minimal, but at 4, it requires proper tamp, sometimes more than 30lbs. I'm grinding different single origins at the moment as I've recently ordered in bulk.