Recommendations for a non-espresso grinder

I am just getting into making coffee at home. Currently, I use a moka pot and the pour over method but would like to try a French press, too. I have a whirlyblade grinder and am getting inconsistent results. Sometimes the coffee is bitter and sometimes it is too weak and even sour. I have done some reading on coffeegeek this past week and have come to the realization that the inconsistencies are probably due to my grinder.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a grinder that would suit the above three methods? I would prefer not to spend more than NT$ 6500, but if there were an absolute must-have that was slightly more expensive I would be open to suggestions.

I have a made-in-Taiwan Feima (Flying Horse) 600N which is okay for French press, does a medium-fine pour-over well, but I’ve never tried it for moka. My hunch is it would be good because it’s better at grinding at the finer side than at the coarser side. Another grinder is the Flying Eagle CM-300AU, which is supposedly better than the 600N.

You could also look into the Capresso Infinity and Baratza Maestro, both of which should be available here (however, it looks like Baratza has replaced the Maestro with the Encore in the US).

Slowrain,

Many thanks for your response. In my research I have come across both the Flying Eagle and the Feima grinders. Have you heard anything about the Japanese Pearl Horse SHW-388 grinder? It looks similar to the Feima and Flying Eagle grinders. I was also considering the Capresso or a Baratza. It seems that both the Maestro and the Virtuoso are available in Taiwan and I think you are right: the Maestro has been replaced by the Encore in the States. I think I read somewhere that Baratza grinders are made in Taiwan. Is that correct?

I was quite keen on the Capresso due to all the good reviews it got on coffeegeek, but might reconsider and get a local one now that you have recommended it.

Thanks,
bigsyd

Yes, Baratza’s website says their grinders are still made in Taiwan, but the burrs come from Europe. No, I haven’t heard of the Pearl Horse.

What were the prices on the Maestro and Infinity? If there isn’t a huge price difference, you may want to consider one of those over the Flying Eagle and Flying Horse ones. I say that my Feima 600N is a decent grinder, but I haven’t used those other two, nor do I know anyone who has compared all three. I can attest to the longevity of the Feima based on what people here have said (I still have mine, but I actually don’t use it anymore; I’m into hand grinders now). Don’t overlook a potentially better grinder just because I’ve used a different one.

This is the Pearl Horse. (http://buy.yahoo.com.tw/gdsale/gdsale.asp?gdid=400343)

The Maestro is going for NT$ 6500, the Virtuoso NT$ 8500 and the Capresso NT$ 3600. I have also been considering the Solis 166 which I think is sold as the Starbucks grinder in the States. It sells for NT$ 4850.

What hand grinders are you using? There was one Japanese one on coffeegeek that everyone was raving about: the Skerton if I remember correctly. Should I be considering a hand grinder, too? I usually only make two cups a day but I am usually quite pressed for time, especially in the morning, so the speed of an electric grinder appeals to me.

One final question: what should the grind size for a moka pot be? I seem to have come across conflicting information: some saying it should be the same as for pour over and some saying finer?

Thanks for your advice,
bigsyd

I don’t have a moka pot, but I believe most people grind finer than for pour-over. However, this video suggests that a coarser grind is better. While I often disagree with the business opinions of the guy who made that video, his brewing advice is usually good. Ultimately, the amount of coffee you use and the grind size will come down to your particular preference, but it’s good to get some ideas for a starting point and then play around from there.

I’m going to suggest staying away from the Pearl Horse. A Japanese grinder for that price would definitely be made in China. I’d go for either of the flying animals over that one. As for the others, I think they’ll all be fine, and the quality of the grind seems to be consistent with the price. The only caveat is that the Maestro and Infinity seem to have a ridiculous markup relative to their US list prices, which is common for anything here that is imported (that causes me a lot of frustration). I don’t know about the Solis 166. Baratza used to manufacture it a long, long time ago, but it doesn’t seem to be on Starbucks’ website, so I’m curious to know if it has been discontinued like the Maestro.

I’m using a combination of several hand grinders, one dedicated to each grind size. No matter how easy it looks to switch between grind settings, it’s actually annoying if you want to do it on a daily basis. I use a modified Hario Skerton for French press. If you don’t do the modification, I don’t recommend this grinder–or any cheapish hand grinder, for that matter–for French press, but it would probably be okay for pour-over. I also use a Porlex and a Kyocera for pour-over, but I prefer the Porlex. And I use different grinders for espresso and Turkish.

If you–or anyone else, for that matter–are looking for alternatives to what’s already been discussed, these two get good reviews for being handy:

orphanespresso.com/OE-LIDO-M … _4682.html

Fuji Royal R-440 with Ghost Teeth (bit it’s expensive, and I don’t know how fine it can grind)

Thanks for that video link. I actually saw a video similar to that which also suggested you use hot water instead of cold. That is the way I do it now, too. In my very limited experience I have also found that a slightly coarser grind produces a better cup. The problem with the whirlyblade grinder is that you get all different shapes and sizes and a lot of dust as well. It always seems to introduce and element of bitterness no matter how coarse you grind. It produces inconsistent results.

Anyway, now you have given me yet another idea. I checked out the Porlex and I really like it. The price is right, too. I don’t have a lot of space in my kitchen and it will probably be a lot easier to clean than a bigger electric grinder. I don’t like the idea of leaving stale coffee grinds in the grinder burrs and I can imagine that some of the bigger grinders can be quite time consuming to clean. That might outweigh any advantage they might have over the hand grinders in terms of speed of grind. Furthermore, I consider myself a beginner and perhaps a hand grinder would be better suited to the likes of me. Kind of like learning how to knead dough by hand before you get a stand mixer. All I want are consistent results for my pourover in the morning and my moka pot after lunch. If get more interested and sometime in the future go the espresso route, then I could consider buying something more expensive.

Anyway, you have been very helpful and unless you come up with yet another idea to distract me, I might just go the Porlex route. Last question if I may. Do you have the mini or the tall, slender one. I must say it is not an unattractive looking gadget, either. I think it would fit very well into my kitchen.

I have the tall one, which would come in handy if you ever wanted to make two cups of coffee at the same time as it holds more beans in the top–not that refilling it half-way through grinding is an ordeal, though. The only drawback is the little plastic nubs on the nut which you use to adjust grind coarseness may wear away if you flip back and forth between moka pot and pour-over on a daily basis. It’s also portable and has the advantage of being an entry-level espresso grinder in a pinch (with just the tiniest of modifications), but you will likely consider upgrading to a more espresso-capable one after a bit of use. It probably takes about a minute to grind for one average cup of coffee.

If you decide to go the electric route, both of the flying critters are dirt simple to clean as well. However, they are definitely fugly.

Either option will be a noticeable step up from a blade grinder, which was also my first grinder.

Many thanks again. I think it might just come down to a space thing and that Porlex looks like it is going to be the winner. Also, at that price, even if I eventually need an upgrade or feel the need to get a second one dedicated to a another grind size, it won’t break the bank. It seems like a good choice on all levels: size, cleanability, price, portability and even looks. I can live with a minute of manual grinding twice a day. It takes longer than that for the kettle to boil so I could do it while the water is heating up. When I get tired of manual grinding or demand more of a grinder I can always upgrade.

That’s actually a very sound plan. I did it the opposite way: I bought the Feima 600N first, then bought the Porlex. I still use the Porlex, but the Feima is collecting dust. But I’m a very manual kind of person, so hand grinders, manual brewers, and lever espresso machines appeal to me in a way that they don’t to most other people.

Just be a little careful not to grind too fast. If you get going too wild, the handle may slip off and whack you in the face. I speak from personal experience. :doh:

Also, remember to use freshly roasted, not-too-dark, decent quality coffee beans. That rules out the likes of supermarkets and Starbucks. And use good water if you can.

Thanks for the warning about not grinding too fast. I shall make sure the handle is fastened properly. I buy my coffee from this place (Original Coffee - 原物咖啡)http://www.oxcafe.com.tw/ If it is not something that they roast on a daily basis, you need to order two days in advance and they will roast for you. I only ever buy a half pound at a time. That lasts me about 10 days. If you click on Shop you will see the selection of beans they offer. I have being buying their Indonesia Sumatra Mandheling but have also tried their Special Blend and their Brazil. The special blend is actually just a mix of Brazil and Mandheling. The Mandheling is roasted darker than the Brazil, but I don’t think that dark that it will clog up the grinder. I believe they have a shop in Taichung as well.

You don’t have to worry about roast degree clogging up the grinder too much, but the oils which bleed out of really dark roasted beans can leave a nasty, rancid smell behind. I’d avoid any beans that have an oily sheen on them.

I’ve actually been to that shop once. While I thought the beans they were using in their shop weren’t all that fresh and were a little too dark for my preferences, it’s good that they have a policy of freshness for their web sales. You’re using them up within their peak period. Try sampling some of their other offerings, too. Traditionally, Taiwanese people–and much of the rest of Asia, for that matter–have always preferred very dark roasts. There is a movement among some roasters here to lighten up a bit, which brings in a bit of zing and fruitiness to the beans. Keep your eyes open for something that may fit that description. You may be surprised.

I don’t know if you live near one of their shops or are just ordering from their website, but I suggest finding a local roaster as well. It’s good to go into a shop and be able to discuss flavors with the roasters personally. They’ll be better able to understand your taste preferences and select something you may like better but wouldn’t have ordinarily considered. If you build up a good relationship, they can be a great source of information, and you can always share with them what you’ve read on other English-language coffee websites. I’ve found them to be very friendly and pretty generous.

I buy my beans directly from the Kaohsiung shop. I just phone them up and place an order. Then I go and pick them up two days later. I have only bought beans from them four times so I haven’t had much time to build up a rapport.

The first time I bought Brazil and their special blend. The Brazil worked nicely in the moka pot but didn’t make a memorable cup of pourover. I have bought Mandheling from them three times and the first time the beans were dark and oily like you describe. The following two times have been lighter with little or no oil. A change in roasting policy, perhaps, or an inconsistent roaster, I don’t know.

To be honest, I am so new to this whole coffee thing I hadn’t thought about the roast that much. For the moment I will be content with making a consistent cup. If I can just get the grind right so that it takes the same amount of time for the water to filter through each time, I will be well on my way. Once I get to the point where I am making a consistent cup that I like, I can then start to try different beans. I think I will be in a better position to compare them then.

I think I would feel quite intimidated if the roaster were to ask me about my personal preferences. I wouldn’t know what to say. :blush: For the time being I prefer the relative anonymity of the phone call and pick up method.

Thanks for all your thoughtful advice.

Fair enough, and you’re most welcome. I don’t get to discuss coffee often here in Taiwan.

If you want, ask sometime if they sell small sample bags of just 30-50g or so. That may make trying new beans more appealing.

I’m partial to Ethiopian beans because of the berry-like flavors you can sometimes get. I also once had a coffee from Brazil with a noticeable nutty flavor. Some beans have a citrus-like flavor, which some people really enjoy. These are some of the flavors you could discuss with the roaster. Don’t worry about not knowing what to say. If the roaster or salesperson isn’t too busy, you’ll be surprised how friendly and engaging they can be. Start off by saying you don’t know much about coffee flavors and you’d like their opinion. Most Taiwanese roasters in my experience are very eager to educate new customers.

Did you mean the Kaohsiung shop of Original Coffee Bigsyd? If so, I’d love to know the phone number and address.

I’ve been buying my beans in Kaohsiung from Cama in Zoying, but they limit themselves to 6 bean choices. I REALLY enjoyed their Ethiopian Yergacheffe though. At $275/half pound it’s not the cheapest, but even after coldbrewing I’m getting 12 cups out of it, so works out to under $25/cup. Cama seems to roast their beans lighter than the other roasters I’ve tried in Kaohsiung, which is much better for coldbrewing.

[quote=“SlowRain”]Fair enough, and you’re most welcome. I don’t get to discuss coffee often here in Taiwan.

If you want, ask sometime if they sell small sample bags of just 30-50g or so. That may make trying new beans more appealing.

I’m partial to Ethiopian beans because of the berry-like flavors you can sometimes get. I also once had a coffee from Brazil with a noticeable nutty flavor. Some beans have a citrus-like flavor, which some people really enjoy. These are some of the flavors you could discuss with the roaster. Don’t worry about not knowing what to say. If the roaster or salesperson isn’t too busy, you’ll be surprised how friendly and engaging they can be. Start off by saying you don’t know much about coffee flavors and you’d like their opinion. Most Taiwanese roasters in my experience are very eager to educate new customers.[/quote]

Good advice on the sample bags. Will definitely ask.

Original Coffee sells Ethiopian Harrar Natural, however it is slightly pricier at NT$420. Still, if I use 18g for a cup of pourover, I can get 12 cups from my half pound. That works out to NT$34 a cup. Cheaper than 7-11 and a lot tastier. If I use the moka pot I can get more cups because I use less coffee.

Citrus, berry-like and nutty flavors. Thanks, that gives me something to look out for when I drink my next cup. And you are right, most Taiwanese are very friendly and more than willing to discuss everything, especially down south.

best,
bigsyd

Did you mean the Kaohsiung shop of Original Coffee Bigsyd? If so, I’d love to know the phone number and address.

I’ve been buying my beans in Kaohsiung from Cama in Zoying, but they limit themselves to 6 bean choices. I REALLY enjoyed their Ethiopian Yergacheffe though. At $175/half pound it’s not the cheapest, but even after coldbrewing I’m getting 8 cups out of it, so works out to under $25/cup. Cama seems to roast their beans lighter than the other roasters I’ve tried in Kaohsiung, which is much better for coldbrewing.[/quote]

Ktownboy, here is the address: 高雄市前鎮區民權二路354號 and here is a link to their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/%E5%8E%9F%E7%89%A9%E5%92%96%E5%95%A1-%E6%B0%91%E6%AC%8A%E5%BA%97/209550789135210 . They just updated their cover photo yesterday. The shop is on the corner of Minchuan 2nd Road and Zhenghe Road in Qian Zhen District.

Their cheapest price for a half pound is NT$200 so be prepared to pay a bit more. However, if you see my above calculations, it is still cheaper than most places and definitely a lot tastier.

Bought my new Porlex this afternoon. Went down to the shop instead of ordering it on the Net. Saved NT$60 in shipping costs and got to speak to a very helpful shop assistant who demonstrated it for me. He advised me to tighten it as far it would go, then back off 8 clicks for the pour over method. That is exactly what I did but I think it could have gone a bit finer. Will try 7 or 6 clicks next time. Took photos of the grind to post but I can’t figure out to post images on this board. Don’t seem to be able to upload from my computer and I don’t belong to an image hosting service.

Anwyay, just wanted to say thanks to slowrain for the advice, I am very pleased with my new purchase. The grind is much more consistent than anything I was ever getting from the whirlyblade. I am very excited about experimenting with it.

You’re welcome. Just be careful adjusting it too often. Those little plastic nubs which give you the “clicks” will wear off if you’re flipping back and forth a lot. The grinder was designed for Japanese people to use with pour-over, and not as a multi-purpose grinder. Do you think the pour-over setting is the same as your moka pot setting?

Good advice. I don’t want to break those little nubs off. How do I clean without opening it, though? The guy at the shop said one of the main advantages of ceramic burrs is that, unlike steel burrs, they can be washed. He wasn’t suggesting they be washed after each use, but he said if you got an oily buildup, it would eventually go rancid and if that happened, you could wash them.

Haven’t tried the moka, yet. Have run out of coffee beans! It seems like tighten and back off six clicks is the magic number. It gives me a grind that the water filters through in under 4 minutes. Am using cheap beans which I bought from the grinder shop. Don’t taste good at all. I should be able to pick up some freshly roasted today or tomorrow. I made one cup this morning with the last of my quality beans and even though the grind was a little fine (I backed off 4 clicks) it was one of the best cups I have made yet. Can’t wait for my new stock to arrive so I can get to do some experimenting. However, I am very happy with my initial experimentations. The grind is so much more even than anything I was getting from the whirlyblade.