Once bitten by the coffee bug the virus can spread pretty quickly. What started as an instant and two spoonfuls of sugar has now devolved into seven different stovetops, three filter drip feed pots and the idea of selling the TV to buy a barista grade coffee machine now seems reasonable. Somewhere along the way you’ll want to make the leap from pre-ground to whole beans.
Buying whole beans rather than pre-ground is the most professional step you can take towards quality coffee. Grinding your own beans keeps the freshness locked in for longer. And the golden rule is, only grind what you need.
Sage – the Smart Grinder Pro (BCG820BSSUK)
Sage’s Smart Grinder Pro is one for the professionals, or deep-pocketed, aspiring home coffee drinker. Unless you’ve got some serious cash to burn the Sage is eye-waveringly priced, but that’s because it’s a precise instrument with some essential coffee shop features.
Let’s start with the grind. The Smart Grinder Pro is a burr grinder, two abrasive surfaces – the burrs – rotate against each other. Burrs give a highly uniform size to the ground beans, more so than is possible with a blade. There are 60 different grind settings available to you on the Sage. From a dust that could clog up your machine to very coarse little pebbles.
The grind time can be adjusted in 0.2 second increments – for really nailing that French press coffee you’ve been working on. That said the pre-set grind options are not done without care, I’ve found they’re just as good as anything I could produce. But I’m not entering any barista championships just yet.
Sage also provide a range of accessories for an extra cost- a large or small bin for coffee grounds, and a milk jug with built-in thermometer.
Sage Smart Grinder Pro Features
- Grind straight into the porta-filter, or a container, filter basket or paper filter
- Smart and simply LCD screen – displays the grind setting, time, and number of shots or cups selected
- Pre-programmed intelligent settings for perfect results, coarse or fine
- 60, yes, 60 grind settings
- Grind time is adjustable down to 0.2 second increments
Sage Smart Grinder Pro – Any problems?
Changing the coarseness of the burrs means wasting a shot of espresso. There’s also a bit of an adjustment time, which runs counter to using it as the only grinder in a busy coffee shop. More of a set-and-forget kind of grinder. Beware the noise levels too, these can seem loud – although maybe my kitchen is a bit of a noise chamber.
Sage Smart Grinder Pro – Overall?
A highly powerful and professional grinder suitable for those with the budget at home or a coffee shop looking for a grinder suited to a particular coffee style. Sage are backed by infamously daring chef Heston Blumental.
Melitta Molino Coffee Grinder
The Molino grinder is made by famous coffee brand Melitta. The 1091-01 edition is a flat disk grinder, but it is not a true burr grinder. This is because it only has one revolving abrasive surface. Pushing beans against this creates a sous-burr effect, but not a true one.
That said it can still produce a decent grind, and it has 17 different grind settings to choose from – running the gamut from dust to coarse. I found that the settings were hard to distinguish between in the lower numbers, maybe something of a marketing choice rather than a design necessity.
Melitta Molino Coffee Grinder Features
- 17 different grind settings
- Holds 200g of beans
- Choose the number of cups you wish to grind for – 2 to 14
- BPA free design
- Flat dish, but not a true burr
The capacity is 200g, and you can tell the Molino how many cups you’re wanting from the total weight, you can choose between 2 and 14 cups.
I found it to be energy efficient – more so than a hefty burr grinder – and the automatic shut off feature adds safety should something tough get into the system.
Coffee collects at the bottom in a little plastic tub. I like that you can see how much is coming out, opposed to the Shardor’s rather opaque window. Though it is worth noting you cannot grind straight into a porta filter.
SHARDOR Coffee Grinder
Unlike the aforementioned grinders, the Shardor coffee grinder is not just a coffee grinder. You could use it for nuts, grains and whipping up spice blends too. However, not to get waylaid taking cuisine, coffee.
The Shardor is a cheap and cheerful grinder. It is (a stainless steel) blade based grinder; spinning at a finger-shredding speeds of 20,000-24,000 rpm. The Shardor can hold around 70g of beans. It’ll blitz these into a powder in 8 to 15 seconds. To use, simply load with beans and push down on the lid. That’s it, simple. If a little too simple. The fineness and coarseness is all down to your trial and error. Obviously the longer you hold, the fine it gets, but there is a distinct loss of consistency as compared to a burr grinder.
Shardor Coffee Grinder Features
- Removable bowl with a 2-in-1 spoon brush for easy transferals
- Push-down start and stop mechanism
- Holds 70g of beans – enough for around 10 cups of coffee
Unlike some blade based grinders, in this push-down lid style, the Shardor does come with a brush-spoon for emptying the contents. For years I, unplugged, then used a tea spoon or my finger, to get the contents out. Gross and dangerous? Maybe.
All things considered, the Shardor does the job. I’m not trying to establish a coffee lab in my kitchen and a simple grinder such as this, with its ease of cleaning and suitability with grains or seeds, makes it a welcome addition to a kitchen.
If you’re looking at a coffee grinder, and can afford the quality of the Sage – go for it. They’ve got great burrs – which can be replaced – and a superb storage system for whole beans in the top. Being pushed for space or budget, the Molino offers a cheaper burr-esque grind but for versatility the Shardor can spice up your cooking and not just your morning ritual.