26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Works for espresso on Gaggia Classic - just!
, 17 May 2012
This review is from: KitchenAid Artisan Burr Coffee Grinder Black (Kitchen & Home)
Reading grinder reviews is frustrating. For anything under a £250 price tag, there are always some people saying 'Doesn't work for espresso' and others saying 'Just had a great cup of espresso with my xxx machine'. So you are left wondering if the first guy has simply failed to operate the thing properly (especially if they don't seem to know how to operate the Amazon review system and leave 4 copies of their bad review - he-hem) or if the second guy thinks anything is espresso if it's brown and comes out of a machine marked espresso. Or, what if the positive reviews are all from people with machines that are designed to cope with poorly ground coffee - eg the Gaggia Classic's 'prefect crema' device now shipped as standard? (Excuse me while I shudder. I'm such a snob. Unfortunately I'm a snob with a small budget, a coffee grinder that had been left at the house of a friend who promply disappeared off on holiday and an urgent need to buy a replacement locally that I could convince myself was a 'step up' and therefore not a ridiculous waste of money.) So I needed to take a risk, given that this was the only moderately 'high end' grinder available in local outlets.
So, a reality check first. This may seem like a lot of money for a grinder if all you've had before is a little thing with whirly blades, but unfortunately in the world of espresso it is only just above the bargain basement. You are going to be at the limits of its fineness. It may depend on the machine you have and the beans you buy whether it works or fails. The rule of thumb is 'spend as much on the grinder as you do on the espresso machine'. The other rule of thumb is read the manual, and the other rule of thumb (or maybe we are on pinkies now) is that coffee is best between 3days to three weeks of roasting, and if it's older than that you might well need a finer grind to make it work - but why not but good fresh coffee instead?
So, I have a Gaggia Classic with standard filter baskets - NOT the perfect crema things. I have high standards, which my equipment doesn't quite fulfil but it comes close. Up until now I was using a Starbucks Barista (rebadged Dualit) grinder which worked OK on the very finest setting, though I always wished I could go half a click or so finer.
So after I found myself grinder-less I tried ready ground coffee which made me realise just how good my usual setup actually was for the money. Then I looked around for a sub£200 replacement. I wanted it NOW so I bought it locally; if I had had an ounce more of self control I might have gone for the Ascaso from Amazon.
This was really the only option locally so despite the mixed reviews I went for it. I didn't even try it out before doing the 'finer grind' adjustment detailed in the manual. That was very easy but you do need an allen key.
On the finest grind, after the mod, it produces a lovely espresso on my Gaggia Classic with fresh beans from Hasbean.co.uk. More or less spot on perfect timing 25-30 second extraction on a double shot. By contrast, the pre-ground Illy I bought was rushing through way too fast.
So for me it works. Would I like an extra notch or two down so that I could experiment with finer? Yes, but I don't want it an extra £100 worth. Is it better than the Dualit? Yes - not by miles, but enough to be glad I've bought it.
One thing I don't like is the shape of the glass jar that catches the grounds. They couldn't have designed something less practical for pouring coffee grounds into a portafilter. Any mess that you save by the glass being non-static, you make up for by spilling it everywhere. However, I solved that -first by using the little plastic funnel that came with my diswasher for putting the salt in and then by remembering that my aeropress coffee maker came with a funnel specifically designed for this purpose. So all sorted.
Hope this helps.
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