Yesterday I purchased a new espresso grinder: the REMI hand grinder by Option-O. I chose the REMI after much research but what sold me on the grinder were three factors: the aesthetics, the espresso-oriented burrs, and James Hoffman's review of the Helor 101 in his grinder video (the Helor is the predecessor to the REMI). My research indicated that the REMI was a solid choice for espresso.
Choosing a grinder for espresso was not a decision I took lightly. I only recently purchased my Flair and I did not think about my grinder. This was a mistake because grinders are just as important as the equipment you use to brew espresso, if not more important. I remember hearing somewhere that you could brew better espresso on an okay machine with a great grinder than you could on a top of the line machine with a terrible grinder.
My Baratza Encore grinder is not suited for espresso. I have found a range on my Encore (7-8) which seems to work well for espresso. But my shots are not as good as I think they could be. Granted, I have not had a "proper" straight espresso shot from a cafe in a while. I feel my shots could be a bit clearer and sweeter if I had a better grinder. At the moment, I am adjusting dose on my Flair Espresso maker to compensate for the large steps on my grinder; this will not last long before I reach a point where I cannot brew much better coffee with my Encore.
The Encore is a stepped grinder which means I only have so much control over the grind size. Also, the grinder itself was not built for espresso, which I suspect means that the grinder is not as capable of producing an espresso grind as a grinder that is dedicated to the purpose of preparing grounds for espresso. My knowledge of grinders is still quite basic. Espresso is a new frontier for me and I am still learning about how grinders impact espresso.
I have likened my purchase of an espresso grinder to trimming a hedge without a hedge trimmer. You can trim a hedge without a hedge trimmer and get good results. If you want the most efficient, high-quality results, then you need to upgrade. I am at the stage where I feel an upgrade is a good idea. I do not want to frustrate myself too much because my equipment is not up to par. I have decided that this is not a case of my blaming the tools instead of my technique—my technique still needs a lot of work—but that I need to have the right tools of the job to make a good espresso.
Going back to my choice of the REMI hand grinder, I chose to buy a hand grinder because top of the line hand grinders which are capable of grinding for espresso are cheaper than a lot of the electric models I have seen. The REMI was cheaper than the Comandante C40 (which, at the time of writing this post, is out of stock in every authorised UK reseller). The REMI is also stepless (without modifications) which means I can easily adjust my grind. I opted for the TiN contemporary burrs which were designed specifically for espresso.
I hope an investment in an espresso grinder will help me produce better coffee. For now, I am going to keep experimenting with my Encore to see how I can maximise use of the grinder that I have. I have heard you can get quite good results with the Encore and I am nearing that point. I just need to keep trying new recipes and, of course, note down which recipes and changes work best.
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