If you talk to a coffee professional about how they can get the most out of their coffee, a common recommendation you will hear is to have the right grinder. Grinders impact one's ability to extract the flavours out of the coffee they have. When I first started drinking speciality coffee, I had a Hario Mini Mill. I made good coffee but I knew there was better. I could get much better filter coffee in a speciality coffee shop than I could at home. When I made a leap to the Baratza Encore, I realised a better grinder does indeed improve the taste of your coffee (as long as your technique is right).
Last year, I started using the Comandante C40 hand grinder. I love the Comandante but it does take some time to grind with it. I love the process of grinding by hand. There's something nice about doing the work to grind the coffee beans you are about to use to make a delicious cup of coffee. But part of that "something nice" is the romantics. When you have an electric grinder, you realise that you don't need to grind by hand. This is how I felt when I got my Baratza Encore.
A few weeks ago, I decided to upgrade from the Comandante as my daily driver to start using the Fellow Ode, a coffee grinder made specifically for filter coffee by Fellow Products. In this post, I'm going to chat about my experience using that grinder.
The coffee quality
The most important factor in a coffee grinder for me is the quality of the coffee that comes out. Is there a harshness to the coffee ground with the grinder? Do I feel like there are flavours missing from the coffee (i.e. the coffee is too sour or too bitter, hiding some of the true flavours I would otherwise taste)?
Coming from a Comandante grinder, the bar was set high for the quality of coffee from a grinder. After testing the Fellow Ode every day for the last few weeks, I can comfortably say the Fellow produces an excellent brew. I'm not going to compare the Fellow to the Comandante. Both are amazing. But, I would say the coffee I have made using grounds from the Fellow Ode has a sweeter, almost silkier quality than the Comandante. It's a fine line though.
The grind range
The Fellow Ode does not have the best grind range in the world. I knew this before I even got the grinder. I had read and heard online that the best place to start grinding with the Ode is at the beginning of its grinding range. I started around the 2 mark on the grinder and from there found it easy to figure out an appropriate setting for the Aeropress.
After dialing in my Ode, I am sitting somewhere around the 2 mark for the Aeropress. I have never had any need to go past the 3 setting. Next time I brew a Chemex, I feel I will be around that area. However, there are 11 settings on the grinder (insert "dial it up to 11" joke here!). I am likely never going to use the settings above 4 or 5. I don't have much room on the grinder to dial in beacuse the low settings only account for a small portion of the grinder.
With that said, I have been able to find settings that work well for me. I don't feel like I am missing out on a better quality coffee as a result of the way in which the grind range is designed. I would prefer the grinder to go a bit finer but that's just me. For day to day use, the grind range is what I need for filter coffee.
I haven't tried to use the Ode for any other brewer yet, although I do soon plan to make a V60 with the Ode. My thoughts on grind range may evolve as I dial in for different brewers.
The Fellow Ode is a pleasure to have in the kitchen. The grinder looks great, with a sleek and modern design that fits well with the Fellow Products aesthetic. The grinder is heavy which I usually take as an indicator that something is "well built" (whether or not weight does correlate to "well built" is questionable, but this heuristic has been useful for me thus far). The grinder has a knocker you can use to get some of the grounds out of the grinder. The knocker doesn't stick out in any way. It fits in with the rest of the grinder.
The Fellow Ode is a fast grinder. I can grind 15 grams of coffee in only a few seconds. This is a great improvement over my Comandante with which I could only grind 15 grams of coffee in a minute or so. The time doesn't matter so much to me but I was astounded at how fast the Ode is. What's more is that the Ode automatically stops grinding when every bean is ground. This means I don't need to press a power off button to stop the grinder.
The Ode also has a magnetic grounds bucket that I absolutely love. Every time I need to put the grounds bucket back onto the grinder, I can do so without worrying whether the bucket is aligned well with the rest of the area through which the coffee shall fall during grinding. The bucket clicks into place. There is a magnetic tactlie cue that reinforces that the grounds bucket is in the right place.
My one big reservation about the grinder is that it is incredibly messy. While the knocker does help me get more coffee from the grinder into the grounds bin after grinding, there is almost always coffee left that falls into the bottom of the grinder after I remove the grounds tray. This coffee tends to build up both on and around the grinder. I need to brush the grinder regularly to ensure that I don't end up with too much coffee on or around the grinder. This is a small detail but is something I think about often. If I were to suggest one improvement to this grinder, it would be to make it less messy.
It has been a while since I have spoken about a coffee product on this blog. The Ode has been a pleasure to use so I thought I would take some time to write down my thoughts about it. As a daily driver, the Ode is amazing. It's a heavy machine capable of producing an excellent quality of ground coffee. The Ode looks great, feels great to use, and has many subtle features like the magnetic grounds bucket and the knocker that make the grinder an even greater pleasure to operate as my daily driver.
Do you have an Ode? Are you thinking about getting an Ode and have a question about my experience that I have not answered in this blog post? Do let me know by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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