Having worked as a barista for so many years in specialty coffee shops, I got to meet a lot of people. I would field many, many questions about coffee. The conversation would always steer towards the BEST ways to make coffee at home.
The number one thing that makes the biggest difference, that many don’t consider, is the coffee grinder. For the majority of people, even those who love good coffee, they just don’t put much thought into it. Some don’t grind at home at all; they buy coffee that’s already ground. As soon as the bean is ground, it begins to suffer oxidation. The precious flavors and oil inside the beans are degraded the longer it is exposed to air. Using FRESHLY ground coffee will give you exceptional, full flavor that ground coffee bought from a store cannot even come close to.
Most people just want to find good quality beans and/or a fancy brewer and call it a day. With lower quality grinders, your beans are ground unevenly. There are particles of different sizes, getting extracted poorly at different rates.
A good grinder will make your grinds a uniform density, and give you the most even, superb flavor that your beans are capable of. If you have an espresso machine at home, using finely ground beans are imperative. Having very small, sand-like particles will let you extract the full flavor and oils. For a brief period, I was using a run-of-the-mill blade grinder. It caused the grind to be all over the board; some grinds were large chunks and some were powder-fine. My coffee just didn’t taste as good as I remembered it! After a few weeks I got my regular Luigi Mini grinder out of storage to my new home (I had moved) and then all the flavor was back.
For those of you who are serious about delicious coffee at home, the Mazzer Luigi Mini grinder is the best thing you can get for yourself. Mazzer is a top dog in fine espresso and coffee grinders. The company was founded by the Italian Luigi Mazzer in 1948 (don’t those Italians know their coffee?!) and specialized in the mechanics of coffee equipment. They make a wide assortment of espresso grinders with all kinds of features and sizes. You will still see them dominating the counters in most craft coffee shops, today.
I love my Mazzer (full model name: Mazzer Luigi Srl Mini Timer) because it is a powerhouse. It sits smaller than it’s larger commercial counterparts at about 18 inches, with a full sized hopper. Although it is larger than some home-grinders, it doesn’t take up that much counter space. It is HEAVY and built like a tank. I have had mine for about 7 years without any problems, but I got it USED. Yes, my grinder is in perfect shape with 7+ years of near daily home use, plus at least 8 years of heavy commercial use. Before that, its history is lost to me, but you can safely say it has been going strong for at least 15 years. Is there anything in your kitchen that you use daily, adore, and have had without issue for 15+ years?
The Luigi Mini is so easy to use. It uses flat burr grinders that are superior at providing an excellent, even grind. It works strong and FAST, as it grinds 20 grams of espresso in about 25 seconds. The grind can be adjusted to your preference with the twist of a lever, down to minute differences. Let’s say your espresso is pulling one or two seconds to fast; go back to your grinder dial, move it a mere millimeter to the right, and it will make your grind just slightly finer.
Having one, I’ve abused it and tried all kinds of grinds. I twisted the dial all the way to the coarser side to see just how coarse it gets (and to make a french press). If you own one though, it will almost certainly be because you are making espresso at home and need the best grinder for it.
This grinder makes it possible to get your coffee perfect- EVERY TIME. With the climate inside my house never changing much, I almost never have to adjust the grinder. If you do need to, it does so instantly and so easily.
This model has a doser. What is a doser? It is the stainless steel barrel that catches the freshly ground coffee. It has a little lever on its side that you pull to gently release the grinds into your portafilter evenly. Each time you pull the lever, it “doses” out a certain amount of coffee. I only make enough for a double espresso at home at a time. I grind my beans, stop the timer when there is enough, and just pull the lever several times until all the grinds are dispensed.
Some people prefer the grinder without the doser. In this case, the grinds would fall right into your portafilter. Most modern grinders come this way now.
The fact is that having a doser doesn’t matter in the big picture. The burrs themselves and how well they grind your coffee is the most important part of the machine. You will be able to eyeball how much coffee grinds you need or use a small scale to weigh them, anyway.
I have used all kinds of Mazzer espresso grinders with and without dosers in commercial settings, and they both have good qualities. I don’t prefer one or the other, I love all Mazzer grinders for their unbeatable quality!
Parts and Repair
This machine will never let you down. With time and abuse, however, sometimes you need to sharpen or replace the burr grinders. This is easy, routine maintenance. The great thing about this grinder is that you can order parts by themselves for a low price, like hoppers and grinders.
Just check out the Mazzer grinding blade catalogue. Find your model and order online! You can find out how to replace them, or any maintenance for these machines on Youtube.
There are also many local specialty coffee roasters and/or coffee maintenance companies who offer these specific services near you.
Did I say my grinder is over 15 years old, and I’ve never had to do more than brushing and wiping out the old grinds?