If you’re ready to buy a grinder with a design goal that is simply, ‘it grinds things really freaking well’ you’re reading the right list. I won’t call these designs ‘no compromise’ since workflow, cost, and size can all be issues.
This guide is non-exhaustive and isn’t designed to make a specific recommendation. It’s a simple list of pros and cons that you can use to make a semi informed decision.
This list is intended to be used as a resource for home users, so full commercial machines, like Mahlkönig EK43 and Mazzer Robur, aren’t included.
I won’t list any of the commercial hopper based grinders that might traditionally think of as an espresso grinder; I can’t think of one that makes sense for the home and is a modern titan. Instead, I’ll point out that the Versalab M4, Titus Titus, and a Titus mod to the EK43 can all be outfitted with a volume based single dosing slide hopper. Basically a hopper slides over the opening to the throat, drops a load of beans in, and slides back into the storage position. These are reasonably accurate and keep partially ground doses from chilling in the burrs.
Most users that step up to a Titan want to single dose for a few reasons. I’ll cover briefly here to help you know whether you should look at a slide hopper, a step down, or a true single doser.
- Retention and exchange
- These are generally not worth paying extra for, since a grinder that has even a couple grams of retention and costs less can just be sorted by purging. Saving a thousand dollars makes room for a lot of purging.
- Small footprint
- Most single dosers are a little on the compact size, which is nice if you’re short on space.
- Ease of swapping
- I change beans multiple times every day. I sometimes make large changes in grind size and want to be able to return repeatably to my original size. Few grinders do this well, and I think it is worth paying for if you’re not willing to have multiple grinders.
Less fussy and seem to work well for a lot of different coffee types. Prep does not need to be quite as meticulous
A little fussy and requires a bit more prep skill. Seem to work best for medium and darker coffees.
A right pain in the ass, especially as they get bigger. Expect to develop new prep skills especially for the coffees these work best with; ultralight through medium.
- HG1 and HG1-Prime
- Now offered by two companies, Weber Workshops and Craig Lyn, respectively. Used to be Lyn Weber. Well sorted examples are great, the value is good, and the HG1 non-prime can be upgraded to motor drive with a WUG2 kit. Runs the big 3 phase robur burr.
- HG2 and Key
- Updated HG1 from Weber Workshops. Adds a gearbox or a motor setup to make life easier when grinding harder beans. Key includes some quality of life upgrades that may or may not work well.
- WUG2 FAI and DAI
- In house conicals in the single and three phase robur size. Reports indicate they work well as should be expected.
- Kafatek Monolith Conical
- An excellent value pick for this list. Conical burrs, not the most available. Single phase Mazzer Robur burr. MC4 version has a prebreaking burr for better grind quality. RDT and WDT required, but static reduces after break in. A puffer is a must.
These grinders are available with a wide variety of burrs for espresso and filter.
- Levercraft Ultra
- Another excellent value grinder. Uses a stepper motor and separate controller. Size and shape of the control units are polarizing for some users. 98mm burrs and offered in any SSP burr in that size, so HU, LU, Ultra Low, and Cast. RDT and WDT required. Can be used without a puffer since it can spin up crazy fast, but most users keep one anyway. Seems to be experiencing some protracted production issues.
- Kafatek Monolith Flat
- Probably the end of the value class. Burr options vary and can’t be covered exhaustively here. 74mm Mythos sized burr and has been delivered in OEM Mythos, SSP HU, Kafatek Shuriken MD (medium/dark), LM (light/medium), and SW (sweet, for lights). RDT and WDT absolutely required and a puffer is needed to clear the chamber.
- Kafatek Monolith Flat Max
- The big version of the flat. Integrated motor controller and 98mm burrs. Older version came in SSP LU with new grinders shipping with Shuriken MD, LM, or SW. Same regular flat burr annoyance.
- Titus Nautilus
- An EK43 redesign with an external motor, clever burr and carrier mounts, no augur, and excellent alignment. Probably the best choice for euros given import costs. Available with any SSP burr in 98mm - HU, LU, Ultra Low, and Cast. Likely available with a dosing hopper, but you’d have to ask Frank (owner of Titus). The power box is also a questionable design choice.
- Well designed adjustment mechanism and readily available. One of the only home titans you can buy right now without a major delay. It’s a high quality unit but occasional reports of difficult customer service and annoying workflow persist. Not really designed to add a puffer, and has 80mm burrs. The CORE burr is an SSP traditional espresso burr to my eye and the ULTRA appears to be very similar in style to a 98mm HU burr. I consider this a bit overpriced but appreciate the availability.
- Lagom P100
- A 98mm take from the people that brought us the Lagom P64 (another good option for the home.) It appears to perform well without RDT, has an excellent chute design, and runs SSP HU burrs by default. Alternative burrs may be available by asking.
- I swore I wouldn’t do this but my philosophy remains unchanged; the best titan is the one you can get. You can buy an EK and get it this week, though you may have some work to do to get ideal grinding and single dosing performance. Sounds like a woodchipper starting up and is as big as a house, but you’re not waiting months for it either.
I only recommend the DRM based grinders if you insist on having a hopper or love the bimodal flat burr design with a super easy workflow.
- Versalab M4
- I probably wouldn’t bother with an older version but the M4 sounds amazing. Dosing can be added, the belt drive is fixed, and the system still produces pretty fuss free workflow. The DRM burrset is a high performer and wdt/rdt don’t need as much thought given. It is challenging to align. Placed as more expensive than the EG-1 because I can’t understand why most people would buy it without the hopper. I don’t care for the standard loading system and the lid, but it’s a monster for making a ton of very high quality drinks loaded out with the hopper.
- The baddest Versalab style grinder on the market, and a price to match. Starts at 6k euros and I’ve seen used models about 12k. All the benefits of the M4 with slightly more robust design, tighter tolerances, better alignment, and Frank’s custom flair.