It goes without saying but when it comes to brewing a perfect shot of espresso, many different variables come into play. Whether it involves pressure manipulation, length of extraction, or simply what type of beans are being used, the art of experimentation has always been part of the fun.
Well, sort of.
For many first-time espresso machine buyers, all of these variables can be somewhat overwhelming when they are just looking to get their feet wet. Many people simply want to get a great machine and enjoy delicious lattes and cappuccinos from the comfort of their home without having to wait in line or interrupt an aspiring writer’s workplace (it’s a well-known fact that writing your screenplay at a coffee shop is the ONLY way it has any chance of being produced).
With so many things to consider, many first-time buyers are unaware of just how important a grinder is to producing those delicious drinks they are looking for. Out of all of the variables that exist out there, a solid grinder capable of working in tandem with an espresso machine is perhaps the most vital for high-quality espresso.
Two grinders that come up often as great fits for first-time buyers are the Baratza Sette 270 and the Eureka Mignon Specialita. Their price points make them palatable and the two grinders are often compared to one another because of this. Both grinders have a lot to offer but it’s always a good idea to weigh both the positives and negatives of each to find a grinder that best suits the user’s unique wish list.
Baratza Sette 270
Starting with the Baratza Sette 270, one of the most appealing aspects of it is its $399 price tag. Considering many home espresso grinders can sell at an excess of over $1000, first-time buyers find that price extremely approachable and easier to handle. The Sette 270 boasts almost zero retention simply because there is no place for any stale coffee to get stuck due to the grinder’s design. The Sette 270 also tends to grind very quickly compared to other grinders around its price point so if grinding speed is a primary concern for a user then it’s an excellent fit.
The Sette 270 is a stepped grinder however so it is reliant on the machine’s pre-set grind points compared to the stepless grinder like the Eureka Mignon Specialita is. In addition, the Sette 270 tends to be somewhat on the louder side and has a high degree of static which leads to the grinder being somewhat messy. This static is largely due to the greater number of plastic parts within the grinding chamber as well as the grinder’s body, as opposed to the Mignon’s aluminum frame and interior.
Eureka Mignon Specialita
As for the Eureka Mignon Specialita, one of the first things that people will comment on is how compact the grinder is. With the hopper attached the Mignon Specialita only measures in at 13.75” tall and 5” wide which makes it ideal for kitchens with lower cabinet clearance or have minimal countertop space. The Mignon Specialita grinds very quietly with a stepless wheel adjustment so there is total control over how fine or coarse a grind can be.
The build quality of the Mignon Specialita is top-notch It’s an incredibly sturdy grinder with commercial-grade components so it will tend to last a very long time with proper maintenance. The touchscreen dosing options (single, double, or manual) are very intuitive and simple to use so it's very easy to jump right into using a Mignon Specialita right out of the box! Eureka clearly spent a lot of time working on the aesthetics of the Mignon Specialita as well since the wide variety of available colors makes it easy to match with any espresso machine or kitchen decor.
However, the Mignon Specialita does have a few minor quirks that should be addressed. The adjustment wheel, while very easy to use, is also somewhat sensitive so you’ll have to make very minor adjustments otherwise you’ll see a drastic swing with your grind consistency. In addition, the Mignon Specialita does not come with a grounds tray so any excess coffee not deposited into the portafilter may end up on the countertop. Nothing that some inexpensive cleaning items, like the Pallo Grindminder Brush, couldn’t fix though!
Just like everything in the wacky world of espresso, the choice should come down to your own personal tastes.
If you’re looking for a beginner’s grinder that is fairly quick and has next to no retention then I would recommend checking out the Sette 270. It’ll most definitely handle a fine espresso grind while getting you used to the intricacies of preparing espresso.
If you’re looking for one of the best “bang for your buck” grinders on the market today that runs very quietly, provides excellent longevity, and is able to fit in just about any space, the Mignon Specialita would be your best choice. The Mignon Specialita’s large burrs, strong motor, and low retention make it a grinder that can grow with any espresso set up and a personal favorite of ours here at Chris’ Coffee.