Posted by Fish Boy
My Solis grinder finally broke beyond repair this weekend, it's always been a bit inconsistent but it's 10 years old. (the $150.00 model) I make two shots of espresso a day and need to be able to grind coarser for paper filter and drip. Any suggestions in the $200 dollar range?
Baratza Virtuoso, $200, from lots of good retailers.
It's as good as you can get for the price, but in the greater scheme isn't particularly good. Grinding for filter and drip isn't a huge challenge, but to grind espresso well is very expensive. The Virtuoso has 40 "steps," about 5 of which are anywhere near acceptable for espresso. 5 steps doesn't allow much fine control, and fine control is the name of the game. Grind, dose, brew temp, brew time and brew ratio are the most important parameters for consistent, quality espresso. Fail to control and adjust those as needs be, and a good cup is pure luck.
Grind and dose are the most sensitive, and grind is the one you adjust most frequently as your beans change with age and as the weather changes too. For the others, close is good enough.
At $300, the Baratza Virtuoso Precisio is much better than the Virtuoso -- especially for someone who does a lot of grind changing. As an espresso grinder, it's adequate for Silvia but by no means overkill; and well worth stretching your budget to get it.
PS. For some reason, a lot of people want to know your rig: La Cimbali M21 Junior Casa; La Cimbali Max Hybrid with Gralab 451 Timer; HotTop KN-8828P-2; 1 gram scale, 0.1 gram scale, Concept Art tampers, other tampers, Strada baskets, other assorted tweaks and money wasters.
PPS. Silvia is not an easy mistress, ten years is a long time to live with her. As someone who spent more than 20 years with Livia (Pasquini Livia 90), not nearly as demanding or inconsistent a machine, I don't know whether congratulations or condolences are in order.
If you're thinking of upgrading your machine, and there are many out there better than Silvia, you'll probably want more grinder than the Precisio. If you can afford it, it's easier to buy everything together. If you can't, buy the grinder first.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/2/11 at 7:31pm