I'm a "Weekend Barista" and make coffee for only myself on the weekends. Whether dialing in Espresso at home, Drip coffee in my camping tent, or French Press at my overtime office, I enjoy the sense of control during the making process and enter a meditation-like relaxation.
The grinder I used the most in the past was Comandante C40. Why not a cafe-grade big electric grinder? For me is a simple question, a manual grinder is a machine I can control. And like the Mazzer Robur S, it is completely beyond my control range. For this kind of large conical burrs electric grinder, I don't even dare to disassemble it. Just make 1-4 cups of espresso/pour-over/french-press on weekends, a manual grinder is enough, and if you are outdoors, manual machinery is more reliable than electronic equipment.
Having spent years immersed in coffee making, I embarked on a quest to create the perfect all-round hand grinder that surpasses anything I've used before, like the C40 and Kinu. I was lucky that I only encountered two challenges during the design process.
Challenge 1: Designing a burr for an all-round hand grinder. An all-round hand grinder with only one burr, needs to perfectly deal with Espresso, Drip, and Immersion brewing, and bring out the desired coffee aroma, taste, layers, and intensity. I only need to go one step further along the design ideas of C40 and KINU and design a better conical burr than C40 and KINU.
But during the design and testing process, I increased my respect for C40 and KINU, gradually realizing that they are difficult to surpass. The latter hand grinder is just an imitation of C40 and KINU. By the way, I personally think that the current top all-round hand grinder is the Mazzar Omega, its high-quality conical burr can easily express the flavor of coffee beans with light, medium, and dark roasts and different processing methods.
As a designer with little money, it is difficult to make a perfect all-round burr. Because in addition to the expensive molding and testing of new burrs, essentially different beans and coffee makers have different demands on the grinder. Only conical burrs made by manufacturers with strong capital and long-term research and development accumulation can balance various demands with high quality and solve all problems with one burr.
Solution 1: Toolbox design approach. I split the single all-round burr into multiple specialized burrs, each burr is only used to solve limited problems. By combining these specialized burrs, I created a grinding toolbox that could adapt to a variety of beans and coffee makers.
Challenge 2: Should all types of specialized burrs of hand grinders be conical burrs? I drew insights from commercial electric grinders used in cafes to find the answers. There are three types of electric grinders for commercial cafes: one is represented by Mahlkönig EK43 with flat burrs, the other is represented by Mazzer Robur S with conical burrs, and the other is represented by Fuji Royal R-220 with ghost burrs.
For traditional dark roast blended beans, a large conical burrs electric grinder is generally used. Conical burrs obtain granules with a broad particle size distribution, and have a tight structure of large, medium, and small granular powder layers. When extracted under high pressure, it can increase the strength of the coffee, which is very suitable for making espresso milk coffee.
Currently, popular light roast espresso beans and SOE beans, are generally with a large flat burr electric grinder. It can obtain a flaky coffee powder with uniform particle size. During high-pressure espresso extraction, it can accommodate the powder-liquid ratio to 1:3 without miscellaneous flavors, and can better obtain the flavor of the origin.
Many pour-over coffee shops, use ghost burr electric grinders to deal with Japanese-style dark roast beans. Because the extraction rate of dark roasted beans is much higher than that of light and medium roast beans, ghost burrs will produce uniform round granular coarse powder, which reduces the extraction rate and improves uniform extraction, reducing the precipitation of miscellaneous flavors. As for the hand drip of medium roast beans, using a conical burr can better obtain a layered sense of flavor. Using light roast beans pour-over brewing, with a flat burr grinder, can obtain a high degree of flavor recognition and cleanliness.
Solution 2: Put 3 types burrs all in the grinding toolbox. We honor the burrs that have been selected through long-term practice, and refit the flat/ghost/conical burrs into manual grinders powered by human hands.
Using flat burrs, I found that the curved shape of the burr pushes the beans for grinding even though no centrifugal force is generated by an electric motor; that's why flat burrs work well in hand grinders. Since hand grinding is slower, the speed difference at different points on the flat burr is insignificant. This allows me to design a longer straight-line grinding distance, producing more cuts to get a uniformly flaky and suitable fine powder. Our 49mm Orca flat burr, specifically designed, has a bimodal particle size distribution, making it perfect for SOE and light roast espresso beans.
The 49mm Orca ghost burrs we designed has fewer cuts and extrusions in the process of passing through the grinding path, and the particle size distribution is very concentrated, which is the key to obtaining uniform coarse powder. It is suitable for novices who lack the skills and experience to make Japanese-style dark roast beans pour-over, large-dose drip brewing (more than 20g in a single shot), and french press brewing.
Our 38mm Grizz conical burr design has a heptagonal shape and a short grinding channel. The heptagon helps distribute the beans evenly, avoiding build-up in a single track, which can lead to clogs and excess fine powder. The burr groove is nearly vertical, making the grinding path shorter and reducing grinding times. This helps minimize excess fine powder and creates a well-layered structure. It's perfect for advanced pour-over brewing and traditional dark roast espresso beans.
Ultimately, I put the flat and ghost burrs into the Orca, and the conical burrs into the Grizz grinder. Our burrs are sharp, and grinders are solid, have high-precision grinding adjustment, and all support tools-free quick disassembly. With Orca and Grizz, you can easily take them anywhere, process different beans, and make different coffee. The real world is always about trade-offs, I hope you can love Orca and Grizz and use them to unleash your unique brewing creativity. I hope you can love Orca and Grizz and use them to unleash your unique brewing creativity.