The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Death to my espresso machine?

Have I been dealing death to my espresso machine by bad grinding? I love my Solis Crema 70 which has been doing a fine job for the past 5 or so years, but a while bad I noticed the flow was slow. I cleaned the machine. That improved things, but occassionally it still slowed. I ground more and more using my Krup blade grinder and that caused things to be worse instead of better. Next the Krup started gasping (not related to the Solis I think). The fine powered coffee had sifted into the power switch. I shook that loose a few times and it kept acting like it would work just a little more.
Today I decided to replace the Krup. There was a nice selection at Southern Season that included a new Krup model. I got a new Krup. When I opened the instructions, I learned that blade grinders are deemed not acceptable for pump espresso machines. Fine for drips and plungers, but no no espresso. Why? The fine powder clogs the wonderful crema pin point holes. Damn, that’s it I thought.
I went back and looked at burr grinders. They are much more expensive and giant. I’m not opening my own cafe with my lovely little two shots at a time Solis. I don’t need a 14 inch high, giant binned, industrial grinder — do I? I’m looking at alternatives now. Solis has a Maestro Plus that looks tempting but a bit steep. What’s a cheapskate coffee snob to do?

UPDATE: I went ahead and picked up a Bodum Antigua (as Badi suggested) tonight. My first cup of espresso out of the Solis Crema is the best I’ve had from that machine. Putting in store-ground espresso was good but this is better.


  1. Hey, I grind even finer than you – for Turkish coffee. A very small, hand-held grinder does a great job – had it for 10+ years. If I have guests over, though, I have to do it right, which means every guest spends a couple of minutes grinding coffee by hand in an old copper grinder. Now who is a snob?

  2. Paul

    1/22/2006 at 8:28 pm

    Where can I find such a grinder? I love Turkish style coffee too. I think I might want electric grinder too since I’m making coffee every morning at about 6:30 am.

  3. You mean the copper one? Southern Season may just have it – you never know. If not, I’ll see if it can be ordered online from one of those Yugo-nostalgic food sellers that my brother shops from.

  4. This one is 90 but looks bigger and better:

  5. I grind with a Krups Burr Grinder ($160AUS) but would love a Rocky $$$$.

  6. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the Turkish-style grinders at *cough* A.S.S.

    In terms of cheapskateitude vs. snobularity, if you amortize the cost of the grinder over the period it will last, and factor in the value of the increased pleasure you’d get from drinking “properly ground” coffee, I’d figure that if you really think of yourself as a coffee snob, you’d probably find it’s worth it to pay for the burr grinder. It’s roughly the same calculation one makes when one thinks about buying an Apple machine vs. a similarly-configured Wintel machine.

    Oh, and while we’re on this, frighten yourself with a trip to

  7. Paul,

    We have the Solis grinder at 3 CUPS if you’d like to stop by and take a look. In our opinion, the Bodum Antigua ($80) is the best burr grinder for the money… may be a little bigger, but it does a consistently good job at half the cost of a solis. Others like La Pavona, are small, but very messy, sending coffee dust everywhere.

  8. Paul

    1/23/2006 at 10:36 pm

    Are you guys selling grinders at 3 Cups or would I just see a Solis or a Bodum? I’ve been poking around and it does look like the Bodum is the best buy for cheapskates out there. There are folks out there on CoffeeGeek warning that it’s not for espresso tho. What’s your experience with the Bodum as an espresso grinder? Remember I putting the grounds in a Solis Crema.

  9. Thanks for the plug about my web site, It’s much better than when you plugged it in January. Anyway, this looks like an interesting blog. I bookmarked it. 😉


  10. Just stay away from Walgreen’s for your small appliance needs. At the current rate of cover-warp, my latest off-brand coffee maker will be an aromatherapy machine/letter-opener by next May. Coffee is the prima donna of the beverage world — I’m about to switch to the little pink Wake-Ups tablets I bought in Canada.

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