What kind of coffee grinder do you use everyday? Unless you are a pretty experienced coffee enthusiast already, chances are you use a hand grinder. Hand grinders are relatively cheap compared to electric grinders which produce the same quality of grinds and they are very compact saving you some space.
Maybe you are thinking about upgrading your grinder. You might have some issues with the current one, or maybe you are just getting a little bit tired of it and want to switch things around. I was in that position a few months ago and my question was, would getting a better grinder change anything? If so, by how much? Would it be worth the extra money?
So today I would like to compare my two grinders and give you my opinion on how these two differ. The first grinder is the HARIO Ceramic Slim, an entry level model for which I got for around 20 USD. And the second is the TIMEMORE SLIM PLUS, a relatively premium model available for around 120 USD.
HARIO Ceramic Slim
The HARIO Ceramic Slim hand grinder is a very popular model for beginners to coffee brewing. Its original price is around 30 USD, but now you can usually get it for around 20 USD (in Japan).
This is the first grinder I got and it has been a key part of my coffee life. It is sturdy and it grinds beans with out any problems. It’s pretty amazing that you can get such a capable grinder for only 20 USD.
TIMEMORE SLIM PLUS
The second grinder I bought was the TIMEMORE SLIM PLUS. It costs far more than the Ceramic Slim, at around 120 USD. It is one that is categorized in the premium hand grinder group, but it is no where near the most expensive grinders.
For a detailed review of the SLIM PLUS, please check this post.
I am going to compare these two grinders in this post, and will be writing about how the SLIM PLUS is better than the Ceramic Slim, but please remember the price difference. The SLIM PLUS is about 6 times the price! It better be far superior.
The Build and Feel
Let’s start with how it looks. The Ceramic Slim is made of plastic and the SLIM PLUS is fully machined out of aluminum.
The Ceramic Slim’s plastic is of quite good quality, so if you look at it alone it really doesn’t look too bad or cheap. The curved form is nice as well, in my opinion. But if you place the two grinders side-by-side, there is no denying which is better. The aluminum and the surface texture of the SLIM PLUS is just looks far cooler.
The weights of the grinders are significantly different as well. The Ceramic Slim weighs in at around 240g, where as the SLIM PLUS is around 435g. Size-wise the Ceramic Slim is larger, but it is far lighter. The heft and density of the SLIM PLUS make it feel more substantial. Of course, there is a benefit to being lighter, like when you travel with it. So in these cases you may want to choose the Ceramic Slim. But then it is also larger so maybe not…
The capacity of the hopper is quite a bit bigger for the Ceramic Slim due to its size. You can fit about 35g of beans in it. But as it says in the official specs, the recommended capacity is 24g. This is because the grinds catch is slightly smaller.
The SLIM PLUS will fit about 20g worth of beans. The grinds catch for this grinder is matched to the hopper so 20g of grinds will comfortably fit in the grinds catch.
Here I have to give a point to the Ceramic Slim for the ease of loading the beans. It has a much wider hopper and I have never had issues with beans falling out. The SLIM PLUS isn’t necessarily bad, but I have had beans bounce out occasionally.
Next we will take a closer look at the burrs, which is probably the most important component of a grinder.
The burrs of the Ceramic Slim are made of ceramic, hence its name. On the other hand the SLIM PLUS uses stainless steel burrs. These metallic burrs are pretty much a defining characteristic of premium grinders, and it makes a world of difference.
As you can see in even in the picture, the sharpness of the burrs are not even close. Ceramic burrs sort of crush the beans, but metal burrs cut.
Obviously, the other side of the burrs are made of the same material.
The part that bothered me the most when using the Ceramic Slim was how this outer burr was held in the grinder. It really isn’t held in place at all. I has groves which prevent it from rotating, but there is nothing stopping it from falling. The gap between the two burrs are what control the grind. Having this loose burr makes you loose confidence in the control you have of the grind size.
To give the Ceramic Slim the benefit of the doubt, the outer burr may be pushed up by having the beans fed through. But I wasn’t convinced. I often got grinds stuck above the outer burr which suggests that the burrs were closer together than what I intended. I thinks this is a fatal flaw in the Ceramic Slim’s design.
Looking at the SLIM PLUS, the outer burr is secured in place very nicely. (actually I don’t know if you can move it even if you wanted to) This gave me far more confidence in the grind size adjustments.
OK, it’s time to grind beans with them.
When you hold the Ceramic Slim, your hand is like this. It’s better to hold closer to the top of the grinder to rotate the handle stably. But because of its curved shape, the top of the grinder is quite wide and is difficult to grip. (To be fair, I do have pretty small hands)
In comparison, the SLIM PLUS is far easier to grip. It has a slimmer body and it has a bend in the handle arm which make is much easier to rotate as well.
I adjusted both grinders to produce about the same size of grinds (forgive me that this may not be the most exact adjustment, I did try my best). I threw in 10g of beans, and measured how long both grinders took to grind.
|Ceramic Slim||SLIM PLUS|
|adjustment clicks||8 clicks||17 clicks|
It is not even close. The SLIM PLUS is by far the faster grinder. Also as a grind feel, the SLIM PLUS seems to require less strength. I think it’s thanks to the sharper burrs and slimmer body.
I feel that this speed alone is more than enough to justify its cost.
Lets take a look at the grounds
The grinds stick to the burr and walls of the grinds catch for the Ceramic Slim.
But once you give it a quick shake, the majority of the grounds settle nicely.
The static situation for the SLIM PLUS is pretty similar.
Give it a quick shake, and it’s fine.
Brewing Coffee with the Grounds
I used the ground beans to brew some coffee.
I used the HARIO Switch dripper as an immersion brewer for the test. Please check out this brew guide it you are interested in the method.
Once the water is poured in, they looked like this.
I couldn’t tell a difference at this point.
Then after extraction the grounds left in the paper filer looks like this.
What I want you to focus on is the fines (which kind of look muddy) at the edge of the coffee bed for the Ceramic Slim brew. For the SLIM PLUS you cant really see this.
There are fines stuck on the paper for both brews but if you compare them, I think you can clearly see that the Ceramic Slim has more fines.
Its evident that the sharper burrs and the burr stability of the SLIM PLUS results in much less fines.
How does the coffee taste?
The two brews look identical.
To be very honest, they don’t taste very different. I used the same beans and the same grind setting, brew method, and everything, so that is to be expected. But I could taste a difference. The Ceramic Slim cup tasted a bit edgy and sharp.
I am not too confident in my tasting abilities, so I put some tape on the bottom of one cup and shuffled the cups around to do a blind taste test.
And to my surprise (haha), I could confidently identify which cup was which.
I believe that the SLIM PLUS tasted better, but I might be biased there. But the fact is that the cups tasted different enough to be identifiable.
Having said all this, I did not realize the difference the grinders made in the taste until I tried this side-by-side comparison. So again, it’s not a huge difference, but it’s surely there. May be some of you with more sensitive tastes will be able to tell without comparing them.
So as I mentioned in the beginning, these two grinders’ costs are very different. It’s obvious that the SLIM PLUS would be better. The question is, how much better? and does it make up for the extra cost?
From the comparison, it’s in deniable that the SLIM PLUS is built better. The SLIM PLUS is at a level of quality that will give you satisfaction just by owning it. The Ceramic Slim is a good grinder but I cannot say the same about it.
The grinder does make a difference in the taste of the coffee, but unless you have a very acute sense of taste, this may not be enough to justify the cost (at least for me, this is the case). If you are expecting a grinder upgrade to drastically change the taste, you might be disappointed.
But the speed of the grinder, and the joy of grinding has a clear difference. I think that this aspect really justifies the extra cost.