In the last few years I have noticed a rather exciting trend which is that it is becoming more and more common for people to grind their own beans. Growing up no doubt there were the odd exceptions but I can’t remember knowing a single person who ground their own beans in a home set up.
And the reason that this is an exciting trend is that grinding your own beans is often the first step towards the world of specialty coffee. However, taking the step from deciding to grind your own beans to actually investing in a burr grinder is more complicated than you might think. Which one should you go for? How much should you spend? What should you be looking for? What are the green lights and what are the red flags?
Especially if you are just dipping your toes into the world of coffee brewing for the first time this can be a daunting process. Which is why we are excited to introduce you to the Bodum Bistro. The Bodum Bistro coffee grinder is a basic entry-level burr grinder which is a great option for those just beginning their coffee journey.
Bodum is a well respected brand that has made a name for itself by producing high-quality, affordable coffee and tea products. They are perhaps best known for their popular and iconic range of french presses. The company is a family run business that was originally founded in Denmark but is now run out of Switzerland.
Bodum Bistro Grinder Review
The Bodum Bistro grinder is a sleek-looking grinder available in 5 different colours. It has a modern, minimalist design and is a small, lightweight machine. This means it doesn’t take up much room on a bench and can easily be stored away when not in use. The grinder has a plastic hopper with a capacity of 7.8oz. Unfortunately, the hopper is made out of clear plastic and so exposes the beans to light. It is also not air-tight. However, we recommend not storing your coffee beans in the hopper anyway so this is only a minor negative. The grinder comes with an 11oz borosilicate glass container to catch and store the ground coffee in. This helps prevent spillage and leaves your bench tidy after grinding.
Ease of Use
The Bodum Bistro is a very user friendly machine with an intuitive design. It has an on/off power button that lights up when the power is on. The grind size is easily adjusted by turning the bean hopper. The bean hopper also has icons for suggested grind settings for Espresso, Pour Over and French Press. These make life easy especially when you are just learning about the dialing in process.
The Bistro also has a dial to set the grinding time for up to 20 seconds. When you are ready to grind you simply press the start/stop button and wait until the time runs out or you can stop it manually by pressing the start/stop button again. While this sounds good in theory it can prove to be a royal pain if you are ever wanting to grind large amounts of beans at a time. The reason for this is that the time dial cannot exceed 20s and so if your amount of beans would take longer it will stop at 20s and then Bodum recommends that you wait 5 minutes before grinding again.
It is also worth noting that as per most burr grinders you are also unable to remove the bean hopper without all the beans falling through the bottom. So if you are wanting to change beans you either have to grind them all through or tip the whole grinder upside down to empty it.
This is the single most important consideration when you are buying a coffee grinder. There are basically two things to consider in any burr grinder; the amount of grind settings and the grind consistency.
The general rule of thumb is that more grind settings is better as it means a greater ability to play with grind sizes especially if you will be using the grinder across multiple brew methods. The Bodum Bistro has 12 grind settings which is certainly on the smaller side but equally is adequate for a beginner brewing set up. Also while it does have an icon for espresso we would strongly recommend against using this grinder for espresso. If you are looking for an entry-level espresso grinder then we would recommend the Breville Smart Grinder Pro.
In general the Bodum Bistro is known to perform better for coarse grinds such as would be used for French Press or Cold Brew for instance. In terms of grind consistency it is a matter of perspective of course. Does it compare to a $500-600 grinder? No of course not, but you wouldn’t expect it to. Instead it basically performs as you might expect, as a decent and reliable entry level burr grinder. This grinder in particular would pair well with a French Press, Aeropress, or Pour Over.
The stainless steel burrs on this grinder are pretty good quality and seem built to last. However the mechanical parts are not of the highest quality. The design itself also has a lot of plastic in it, which some have reported to crack.
Bodum boasts that their grinder comes with a built in friction clutch to protect the machine. This basically means that if any stones get into the burrs the grinder makes a loud rattling noise so you can turn the machine off and remove the stones. While this is a handy feature we can’t say we have ever found any stones in our coffee beans…
The bodum grinder is an affordable, entry-level model. It comes in at a good price point considering it is a burr grinder rather than (shudder!) blade. However, as with most things in life you get what you pay for. So if you are looking for a top of the line machine then this is probably not for you. But overall it is good value for money.
Who is the Bodum grinder for?
So who is the Bodum grinder for? We would recommend it for the person just getting into coffee and not sure yet if coffee is their thing or how much they want to invest. This grinder is without a shadow of a doubt a significant step up from either a blade grinder or using pre-ground beans. It is easy to use and a great way to dabble in the joys and aroma of grinding your own beans.
It can also grind fairly well especially for coarser grind settings such as french press or pour over. And the truth is that if you do get into coffee you will probably end up upgrading your gear over time anyway, so the risk of making a mistake is likely less than you think.
As a caveat, however, we would not recommend the Bodum grinder for an experienced home barista. It is an entry level grinder and especially with the small grind range it will be limiting for those who know their way around coffee brewing.
Alternatives to the Bodum Bistro Grinder
The Capresso is a great option for someone looking for a grinder at a similar price but with the ability to grind more consistently. The Capresso doesn’t have the same aesthetic appeal as the Bodum. However, it is a decent quality grinder that will last. It has 40mm stainless steel burrs, 420 RPM and 16 different grind settings.
The Baratza Encore is our top pick for the best entry level grinder. It is a tried and true grinder that has been around for 8 years now. Baratza are a company that knows their way around burr grinders and the encore is in many ways the go to grinder for manual brewing methods (which is a fancy way of saying everything but espresso). It has 40mm alloy steel conical burrs, 450 RPM and an impressive 40 grind settings. This grinder is a compact, durable grinder, great for manual brewing. It is more expensive than the Bodum Bistro but is worth every penny.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is a grinder for the techy brewer. It has a sleek, stainless steel design that will grace any benchtop. The grinder comes fitted with 40mm stainless steel burrs, 450 RPM, and has 60 grind settings. Perhaps the main point of difference with the smart grinder is the Precision Electronic Timer that allows you to adjust the grind time in 0.2 second increments to achieve the perfect dose. It also has an easy to use LCD screen showing grind setting, grind time and the number of shots selected.
Porlex Mini– Manual option
The Porlex Mini is a great option if you are looking for a good quality grinder on a budget. Generally you can get a lot better quality grinder for cheaper if you opt for a manual grinder. The Porlex Mini has ceramic conical burrs and 12 different grind settings. It is a well built manual grinder that has very good grind consistency. If you are looking for an affordable, portable, good quality grinder we recommend the Porlex Mini. You can see our extended review of the Porlex here.
So what is the take home? Well it really depends on what you are looking for. If you do have the money to spare we think it probably is worth forking out the cash and going for something like the Baratza Encore. The more you dabble in the world of coffee the more you will see grinder quality is pretty key.
However, if understandably you are unsure if you want to spend the money to get an Encore then the Bistro is still a great way to test the world of coffee grinding. It is still a burr grinder and will give you a feel for the joys and challenges of grinding your own beans. It can also still make some pretty tasty brews 🙂
Grinder Buying Guide
Blade Vs Burr Grinders
Blade grinders work in a way similar to blenders; they have a blade that whizzes around and chops up the coffee beans. These grinders are generally the cheapest on the market. However we would never recommend them as they result in a very inconsistent grind which basically equals horrid tasting coffee.
Burr grinders on the other hand crush the coffee beans between two revolving ceramic or metal rings leading to a far more uniform grind. There are two different types of burr grinders; flat and conical. Flat Burrs tend to be found in more expensive high end grinders, while conical burrs are more common in entry level machines.
All burr grinders will also have an RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) speed. The higher the RPM the more consistent the grind which is good, but also the more potential for heat which is bad. Flat plate burrs however are able to deal with higher RPMs. So flat burrs tend to have higher RPMs while conical burrs tend to be lower.
Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Burrs
When it comes to burrs they either come in ceramic or stainless steel. Ceramic Burrs are stronger and last a lot longer than Stainless Steel burrs, they also retain their sharpness almost indefinitely. Ceramic burrs are particularly good if you are looking at grinding espresso roasts.
Grinders with ceramic burrs generally cost a bit more up front but they last a lot longer.
However stainless steel burrs are probably more popular and still can do an excellent job. Stainless steel burrs generally start out a lot sharper than Ceramic burrs allowing more precision in grinding. However they do lose their sharpness a lot quicker than Ceramic burrs. Stainless steel burrs produce hardly any fines and are generally recommended if you are looking to brew pour over, french press or single origin coffees.
Electric vs Manual Grinders
Generally you can get a far better quality grinder if you opt for a manual grinder at the same price point. Manual grinders have far less parts that can break down and are generally very durable and most are portable. On the downside they do require a lot of arm work to grind the beans for a single brew. We would not recommend a manual grinder if you are looking to grind for espresso or if you are wanting to brew multiple drinks at a time.
Electric grinders are far more convenient to use, they grind beans for you at the push of a button. However, on the downside, they are a lot more noisy and expensive than manual grinders. They are also not as reliable as they have a lot more parts that can break down over time.