The DF64 popped up at the beginning of 2021 and quickly became one of the most popular coffee grinders on the market. It catered to a trending demand for a single-dosing, low-retention, multi-purpose grinder. Before its release, the Niche Zero was one of the few coffee grinders in this category available (or should we say unavailable).
However, the original DF64 model was in many ways a work in progress, plagued by various problems- static issues, a declumper that didn’t work, a budget build, and cheap accessories. To rectify these shortcomings, the manufacturer released multiple updates, eventually returning with the all-new DF64 Gen 2. So let’s explore the DF64 Gen 2 and see if it addresses the numerous flaws of its predecessor and finally lives up to its reputation as a potential “Niche Killer.”
DF64 Gen 2 Grinder
The DF64 grinder has finally been redeemed with the release of the Gen 2 model. The DF64 has always been an attractive choice for those seeking an affordable multi-purpose grinder that performs well. With 64mm flat burrs, stepless grind adjustment, and low retention, the DF64 ticks all the boxes. The Gen 2 model introduces enhancements such as a plasma generator to reduce static, an anti-popcorning disc, and an overall more premium build. This single dose grinder delivers exceptional grind quality out-of-the-box without breaking the bank.
DF64 Gen 2 Review
About The Manufacturer
The DF64 is produced by an unknown Chinese company. To make things even more confusing, the coffee grinder goes by different names depending on where you are in the world. The DF64 is also known as the Solo, G-IOTA, or the Turin 64S4. These grinders are one and the same, just sold by different distributors in different countries. While the brand is unknown, this coffee grinder has been used by many coffee connoisseurs and is becoming a name to watch in the coffee industry.
The design of the DF64 Gen 2 coffee grinder is a significant improvement over the original model, which lacked finesse. It features a sturdy construction, weighing 15 lbs and measuring 10″ x 5.2″ x 12″, with a compact footprint that fits well on kitchen counters. The grinder is made from aluminum and has a sleek powder coat finish, replacing the previous vinyl wrap.
Many of the accessories have been upgraded to fit with the new modern aesthetic. The Gen 2 comes with an aluminum dosing cup (replacing the cheap plastic one), and a steel dosing ring. The portafilter forks now have a rubber coating for improved grip.
The grind size sticker on top of the grinder has been redesigned, although the font does still look a bit dated, and now comes with a metal dial indicator. There are 90 marked grind settings, and a stepless adjustment system so you can precisely dial in your grind size.
Since this is a single dose grinder, it forgoes a traditional hopper, instead opting for silicone bellows with a secure wooden lid to expel any remaining coffee grounds.
The on/off switch has been relocated to a more convenient position, on the side of the grinder, and is now white and unlit, fitting with the new design aesthetics.
It’s worth noting that the DF64 Gen 2 remains a noisy grinder, emitting a loud, high-pitched sound, particularly when grinding espresso.
As the durability of the DF64 Gen 2 hasn’t been extensively tested yet, we would recommend buying it from a reputable distributor such as Amazon or Turin Grinders, which can offer you support if you encounter any issues.
Burr and Motor Quality
The DF64 Gen 2 is equipped with 64mm flat burrs (hence the name). These commercial-sized burrs are a significant selling point, as they are not commonly found in grinders at this price point. The burr size means that coffee enthusiasts can switch the stock burrs out for better quality ones, which is the route most users inevitably take. The most common upgrade is to SSP burrs, which costs an extra couple of hundred dollars.
In the Gen 2 model, the stock burrs have been redesigned to match those in the DF64V grinder. Users can select between standard burrs or DLC (diamond-like coated) burrs, which last longer but cost more.
The stock burrs in the Gen 2 perform notably better than the original Italmill burrs for both espresso and filter coffee, producing a fluffy grind, with minimal clumping and a consistent particle size distribution. They deliver clean and consistent flavor profiles. Flat burr grinders also have better grind consistency than their conical burr counterparts.
These burrs are powered by a 250-watt motor that rotates at a high speed of 1400 rpm, a common feature among most flat burr grinders. While this powerful motor can handle different burr sets, it is hard to assess its long-term durability due to the recent release of the Gen 2 model.
Upgrading to SSP Burrs
As we mentioned above, many users are choosing to upgrade to SSP burrs which drastically enhances the grind quality. While this does require an additional few hundred dollars, it still comes in cheaper than many other grinders. SSP offers three different burr sets:
If you choose to go down this route, you will have to ensure the SSP burrs are aligned correctly, which can be a frustrating and time-consuming process… but worth it! It also pays to note that the noise level increases substantially if you change out the burrs.
Grind retention is a crucial consideration for a single dose grinder. Leftover grinds quickly go stale and sully your brew; additionally, grind retention can prevent you from getting an accurate dose for your brew. The DF64 has low grind retention, especially if you use the bellows to blow out any residual grinds.
DF64 Major Issues: Are They Fixed?
The original DF64 had an issue with regrinding, due to the declumping screen. Most espresso grinders have a declumping screen installed in the chute to break up clumps and reduce static. However, in the original DF64, this screen also hindered the flow of coffee down the chute, resulting in some of the coffee being reground and producing fines. These fines were more noticeable in coarser settings resulting in muddiness and lack of clarity.
Some users chose to mod the screen by cutting off part of the flap to reduce retention. Others installed declumping screens from grinders like the Mythos to mitigate this issue.
Gen 2- Redesigned declumping screen
The Gen 2 now features a redesigned declumper in the chute, which results in a lot lower grind retention, and better grind quality.
Not many of us can forget the videos of the original DF64 in action, with coffee grinds flying everywhere. This issue was caused by a design flaw with a large gap between the spout and the dosing cup, allowing particles to escape. Using the bellows further exacerbated the problem. It made the grinder very messy to use and was a particular problem at the coarser grind settings.
Users had to use the RDT method (using a light spray of water on the beans) to reduce static, and many also invested in 3D printed parts or aluminum funnels to reduce the gap between the chute and the dosing cup.
Gen 2- Plasma Generator
The new Gen 2 model incorporates a cutting-edge feature, a plasma generator (or ionizer) in the exit chute to drastically reduce the static. The difference is remarkable, with ground coffee falling smoothly out of the chute into the dosing cup. The grinds are easy to work with, and the static in the grind chute has been almost eliminated, so much so that many users find the bellows unnecessary, causing more mess than they are worth.
The other issue the original DF64 struggled with was popcorning. This is when the last few coffee beans in the bellows struggle to go down, leading to a reduction in grind consistency. This issue is common with single dose grinders as they don’t have the weight of beans in the hopper to facilitate the movement of beans through the burrs. There were a lot of mods developed to combat this issue.
Gen 2: Anti-popcorning Disc
The DF64 Gen 2 incorporates a metal anti-popcorning disc into the design. This sits on top of the grinder, almost acting like a hopper, and prevents the beans from bouncing during grinding. This disc improves both the grind consistency and reduces the grind time.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The DF64 is very simple to maintain. As mentioned above, the plasma generator has drastically improved the static issue, although there is still some mess especially at the coarser grind settings.
It is easy to access the burrs for a deep clean or to change them out. You simply remove the bellows and twist the grind setting dial as coarse as it goes. The upper burr then easily lifts off allowing you to brush or vacuum out the burrs.
The DF64 Gen 2 is perhaps the best value grinder out there. There simply is no other coffee grinder in this price range that can compete with the grind quality offered by the DF64. With the updates to the Gen 2 model, this grinder now performs well out of the box, without the need for extensive mods. This is a great grinder for coffee enthusiasts looking to grind for both espresso and filter coffee.
Alternatives To The DF64 Grinder
The Niche Zero has long been hailed as the main competitor of the DF64. It is packed with 63mm conical burrs by Mazzer and is a low retention, single dose grinder. Some users prefer conical burrs for espresso, which they say yields a deeper, richer brew. Conical burrs also have lower grind retention and run slower, making them quiet when in use. The Niche Zero is a stunning coffee grinder that is the whole package. It is simple to use and offers superb grind consistency. The downsides of the Niche are that it costs a fair bit more than the DF64 and is hard to get your hands on. While the original DF64 couldn’t quite compete with the Niche Zero, the DF64 Gen 2 well and truly does. If you are after a multi-purpose grinder, the Gen 2 offers better value for money.
Turin recently released the DF83 grinder, the DF64’s older brother. This grinder is superior in every way with 83mm flat burrs, a premium build, and extremely quick grinding speeds. It comes with the option of using the grinder with a hopper or as a single dose grinder. If you are considering investing in the DF64 it is worth taking a look at the DF83 before making up your mind.
Finally, another grinder in the DF lineup that is worth considering is the DF64V grinder. This grinder has several points of difference, the main being that it has a variable-speed motor, allowing you to adjust the RPM from 600 to 1800. The grinder features the same DLC 64mm flat burrs as the Gen 2 and has a sleek and compact design. The grinder is also a lot quieter when grinding. If you want the flexibility to play around with RPM then the DF64V is for you.
DF64 Gen 2- The Verdict
The DF64 Gen 2 is an excellent multi-purpose coffee grinder offering 64mm flat burrs, stepless adjustment, and extremely low retention, all at an unbeatable price point. The Gen 2 model finally addresses the many issues found in the earlier version, with a plasma generator, an anti-popcorning disc, better burrs, and a more refined design. The DF64 Gen 2 is now the complete package and well worth investing in.