There has been a lot of hype surrounding the release of the Fellow Ode grinder in 2020. The idea was first launched on Kickstarter and they met their goal of $200 000 in just 94 minutes! This is a grinder that the coffee world has been waiting for. Aimed at manual brewing methods, this grinder is packed full of features. It has professional grade 64mm flat burrs, single dose loading, an auto stop function, and a stunning design! So how does the Fellow Ode stack up?
The Fellow Ode grinder is a stunning grinder that is aimed at manual brewing methods. It is packed full of features with 64mm flat burrs, single dose loading, an auto stop function, a tiny footprint, and quick and quiet grinding. However some have found it has a narrow range of grind settings and can not grind fine enough for certain light roasts.
Fellow Ode Grinder Review
The Fellow Ode is simply a stunning grinder with the typical Fellow aesthetics. It is impressively compact measuring only 4.25” wide by 9.5” deep by 9.5” tall. You will have no problem fitting this on your bench. This does however come at the cost of a bean hopper – the Fellow Ode has been designed to be a single dose grinder and as such only holds 80g of beans.
Fellow have included several thoughtful features into their design. These include a magnetically aligned catch bin which easily snaps into place, fins on the bin to aid in pouring the ground coffee smoothly, and a knocker to knock excess grinds from the shoot. The Fellow Ode really is a beautifully designed grinder.
They have also included a grind guide on the inside of the lid with recommended grind settings for the various brew methods. However, some experts have thought these recommendations aren’t all that accurate, particularly if you are using light roasted coffee.
Ease of Use
The Fellow Ode is remarkably easy to use. It has an on/off switch and a large stepped dial on the front with 31 grind settings ranging from fine(ish) to coarse. Grinding is as simple as weighing out your beans, selecting your desired grind setting on the dial and pushing the start button. One of the features we love about the Fellow Ode is that it has an auto-stop function. This is where it detects when there is no more resistance in the burrs and automatically turns the grinder off. Once you have finished grinding you can use the knocker to knock any remaining grounds out of the shute.
We should also mention that this grinder is very fast, due to the large 64mm burrs. It is relatively quiet when in use, especially when compared to other grinders in the same price range. So you won’t wake the whole household with your morning brew.
While the Fellow Ode is pretty simple to use, it is unfortunately a bit messy. Like a lot of grinders at this price point it is prone to static, meaning you get chaff stuck in the catch bin and falling out of the shute. This hack from James Hoffman can help reduce the static, but it won’t eliminate it completely. The other frustrating thing is the catch bin, which has fins that are supposed to aid in pouring the ground coffee without spilling any, also retains a lot of grinds, as they get stuck on the fins themselves. Fellow is working on a new catch bin to minimize the mess and is aiming to release it by the end of 2021.
As we stated earlier, the Fellow Ode is designed for manual brewing methods- and it does an excellent job at what it is designed to do. It is not designed for Espresso and so does not grind fine enough for that. The Fellow Ode is equipped with 64mm flat burrs, so it grinds coffee both uniformly and quickly (as a reference 64mm burrs are commonly found in entry level commercial grinders). It has a feedback controlled PID motor that ensures the grinder goes at a consistent 1400 RPM, with no fluctuations, to produce an even grind. This yields excellent grind quality (especially at this price point) with not a lot of fines or boulders.
Despite the grind quality, some experts have criticised the narrow range of grind settings. With only 31 grind settings, (and a large proportion of these being for more coarse grinds which aren’t commonly used unless you are brewing cold brew) the Fellow Ode struggles to grind fine enough for lighter roasted coffees. The limited number of grind settings comes down to the choice of burrs- Fellow have opted for interlocking flat burrs which means there is a limit on how fine the burrs can grind before they touch. Some users have chosen to switch out the burrs for regular flat burrs however this is an extra $185 so is hardly worth it. Fellow is working on a new set of burrs that are able to grind finer than the stock burrs, however there is no date when these will be released yet.
When it comes to coffee retention, the Fellow Ode is pretty good. The main issue, as stated above, is static. The static causes ground coffee to get stuck in the chute and grinds bin and the grinds knocker isn’t very effective in getting it out. Adding a drop of water to your whole beans can remove a lot of this, reducing the coffee retention.
The Fellow Ode is well made and although it hasn’t yet stood the test of time, Fellow has a reputation for producing high quality products. The stainless steel burrs are good quality and built to last. The grinder is also very easy to open up for cleaning and repairs.
While some may baulk at paying $299 for an entry level grinder, we think that the Fellow Ode is excellent value. Given the quality and design of the grinder, the features and high quality burrs you would be hard pressed to find something of comparable quality for cheaper.
What are the Alternatives?
The Baratza Encore is another grinder that is excellent for manual brew methods. For the price point it really cannot be beaten in the market at the present. It comes with 40 grind settings covering fine to coarse, has superb grind consistency, and is known to be a packhorse that deals well with heavy use. While it is a lot more affordable, it lacks the features and refinement of the Fellow Ode. See our in depth review here.
The Baratza Vario is a high quality flat burr grinder for the home coffee enthusiast. It’s strengths include its 54mm Mahlkönig burrs, single dosing, an impressive 230 grind settings, and its reputation for longevity. This is a grinder not for the beginner, but instead for the coffee lover seeking a high level of grind consistency. The Vario is an all purpose coffee grinder which is designed to grind for both espresso and filter. See our in depth review here.
Who is the Fellow Ode for?
There is a lot to like about the Fellow Ode. It is beautifully designed, compact and can produce fantastic tasting coffee with unmatched clarity. It has a wide array of impressive features from professional-grade 64mm flat burrs, single dose loading, an auto stop function and quick and quiet grinding. However there is the question hanging in the background; does it grind fine enough? If you are wanting to brew pour over with lighter roasted coffee you may struggle.
So at this stage we would recommend this grinder for those wanting to brew with manual methods, who love dark roasted coffee. While it does have a couple of frustrations, these will be ironed out in the next few years and then we anticipate the Fellow Ode will be a go-to grinder so watch this space!
The Final Verdict
The Fellow Ode was probably the most anticipated grinder of 2020, so did it live up to the hype? We would say yes (in fact it even won an SCA best new product award)! It is a beautifully designed grinder that should definitely be a contender if you are looking for a grinder for manual brewing methods.