Well it really is a great time to be a coffee lover. Ever since the rise of the specialty coffee movement there has been a boom of interest in coffee and superb innovation and development in the quality of coffee gear.
And perhaps one of the places that this has shown most clearly is in the world of manual coffee grinders. There is now a wide range of what could be considered premium hand grinders with excellent burrs and grind consistency.
But the challenge of course becomes which one do you go for? How much should you spend? What should you look for in a manual coffee grinder?
Well in this article we want to hone in one manual coffee grinder that has long been associated with quality and excellence; the Orphan Espresso Lido 3.
Lido 3 Grinder Review
About Orphan Espresso
Orphan Espresso is a small American Company that is run out of rural Idaho and specializes in designing and producing hand grinders, espresso machine parts, and general coffee accessories. The Company is run by Doug and Barb Garrott and are especially known in the coffee world for their Lido series of hand grinders.
Orphan Espresso began with the titan Pharos grinder before moving to the Lido series which include the Lido 2, Lido 3, Lido E (for espresso), and Lido E-T. All of these grinders share the same basic size, shape, and grind adjustment mechanism. They have also recently released the Fixie Manual Coffee which is like a slimmed down version of the Lidos that is intentionally designed for travel.
The Lido 3 is an exceptionally well built manual coffee grinder. The body is a mix of BPA-free hardened plastic and metal. One of the first things that you will notice on picking this grinder up is that it just feels well-built and hefty rather than light and cheap. And it is not just vibes but the result of very intentional design choices as well as high quality build materials. The two word pictures that come to mind with the Lido 3 are either a monster truck or a tank. This is a grinder which is physically big but also incredibly hardy and durable.
The two places where the build quality shines through the most clearly is in the burr set and burr shaft. The burrs are 48mm steel burrs that are custom built by the Swiss manufacturer Etzinger. These are both very high quality and aggressive burrs that cut through beans with ease. The mix of the large physical size of the burrs (48mm is huge for a manual coffee grinder!) with the quality and sharpness of the steel makes for a very smooth and easy grinding process. The size of the burrs also facilitate a quicker grinding speed than many other grinders.
Similarly, the Lido 3 comes with two sets of ball bearings rather than one to ensure optimal shaft stability. If you know a bit about manual grinders then you will be aware that often excellent burr sets are let down by burr wobble which makes for an inconsistent grind size. However, the Lido 3 has excellent burr stability that effectively nullifies the threat of burr wobble.
Finally, it must be said that the amount of plastic in this premium grinder will be an offputer for some. Especially for the price you are paying and in comparison to some of its competition such as the comandante or the Kinu M47, there simply is a lot of plastic in this design. This does make it relatively durable but can feel less premium. So the aesthetics of this grinder will appeal to some but others will be put off.
The Lido 3 especially comes into its own in regard to grind quality. The mixture of burr size and quality and shaft stability means that this should come as no surprise. Especially if you are used to using an entry level manual grinder such as the Porlex Mini or one of the Hario models then you will instantly notice the improvement in grind consistency.
When this model was first released in 2015 the grind consistency made it one of the top contenders for the best hand grinder out there. While there is far more range and competition when it comes to premium grinders in 2020, this is still a coffee grinder with superb grind uniformity and precision.
In terms of different brewing methods this can basically deal with any of them from the fineness required for espresso through to the coarseness required for French Press or Cold Brew. Its shaft stability means that dealing with different grind sizes is a breeze for this grinder. However, as noted above this isn’t really designed for espresso. So while it can absolutely do fine enough for espresso, Orphan Espresso have released their Lido E and Lido E-T specifically for espresso.
It also has little grind retention which is always a positive.
Capacity and Portability
Perhaps the biggest difference between this grinder and basically every other premium hand grinder out there is it’s capacity. The hopper on the Lido 3 can hold a whopping 70g of beans and the size of the burrs makes grinding larger qualities at least somewhat more bearable.
This is probably both the greatest strength and weakness of this grinder. It means that if you are looking to grind large amounts of coffee beans at a single time (for example for French Press or Cold Brew) then this grinder is ideal. With smaller grinders, large amounts of beans become a pain in the behind as the hopper has to be refilled a couple of times and the grinds catcher is usually too small. The Lido 3 will easily grind up to 70g in a single go.
However, the downside is that most home brew set ups don’t need to grind anywhere near 70g at a time. So for example, for myself I use 16.5g of beans for Aeropress or 32g for Kalita Wave. And most 1-3 cup coffee makers will use anywhere from 14-35g of beans. So for many home baristas the sheer size of this grinder may feel like overkill.
Ironically this model was first advertised as a travel grinder which is why it comes with the rather nice Neoprene carrying case. The reason is that it is around half a kg lighter than the original Lido 2. However, this is still a monster of a grinder in both size and weight and you would have to be pretty game to use it as your travel grinder. A far better option would probably be the Aergrind or Porlex Mini or even the new Fixie by Orphan Espresso.
Ease of Use
There is no denying that this grinder is a pleasure to use. Ultimately, of course, a coffee grinder is about one thing; grinding coffee beans. And the Lido 3 excels at this. It is quick and the blades easily slice through almost any coffee beans. The hand crank is easy to use although some have found that it is a bit on the short side. The hand crank can also fold in on itself to fit into the carrying case.
Perhaps the weakest point of the general usability is the grind adjustment. It has been a common complaint against Orphan Espresso that their grind adjustment system is awkward, especially in comparison to some of their current competition. Basically you have two rings beneath the hopper; an aluminium locking ring and a grind size ring. To change the grind setting you loosen the locking ring and adjust the stepless grind size ring and then retighten the locking ring. While this system is adequate it is quite finicky and the lack of any markings for different grind sizes can be frustrating if you are switching between grind sizes.
Most hand grinders are a bit of a pain to clean and maintain and the Lido 3 is much the same. The carry case comes with a small hex drive to be able to take apart the grinder for a deeper clean every now and then. In general however, manual grinders don’t require nearly the same level of maintenance as automatic grinders and a general brush after each grind suffices.
The size of the hopper also means that there is no issue with beans bouncing out of the hopper as in some other grinders.
Who is The Lido 3 For?
So the million dollar question, who is the Lido 3 manual coffee grinder for? And the answer is a relatively small subset of people who are looking for a premium hand grinder with large capacity and excellent burr stability. I specifically used the words ‘premium hand grinder’ because it is important to realise that this is not an entry level grinder. The price, build quality, and burr set all point to the conclusion that this is a coffee grinder made for the coffee lover who cares about the nuances of coffee brewing.
So if you are just beginning your foray into coffee brewing then this grinder is probably not for you. To really utilize the precision in grind size you do need to be quite invested in the coffee scene. Not that the newbie won’t get good results with the Lido 3, but that it simply is a lot of money to fork out if you are still dabbling and not sure if coffee is definitely your thing. This is a grinder for those looking for excellent grind consistency rather than the okay results you would get from an entry level grinder.
It is also finally designed for those who may want to grind larger batches of beans at a time. While it can deal with smaller batches no problem, it is simply a lot of space and weight if you are never intending to grind more than 20g at a time. So this is ideal for those who may even only occasionally want to make a larger brew such as a Chemex, a French Press, or even a Batch Brewer.
So if this sounds like you, and you fit the brief, then the Lido 3 may be an excellent option for you.
What Might be the Alternatives?
So finally if you have got this far only to realise the Lido 3 is probably not for you, then what might be comparable grinders?
In many ways the German-made Comandante C40 is the go-to premium manual grinder these days. The build quality is superb, the design also eliminates any burr wobble for excellent grind consistency, and it just looks stylish and elegant. It can grind up to 40g of beans at a time which will suffice for most home brewing situations, is far more portable than the Lido 3, and comes with 35 grind settings that are easy to switch between. It is an excellent grinder with a great set of burrs. However, it is more expensive than the Lido 3.
Kinu like Comandante now comes with a long established reputation for excellence as well as attention to detail. Somewhat like the Lido 3 this is a big manual coffee grinder which is hefty and solid. It can brew up to 50-60g at a single time and comes with exceptionally high quality 47mm Black Fusion burrs. It is a stepless grinder with a 5 year warranty which shows that the company clearly believes in the build quality of their grinder. In many ways this model is the more affordable version of the M47 Classic by Kinu. But everything about Kinu grinders scream quality from the metal body to the grind adjustment system to the hand crank. If the Lido 3 kind of appeals but isn’t quite for you then the Kinu M47 Phoenix may be the perfect solution!
Lido 3- The Final Verdict
So to wrap things up the Lido 3 coffee grinder by Orphan Espresso is an excellent grinder that above all excels in capacity, grind speed, and grind consistency. It is not a small grinder which will put some off, but is nonetheless a quality premium grinder for those looking to up their coffee game.
We hope this review has been informative and if you have any questions or comments, then feel free to add them below 🙂