Is the Mazzer Mini espresso grinder for you? The Mazzer Mini is in many ways the goal to which everyone who is serious about espresso must aspire.
I have often thought that the truest sign of an authentic espresso aficionado is how high a premium they place on the quality of their grinder. In fact, I am more impressed with a superb espresso grinder and an average espresso machine, than with a top of the line machine accompanied by an average grinder.
And the reason is quite simply that the quality of your coffee will never exceed the quality of your grind consistency, and nowhere is this more true than in the world of espresso. If you are serious about espresso you must be serious about your grinder.
And that is why we are excited to finally review the Mazzer Mini espresso grinder. The Mazzer Mini is commonly known as the gold standard of domestic espresso grinders against which all other grinders must be measured. It is really a commercial grinder with a small enough size to be utilized in a home coffee set-up.
While there are various Mazzer Mini models, this review will focus on the original doser model.
Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder Doser
As anyone who knows anything about Mazzer will quickly tell you, the Mazzer grinders really are the cream of the crop when it comes to espresso grinders. The Mazzer Mini has a superb set of burrs, is built and performs like a tank, and really can’t be beat for either grind adjustment or consistency.
Mazzer Mini Review
In the coffee world Mazzer is a well known name that is especially associated with superior quality commercial espresso grinders. In fact, chances are that if you look at the grinders some of your favorite cafes or espresso bars use you will spot a Mazzer of some shape or form. Most recently, Mazzer has branched into hand grinders as well with their Mazzer Omega.
Mazzer was founded between the Two World Wars outside Venice, Italy (or Venezia as the Italians say it) by Lugi Mazzer. From the get go the company focused on premium coffee grinders. Before long, their name and fame spread beyond Italy to the point that in the 90’s Mazzer Grinders were available for purchase in over 50 countries! So this is a company with ample experience and expertise in the field.
Mazzer grinders have now got a well established name for excellent quality and longevity as well as careful attention to detail. The company doesn’t cut corners but instead is really all about one thing which is making espresso grinders that do the job to a professional level and last. In fact, if you ask anyone with expertise in fixing grinders they will tell you that compared to other grinders Mazzers hardly ever need repairing and well and truly earn the accolade of workhorses.
So you can’t really have a more trustworthy brand than Mazzer when it comes to espresso grinders.
The most simple and accurate way to describe the build quality of the Mazzer Mini espresso grinder is commercial grade yet compact enough for home use. In considering all the factors of this coffee grinder this is key. The Mazzer Mini is primarily a small commercial grinder, and so everything from build quality, to grind consistency, and performance reflects this. This is a grinder for the serious home barista.
Many people who are passionate about espresso end up with a small basic commercial grinder rather than a top-end domestic modelJames Hoffman
As soon as you unpack the Mazzer Mini you will notice that it just feels and looks solid and reliable. It is somewhat heavy and this is often the sign of a good burr grinder and is indicative of the fact that it is made almost exclusively of metal parts. The parts fit well together and the finish just looks and feels like quality. The body is heavy steel that is painted with a textured silver and glossed. The Hopper is made of clear plastic as is fairly normal. And even the switch on the side just feels reliable rather than the cheap switches that can be found on many coffee grinders. The body of the grinder is well insulated which helps reduce noise levels and the engine in this grinder is a workhorse.
And while this build quality is reflected on the outside, it comes forth even more starkly on the inside. Of course the centerpiece of this grinder is the 58mm flat plate burrs. This burr set is made of hardened steel and as with all Mazzer grinders is excellent quality.
Again typical of Mazzer grinders, the Mazzer Mini espresso grinder has opted for flat plate burrs rather than conical burrs. For those who are well read, you may realize that there is and continues to be an ongoing discussion in the coffee world about the pros and cons of the different types of burrs. To paint with a broad brush, the majority of espresso grinders tend to have flat plate burrs and are thought by many to be superior when it comes to grind consistency. However, flat plate burrs can also cause an increase in heat which is a bad thing and tend to be louder and more expensive than conical burrs. So there are also plenty of espresso gurus who do prefer conical burrs.
The other major build issue that potential buyers will have to think through is the presence of the doser. The doser is the large cylinder at the front of the grinder which is filled with wedge shaped vanes which push out the grinded coffee whenever the handle is flicked. Dosers are fairly common on commercial grinders and can be a great help to quickly grind the same amount of coffee into the portafilter. The kicker however, is that to work properly the doser must be at least half filled with grinds which means that if you are only making a single coffee it can lead to wasted grinds. However on this model you can change the dosage size per pull between 5.5 and 8g which is helpful.
To put it simply, dosers are ideal for commercial settings or situations where you will be making a number of coffees in quick succession but tend to be a bit of a pain for the home barista. It still can work fine but it will lead to more wasted grinds than an espresso grinder like the Niche Zero which has low retention rates. There are also Mazzer Mini doserless models as mentioned below but they are more expensive and have other differences as well.
Overall, however, the build quality of the Mazzer Mini Espresso grinder is superb and near flawless. It is built like a tank, can easily deal with even some rough use, and is evidently built to last. In fact Mazzer grinders in general are simply known to just keep on going, especially if they are well maintained.
Grind consistency and Adjustment System
There is nowhere the superiority of the Mazzer Mini shines forth so clearly as in its grind quality. We would be hard pressed to think of another grinder that can be used in a domestic setting that would challenge it for grind consistency. And when push comes to shove this is the single most important factor to consider when choosing a grinder and especially an espresso grinder. At the heart of it an espresso coffee grinder is designed to achieve two things; to produce an even grind for even extraction, and to be able to make very small grind size adjustments for dialing the beans.
And in both of these areas the Mazzer Mini espresso grinder excels. The Mazzer Mini uses a stepless grind adjustment system which means that rather than a preset amount of clicks for grind settings there is theoretically almost limitless grind settings able. For those who are serious about espresso, a stepless grinder really is a non-negotiable.
The Mazzer Mini is fitted out with Mazzer’s patented Micrometrical Grinding Adjustment mechanism. This is actually the same grind adjustment system that it utilized on all Mazzer models from the Mini through to the larger commercial machines. The system is fairly simple but incredibly effective. There is a floating collar underneath the hopper that can be twisted to micro-adjust the grind particle size. Another ingenious aspect of this system is that the Mazzer Mini comes with a short black plastic handle. And this handle can be screwed in at five different places on the collar to make it simple to make even the smallest of adjustments. This is a very simple and intuitive system which almost makes you wonder why every grinder doesn’t have it.
In terms of burr set up there are three high tensile springs attached to the interior of the grinder that provide resistance as the top burr descends. The top burr is attached to a huge piece of brass and this set up effectively removes any chance of burr wobble or of the grind dial moving under operation. It also means that although it is an espresso coffee grinder yet it maintains its grind consistency even on coarser grind settings.
In terms of grind speed, the Mazzer mini is quicker than the majority of domestic grinders but a tad slower than many other commercial grinders. This is in part reflective of burr size which is smaller than commercial grinders designed for larger volumes of coffee.
Basically, if you are looking for the best when it comes to espresso coffee grinders then you can’t really go beyond the Mazzer Mini. The grind consistency really is at a level that would meet the standards of your favorite coffee shop.
Ease of Use
One of the things I love most about the Mazzer Mini is its simplicity. Especially compared to some modern techy grinders there is something refreshing about the lack of extra features of the Mazzer. It is focused around one thing, which is excellent grind consistency, and every part of the machine works towards that end. There is an admirable restraint in this grinder.
To use it, you simply make sure the power is on and there are beans in the hopper. You then place your portafilter in the portafilter forks, turn the timer on the side which will turn on the light. You then tap the doser handle until you have the required amount of grinds. It is in every sense a simple grinder to operate and adjust.
Different Models of the Mazzer Mini
As you might have noticed when looking into the Mazzer Mini, there are actually three different models which share this same name; the Mazzer Mini doser, the Mazzer Mini E Type A, and the Mazzer Mini E Type B. The E stands for electronic which is really the biggest difference between the doser model and the two others.
In the E models instead of the bulky doser on the front there is a more streamlined looking funnel as well as a portafilter cradle rather than the forks of the doser model. In addition both Electronic models have slightly bigger 64mm burrs which is the same as the The difference between Type A and Type B is that Type A is slightly more advanced and has a control panel atop the doser funnel.
What might be the alternatives?
Well maybe you have come to the end of this article and for whatever reason you have realized the Mazzer Mini is not for you. Maybe it is the price, maybe it is the doser, maybe it is the look, maybe it is something else. If so what other alternative might we recommend for an espresso coffee grinder?
Baratza Sette 270
Baratza is another name that is now almost synonymous with coffee grinders that you can trust. The Baratza Sette 270 is their espresso grinder whose name comes from the impressive 270 grind settings available. As a fun fact Sette actually means seven in Italian and if you look carefully this grinder does follow the shape of the number 7. There is a lot to love about the Sette 270; it is an incredibly fast grinder and has close to zero retention for minimal grinds wastage. This also means that you don’t need to purge it after changing grind settings which is always nice in a home set up. It uses 40mm conical burrs and does have an impressive grind consistency. It is however, on the louder side. See our full review here.
Eureka Mignon Specialita
This is in every sense a serious espresso grinder. It comes with 55mm flat plate burrs and is particularly known for both superb grind consistency and near-silent grinding. It has a very classic look and feel to it and is sturdy as anything. The Mignon grinders also tend to have small grind retention which is great. It comes with an intuitive touch screen with which you can adjust grind time in tenths of a second. You can also switch to manual mode for continuous grinding or lock in preset grinding times. The Specialita comes with a 1350 RPM motor as well as Eureka’s patented anti-clumping system. This is a seriously impressive and sleek looking espresso grinder. See our full review here.
Mazzer Mini Review
So overall, our recommendation is that the Mazzer Mini is about as good as domestic espresso grinders get. This is a serious coffee grinder for the serious espresso lover. It is built to last, has an excellent motor and burr set, and is simple and intuitive to use. This has been a popular favorite among espresso enthusiasts for a while now because it really is professional grade and yet compact enough for domestic use.
If you really want to go places with espresso then the Mazzer Mini really must be at least on your radar.