A common question we receive multiple times a week is just that, how do I choose my grinder. 1Zpresso (pronounced EZ presso) doesn't make it particularly straight forward with their naming convention, but we hope this guide makes it easier for you to decide.
My personal answer has always been roughly the same; it depends what you are looking for in a grinder. Are you looking for a daily workhorse that will produce great grinds across the range, or are you looking for that one grinder that focusses on minimising the production of fines in your V60? Or maybe you value ease of use, perhaps portability? All of these factors will be broken down for you below.
Broadly, we would classify the grinders into the following 'suitabilities':
Filter - Q2-S, J, K-Ultra*
Hybrid / All-purpose - JX-Pro-S, K-Ultra*, X-Pro-S, X-Ultra
* - The K-Ultra is what I would describe a filter-leaning hybrid.
Now when we say pour-over, we of course mean all of the percolation methods in the V60, Chemex and Electric Percolator (otherwise known as batch brewers), but also the hybrid immersion-percolation brewers such as the Aeropress, Clever dripper and the Hario Switch. What we really mean is that the grinder focusses on minimising fines production, that's what the burr is designed for.
You may then also want to classify the grinders further into ease of use and grind chamber size / capacity
|Bottom internal adjustment dial||Q2-S, J|
|Top internal adjustment wheel||JX-pro-S|
|Top external adjustment ring||J-Max-S, X-Pro-S, X-Ultra, K-Ultra|
Example of top adjustment ring - K-Ultra
Grind chamber capacity
What if I want a grinder that can do everything for under £150? Simple, I would point you to the JX-pro-s in a heartbeat. It pulls the best of both worlds and gives you a larger grind chamber and a top internal adjustment - a grinder that will last years and combines extreme utility with fantastic design and at a price that is pretty respectable. If budget is not a question, the K-Ultra wins.
So what about the Q2-S? The Q2-S is a portable grinder which produces great grind consistency in the filter range. The Q2 can, and will, produce espresso fine grinds to a high standard. It is the entry level model in the range that tries to fit the bill for everybody, but it fits filter more than espresso.
Nerdy stats for burr adjustment gaps in the range
|Grinder||Total adjustments or clicks||Burr set||Microns ( µm) per click|
While the statistics above can be interesting to look at, all you need to know is more adjustability gives you more flexibility in curating the grind size you want. However, it doesn't tell you how well it produces that grind size, or rather what sort of distribution you get and the production of fines. That's where you need to look at the burr set, both in size and in geometry.
At the end of the day, use the facts above to inform your own decision-making, but know that the grinders and their burr sets have been designed to target a brew method. And moreover, even though the J and the K-Ultra are both filter leaning grinders, they will still taste different and have their own characteristics, that's just the nature of the grinder.
The final remark I would make is this. Let's be clear about the fact that categorising grinders into discrete specialties does not discount it from being able to be used for any brew method. All the grinders above will produce grind sizes between espresso and filter. However, what we are trying to describe here is the general consensus amongst the coffee community that certain burrs are designed such that their outputs favour one brew method over another.
Do you want my personal recommendation? I can't give you one, because you (yes, you reading this blog!) have preferences in your mind already which I can't separate from you. Ask yourself, do you just want a grinder that produces super good filter regardless of everything else? K-Ultra / J. Want a grinder that does espresso amazingly, J-Max-S. Everything else in the middle is going to be subject to your own preferences. Budget, design, portability, creature comforts such as magnetic catch cups.