Smeg makes very covetable things. The company’s countertop appliances are ’50s retro, but the kind of retro that works with an ultra-modern aesthetic. Whatever style your kitchen, a Smeg appliance is probably going to look good in it. They’re design-led products, curved and shiny and made to be seen – which is a big plus when you’re buying an appliance that’s going to be in your line of view every day.
Let’s face it: if you buy a large coffee grinder, you’re not going to be returning it to the cupboard between grindings.
More to the point, Smeg items are good quality. They have just the right amount of functionality, with pleasing buttons and dials, and they do exactly what you bought them to do.
The new coffee grinder is no exception.
Bean and gone
Getting a good coffee grinder is essential to making great coffee at home. It’s arguably more important than the method you choose to brew it. There are plenty of ways to brew coffee well but if you start with poor quality grounds, you can ruin every one of them.
The coffee must be ground evenly. If it isn’t, you’ll get wasted chunks of bean (boulders) and dust (fines), which will add bitterness to the brew.
The Smeg grinder uses stainless steel conical burrs to produce very even coffee grounds. That’s what you’d expect from a machine of this price and quality. What sets it apart from other grinders is the precision and ease with which you can choose the size of the grounds.
Different methods of coffee brewing require different sizes of grounds. A cafetière or percolator works best with coarse grounds. A drip coffee machine works best with medium. You should use fine grounds in an espresso maker or an AeroPress.
The Smeg grinder has 30 grinding levels, which you choose from with a twist of the dial. That might seem like overkill but coffee aficionados will love the opportunity to experiment.
Help! It’s early morning
To get the most flavour from your brew, you should grind coffee beans just before you use them. But if you like to make fresh coffee in the morning when your brain is only partly functioning, the entire process of dealing with buttons and levers and dials as soon as you wake up can feel like trying to land a light aircraft in a storm.
But this appliance is very easy to use. Pour beans into the large hopper at the top of the machine, choose setting, press button: coffee appears. Honestly, a concussed bear could do it. And that’s very much my morning persona.
The process is automatic and the coffee grounds are funnelled out into the container provided or, if you have the matching Smeg coffee machine, straight into the filter holder.
The large hopper at the top can hold 350g of beans, which is apparently enough for 50 shots of espresso. I have to admit, I didn’t test this. I’m taking their word for it.
Price & availability
Sometimes, with Smeg products, you do get the feeling that you’re paying a premium for their very sleek design. And at £200, this is not a cheap machine. You can get very serviceable grinders for far less.
If you’re buying in the UK, there’s not much wriggle room on price, with the grinder costing £199-£200, depending on the retailer.
If you’re in the US, the best current price is from Verishop, where you can buy it for $239.96 in a range of colours. But this is a limited-time deal. It’s also available from Amazon.com for the more usual price of $299.95.
But this coffee grinder absolutely knocks it out of the park. It makes a huge difference to the taste of coffee you can make at home and if you can afford it, it’s well worth the investment.
The Smeg grinder is available in black, white, cream, pastel blue, red and mint, which seems a little rarer than some of the other colours.
I was sceptical about the difference a top-notch grinder could make. Now I’m a believer. If making fresh coffee at home is your thing, a good quality coffee grinder is an essential purchase. This one is a pleasure to use and will completely upgrade your home brewing experience.
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