Making great coffee hinges on many different factors, but one of the most important -- and underrated -- is the grinder. The Lido 2 is a hand-cranked workhorse that was designed by two coffee obsessives, who engineered it to the highest standards of brewing perfection.
Doug and Barb Garrott are the proprietors of Orphan Espresso, which deals vintage espresso machine parts from rural Idaho. Over the past few years they have been designing manual grinders as an alternative to the mediocre retail models that countless coffee drinkers rely on. The Lido 2 is the pair's latest model, and the Garrotts are working tirelessly to get their creations assembled fast enough to fulfil overflowing pre-orders.
Why all the fuss in the first place? Grinding coffee is an essential part of creating a properly brewed and great tasting cup. Cheap grinders, the kind found in most people's homes, consist of spinning blades that chop the beans in a chaotic whirlwind. This creates inconsistent grounds; some bits are large and chunky, while some turn to dust. Those discrepancies can greatly affect the taste of your final brewed cup.
A better solution is a burr grinder, which uses two ridged pieces of metal or ceramic to crush the beans to a selected size based on how close together the burrs sit. Electric burr grinders go for around $US150 at the low end, but if you want to brew quality espresso you can end up paying upwards of $US1000. The Lido 2, selling for $US175, provides a relatively cheap alternative that strives to maintain superb grind quality with just a bit of elbow grease.
There are plenty of other hand grinders out there; some, like the popular Hario Skerton, can be had for $US50 or less. The problem is that these grinders lack the precision to maintain a truly consistent grind. As you put pressure on the grind-crank, the upper burr tilts to one side, making for uneven grind size.
When it came to designing the Lido 2, the Garrotts had this problem in mind, and came up with a dual bearing design that keeps the burr completely stable. Here is Doug Garrott walking through the Lido 2 improvements:
Very few people have their hands on a Lido 2 so far, so genuine evidence of its performance is scant. But based on Orphan Espresso's reputation, and the response to their previous efforts on forums like coffee geek haven home-barista.com, the Lido 2 is expected to work quite well.
$US175 seems like a lot for a manual coffee grinder, and if you are only brewing regular coffee at home, something like the Baratza Encore might be a more convenient entry-level option. But if you are going for true espresso, the Lido 2 is a solid high-quality money saver. Pre-order it here.