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Sunbeam EM0480 Coffee Grinder Review.

This grinder is Sunbeam's companion to the EM6900
Espresso Machine, see
http://www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/sunbeam.html . It is based on the Lux conical burr set
http://www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/september2002.html housed in plastic burr carriers. The top (stator) burr carrier has a pair of "ears" that run in a thread in the burr adjustment collar. As the collar is rotated anticlockwise, the gap between the rotating bottom burr and the stator decreases and the grind becomes finer.

There are ostensibly 24 grind settings (clicks) between the finest and coarsest grind, in practice the range extends out to 30 clicks. Since the grind adjustment collar only rotates less than 90 from finest to coarsest, the thread pitch is quite steep and the change in grind per click is fairly large.

The grinder comes with an excellent suite of accessories, including a 250g capacity bean hopper which seals itself when removed, 53mm and 58mm portafilter rests, a graduated ground coffee container and a burr cleaning brush. The base of the grinder has a rubber mat for holding loose coffee, the mat can also serve as a portafilter rest during tamping.

Build quality is high, with the body of the grinder made from diecast brushed aluminium. It stands quite tall by domestic grinder standards, 38cm high x 23cm deep x 13cm wide, making it taller than a Rancilio Rocky. Electrical quality is likewise high; there is a microswitch to ensure that the grinder can't operate unless the hopper is in place, and the main switch has 3 positions: Off, On (which activates continuous grinding) and Auto, which grinds when a portafilter is pushed against a microswitch in the middle of the portafilter rest.

It is relatively easy to disassemble the adjustment collar and top burr carrier for easy cleaning, the burr carrier even comes with a little wire handle for easy lift out and replacement. Care must be taken to correctly replace the burr carrier when putting everything back together, otherwise the "ears" don't engage in the thread.

So, given all the above, how does the Sunbeam grinder perform?

Very, very well indeed, given the price it's sold for. Recommended retail price is A$199.00, and it's already been available on sale for A$179.00. (Note that I can't buy a Lux grinder wholesale for that price.) Listed below in point form are what I believe to be the pros and cons of this grinder.

GOOD POINTS

Grind Quality: Excellent, equal to a Lux or Rocky, at all settings from plunger to commercial espresso.

Grind Speed: Faster than a Lux by about 40%, faster than a Rocky by about 10%.

Coffee Retention: Very little ground coffee remains in the unit after grinding.

Adjustment Mechanism: Excellent, virtually foolproof for a home user.

Adjustment Repeatability: Excellent, plunger to espresso and back again.

Design and Build Quality: Excellent.

Noise Level: Less noisy than a Lux, noisier than a Rocky.

User Manual: Absolutely canes anything I've ever seen out of Italy.

BAD POINTS

Grind Speed: Coffee exiting the little spout is quite fluffy and prone to static in dry conditions.

Fluffy Grind: Makes it difficult to fill portafilter to the correct level by the overfill/sweep/tamp method. You need to fill, tamp lightly, then fill again and tamp.

Adjustment Mechanism: The distance between "clicks" represents about a 9 second difference in a 60ml 14g double shot pour time, similar to the Lux, and double that of the Rocky.

Adjustment Mechanism: The two little top burr "ears" will break at some stage. Fortunately a new burr carrier should be an inexpensive replacement.

Mess Level: The Sunbeam is no worse than the Lux or Rocky Doserless when it comes to the amount of coffee scattered about, but it is definitely messier than a doser grinder.

OVERALL

Well. A major Australian appliance company has finally done it; they've produced a "Category Killer" grinder. I don't know of any other grinder in this price range worldwide that produces as good a grind and is as well constructed. I plan to start selling these grinders as soon as possible.

The Sunbeam comes with a 5 year warranty on the motor, and 12 months for the rest. If I have any reservations at all about the grinder, they are related to the quality of the plastics used in the burr carrier and the adjustment collar. I know that the plastic used in the Lux grinder is up to the job, but in the Sunbeam the verdict will have to wait for several more years of user experience.

The review machine was supplied by Sunbeam Australia.

 


 

The Sunbeam EM0480 Grinder next to the Nemox Lux. The burrset in these 2 grinders is identical (and interchangeable).
View of the self closing "doors" on the bottom of the bean hopper.
Looking down into the adjustment collar at the top burr carrier and its little wire handle.
Top (stator) burr carrier, here displayed upside down to highlight the plastic "ears" which engage the threads in the adjustment collar.
Looking down into the adjustment collar, displaying the plastic threads. The steep thread pitch is obvious.
Bottom (rotor) burr, sweep arms and chute. The microswitch at top left stops the grinder running without the hopper.
Sunbeam Grinder and Espresso Machine