The grinding process has always been a bit stuck in its backward rut, but the team at GRINDIE are shaking up our expectations for what classes as good grinding, and there’s no time like the present. This Italian high-tech grinder manufacturer is bringing something new to the speciality coffee scene. The launch of their innovative new product, Solo, is set to change the way the industry views the grinding process.
Solo is an incredibly intelligent model that, quite frankly, blows the bulk of coffee grinders out of the water. It is designed to (much like Q talking James Bond through his vast array of gadgets in the movies) cover all imaginable bases. This nifty piece of tech resolves all of the irritations that pro baristas have previously (despite their grumblings) just had to accept as part and parcel of the brewing process. Now, they can see that their complaints have in fact been heard, as Solo finally resolves these age old grinding flaws.
The first steps for the GRINDIE project
We spoke to Eleonora Bardoni, the Business Developer of the GRINDIE project, about how she made her mark on the speciality coffee industry (although, admittedly, it took her an 8-year self-conversion from tea-drinker to coffee-lover, first).
Once the GRINDIE team had decided to take a stance against the market’s preconceptions about coffee grinders (based on the poor quality models that were already in existence) they needed a new name to suit this focus – the fusion of ‘GRINDIE’ is the perfect representative of this independent, combatant against the established big name grinders.
‘I created a new brand, joining the words “grinding” and “indie”, a name used for music underground culture. I like the idea of being independent from schemes, market rules, already known paths, and also the fact of being small – compared to giant competitors – but able to make a difference.’
Today, GRINDIE’s core team is made up of four keen beans: along with Eleonora, the team consists of Simone Pachi (the team’s financial mind and the owner of DRM), Daniele Colizza (the Research, Development and Design manager) and Federico Di Bert who oversees all marketing campaigns and activities
Why has grinding technology been overlooked for so long?
So, the obvious question on everyone’s minds has to be, why did the industry overlook grinding technology and pay it so little attention for such a long time?
‘In Italy, most of the time, the grinder is given to the barista on a gratuitous loan by the roaster. This comes with a coffee machine and sometimes some furniture as well. So, the roaster’s choice is often cheap equipment, for obvious reasons. Here and abroad, for a long time, the attention of the barista has only been on the coffee machine – apparently a more complicated (and for sure more eye-catching) piece of equipment than the grinder.
‘I think for decades there has not been a development in grinding technology at all. Grinders were just a functional tool, a commodity.’
Bringing GRINDIE Solo to life
The first major steps that the team took happened back in 2014, when Eleonora started looking for a different design to bring their idea for a new grinder to life. They eventually settled on an octagonal, monolithic shape for their new hi-end grinder (‘at the end of the day, we are in Italy – design is important!’).
‘Meanwhile, I started talking to micro-roasters and baristas, in order to understand what was missing in existing grinders and what they expected from a good piece of equipment. We decided at once that our future lay in creating a grinder by weight.’
The super-specialist, innovative features that Solo brings to the table includes: an integrated weighing system, a double clump crusher system and a nifty noise absorption system. Plus, the eco-friendly use of recycled teak wood and bamboo in their panelling makes every Solo grinder both sustainable and one of a kind.
By harnessing its intelligent bean-weighing system, the Solo grinder offers its users the opportunity to control all elements of their coffee brewing. After all, ‘weight is the only variable of the grinding process that guarantees real constancy in extraction.’
‘Our grinder weighs the beans both during grinding, to get the dose, and after, to check it. If the weight is not correct, a self-learning system starts adjusting the parameters. This, together with an anti-clumping system and thermal stability, allows our weighting system to have a +/- 0.1g level of reliability. At present, GRINDIE’s Solo is the most reliable grinder on the market (in terms of dose consistency).
‘We also worked hard to create an innovative user experience. For example, our interface allows the implementation of different user profiles. GRINDIE’s Solo has the ability to set all parameters and lock them with a password so that the operator can work without the risk of changing them.’
How the grinder perform in the field?
After trying out GRINDIE’s Solo for the first time in Korea back in 2019, Marco Poidomani (renowned barista, bartender and Italian ”Coffee in Good Spirits” Champion 2019) is a full convert to the grinding revolution. ‘GRINDIE guarantees that every dose is exactly the quantity you require, therefore you’re guaranteed to get consistency in the final product. I think that all those coffee shops that, despite serving big volumes of coffee, don’t want to lower quality but increase it, could benefit from GRINDIE.’
Solo’s rave reviews don’t end there – Antonio Biscotti is the owner of the coffee shop and roastery Griso (winner of the title of Best Italian Coffee Shop) and a taster for the international Coffee Tasters institute. He is a committed user of GRINDIE’s Solo: ‘for me, Solo is a grinder that gives you the tranquility you couldn’t have with traditional grinders. This feeling is given from the possibility of always having fresh products, with the certainty of having dose constancy. With GRINDIE, I don’t just get a fresh grind – most importantly it preserves all the aromas of my blends. I think Solo is suitable for those professionals who want to get the best from their products, in everything from simple blends to complex coffees.’
The owner of the chain Coffeelin, Lucas Sam, likewise has a GRINDIE installed in every one of his Hong Kong and Guangzhou stores, as ‘it is simply the best way to represent our coffee.’
The journey from little indie, to fully-fledged GRINDIE
It wasn’t an easy journey for GRINDIE: getting Solo out on the market was always going to be a challenge, not just because they were challenging such deeply rooted preconceptions about what should be prioritised in the coffee brewing process, but also because (as they were fully aware) they were starting out as such small players in the specialty scene.
‘The most challenging part of the design process was having to lower the dimension of our expectations, to fit with the limited finance resources that we had available. We are a very small company, and this makes it hard when we’re facing a big, innovative project like this. But we never gave up; we have always thought that, sooner or later, the coffee market would pay the right attention to our vision.
‘Then, a real development happened in 2017, when we presented the first version of our grinder by weight. It was like all of the coffee world suddenly started to see grinders in a new light – the light they deserved. People finally realized that, since grinding happens before extraction, it can deeply affect (either in a negative or a positive way) all of the other efforts that go into making a cup of coffee.
‘At GRINDIE, we think that it is useless to choose the most technological coffee machine and a great blend or single origin, if these are so badly ground that they lose their potential. The grinding process should instead enable baristas to maximize and enhance their aromatic bouquet. That’s why we spent so many years designing a machine that controls all the variables related to coffee grinding.’
As a final message to all of the baristas and coffee shop owners out there who are striving to perfect their craft and reach new levels of innovation, Eleonora’s takeaway message is ‘to always strive for excellence and never be satisfied.’