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Hands-on Gear Review
Bodum Bistro Review
Price: $100 List | $89.96 at Amazon
Pros: Makes a mean French press, affordable
Cons: Noisy, chintzy controls
Bottom line: An affordable grinder that definitely gets the job done. Comparable to the Capresso Infinity—makes a better french press, but the controls are less smooth and it's a little louder
The Bodum Bistro is a compact, affordable, quality burr grinder. It makes a good drip coffee, but it makes an even better French press. If you're looking to save a few bucks and you've got a thing for Frenching your coffee, this grinder could be a sweet deal. It doesn't have the smoothest controls and it may be a little noisy. It's decent when compared to shinier, quieter, more intuitive grinders, but it comes at a lower price so it's a good deal for what it offers. It gets the job done for half the cost of some machines and is likely to find a special place in the hearts of French press drinkers.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Bodum Bistro has a unique look. With a shorter profile than its more expensive competitors, the Bodum has a countertop companion vibe to it. It offers just about everything you would want from a coffee grinder. It's not the quietest grinder, and the dosing controls feel a little clunky, but what stood out about this product was the kind of coffee it brews. As we taste tested cup after cup, sample after sample, we noticed a trend of grinders whose French press brew scored one point lower than their drip style coffee. The Bodum, on the other hand, brewed a delicious French press that ranked a full point better than its drip cup—full, thick, deep, and nuanced—pretty much what French press people would define as the "best part of waking up." We recognized the Bodum brand name from their best selling French press designs, like the legendary Chambord. It seems that Bodum is pretty serious about Frenching their coffee. If you're serious about Frenching your coffee as well, this could be a great product for you. Check our Buying Advice article to see the differences between French press vs. drip coffee.
Quality of Taste
The Bodum's French press is what got our attention with this grinder. The overall score for the Bodum's quality of taste is a 7, which lands this product in the "good cup" but not "great cup" category. However, while most grinders we tested produced a French press brew that was one point poorer than their drip coffee, and only three produced equal results for both brew methods, the Bodum Bistro was the only grinder that demonstrated better brew game in the French press category. The Bodum's French press brew stands out as a great cup, giving you all the flavor you could hope for from your coffee with some extra body as well. It's similar in both quality and flavor profile to the hefty, deep, sweet cup that the Breville Smart Grinder Pro produced, an 8.
The overall flavor score for the Bodum comes in at 7 because of its score for drip coffee, which is weighted as 60 percent of quality of taste. The drip brew came out a bit muddled. It's still good though. Although some of the coffee's flavor was hazy, the flavor that came through was well pronounced—sharper or more distinct than the results of the Capresso Infinity, yet not overly intense.
Ease of Use
The controls on the Bodum Bistro are helpful but they're not perfect, producing a 7 for ease of use. It covers all bases for sufficient controls, allowing you to select how much coffee to grind with a timer dial, but it scores the same as the Baratza Encore, which only has a pulse button and an on/off switch. That's because the dosing feature on the Bodum is a little clunky. To choose how much coffee to grind, you turn a plastic dial to select how many seconds you would like to grind, then press a start/stop button. However, the start/stop button doesn't work unless the timer dial is turned to a minimum of about 5 seconds and a main power switch is also turned on. Without a pulse button, this makes it awkward to work around the dosing feature.
If you care a lot about grinder noise then the Bodum might slip out of your favor. It scores a 5 here, edging into the "noticeably noisy" category. That's still much better than the low scorers in this category, the KitchenAid and the Cuisinart Supreme, which both scored 2s, and a tad better than the blade grinders we tested, the Krups Fast Touch and Epica Electric, which were 4 for quietness. The Bodum ties with the Editors' Choice award winner, the OXO On Barista Brain, which crushed the competition in other categories yet might present an inconvenience in noise-sensitive living situations.
When you run the Bodum Bistro, coffee goes exactly where it's supposed to go—into the grind chamber. The chamber is glass, easy to wash, and has an easy slip-off lid. And while the glass chamber doesn't catalyze much static activity, the lid does get some chaff stuck on it and can drop a little mess onto your countertops when it's removed. The Bodum may give you a little something to clean up, but it's not a great annoyance and the mess can be avoided with a little effort, so it yields a decent score of 7 for mess-free operation.
The Bodum is a good grinder for the most part. It's not perfect but it's a compact and affordable machine that can get the job done and it makes a mean French press. It most likely finds a happy home with someone who wants to save a few bucks, is willing to adapt to the imperfect controls, and loves their French press coffee.
With the same list price as the Best Buy Award winner, the Capresso Infinity, the Bodum Bistro gives you a good price for a quality burr grinder. It makes a good cup of coffee, but in comparison to the Capresso it doesn't have the smooth intuitive controls and doesn't get close to the Capresso's wonderful sound quality. The Capresso is a steal while the Bodum is a nice deal. Listing at $100, you totally get what you pay for. You get the quality brew that a burr grinder should offer but you get it a little cheaper by sacrificing the perks that other products boast. The Bodum is a good deal—every grinder we tested with a lower list price showed a significant decline in all criteria.
The Bodum is a little noisy and the controls aren't quite as intuitive as those on other grinders, but it gets the job done and shows quality in the cup–a more affordable option for a burr. Its list price and score for quality of taste ties with the Capresso Infinity, yet the Capresso shows more quality in other criteria and could be a better deal overall. Keep in mind that the Bodum's French press brew is 2 points better than the Capresso's, giving it serious bragging rights for those French press people out there.
— Jared Marquez
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