Epica Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Epica Electric does a great job showing off benefits that a blade grinder can offer—compact, travel friendly, simple to use. It has a long cord with convenient cord storage and a removable grinding compartment (pictured above). Being a blade grinder, it has some limitations in the quality of taste that it can offer, but we really enjoyed using it. It's noisy, scores an unimpressive 5 for quality of taste, and lacks features that burr grinders have, but at such a low price it shows off a rather functional design and can provide ground coffee on a tight budget. If you would rather fork out a little more dough for the next level of quality (which is a significant step up), consider the burr grinder that took the Best Buy Award, the Capresso Infinity, listing at $100.
The Epica Electric, when wielded correctly, can make a decent cup. We rated it as a 5 for quality of taste. After several attempts we were able to make a coffee without bitter taste, although it was overall not very flavorful. To avoid getting a cup that gives you dragon breath the coffee maker has to err on the side of grinding more coarsely. You avoid over-extracting the coffee but you get less flavor altogether. If we owned this grinder we might experiment with using a larger coffee to water ratio for better results. The Krups Fast Touch tied with the Epica, making a more flavorful drip coffee but scoring quite poorly when we made a French press with it. If evaluated strictly for making drip coffee, we think the Krups does a better job at giving the user good flavor.
Ease of Use
Being a blade grinder, the Epica Electric already takes a hit on its ease of use score because it lacks the ability to dose out your coffee for you. But we still gave the Epica a 6 for ease of use because even though it requires a few more steps from the user, it is still very simple and intuitive to use. Insert coffee beans, grind to desired consistency, then remove the grinding compartment and empty the grounds into your brewer. The removable grinding compartment allows the user to empty the grinder without having to turn the whole unit upside down and can be quickly hand washed. The Krups Fast Touch doesn't have this feature and has to be turned upside down and cleaned with a brush and/or sponge. The Krups scores a 5 for ease of use because of these additional inconveniences, not to mention the coffee grounds seemed less cooperative in being shaken out of the unit. And the Epica thought of one other thing that the Krups didn't: a longer cord. The Epica's cord gives you enough length to plug in and still have decent options of where you can set it down, whereas the Krups has a short cord that might force you to grind in some awkward corner of the kitchen.
Blade grinders are not quiet. You hear the motor whirring, beans breaking, and the additional rattling of coffee particles in the grinding compartment. The Epica and Krups tie with a ranking of 4 for quietness. It's noisy, but still not as bad as the Cuisinart Supreme or the KitchenAid Burr, which are obvious noise pollution machines and score a 2.
Just when you think that a burr grinder is better than a blade at everything, you have the Epica Electric, which is just one point behind the top score in the mess-free category. Coffee grinding is messy, but the Epica keeps that mess contained and allows you to transfer it straight to the brewer by removing the grinding compartment. The grounds slide right out without requiring a brush and afterward the grinding compartment can be rubbed clean under running water and left out to dry. The Epica scored an 8 for being very easy to clean and seldom requiring it.
This offers the benefits of a blade grinder to the user who only has part time counter space for another kitchen appliance or wants something to take travelling. Let's face it though—it doesn't make good coffee. With some adaptation and honed skill you can produce a cup without defects, but it won't be impressive. But the unit is fun to use and provides the means to grind coffee for a very low price. The Epica could really work for someone who isn't too picky and needs something compact and convenient.
We think the Epica is a killer deal at $22. You could expect a minimalist blade grinder to run about $20 (like the Krups) but the Epica gives you all that and then some for the same price. A blade grinder may only make a mediocre cup of coffee, but this one does that with a lot less headache than the Krups Fast Touch. The Epica gives you a longer cord than the Krups, cord storage, removable and hand-washable grinding compartment—and for only $2 more.
If you don't have full time counter space for a coffee grinder or need something you can travel with, you need a blade grinder. It's not going to make the best coffee, but it's better than nothing. And it makes grinding coffee quick and simple, leaving the user without a mess or an unnecessary headache.
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