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Reviews

DF54 Review: When Less is More

The DF-family keeps expanding. But is there room for 54 mm flat burrs in today’s competitive market?

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

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When I first heard about the DF54, I was intrigued but also skeptical. Could a grinder at this price point really live up to its bigger and more expensive DF-siblings?

I’ve spent the last few months testing the DF54, grinding coffee for everything from espresso to pour over, and in this review, I’ll share what I think.

And spoiler alert: Yes, it is a pretty disruptive grinder.

In this review, we’ll go into the pros and the cons, and talk about who it’s for.

Heads up: I received my review unit from Miicoffee, but the shop has had no influence during the review process.

Miicoffee Df54

A small but powerful single-dose grinder

df54 plain product image

The DF54 single-dose grinder provides a lot of same features as its larger version but at a more competitive price point.

If you want flat burrs and prosumer performance at a budget price, then this is the best option currently on the market.

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Pros

  1. Incredibly low price for a flat burr grinder
  2. Built for single-dosing
  3. Sturdy, mostly metal construction
  4. Wide grind adjustment range, suitable for both espresso and drip coffee
  5. Low retention, even without using the bellows
  6. 54mm burrs perform well for both espresso and drip coffee, despite being smaller than 64mm burrs

Cons

  1. Non-adjustable dial indicator that is secured with a screw. It makes it a bit more work to access the grind chamber since it has to be unscrewed first.
  2. Bellows have a less secure fit compared to the DF64 Gen 2.
  3. The wooden top cap looks cheaper than the one on the DF64 Gen 2
  4. More static issues with lighter roasts at coarser settings compared to the DF64 Gen 2
  5. 54mm burr size is uncommon, limiting current options for burr upgrades.
  6. The motor is spinning in the wrong direction to be able to fit Baratza/Mahlkonig burr offerings in the 54 mm size.

About the brand

When the DF64 grinder burst onto the scene in 2021, it was a game-changer in the world of single-dose coffee grinders. This grinder made your head explode. And I mean that in both good and bad ways.

Good, because 64 mm flat burr grinders in a single-dose package had never been this cheap and accessible before.

Bad, because, well… some baffling design decisions, and an italics font so hideous that it made comic sans appear stylish in comparison.

The DF lineup is difficult to define precisely because it is not an actual brand in the traditional sense. Rather, it encompasses a collection of products produced by one or more OEMs in China.

My research points to the Zhejiang Feilai Electric Appliance factory under its FL Coffee division. However, other people speculate it’s made in another factory named Ningbo Frigga. The point is nobody really knows –except the importers.

These importers then brand and sell the grinder under their own labels, such as G-IOTA, Miicoffee, Zentis, or Turin.

The essential design and functionality of the grinder remain consistent across these names, but there are small differences in aftermarket burr upgrade options and alignment services. I have been working with Luke from Miicoffee for some time now and had good experiences with shipping, communication, and so on.

If you’re in the US, I’d recommend getting the grinder from a local vendor, so you don’t have to ship it halfway across the world in case of warranty issues.

df54 vs df64 on table in coffee chronicler studio
The new grinder is good deal smaller than the DF64 Gen 2.

However, the DF line has had a lot of momentum since the first, pretty buggy version.

Following the DF64’s initial release, we have seen the introduction of several other 64 mm grinders, most notably the DF64V and Gen 2 models, both which I have previously reviewed.

Not content with just refining their 64mm burr grinders, DF has also ventured into the realm of larger burrs, releasing two different 83mm burr models to cater to users seeking even higher-end grinding capabilities.

Now, the brand has taken a surprising turn with its latest offering, the DF54. As the name suggests, this grinder features 54mm flat burrs, making it the more compact and affordable option within the DF lineup.

So what role will the DF54 actually play in the ecosystem? My guess is a surprisingly big one.

Design and Build Quality

The DF54 looks much like its big brother, the DF64 Gen 2. It’s got that same sturdy aluminum body that feels like it belongs on a more expensive grinder and has many of the same features.

The overall construction is solid, and it’s clear that DF has put some brain activity into the details (but not quite enough if you ask me).

One of the most noticeable upgrades from the DF64 Gen 2 is the power button. They’ve swapped out the plastic button for a sleek metal one, which adds a touch of class to the design.

DF54 button close up
The new metal button versus the old plastic button from the DF64 Gen 2.

But there are also some downgrades:

  • Plastic catch cup: The catch cup is made of plastic, which might seem like a cost-cutting measure compared to the aluminum version on the DF64 Gen 2.

However, the brand has added a clever rubber insert that keeps the cup securely in place and eliminates annoying rattling sounds.

It also brings the catch cup a bit closer to the chute, which helps to prevent a mess when using the bellows. The rubber insert is actually a very practical touch, and I hope to see it on all DF-models in the future.

df54 rubber insert
The rubber insert is practical and a great UX improvement
  • The wooden cap on the bellows looks cheaper compared to the more premium finish on the DF64 Gen 2. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it does stand out as a bit of an odd choice.
  • New dial indicator: While it’s a nice addition in theory, the fact that it’s fixed in place with a screw is problematic if you ever decide to swap out the burrs. If the new burrs have a different zero point, you’ll find yourself wishing for a more flexible indicator system.
  • Anti-popcorn: There’s still an anti-popcorn disc sitting just underneath the bellows. This device was introduced with the DF64V and helped to prevent beans bouncing back up from the grinding chamber.
  • The rubber bellows on top of the grinder have a janky fit, and it’s easy to knock them off by accident. This is not the first grinder with bellows from the brand, so it’s disappointing that they can’t get this right. However, check out my ultra simple hack in the video below – this makes it much more manageable.

So overall, there are both good and bad things to say about the small changes. In the grand scheme of things, you can probably live with these compromises when you consider the rest of the package. Also: a new catch cup, lid or dial indicator should probably be affordable to buy on a platform like Aliexpress.

One of the most striking things about the DF54’s design is its compactness compared to its bigger brothers, the DF64 and DF83. While a lot smaller, it still feels substantial and well-made. This is great news for anyone with limited counter space.

The motor does have less power at 150W compared to the 250W on the DF64, however, it should still be plenty for home use.

DF64 lid on the left versus DF54 on the right.

Overall, the DF54’s design and build quality are impressive, especially considering the price point. It’s not a statement piece or work of art like various models from Lagom, Weber Workshops, or even Eureka. But it’s functional and sturdy, like a prosumer model.

df54 vs df83 and df64 on table
The The Three DF-Stooges on the same stage.

Ease of Use

When it comes to the overall user experience, the DF54 is quite similar to its bigger brother, the DF64 Gen 2. However, there are a few small differences that are worth noting.

Of course, like most other DF grinders. it’s a single-dose grinder, so you’ll need to weigh beans for each dose, add them to the grind chamber, and press the on/off button.

After the grinding is finished, you should give the bellows a few taps to remove any retained ground.

The anti-static technology works pretty well, though I did notice a bit more static with lighter roasts at coarser settings compared to the DF64 Gen 2, even though it should be equipped with the same plasma generator technology.

You have a generous adjustment range, and it’s easy to go from espresso grinding to French press. You also have plenty of range to dial in your espresso shot. This is how it should be on a modern multipurpose single-dose grinder, and the DF54 does it perfectly.

Grind Quality: Espresso

When it comes to espresso brewing, you’d expect the DF54 to be a solid performer. After all, flat burrs of this size are typically very capable.

These are similar-sized flat burrs to those found in the Eureka Mignon Specialita and Mahlkonig 54X – two much more expensive grinders!

And unsurprisingly, the DF54 performs on a very similar level. The shots are nice and rounded, with good amounts of sweetness and clarity. The texture and sweetness are a bit more subdued compared to the Eureka Mignon Specialta, but on the flip side, the aftertaste is more defined and longer. Overall, the DF54 is very similar to its bigger sibling, the DF64 Gen 2, when it comes to espresso performance. The geometry of the burrs is also almost identical, so this is not surprising.

You do get a slightly slower grinding performance for espresso with around 10 seconds more per shot, but this is hardly something that matters for home use. Here are my grind time test results:

  • DF64 espresso setting: 14 grams in 15 seconds
  • DF54 espresso setting: 14 grams in 24 seconds

Filter performance

What is surprising, however, is the excellent performance of the DF54 for pour over coffee. I had expected this grinder to be, first and foremost, espresso-focused. But in my blind taste tests against other high-end grinders with a more filter-focused burr geometry, the DF54 was able to hold its own.

df54 burrs
The burrs are surprisingly capable for filter coffee

To compare the DF54’s performance against the DF83 with Lab Sweet burrs, DF64V with SSP Multipurpose burrs, Ode Gen 2, and ZP6, I conducted blind taste tests using the Hario Switch with Mugen cones (my new standard testing setup in 2024).

This setup ensures consistency while mimicking real-world brewing methods much better than cupping.

I tasted the cups blindly, and after, I measured the TDS and Extraction Yield of each sample using a refractometer to ensure all reached the same levels.

I tested the grinders at progressively higher extractions to reveal performance differences and used a variety of beans to account for grinder preferences. This methodology allows for an accurate and unbiased assessment of the DF54’s performance compared to the other grinders.

What surprised me was that I would often expect the worst cup on the table to be from the DF54, but then when I looked under the cup to check the markings, it turned out to be one of the other grinders.

In theory, the DF54 shouldn’t stand a chance against these elite models, but it happened several times. So while I’m not saying that the DF54 is better than these specialized filter grinders, it’s close enough in performance that you can’t immediately dismiss it.

Other espresso-focused grinders in this price class (or even much more expensive) would not stand a chance here. This is both surprising and potentially scary if you’re an established grinder brand!

The Baratza Encore ESP and Sage Smart Grinder Pro are probably the main rivals in this price class, and they wouldn’t stand a chance when compared to these high-end filter grinders.

Previously, only manual grinders in this price range could deliver an acceptable “professional” level for filter coffee. But in my opinion, DF54 should also be on your radar if your looking for an affordable grinder for other brewing methods besides espresso.

df54 grind consistency from filter to espresso
DF54 grind consistency from filter to espresso (click to open full image)

Retention

One of the most important factors when it comes to single-dose grinders is how much coffee is retained in the grinder after each dose. In other words, how much coffee is left behind in the grinder instead of making it into the portafilter or catch cup.

In my experience, the DF54 usually retains around 0.2 to 0.3 grams, with occasional doses retaining a bit more. This is pretty low, especially considering that these results were achieved without using the bellows. If you puff the bellows, you can usually get to 0.1 to 0.0 grams.

df54 static
With coarse grounds there can still be some static in spite of the plasma generator

When grinding coarser for drip coffee at a setting of 55, I noticed similar retention levels. A 13-gram dose resulted in 12.9 grams in the catch cup.

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the DF54’s retention. While some grinders may have slightly less retention, the DF54’s performance is more than acceptable for a single-dose grinder at this price point.

When you open up the burr chamber, you can see that the design is very neat and that there are not a lot of areas where grinds can get stuck.

ALSO READ: MHW-3Bomber Sniper Grinder review

Is it noisy?

I also tested the noise level. The DF54 can not exactly be described as a quiet coffee grinder, but at least it’s a bit more mild than it’s bigger brother who usually comes in over or around 90 dB.

Single dose grinders tend to be a bit more noisy than there hopper based counter part. Because there’s not a lot of mass, neither above nor underneath the grinds chamber, the sound will travel outwards more easily.

df54 noise test
The DF54 is not a quiet grinder, but it is a bit more easy on the ears compared to the DF64 Gen 2.

Burr Selection and Upgradability

One of the most exciting aspects of DF-grinders is their potential for burr upgrades. In 64 and 83-mm sizes, you have a lot of options to choose from. That’s not quite the case in the 54 mm size.

The 54mm burr size is less common than the 64mm size found in many other grinders. This means that current options for burr upgrades are somewhat limited. That said, as the DF54 gains popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a set of SSP burrs in the future.

Unfortunately, one potential hurdle for those looking to use burrs from popular brands like Mahlkonig or Baratza is that the DF54’s motor would need to spin in the opposite direction to accommodate them. This is because these brands use a different burr geometry that requires a counterclockwise rotation, while the DF54’s motor spins clockwise.

For the more adventurous tinkerers, it might be possible to modify the grinder’s motor settings to spin in the opposite direction. However, this would likely void the warranty and could potentially cause damage to the grinder if not done correctly. It’s not a modification I would recommend for most users, but I can imagine some intrepid enthusiasts taking on the challenge.

While the included 54mm flat burrs perform admirably for both espresso and filter coffee, the ability to swap in different burrs could open up even more possibilities for exploring different flavor profiles, and it’s something that many folks deeply involved in the coffee hobby love to play with. If that’s you, skip this and go directly to the DF64 Gen 2.

Value for Money?

The grinders in the DF series aren’t known for being pricey. In fact, it’s the opposite.

For a flat burr grinder, the DF64 Gen 2 is affordably priced. The DF54 is even more striking in comparison, being almost half the price of its bigger brother.

Previously we only had conical grinders with plastic bodies in this price range. Or manual grinder with conical burrs, such as the 1Zpresso K Ultra and Commandante C40 (well, actually they are even more expensive than this currently)

The DF54 is cheaper than a lot of the most popular mid-level options AND uses flat burrs. That’s remarkable!

Here you get to have a flat burr grinder that works and delivers results for the price of a conical burr grinder (which is typically cheaper and perceived as less premium).

Conclusion

After extensively testing the DF54, I have to say that I’m super impressed with what this grinder offers, especially considering its incredibly low price point.

The DF54 has packed in most of the best features from its bigger sibling, the DF64 Gen 2.

Most importantly, the grinder performs where it matters most: grind quality and consistency. The 54mm flat burrs may be smaller than the 64mm burrs found in other DF grinders, but they still manage to produce excellent results for both espresso and filter coffee. Retention is also impressively low, ensuring you get the most out of each dose.

While there are a few quirks and minor design choices that could be improved, these don’t detract from the overall value proposition of the DF54. It’s a grinder that punches well above its weight class and offers a true flat burr experience at a price that was previously unheard of.

The main downside is the burr size, where you don’t really have a lot of other options available. But this is mainly a problem for uber-geeks and not something that should be a concern for regular coffee and espresso lovers.

This grinder is proof that great coffee gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and I can’t wait to see how it inspires other manufacturers to up their game in the budget-friendly grinder market.

Preorder the grinder at Miicoffee

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Asser Christensen

Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site.
I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra.
My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.