The mysterious DF64 grinder emerged in the beginning of 2021, and ever since, it’s been one of the most hyped coffee products.
It’s an affordable single-dose espresso grinder in the vein of the Niche Zero, which is probably the reason for much of the buzz.
Now the grinder is back in a revamped Gen 2 version that aims to correct the design flaws that plagued the first release (which I should mention also received minor incremental updates, commonly known as V1, V2, V3, etc.)
I’ve owned the original DF64 since it was released. Although I’ve only used the new model for a few weeks, I feel confident in comparing the two thoroughly.
This article dives deep into this new model’s features, upgrades, and overall performance.
Where to buy:
A Brief History of the DF-Series
The DF-series is manufactured in China by the Zhejiang Feilai Electric Appliance factory under its subdivision FL Coffee.
There has been some confusion about the grinder. It has already been sold under a range of different names in various parts of the world:
Basically, it’s the same grinder in all these places, although some vendors might have installed different burrs or offer better service and warranties.
Why is the DF64 grinder so hyped?
It’s unusual that a grinder made by a virtually unknown Chinese company reaches this level of hype.
But it seems that this model was just released at the right place at the right time. It’s a perfect storm of several coffee forum trends packed into one affordable package.
- Single-dosing: One of the biggest trends in coffee at the moment is single-dosing espresso grinders.
Until this point, there haven’t been many options for budget-conscious single-dosing grinders.
- Lack of competition: In 2021, when the DF64 Gen 1 was released, the main rival was the conical burr grinder Niche Zero. Today, in 2023, you have way more options, but back then, an affordable flat burr single dose grinder was big news!
- Upgradeable: Another trend that the DF64 capitalizes on is that it’s upgradeable with SSP burrs.
- Pandemic: Don’t forget the lockdown factor. People were spending a lot of time at home between 2020-2022, meaning that geeky trends on coffee forums became much more mainstream than what was conceivable in a different era.
Back in 2019, I wrote about how I upgraded my Wilfa Uniform with custom burrs from the Korean burr manufacturer SSP, and during the past couple of years, it’s become more and more mainstream among coffee geeks to go down that pathway.
The DF64, as the name indicates, uses 64-millimeter flat burrs, which makes it relatively easy to purchase new burrs if you want to explore options other than the stock burrs. 64 mm is one of the most common burr sizes.
Turin 64 vs Df64 price
Of course, the last piece of the puzzle is that the grinder seems like a good deal compared to what else it out there.
Even though most people wouldn’t consider this cheap for a coffee grinder, it’s an attractive price for a well-built flat burr espresso grinder.
The cost from the American importer is $399. This might seem expensive to outsiders, but among coffee geeks, this is still considered relatively affordable.
|Motor Power||250 watts|
|Grinding Speed||1 – 2.1 grams per second|
|Burrs||64mm stainless steel flat burrs (ItalMill)|
|Bean Hopper Capacity||70 g (with bellows)|
|Dimensions||10 x 5.2 x 12 inches|
|Weight||14.3 pounds (6.5 kg)|
|Current Price||Click here|
The grinder feels exceptionally sturdy when you have it in your arms.
It is relatively heavy at 15 lbs, and overall it feels like a no-nonsense construction.
It feels much more sturdy if you compare it to a grinder like the Baratza Sette. Like, in a different league.
The motor is also quite powerful at 250 watt. I’ve tested it with several different SSP burrs (more about those later in the post), and it had no problem running the burrs, even at Turkish-level settings.
At first glance, the Gen 2 DF64 bears a resemblance to its predecessor, the OG DF64. However, a closer look reveals a series of subtle yet impactful changes:
- Finish: The new DF64 boasts a refined exterior, doing away with the vinyl wrapping in favor of a sleek, classy finish.
- On-Off Button: Relocated to a more ergonomic position, the button is now unlit, addressing a common grievance with the old DF64. Although it now sports a red hue, it’s far less conspicuous in a real-life kitchen setting than in product photos. While it’s not pretty, it’s not a big deal.
- Coffee Bean Dial Indicator: This feature, arguably the least aesthetically pleasing aspect of the original DF64, has been removed in the new model.
- Aesthetic details: The Gen 2 has an all-new revamped front design with an aluminum cup, steel dosing ring, and a wooden lid. These elements are already available with the DF83, but they are welcome additions here!
The Gen 2 DF64 introduces several innovations that enhance its functionality:
- Antipopcorn Disc: Borrowed from the DF64V, this feature effectively prevents coffee beans from bouncing during grinding. Tests have shown that it can reduce grinding time by up to 10 seconds.
- Speed: Being a 64 mm grinder with relatively aggressive burrs, this grinder is also fast. However, due to the antipopcorn disc and the design of the burr chamber, the feeding rate of the burrs is also excellent. This means that the grinder can quickly chew through the beans with its 1400 RPM. A typical double espresso dose can be ground in 7-11 seconds, which is very reasonable.
- Dosing Ring and Aluminum Catch Cup: These can be placed on a portafilter or used to extend the dosing cup.
- Adjustment Collar/dial indicator: The collar has been given a premium makeover, enhancing the grinder’s overall aesthetics. There’s also a metal dial indicator that will help you to spot the precise number on the adjustment collar.
In a side-by-side comparison between the new Gen 2 and the original DF64, the new grinder exhibited a more acidic and “modern” taste profile for both filter coffee and espresso. Especially, for filter coffee, there’s a noteworthy improvement. If you drink ligh or medium roasts, I think you will definitely appreciate the new burrs.
When it comes to espresso, the burrs also showcase a full flavor spectrum with an increases emphasis on acidity compared to the old Italmill burrs. I’s possible that some people who are into more classic blended espresso shot will actually prefer the old burrs. Personally, I think they are also really great for espresso, and I have enjoyed shots with a nice body and good flavor separation from the grinder.
Experience with the SSP Burrs?
Many people who get the DF64 will sooner or later upgrade it with SSP burrs.
There are currently three models, and the names can be a bit confusing.
- Multipurpose: Suited for filter coffee and modern espresso (fast-flowing shots).
- Cast Burrs: Suitable for filter and can also make thick traditional espresso
- High uniformity: Espresso-focused, but more “clean” tasting than the stock burrs from Italmill.
My experience with the SSP burrs in the Gen 1 has been mixed. I installed the Multipurpose set after having owned the grinder for a few months. It took a while before I was content.
I had to several kilos of beans for seasoning and spend a lot of time trying to align the new burrs.
After I found the sweet spot, however, it transformed the grinder. Pour overs suddenly tasted terrific, and I could also pull some immaculate espresso shots and lungos.
I also have SSP burrs in my Wilfa Uniform, but sometimes I find they can taste a bit too clean in that grinder. The Multipurpose burrs run at a higher RPM in the DF64 and provide more flavor blending, which I enjoy for all types of manual coffee brewing.
Provided everything is optimized (alignment, anti-popcorning, declumper), the DF64 + SSP MP will be better than those two hand grinders.
However, if one of those aspects is not taken care of, the manual grinder will come out on top.
So in that sense, the DF64 is not a silver bullet. You will have to tweak it and mod it to get the best out of it.
I must admit I was mildly frustrated while tweaking certain aspects of the grinder, so I wonder how people who are less used to that obsessive coffee geek lifestyle might feel about the UX. I’m sure a few people will give up halfway.
Major problems: Have they fixed them?
Gen 1: Declumper Issues
Espresso grinders typically come equipped with a screen at the chute to break up clumps and reduce static. However, the first generation of the DF64 had a declumper that was too restrictive. This led to some ground coffee being unable to exit the chute, causing it to be reground. These reground particles often became fines, affecting the clarity of the brew, especially in pour-over settings.
The original design used two permeable silicone screens layered atop each other. While it was possible to modify these screens to reduce resistance and retention, it required some DIY skills. Some users even opted for home-designed declumping units or spare parts from other grinders. Yet, others chose to remove the declumper entirely, which resulted in unmanageable static.
Gen 2: Mess-Free Grinding
The Gen 2 DF64 has addressed the messiness and retention issues of its predecessor. With a redesigned clump crusher and the innovative introduction of a plasma generator in the chute, static electricity is significantly reduced. This not only makes the grinder less messy but also minimizes retention.
Static Electricity & Messiness
Gen 1: Static Challenges
One of the major downsides of the first-generation DF64 was the static cling. The distance between the spout and the dosing cup allowed microscopic fines to escape, especially when brewing lighter roasts for filter coffee. Using the bellows exacerbated the mess. While RDT (water mist sprayed on beans before grinding) was advised, third-party solutions, such as 3D-printed parts or aluminum funnels, became popular to manage the static.
Gen 2: Static Solutions
The new DF64 has made significant strides in addressing the static issue. The introduction of a plasma generator in the chute effectively reduces static electricity, making the grinding process cleaner and more efficient.
Gen 1: Popcorning Problems
Flat burr grinders, including the DF64, require a loaded hopper for optimal function. Without beans, popcorning occurs, leading to inconsistent grinding. The first-generation DF64 lacked an effective solution for this issue. However, third-party 3D-printed designs emerged to address this problem.
Gen 2: Antipopcorn Disc
The Gen 2 DF64 borrows the Antipopcorn Disc from the DF64V, which effectively prevents coffee beans from bouncing during grinding. This innovation not only enhances grind consistency but also reduces grinding time.
Downsides of the Gen 2 DF64
While the Gen 2 DF64 boasts numerous upgrades and improvements, it’s essential to address some areas where the grinder could further evolve. Here are some of the downsides to consider:
- Noise Levels: Despite the advancements, the Gen 2 DF64 remains on the noisier side. For those seeking a quiet morning brew ritual, this grinder might not be the ideal choice.
- Grounds Bin Placement: The aluminum grounds bin, while a welcome addition, could benefit from being positioned closer to the chute. This adjustment could further minimize mess and ensure a cleaner grinding experience.
- Aesthetic Inconsistencies: Some design elements seem slightly out of place, detracting from the grinder’s overall aesthetic appeal. The red on-off button, for instance, feels somewhat mismatched with the rest of the unit.
- Branding and Typography: The font used on the dial indicator and the overall branding gives off an OEM product vibe. A more refined and consistent branding approach could elevate the grinder’s premium feel and align better with its innovative features.
In conclusion, while the Gen 2 DF64 is undoubtedly a step up from its predecessor, there’s always room for refinement. Addressing these downsides in future iterations could make the grinder even more compelling for coffee enthusiasts.
The Gen 2 DF64 is a marked improvement over the original model. Assuming a similar price point, it offers exceptional value for money.
It excels as a single doser for both espresso and drip, offering low retention and a seamless user experience.
The Gen 2 DF64 is certainly worth considering if you want a multi-purpose single-dose grinder.
Personally, I was very conflicted regarding the original DF64. It was a flawed grinder but still offered some of the best value on the market.
With the Gen 2 DF64, most of these quirks have been addressed, and the downsides are rather small. For the money, this is an excellent option and one of my top choices for espresso grinders of 2023.
Where to buy?
Yes, you can make pour over with the DF64. However, the grinder is optimized for espresso. If you want to make top level pour over coffee with the DF64, you will have to upgrade it with SSP burrs.
No, it might not be necessary. Most DF64’s come with a decent burr alignment from the factory. If you’re happy with the taste, you can just leave the burrs as they are. However, not all users are happy with the factory calibration and decide to additional alignment using the marker test.
The RPM is 1400, which is at the higher end of burr grinders. The DF64 does not have variable RPM.