Behind the Hype: In-Depth Review of the DF64 Grinder
Review

Behind the Hype: In-Depth Review of the DF64 Grinder

I have tried everything when it comes to the DF64. SSP burrs, declumping hacks, and so on. Is it really worth all the work?

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

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 a single-dose espresso grinder in the vein of the Niche Zero, which is probably the reason for much of the buzz.

I have had this grinder for six months now, so it’s a time for an in-depth review. Previously, I have shared my initial thoughts on the grinder on this page, but now the honeymoon phase is over, and it’s time for an update.

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DF64 Grinder
24 Reviews
DF64 Grinder
Great value for the money, but not for everybody. The DF64 has a big potential, but also some significant downsides.

Confusion and names

The new grinder is (most often) called DF64 and it is produced in China by a hitherto unknown company known as 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:

  • Probarista G-IOTA in Belgium 
  • Turin 64SD ELR in the US 
  • The Solo in England
  • DF64 on Amazon

Basically, it’s the same grinder in all these places, although some vendors might have installed different burrs. 

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 is just 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: The direct competitor is the Niche Zero, but it’s not exactly cheap. And it’s more or less impossible to obtain with the current, limited supply.
  • Upgradeable: Another trend that the DF64 capitalizes on is that it’s upgradeable with SSP burrs.
  • Pandemic: Don’t forget the lockdown factor. People have been spending a lot of time at home, which means that small trends on coffee forums can go viral (in the new sense of the word πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ) very quickly.
df64
DF64 is currently on the testing bench againt some other capable grinders.

Last year, I wrote about how I upgraded my Wilfa Uniform with custom burrs from the Korean burr manufacturer SSP, and during the past year, 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 other options than the stock burrs. 

Turin 64 vs Df64 price

The DF64 uses bellows to achieve low retention

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. 

If you buy the DF64 from Alibaba in China, the price is $520, including shipping, although you may face some import duty fees.

The cost from the American importer is $599. 

πŸ’‘ Pro tip: Amazon recently started offering the grinder at a very competitive price as well.

As mentioned above, FL Coffee is pretty unknown in the world of coffee. Judging from their website, their only other product is a grinder with an uncanny similarity to the Eureka Mignon Specialita

Based on that, it does seem like a bit more of a gamble to buy directly from China.

The DF64 bears some resemblance to other well known models; especially the Lagom P64 seems to be a source of inspiration. 

However, the DF64 only costs around one-third of the price of the more famous competitor. 

This grinder has 64mm burrs that can be changed to SSP’s

A big difference between this grinder and the Niche Zero is, of course, that the DF64 uses flat burrs. Many espresso lovers, myself included, prefer the taste of flat burrs. 

Initial impressions

The grinder feels extremely sturdy, when you have it in your arms. It is relatively heavy at 15 lbs, and overall it feels like a no-nonsense construction.

If you compare it to a grinder like the Baratza Sette, it feels a lot more sturdy. Like in a different league.

The motor is also quite powerful at 250 watt. I’ve tested it with SSP Multipurpose burrs (more about those later in the post) and it had no problem running the burrs; even at Turkish level settings.

However, It’s important to state that we’re still at a very early stage. Most users have had the grinder under a year, so it’s still a bit too early to comment on quality and longevity. 

Personally, I did encounter some issues after a few months with the circuit board which needed to be replaced. Suddenly, the power-button couldn’t turn off the grinder anymore. Apparently, a few of the first units coming out of the factory have had this issue. Luckily, stuff like that should be covered by all local vendors.

ssp burr multipurpose red speed and df64 grinder
The DF64 is a popular platform for SSP burrs

How’s the taste?

Some users claim that the grinder tastes great for all brewing methods right out of the box with the stock 64 mm Italmill burrs.

My initial impression is that it tastes quite good for espresso, but I’m not blown away when it comes to the coarser grinds.

My sifting tests also indicated that it’s less uniform than the Comandante C40 and 1Zpresso Jx out of the box. In cupping and brewing tests, I also prefered these grinders.

Even though the stock burrs have an espresso-focused geometry, they should perform well enough for pour over, though. So how come many users are facing issues? As far as I can tell there are three main problems.

  • Regrinding via declumper
  • Poor alignment
  • Lack of anti-popcorning disk

Let’s zoom in on each of them.

Declumper issues

Espresso grinders typically have a little screen installed at the chute that can help break break up clumps and reduce static, however, with the 1st generation of the DF64 this declumper was too restrictive in its flow.

This means that some ground coffee will not be able to exit via the chute and will end up being reground. These particles will most likely become fines, and will result in a lack of clarity that is especially noticeable at a pour over setting.

On the first iteration of the grinder, two permeable silicone screens were layered on top of each other as a sort of declumper. It’s relatively easy to “mod” these screens by cutting off a part of the outer flap. This will create less resitance and help to reduce retention and regrinding.

I’m not that handy but was able to do it in around 20 minutes. All you need is a star screwdriver, pliars and scissors.

Some people are installing home-designed declumping units and others are using spare parts from the Mythos grinder. However, there are users that forego a declumper altogether and simply remove it. I did try this myself, but the static turned to be unmanageable – even with copious amounts of RDT (aka water mist sprayed on beans before grinding).

Alignment

The last piece of the puzzle is alignment. Some people have been lucky with great alignment from the factory, while others have had to work more for it.

Using an erasable marker seems to be the most widespread method, when checking whether the burrs are parallel.

Again, I noticed that the difference in performance was day and night after I had properly aligned the burrs.

Alignment is quite important, however, at the same time it can be a frustrating experience. This step will be unavoidable if you ever plan to install SSP burrs.

There are already so many third party upgrades available via 3d printing. The popcorn unit is worth getting.

Anti-popcorn

It’s pretty well-known that most flat burr grinders are designed to function optimally when the hopper is loaded with beans. If there are no beans in the hopper, a phenomenon known as popcorning will occur. This leads to reduced grind consistency.

Since the DF64 doesn’t have a proper solution for popcorning, it’s only fair to assume that it’s not working as well as it could out of the box. There are already several 3d-print designs available online that solves this. I got one for my unit, and noticed better results after implementing it.

a Zero retention grinder?

One of the big selling points of the DF64/G-iota is that it’s a zero retention grinder. Does it also live up to that claim?

The design is simple and straightforward, and with the included bellows as well as a “modded” silicone declumper, you do get a very low retention.

In daily use the retention/exchange is more or less zero, if you use the bellows as intended.

If you don’t use the bellows there will be some retention, but not much. Overall, it performs better than most other grinders in this area.

Downsides to the DF64 / Turin

Now, let’s talk a bit about the downsides to this grinder. Because there are a few things to be aware of.

  • Static cling is a big issue. The distance between the spout and the dosing cup is long enough that microscopic fines can escape. This is especially, annoying if you’re brewing lighter roasts for filter and use the bellows. It will messy. RDT is advised. Luckily, there are more and more third party solutions to this. Either via 3d printing or from this vendor, who produces alu-funnels that fit either the dosing cup or a portafilter. They do help to avoid the mess. You can contact Oat (the woman behind the design) on Instagram if you want to buy the accessory.
df64 funnel alu
The DF64 is a messy grinder, but accessories by third parties certainly help.
  • Awkward button: There’s no switch to disconnect the power. And the on/off button is located in an annoying spot.
  • Plastic: The dosing cup and the portafilter holder are made out of a cheap-looking plastic. It should be easy enough to find a replacement though, if you have an accident. As I have been using the dosing cup more and more, it has grown on me however. Aside from aesthetics, it’s nice in daily use.
  • Poorly designed Declumper: Already mentioned this in depth in the prevsious section.
  • Noise: With the regular burrs the DF64 is pretty average when it comes to noise. However, if you put in the SSP Multipurpose burrs and suddenly it’s a decibel monster. We’re talking Baratza Sette/jackhammer levels here. I think it’s the combination of a very high 1400 RPM’s, aggressive burrs and a very minimalist design that make it so bad.
closeup details df64 g-iota
Here a few of the less impressive details of the DF64

Experience with the SSP Burrs?

Many people who get the DF64 will sooner or later upgrade it with SSP burrs.

There are currently two models, and the names can be a bit confusing.

  • Multipurpose: Suited for filter coffee and modern espresso (fast-flowing shots).
  • High uniformity: Espresso-focused, but more “clean” tasting than the stock burrs from Italmill.

My experience with the SSP burrs 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.

Some folks will most like send me PM’s, asking to compare it to the Comandante and Jx grinders, so I’ll save you the trouble πŸ˜‰

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.

Conclusion: G-iota / DF64

The DF64 is all potential. It seems like a great deal, which it is – but only for the right kind of person.

It is, however, a frustrating product that’s still in beta-mode in many ways.

Of course, the v2 of the grinder has solved a few issues, but some persist.

The new declumper might be better, but it’s not perfect. 

Antipopcorn and a dial indicator are still something many users end up 3d printing. These parts ought to come as standard.

However, the static issues are still evident. 

A grinder from a brand such as Baratza or Eureka will be way less annoying. 

But it will probably not have the same potential and seemingly endless upgrade pathway as the DF64.

I can’t help wondering if that’s the main appeal of the DF64 for some people? It’s not perfect, but it seems to be built for the sole purpose of being modded? A bit like the grinder-version of the Gaggia Classic, perhaps?

Yeah, it’s still a solid device. But one day, it might be an amazing one. I think there could well be a third version on the way that might solve all the issues mentioned in this article, and when that happens, the DF64 will be unstoppable.

At this moment, it’s merely an excellent yet very frustrating grinder.

Where to buy?

Faq

Can you make pour over with the DF64?

Yes, you can make pour over with the DF64. However, the grinder is optimized for espresso. If you want to make really good pour over coffee with the DF64, you will most likely have to upgrade it with SSP burrs, align the burrs, and modify the declumper, in order to reduce fines.

Is it necessary to do burr alignment?

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.

What is the RPM of the DF64

The RPM is 1400, which is at the higher end of burr grinders. The DF64 does not have variable RPM.

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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.