The Fellow Ode has been out for a while now.
At first, there were huge expectations for this slick-looking flat burr grinder.
But after the first rush of excitement wore off, customers started complaining. Allegedly, the grinder wasn’t able to grind fine enough for many common brew methods.
I must admit that these negative reviews also turned me off. After all, the Ode grinder is relatively expensive, and who would want a half-baked product at that price point?
But then I decided that I had to try the device for myself, so I could tell you whether it was worth it. I’m glad I did.
Btw: I have paid for this grinder myself, so you can be sure that this review is objective and bias-free.
About the Company
Fellow Products is an American coffee company headquartered in San Francisco, CA.
They are known for super slick, modern (evil tongues would say, hipsterish) looking products, which probably explains why their prices are pretty high.
The most famous product from the brand is the Stagg kettle, but they also have an extensive line of cups and mugs.
The Ode grinder is the company’s first grinder, and in some ways, that is apparent. But more about that later.
The Ode started as a Kickstarter project. Almost 5000 people backed the project, and 1.2 million dollars were raised. Even though the crowdfunding is technically over, Fellow still communicates with the backers via the project page about some upcoming upgrades and improvements.
The most striking thing about the Fellow Ode is the gorgeous, futuristic design.
It looks like something straight out of a Stanley Kubrick sci-fi movie. Initially, it was only available in black, but now a white version is also for sale.
It’s a compact, stout thing, being only 9.5 inches / 24 centimeter tall. It doesn’t quite look like any other grinder out there. Most grinders still use a big hopper for storing beans. Fellow Ode has done away with this in favor of a single dose hopper.
Since we’re living in 2022, single dosing is one of the biggest trends in coffee, so this decision makes a lot of sense.
It means that the grinder takes up less space on the counter, and in theory, you should have fewer issues with running the grinder half-empty.
Even the inside of the single-dose hopper & the backside have that “designer” feeling
Some grinders have problems with popcorning (the last beans jumping around instead of being ground), and the Fellow Ode does pretty well in this regard.
The grinder feels sturdy and like it can last for many years.
The design is both different and familiar. It’s not like any other grinders on the Western market.
However, the construction reminds me of a specific Asian design, which brands such as Xeoleo, Fuji Royal, and Feima have used pretty successfully. The burrs are turned 180 degrees compared to many standard burr designs, and I guess helps to avoid retention.
The grinder also uses an auger, which helps to feed the beans to the burrs. Again, this makes sense on a single dose grinder, since this will further reduce the “popcorning phenomenon” mentioned above.
However, the slope that leads the beans into the grinder could be a bit more angled to facilitate a quicker entry of beans into the grinding chamber. Fellow is working on a slight redesign of the hopper to improve this. But, overall, I would say this is only a minor inconvenience.
Other observations about the Ode
- The oversized adjustment wheel is the other thing that steals attention. The wheel is easy to turn, and there’s a satisfying click with each setting, so you know that it will stay in place.
- Underneath it, we have the magnetic catch cup. It’s easy to take out, and the magnets will guide it into place when you put it back in. Classy.
- There’s also the knocker on the side, a little metal flap that you can push to help push out the last coffee grounds. This feature is quite unusual on a home coffee grinder. I can’t decide if I like it or not. You don’t have to use the knocker, though, so it’s no big deal.
- Sound: This grinder’s sound when it’s running is just lovely. It’s almost silent, a bit like the Eureka Mignon Specialita. However, there’s a little beep when the grinder has determined that it has finished grinding. It’s not loud, but some people would probably find that annoying.
- Buzz? There’s also a slight low-pitched buzzing sound when the grinder is not used. This was a major disappointment for me. Luckily, it subsided after being plugged in for a few days, and now the grinder is noiseless when not in use.
Does Fellow Ode grind fine enough?
One of the big selling points of the Fellow Ode is that it uses 64mm flat burrs.
Not many domestic grinders intended for brewed coffee (not espresso) use flat burrs. When I think about it, only the Wilfa Uniform fits that bill. Although, I’m sure more competition will enter this niche of the grinder market soon.
As I mentioned, the grinder is focused on brewed coffee, not espresso. So we’re talking about batch brew, French press, drip, etc.
Fellow Products has made some big decisions regarding the burrs here. They are excellent for brewed coffee, but they can’t grind very fine. Many reviewers have commented on this fact, so it’s not a secret.
My take is this: If you’re only planning to use the coffee for French press and drip coffee, you’ll be fine. You’ll get delicious brews, don’t worry.
However, you’ll probably also feel a bit limited. Most of my time using the grinder, I had it in the lowest setting. You feel a bit foolish when you have this big beautiful adjustment wheel, and you’re only using one setting.
On the other hand, the flavors from my pour over coffee were mesmerizing. Indeed in a different league compared to typical alternatives such as Baratza Encore or Virtuoso. In my opinion, it even outperformed the Wilfa Uniform.
I would probably compare it to grinders such as the Comandante C40 and K Max in taste quality. It has a bit less of that effervescent fruity acidity that especially the C40 offers, but on the other hand, it provides more body and complexity. It encourages you to spend some time with the cup to soak in all the different impressions.
But this is also a Faustian bargain: You get a lot. But you also lose a lot.
- What if you want to grind for a quick espresso shot? Nope, can’t get anywhere close.
- An AeroPress with the James Hoffmann recipe, which requires a very fine grind size? Nope.
- You might even experience extraction issues with a Moka pot or siphon.
- The same goes for specific V60 recipes with very light Nordic coffees. At least for smaller batch sizes, around 12 grams.
⚠️ Fellow Ode 2.0 burrs?
Fellow quickly realized they had made a mistake with the original burrs and introduced a “version 1.1.” This set can grind a bit finer than the original burrs. All new Odes come with this burr set.
Fellow has stated that they are currently working on a new burr set, the so-called 2.0 burr set, which will be able to grind rather fine. This is expected to be available in Q3 of 2022. Current owners will be able to buy the set for a discounted price.
What about SSP burrs?
A solution to the grind size issue has been to install the 64 mm multipurpose burr set from Korean coffee brand SSP.
On the two other grinders, both the installation and alignment took trial and error. It was simple to do with the Fellow Ode, and the taste was remarkable right away (I had already seasoned the burrs, but if you’re using new burrs, then expect that it needs a few kilos of use before performing optimally.
How was the coffee with SSP Unimodals? It tasted as expected, I would say. The grind size is very consistent, and you can go all the way down to espresso-fineness with a bit of bit of calibration. But, again, this is a simple mod that you can do in ten minutes or less.
With SSP burrs, I would say that the Ode tasted a lot like the DF64 with the same set installed, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Maybe the coffee tasted a bit richer on the DF64 due to its higher RPM?
The Ode grinder has an automatic variable RPM controller that controls the motor, so it grinds at the same time constantly. I can only speculate, but maybe this feature makes the Ode even more consistent, whereas the DF64 throws more fines, resulting in a more layered cup?
Some people adore the SSP multipurpose, and if you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy them in the Ode.
However, SPP burrs are also quite expensive. These burrs can set you back more than a competent domestic grinder, depending on where you live.
So with Ode + SPP, you’ll have a total cost where you’re getting close to some prosumer grinders. So that’s worth considering as well.
As I mentioned in the introduction, my unit had a weird buzzing sound at first, but after a few days, that had stopped.
Some people complain about the catch cup and its unique fins intended to “guide” the coffee into the brewing device. It’s not working that well, but it’s also relatively easy to pour from the other side. Ironically, I only found it helpful when dosing into an espresso portafilter. However, the stock Ode doesn’t grind fine enough for that kind of brewing method.
There’s a plastic lid on top of the grinds bin intended to reduce static and stray grounds. It works okay, but it isn’t delightful to take it out and reinsert it every time you grind coffee.
I think they could have made a design without the need for the lid.
Static is not a big problem on the grinder, though. The grinder can be messy at times, but it’s certainly manageable.
As I mentioned before, Fellow doesn’t have many rivals. When it comes to brew-focused flat burr grinders that are also affordable, the leading contenders are probably Baratza Vario & Virtuoso. If you live in Europe, Wilfa Uniform is also an option.
Regarding the Baratza coffee grinders, it does feel like a bit of an apple and pears comparison. None of those devices have the same elegant look and feel as the Fellow Ode.
But on the other hand, they can grind fine enough for espresso. In terms of flavor quality, the Ode is miles ahead of the conical grinders from Baratza (Encore and Virtuoso).
I also think Ode does a better job out of the box than Wilfa Uniform. What if you fit SSP burrs in both of them? Then it will be difficult to tell the difference. However, the Wilfa Uniform feels like its motor is very close to being underpowered when used with SSP burrs, sometimes even stalling, which is not the case for the Ode.
However, a few years after its launch, you can get the Uniform at a discounted price in Europe. That’s an argument in favor of the Norwegian brand.
Of course, we also have to mention the DF64. But that grinder is like the polar opposite of the Ode in terms of aesthetics and functions. And it’s designed for espresso. However, if you’re going to install SSP MP’s and want a multipurpose grinder, it’s probably the better choice.
Hand grinders are always good value for the money, and I think the Comandante C40 and 1Zpresso K Max are at the same level as the Fellow Ode when it comes to brewed coffee. However, they can make espresso grounds, so they’re winning that battle by default.
Fellow Ode Grinder Review: The Verdict
The Fellow Ode is, in many ways, a unique grinder.
It has a couple of minor errors and one really big one.
If it could grind just a bit finer, I would probably have it as my top pick for domestic, electric coffee grinders.
But the fact that a grinder at this price range can’t do that is disappointing.
I don’t particularly appreciate steering people toward an expensive but limited grinder. The Ode is not a budget grinder. In fact, it’s expensive enough that most regular mortals will consider it a bit outlandish to spend that much money.
However, this is an excellent choice if you want a beautiful and capable grinder for French press or drip coffee duties.
➡️ Check the latest price here on Amazon
➡️ Check price on Fellow’s website