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.
By the way, I have paid for this grinder myself, so you can be sure that this review is objective and bias-free.
Update 2023: This review also covers Gen 2, so if you want the full explanation and how the model differs, then read on.
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, only 9.5 inches / 24 centimeters 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 2023, 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 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. On the first generation of the grinder, there’s a little beep when the grinder has determined that it has finished grinding. This has been removed with Gen 2.
- Buzz? For the first 3-5 days there was a slight low-pitched buzzing, and humming sound when the grinder was plugged in, but 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. However, 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 made some big decisions regarding the Gen 1 V1 burrs. They are excellent for brewed coffee but can’t grind very fine. Many reviewers have commented on this, 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 the time, I used the grinder, and I had the adjustment wheel on 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 flavor from my pour over was excellent. Indeed in a different league compared to typical alternatives such as Baratza Encore or Virtuoso. In my opinion, it also outperformed the Wilfa Uniform.
So yes, the Gen 1 burrs did have some problems, but overall did well. What about the Gen 2 burrs? Well, glad you asked.
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.
In Q4 2022, however, Fellow launched the highly anticipated 2.0 burrs. These burrs can be bought separately but also come as standard with the upgraded “Ode Gen 2”.
The new burrs can grind a lot finer than previously. We’re still not quite at an espresso setting, but it’s fine enough for something like moka pot or AeroPress.
I bought the new burrs and installed them in my Fellow Ode Gen 1. The process was relatively straightforward. The result is that my Ode now can grind a lot finer.
My other observations were that the grinder was also quite a bit faster and that the coffee tastes even better.
The new burrs offer an outstanding balance of clarity, body, and sweetness that will appeal to most people. As someone who has tried most of the “hyped” filter coffee burr sets on the market, including SSP MP’s, Lab Sweet, Timemore 078, and so on, I was not disappointed with the Gen 2 burrs.
They offer a bit more texture and balance than the SSP MP’s and are similar to the 64 mm Lab Sweet. However, where Lab Sweet can have a slightly artificial and detached sweetness, the Ode Gen 2 Burrs present a more coherent flavor profile, where everything is presented naturally.
I rate these burrs highly and think that they are ideal for “everyday coffee” as well as more adventurous beans. While collectors and obsessives will likely still want various ultra-high clarity burrs to experiment with, this burr set should be good enough for the vast majority of people. I think that it easily beats the dedicated filter brew burrs from brands like Eureka and Mazzer and most hand grinders as well, even brew-focused heptagonal options. That should tell you something.
What about SSP burrs?
Many customers have installed SSP burrs in their Ode grinder. This was a sensible solution to the grind size issues with the Gen 1 burrs.
I have previously made those upgrades on my Wilfa Uniform and DF64 grinders so I detail the installation process here. However, overall it’s a straightforward mod on the Ode.
On other grinder models, the installation and alignment can be cumbersome. However, it’s simple with the Fellow Ode, also thanks to the clear video instructions available from the brand.
How was the coffee with SSP Unimodals? It tasted as expected, I would say. The grind size is very consistent, and you can go down to espresso-fineness with a bit of calibration. However, if you’re getting the Ode Gen 2 with the new burrs, I don’t see much reason to upgrade to SSP since it’s more of a sidegrade. Sure, you can unlock espresso grinding range, but besides that the ROI is not favorable. And if you want to grind for espresso, I think it makes more sense to get a dedicated espresso grinder.
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.
As I mentioned in the introduction, my unit first had a weird buzzing sound, 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 brewing method.
A plastic lid on top of the grinds bin is intended to reduce static and stray grounds. It works okay, but taking it out and reinserting it every time you grind coffee isn’t fun.
I think they could have made a design without the need for the lid, similar to Timemore 064S.
Static is, in my opinion, not a big problem on the Gen 1. The grinder can be messy at times, but it’s certainly manageable.
With the new update to the grinder (the so-called Gen-2 version) Fellow has used unique anti-static technology. So, if you’re getting one of the newest versions, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
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 & Timemore 064. 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. UX is superior, and the coffee tastes cleaner and sweeter with the new Gen 2 burrs, compared to the much more generic Wilfa burrs (sourced from Italmill). 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 Gen 2. But that grinder is like the polar opposite of the Ode regarding aesthetics and functions. And it’s designed for espresso. If you’re planning to install SSP burrs and want a multipurpose grinder that’s very good for espresso, it’s the better choice.
Fellow Ode Grinder Review: The Verdict
The Fellow Ode is, in many ways, a unique grinder.
When it came out, it had a couple of minor errors and one massive one (not being able to grind fine enough).
With the release of the “Gen 2” version of the grinder, the company has fixed most/all of these issues.
If you’re in the market for a gorgeous coffee grinder that can do everything (except espresso), this is probably your best bet.
➡️ Check the latest price here on Amazon
➡️ Check price on Fellow’s website