Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism
- May 24, 2019
The market for manual coffee grinders has exploded in recent years. That isn’t strange since the price to quality ratio is usually very compelling with a hand grinder.
However, with fierce competition, it takes something special to stand out.
The 1Zpresso Mini Q has got that something special.
After receiving my test unit, I posted a short video on my Instagram, and within minutes a former coffee world champion got in touch, eager to know more about the grinder.
If you want to find out if this is the model for you, be sure to read the rest of the review. But for now, let me say that the Mini Q is one of the most exciting hand grinders to come out in 2019.
(Update: 1Zpresso recently released the Q2, which is an upgrade to the ‘Mini Q’ version I’m reviewing here.)
1Zpresso is a Taiwanese brand. I encountered them first when I attended the Taipei Coffee Expo in 2017 and dropped by their booth.
Already back then, the grinders stood out in terms of engineering, quality, and price. However, at these industry gatherings, you encounter a lot of exciting startups, and it’s difficult to tell which ones, are here to stay.
Now, almost two years later, it’s evident that 1Zpresso is here to stay. They recently entered the Western market, and the brand name is already well-known among my Asian coffee geek friends.
At the moment, the company only produces hand grinders and a single manual espresso maker. This narrow focus is good; it means that the company can innovate and improve, rather than just copying last years fashion.
The company also launched the 1Zpresso Jx in 2019, which is currently my favorite handgrinder.
The 1Zpresso Mini Q is the company’s smallest grinder. The size is perfect for those looking for a travel companion.
However, manual grinders are a little bit like smartphones. In recent years, they have gotten bigger and bigger, to the point where terms like “small, compact and mini’ almost don’t make sense anymore.
For instance, the Kinu M47 Traveler weighs in at 598 g/1.3 lbs, while the massive Lido 3 comes in at 1052 g/2.5 pounds.
If you’re a frequent traveler only using carry on luggage, these grinders will take up a significant amount of your weight allowance.
The Mini Q isn’t precisely featherweight at 445 g/0.98 lbs; however, for most people, it would be acceptable.
Weight isn’t the only thing that matters, however. Size is also important. And with a diameter of only 4,6 centimeters the Mini Q fits perfectly inside and an Aeropress. This is something I know many of my coffee geek friends appreciate.
The slim diameter also means that the grinder is lovely to handle in daily use. Models such as Helor 101 or the Comandante C-40 MK3 can be slightly unwieldy for people with small hands, but the Mini Q should be suitable for everybody.
One of the things I was wondering about in the beginning was whether this was only a travel grinder, or if it could make the cut as an everyday mill.
By now I’m pretty convinced that it would work well as the daily workhorse grinder for most people.
Officially, the brand says that the hopper capacity is between 15-20 grams, but I have found that to be on the conservative side. If you’re using a light roast, you should be able to squeeze in 23-24 grams.
If the upper limit had been the 18-20 grams, I would hesitate to recommend it as the daily grinder but with up to 24 grams that should suffice for many specialty coffee geeks.
Of course, everything is relative, and you might make a 1-liter French press every morning. In that case, you’d probably be served better with an electric grinder or a hand grind with an enormous capacity such as the Lido 3.
But if you mainly do pour overs and Aeropress the capacity of the Mini Q should be sufficient.
The 1Zpresso Mini Q is a rather minimalistic and beautiful grinder. The exterior is a brushed aluminum alloy.
The internals consists of a 38 mm conical burr set made of ‘grade 420’ stainless steel. That’s the highest rating for stainless steel, so it should be able to withstand at least half a decade of grinding.
The handle is a pleasure to use due to the two bearings inside the hopper. There’s almost no resistance whatsoever. This level of smoothness makes it a completely different experience to operate compared to entry-level models such as Hario Skerton or Porlex Mini.
The wooden knob on the handle is a nice touch, and in fact, it’s magnetic so you can take it off for better portability. On my test unit, I experienced that the wooden knob suddenly felt like it was too tight. I asked the company if this was a frequent complaint, and they said that it rarely happens. Maybe the wood had expanded and contracted due to me frequently moving from a hot and humid environment to a cooler air conditioned one?
1Zpresso urged me to wipe down the handle with tissue and add a tiny drop of food oil, which did seem to help.
The dial of the burr is numbered, which makes it easier to adjust than many other hand grinders. The dial is located directly underneath the burr, and it’s quite simple to change.
However, there are models out there that are easier to adjust, such as 1Zpresso’s top model E Pro.
The grounds bin itself is relatively simple. It screws on and off easily, and don’t create much static.
All of these things aren’t groundbreaking in themselves, but the combined package is still lovely. When it comes to build quality, materials and design, 1Zpresso Mini Q rivals grinders at double the price.
In some areas, it even beats them. The grounds bin and adjustment is better than both Helor 101 and Lido 3, and the bearings are light years more smooth than the Comandante MK3.
One thing is the fantastic build quality and design; another is whether it grinds well.
The 1Zpresso Q is not the most consistent grinder in the world, but it’s also not the worst one. Overall, I’d say it’s an excellent mid-level performer.
Right out of the box, the burrs are incredibly sharp. Contrary to what you might think this isn’t the best thing for grind consistency, as it tends to create a lot of fines. For that reason, you need to season the burrs. It’s similar to the way you’d break in a new pair of shoes.
If you don’t do anything special, it might take one or two months before you’ll see the best results from the grinder.
I ran a few pounds of minute-rice through it, and that seemed to reduce fines quite a lot.
Overall, this grinder will serve you well when it comes to brewing methods such as the French press, pour over, Aeropress, and so on. I haven’t attempted to grind for espresso, and the company doesn’t encourage it.
The flavor separation and clarity is good, although I have tried better ones. However, I expect to see my grind consistency to improve over the next months. As of now, I have been comparing the grind consistency to the Lido 3 both visually and with the the help of software, and it seems that the particle distribution is very similar.
In terms of speed, I’m quite pleased. Grinding 20 grams of light roast coffee takes about 45 seconds. That’s quite fast and again similar to the much larger and more imposing Lido 3.
The ergonomics are also excellent with the slim diameter, the smooth bearings, and the comfortable wooden ball handle.
The 1Zpresso Mini Q places itself at just the right price. Yes, it’s more expensive than my previous entry-level favorite Hario Skerton Pro, but the value you are getting is incredible in comparison. No glass, no ceramic burrs, and minimal plastic. Instead, you’re getting aluminum, hardened stainless steel, and wood.
The engineering and the material is on the same level as grinders costing two-three times the price.
Aergrind by Knock is probably the most comparable grinder in terms of size and capability. However, I haven’t tried it personally, so I can’t comment on the quality vis-a-vis the Mini Q.
If you’re looking for a daily workhorse grinder at a reasonable price, I’d however encourage you to consider the Jx model from 1Zpresso. It’s not much more expensive and you get a bigger capacity and much faster and more consistent burrs.
If you’re looking for a manual grinder that can use on a daily basis while still being suitable for travel, I don’t think you can go wrong here.
The price to quality ratio of the Mini Q is just through the roof.
The Mini Q feels good in the hand, it’s fast, and it’s built like it’s going to last for years. As far as the grind quality, it’s more than satisfactory. However, if you’re a super picky coffee snob who already has had a few quality grinders, you might want to look at its big brother; the Jx.