DF64 Coffee Grinder Review: Does It Live Up To The Hype?
If we learned anything from the wild popularity of the Niche Zero grinder, it’s that the market for single-dose multi-use grinders has long been underserved. So it’s no surprise that another grinder has arrived in the space, offering a more affordable flat burr alternative: the DF64.
How does it stack up? Is it a worthy competitor or just a cheap push to capitalize on a trend? Read this df64 grinder review to find out.
Summary: The DF64 Coffee Grinder
- 64mm flat burr coffee grinder with ITALMILL burrs
- Extra-low retention thanks to well-designed bellows
- Stepless grind adjustment suitable for espresso or drip coffee
I’m really impressed so far — no clumps at espresso grind, fluffy grounds, fast grinding, ultra low retention. I really don’t have any complaints.– Customer
The DF64 Coffee Grinder Review
Confusingly, the DF64 coffee grinder is sold under several different names, depending on the distributor and country you buy from. So before we start, note that the Probarista G-IOTA, Turin DF64 ELR, DF64, and the Solo are all the same grinder.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dive into the details. Because the DF64 is widely considered the primary competition for the Niche Zero, I’ll also compare the two where relevant.
Design – 3.5/5
The design of the DF64 coffee grinder is simple and minimalist. Unlike the Kafatek Monolith, which could double as an art piece, the DF64’s design is basic but functional.
No money has been wasted on flashy style, making this grinder affordable.
The grinder is compact, measuring 12″ tall by 5 “wide by 10” deep. Plus, as a single-dosing grinder, it needs no hopper. Instead, a basic bellows system sits on top, which will talk more about when we discuss retention later.
The design is straightforward. The DF64 grinder has a tubular body, with a slight forward lean popular in this grinder. Interestingly, you’ll find a similar tilted position in the Niche and the upcoming Eureka Mignon Oro. That is, all controls on the DF64 are an on/off button. The button sits near the bottom and the grind size selection dial at the top.
It comes in a huge variety of colours, which is a treat for anyone who likes to get creative with their kitchen decor. Other than Eureka, it’s rare to see a brand stray from black, white, silver, and maybe red.
Durability – 4/5
At this point, it’s tough to gauge durability as the DF64 has only been on the market for a short time. Additionally, because a largely unknown Chinese company manufactures it, there are no other products from the brand to use as a guideline. However, it scores high in this category as very few user complaints about premature breakdowns have emerged so far.
The DF64 certainly has a few things working in its favour.
Its simple design means fewer components and less to go wrong.
And with no fancy computers or touch screens, things that do go wrong are easy to repair.
The DF64 coffee grinder is mostly made of metal, which you can gather from its surprising heft. It comes in at 15 pounds, quite substantial given it’s a compact frame. This is always a good sign when it comes to longevity.
The plastic dosing cup is a disappointment. It feels, looks, and is cheap. If anything is going to break on you, it’s probably that. Though some users appreciate that it’s transparent. It’s easy enough to replace it with a stainless steel version, similar to the Niche, and we highly recommend that you do so.
One thing to keep in mind, because the company is so new and relatively unknown, is that you may have trouble accessing good customer support if things go wrong with this grinder. Your best bet is to buy from a trusted distributor who could assist you with any problems.
Ease of Use – 4.5/5
The ease of use of the G-IOTA DF64 coffee grinder is one of its selling points. As a single-dose grinder, there’s no need for any timing mechanism. Just set your grind size, which you can easily do with a grind adjustment wheel; add your pre-weighed dose of coffee beans, and turn it on.
A potentially attractive feature of this grinder is a portafilter holding fork. The fork means you can grind directly into your portafilter, which many users lack with the Niche Zero. However, the fork doesn’t feel that sturdy in practice, so it’s still preferable to grind directly into the dosing cup. It has a 58 mm diameter that makes it easy to transfer to a standard size portafilter.
If you’re an early morning coffee drinker worried about waking the rest of the house, noise is a worthwhile consideration. The DF64 coffee grinder is reasonably quiet with the stock burr set, but if you upgrade to SSP burrs (a common choice that we’ll talk more about below), you’ll find it substantially louder, to the point of being unpleasant.
One downside of the DF64 is the mess, especially when grinding lighter roasts. The combination of static and an overly large gap between the dosing cup and the grinder’s spout inevitably leads to a spray of fine grounds over your countertop and grinder. Fortunately, there are simple solutions. Third-party vendors offer affordable 3D printed funnels to fit onto the dosing cup or a quick spritz of water over the beans before grinding reduces static.
Grinding Capability – 3.5/5
The grinding capability of the DF64 burr grinder is excellent, especially given its great price. The motor is a powerful 250 W model that spins the burrs at 1400 rpm.
It comes stock with a stainless steel 64mm flat burr set made by Italian company ITALMILL. It’s this burr set that makes the grinder so appealing, as it’s rare to find this quality and size at this price. And when it comes to burrs, size matters. At least, according to Bas van de Steeg, an independent home barista expert (1).
Generally speaking, the larger the burrs, the better the performance. Grinders with larger burrs are more stable, quicker, and more efficient, and generally require fewer grind adjustments.
In practice, most users find that the stock burr set is excellent for espresso but less reliable at coarser grind sizes. For this reason, a common choice is to upgrade to SSP burrs, an easy swap. The SSP burrs run a few hundred dollars extra, but this remains an excellent value grinder even factoring that in.
The shape of the burrs is the big difference between the Niche Zero and the DF64. The Niche Zero uses a conical burr set, as opposed to the flat burrs in the DF64. Neither is better than the other, but they are different, and many coffee drinkers have a preference (2). Conical burrs leave more fines, which many pros feel add character and depth to the brew, especially when brewing espresso (3). On the other hand, flat burrs are said to yield a cleaner and more consistent cup.
A big selling point of the DF64 is its minimal retention. Indeed, in the models sold under Turin DF64 ELR, the ELR stands for Extra Low Retention. Flat burrs typically retain more grounds than conical, but the bellows design of the DF64 alleviates this problem. The retention is well under 1 g.
Why does retention matter? Two reasons. First, ground coffee left behind in the grinder quickly goes stale, and no one wants to brew with stale coffee. Second, retention interferes with getting an accurate weight of coffee for your brew (4).
Any special features?
We’ve spoken of the DF64 primarily as an espresso grinder so far, but the aluminium adjustment ring has 90 marked grind settings ranging from ultra-fine to very coarse. Because the adjustment is step-less, you essentially have infinite precision when it comes to dialling in your perfect brew.
As with all single dosing grinders, popcorning is a bit of an issue with the DF64. Grinders with hoppers use the weight of the beans to apply even pressure when feeding beans into the grinding mechanism. Hopperless grinders don’t have this option, so the last few beans to go through tend to “popcorn” around, leading to uneven grinding (5). This is another problem where third-party vendors are offering solutions.
Value for Money – 4.5/5
Value for money is where the DF64 coffee grinder shines. It probably does not match the Niche Zero or the Ceado e37s in terms of quality. Still, it is also notably less expensive than those options — depending to some extent on where in the world you’re ordering it from.
If you want a high-end coffee grinder that can grind consistently for an espresso or a pour-over, the DF64 is one of the least expensive options other than a hand coffee grinder. To some extent, this may result from limited competition in this market so far, so we could see alternatives arriving soon. Already, Eureka has come out with a Niche Zero competitor, but it is expected to be priced well above the DF64 (6).
The other major selling point of the DF64 versus the Niche Zero is that it is available. The Niche Zero is not easy to buy, even if you have the cash. You need to be quick on the website refresh draw when new stock is released. And if you do manage to order one, there’s often a long lead time before delivery. On the other hand, the DF64 is widely available from distributors around the world.
The DF64’s value for money is somewhat tempered because a series of after-market modifications vastly improve it. If you want this grinder at its best, you should also factor in the cost of a new dosing cup, an upgrade to SSP burrs, a funnel to avoid static mess, and possibly a solution to popcorning. Then again, if you love to tinker with commercial products, you’ll probably enjoy this good coffee grinder’s potential for greatness.
Don’t Buy the DF64 Grinder If…
You don’t want to single dose: If you prefer to buy a bag of beans, fill your hopper, and not worry about it for a week, you’ll quickly tire of the workflow with this grinder. Instead, consider the popular Eureka coffee grinders or the underrated Fiorenzato F4 coffee grinder.
You want conical burrs: If you prefer conical burrs, either because of their naturally lower retention or the richer cup of coffee they claim to yield, then the Niche Zero is the obvious choice for you. If you don’t mind a small hopper, the Baratza Sette is a more affordable option with an excellent reputation.
You want variable RPM control: Style-wise, the DF64 is often compared with the Lagom P64. The former was clearly modelled on the latter, but the Lagom is a significant upgrade in price and features. If you have the budget and want a higher-quality grinder with the ability to control motor speed, it’s a fantastic choice.
We hope this DF64 grinder review was helpful. The DF64 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable single dosing grinder that’s suitable for espresso and filter coffee, though with a lean towards espresso. It’s simple, inexpensive, and widely available. And if you have a small budget for upgrades, like SSP burrs and a new dosing cup, you can get yourself one best value flat burr grinder on the market.
- Mott, J. (2021, June 28). Coffee grinder burrs: What should home consumers look for? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/06/coffee-grinder-burrs-what-should-home-consumers-look-for/
- Lemos, C. (2018, August 22). Selecting a Burr Type for an Espresso Grinder. Retrieved from https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/blog/2018/8/14/selecting-a-burr-type-for-an-espresso-grinder
- Schomer, D. (2019, August 30). A Call to Action on Espresso Grinders, by David Schomer. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/08/30/a-call-to-action-on-espresso-grinders-by-david-schomer/
- Bryman, H. (2017, August 22). British-Designed Niche Zero Aims to Leave no Grind Behind. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2017/08/22/british-designed-niche-zero-aims-to-leave-no-grind-behind/
- Gagne, J. (2019, April 12). Grind Quality and the Popcorn Effect. Retrieved from https://coffeeadastra.com/2019/04/12/grind-quality-and-the-popcorning-effect/
- Bryman, H. (2021, September 2). Eureka Leans Into Single Dose Grinding With Newest Oro Machine. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2021/09/02/eureka-leans-into-single-dose-grinding-with-newest-oro-machine/