For a while now, Eureka’s grinders have been best recognized by the other commercial companies that have re-branded them; they were quietly designing and building excellent grinders, but without much brand recognition. Once we realized they were the manufacturer behind some of the most popular commercial grinder designs, we couldn’t wait to learn more. Our founder Mark decided to pay them a visit in Florence, which helped us understand more about the pedigree and respect they’ve earned. We’re excited to import directly from Eureka and help establish their brand as a major player in the high-end side of the grinder market.
We were able to work with Eureka to import the Zenith 65E as the most competitively priced, high-performance commercial grinder, and we’ve had trouble keeping it in stock ever since. We wondered how their long-anticipated all-purpose Atom grinder would compare. What problems would it solve? How would drip coffee taste from it, and how would the espresso compare to others? What customer would it appeal to?
Well, the wait is over, and the suspense was well worth it. While aesthetics are always subjective, our team was nearly dumbstruck by the whisper-quiet purr paired with terrific speed. People continually walked up to investigate the lack of sound and ask, “Is it really that quiet?”. We were well familiar with Eureka’s micrometric grind adjustment, which is one of the easiest and most precise out there. And its 450-watt motor dispensed wonderfully fluffy grounds in a time and speed that are extremely close to the staff favorite Zenith 65E.
Wait, the Atom is actually faster…and quieter? Awesome. Some users have reported double shots ground in under 5 seconds, but that will depend on the roast used and the volume. The updated portafilter holder allows easier engagement and removal of the portafilter resulting in less spillage. We had syrupy, even ristretto shots extracting from the bottomless portafilter in minutes with exemplary consistency. As beautiful of shots as you’ve ever seen, the kind that force you to exclaim as the entire surface of the basket slowly blooms through with red-brown beads of honey, steadily coalescing into thick drops and then a cone of flavor. The large display integrates naturally into the design, and the five large buttons are clearly laid out to make it a breeze to switch from single to double dose, to change the grind time by tenths of a second (to minimize mess), or changing over to manual grind mode for drip. Even though our Lovejoy blend is a lighter roast than some are used to, we got zero channeling and did not have to do any fussing or prep of the coffee bed. Two taps on the tamping mat to settle, level tamp, and watch the nectar fall.
The level of refinement and performance quickly converted any of my hesitant co-workers into the circle of avid, caffeinated fans. We quickly realized that this grinder is going to redefine espresso’s reputation as loud, messy, and finicky. After sound and cleanliness, the next problem it will solve for many users is that of challenging grind adjustment. That large micrometric grind adjustment knob on the upper right side has arrows showing the direction for fine and coarse, as well as marks with numbers. The easier the adjustment is to use, the more frequently you’ll use it. And the smooth mechanical feel of the adjustment is a pleasure. Changing the grind by one number on the dial allows the Atom to be quickly changed from longer espresso extractions to concentrated ristretto shots. Finding out whether you prefer more subtle and diluted straight espresso, or a more body heavy punch through steamed milk is one of the most satisfying elements of becoming a home (or professional) barista.
Another limiting factor of stepless grinders has traditionally been the amount of work needed to change between brew methods. It just hasn’t been worth it to lose that espresso sweet spot in the name of a French press. The common solution for fans of multiple brew methods has been to buy an all-purpose grinder like the Baratza Vario, Forte, and of course their new Sette 270. All-purpose grinders use stepped adjustments to make large adjustments quickly and accurately, but they’ve typically been challenged to go either fine enough for espresso, or coarse enough for press and pour over. The Atom was designed to excel at any coffee grind and to make the adjustment between them easier.
Switching from our signature 20-gram espresso dose to a traditional drip grind required only two rotations of the grind adjustment. To brew a pot with the Ratio 8, we simply noted our grind setting of 9, rotated the knob two and a half times (landing on the number 4), and ground 70 grams of coffee into the included bin using the manual grind feature. For comparison, the Baratza Sette 270 Espresso Grinder cannot grind as coarse, so it’s not an ideal tool for fans of pour over or French press. Getting the last few beans through required a few pulses, for which that manual grind control is helpful. We then turned the grind adjustment knob two and a half turns back towards fine (a process which probably took less than 10 seconds), verified we were at our starting point of 9, did a quick purge to move the remainder of coarse grounds through, and pulled a proper espresso. No fuss, and apart from the small amount of purging, no waste!
Being built by a commercial manufacturer for use in homes, offices or cafes, the Atom is an investment grade grinder. We know that not everyone needs this level of build quality and performance to be satisfied, but when shopping for a first grinder or upgrade it’s important to think ahead about how long something will last. We have options to fit a variety of budgets and preferences, but what level performance and durability would you like? Over the years we’ve seen that in high-end coffee you definitely get what you pay for, and the Atom will outperform and last significantly longer than grinders which cost less (and even some which cost more).
Continue on your journey of grinder knowledge with our What Makes a Grinder Great blog post.