No Denying the Dienes

August 19, 2011

The mill I am posting about today shares similarities with mills already discussed before but it has been a while. This is the first time I pulled it off the shelf to clean and grease the inner workings so some words about it seem appropriate. If it were any other mill the discussion of the grind adjustment might be redundant - remove the drawer, turn the lever clockwise to loosen up the grind, counterclockwise to tighten the grind (for espresso!), and call it a day. That bulletproof adjustment system is wonderfully simple - so simple it became over time the defacto method for adjusting the grind on these mills.





This mill comes from a time when alternative designs were being marketed in hopes that their innovation would leap frog them over their competition and become the new gold standard of the day for hand mills. One such company was the Peter Dienes company. The Mill was the 550 Mokka and the innovation was the external adjustment knob located on the rear side panel. 

It looks good on paper but after spending a bit of time cleaning and adjusting I can make some educated guesses as to why this design disappeared from the product line. First, the mill is difficult to take apart and put back together so user serviceability is not near as friendly as grind size adjustment. Next, the mill has a lot of extra parts compared to similar knee mills which decrease durability and drive up cost. Last, the adjustment range is limited with this design - it will grind Turkish fine, has no trouble with espresso or moka pot, but will not grind very coarse. 

The mill shape and natural wood looks great, and the burr quality is excellent for this ball bearing supported mokka mill so depending on your prep style one like this could be a great fit, but it is not a "do it all" type of mill that some more modern (everything is relative with these old mills) Dienes products are capable of offering. These command a premium when the infrequent auction offering one of these shows up and I am happy to have mine, but before I would pay the current price I would want to be sure it fits my needs. As a parting note, the Velton's Bonsai Blend which, unlike the Dienes 550, is available here on ROASTe and is outstanding - highly recommended!

 



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