OE Pharos hand grinder from Orphan Espresso -Part 2: First Impression

So, as promised, here’s the continuation from the last post OE Pharos hand grinder from Orphan Espresso -Part 1:Introductory

First impression:

This grinder is huge. You probably have seen it in the photo. You probably know that it’s bigger than average hand grinder. But when it’s in your hand, it does feel bigger than what you imagine. For some though, this translates to quality build because it does feel heavy at 4.4lb but light enough to operate in the hand. If you’re used to Hario mini or Porlex, you’ll probably take a while to get used to this. Of course, at the side of my Mazzer Major, it still the most petite among the trio.  At 4.4lbs vs 44lbs of my Major, it’s a semi-portable grinder. Not too light but okay to carry around.

Above picture: Size comparison of Pharos

Let's proceed to using it:

Honestly, when I first use the Pharos. I was very disappointed. “Where should I hold the grinder?” I was strike by that first because there was no proper place for holding the grinder. When grinding on top of my desk, its legs aren’t stable at all and it keeps rocking. Despite all this, this is a first for my hand grinding experience and the aroma that comes off during grinding was really something. It’s smells totally different from what you get from electrical grinder. However, this euphoria only lasted for a few seconds and I am again disappointed by the ergonomic-unfriendliness of Pharos – grind retrieval part. The Pharos itself requires quite some serious tapping on the grinder to get the ground out. In addition, I was attempting to dose straight into the basket with dosing funnel. Even though I manage to aim most of the ground into the basket, there were quite a bit of stray powder, which messed the desk.  However, all these efforts were thrown at the back of the head when I was treated with 0.75 oz of ristretto. The grind was definitely tight but it sure has the potential.

Before I proceed, I should emphasize that this is my raw first impression and first usage. After a period of getting know my Pharos, it can become easier and more to my nature to use. The awkward feeling is gone. Why i am posting this? Because I find that no one posted this or feel this way and I wasn't expecting this. If I were to give up Pharos after the first few usages, I probably wouldn't have realized the goodness of Pharos. So yes, be prepared that there is a small learning curve to fit Pharos into your routine and get to know him.

Now, after I’ve used the grinder for one month, I have been able to adapt my technique to fit Pharos into the workflow. It now works like a charm and takes about 1 minute including feeding bean, grinding, tapping, dosing and tamping for a dose of 16g.

Actual Usage/Practicality:

First, the Pharos is a very fast grinder and does not require a Hercules arm to turn it. It can chew up 16g of coffee in just ~35 turns in about 10 seconds. This is just pure SPEED. Of course, there is no rush and you can grind as long as you want to enjoy the heavenly aroma you can only enjoy in a hand grinding. “What?Your electrical grinder doesn’t have that aroma?Sucks to be you” =D

Video for speed demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nB-qSByDJY

Anyhow, ergonomic is still Pharos number 1 weakness. It could still be improved, but it’s not that hard to use after a while. The whole grinding process actually feels very nice and sometimes I am complaining that the Pharos grinds too fast that the experience ends too quickly. “I want to grind more!” Seriously. 

As a whole, there were 2 main ergonomic issues with the Pharos:
i)    Holding the grinder

ii)    Getting the ground out

As for the first issue, there are two (my) recommended ways to use to the Pharos. First is using it as a knee mill. Hold it in between your knee and grind away. Not bad. But it’s not the most elegant way and I opted the second method. Second, rest it around your side tummy with your left hand wrapping the Pharos. This I can do it while standing and it’s my preferred operation method. However, there is still no proper and comfortable place to hold the grinder. You have to hold it by the upper poles. It’s probably a compromise but not a deal breaker.

As for the second issue, I have learnt from experience that dosing straight into a basket is not an option without mess. Unless you have a great aiming skill, it’s probably difficult to aim that little funnel hole while tapping. So I devise my method and used a 5” x 5” weighing boat to catch the grind before transferring to the basket. With this method, I found an additional advantage is that the ground will pile up nicely in the basket. With the fluffy grind from Pharos, you don’t need to do any WDT. Just rap the basket evenly on the counter and tamp. This yields nice even extraction pour on my bottomless portafilter.

Video: Pharos in action (off camera):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsJjVPyVqcc

In this video, you can see my work flow with the second method. Unfortunately, this is an impromptu video so the angle wasn't perfect.I apologize.

Adjustment setting:

This is what I love about Pharos. My Pharos was the newer version with the double adjustment nuts (all the Pharos after mine will have that too). I found that these nuts, when paired with a numerical scale on the Pharos, give  very consistent and repeatable grind settings. I can go to press range and then back to my previous espresso range with no sweat. With my Major, I can’t do this. Even though I marked the previous setting and went back to it, it is usually not the exact same position. The easy switching and repeatability on Pharos made changing different grinds a breeze! In addition, when you’re dialing in for Pharos, the adjustment nuts allow you to do a very precise fine-tuning. What do you expect? It’s a stepless grinder with the forgiveness factor of the titan conical burrs!

Above picture: Left: Single adjustment nut(Older version) Right: Double adjustment nuts(Newer Version)

Above picture: The numerical scale I mentioned for repeatability.

To be continued:

Part 3: OE Pharos hand grinder from Orphan Espresso -Part 3: Impression & Summary

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