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Summary of Review
✔ What We Liked
- Frequently on sale for 40% to 50% off on Bodum's website, making it an affordable entry-level burr grinder
- Good for tight or small spaces
✘ What We Didn't Like
- Grind issues - inconsistent coarse grind and clumpy medium and fine grinds
- Difficult to clean the burr grinder and interior components
- It’s messy - the gap between the plastic catch and the machine means coffee grounds will end up on your countertop
- The plastic catch doesn’t easily accommodate a coffee scoop
- The machine clogs more frequently after several years of use
The Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Grinder with a plastic catch is an okay option for an entry-level conical burr grinder. The machine has several flaws that make it difficult to recommend purchasing it at full price.
However, Bodum frequently runs sales on this machine on its website, where you can get it as low as $33. $33 is cheap for a burr grinder, and despite its flaws, it will produce better results than a blade grinder. If you’re between a blade grinder and this machine, we’d recommend buying this over a blade grinder.
As to its faults, the machine struggles to produce consistent and non-clumpy coffee grounds. The coarse grind is not as consistent as you’d expect from a burr grinder. The medium and fine coffee grounds are more consistent, but they tend to clump together. Clumps in your coffee grounds can lead to a sour or watery taste in your coffee.
The machine also has a couple of design weaknesses that make it difficult to use and clean. It also makes a mess on your countertops because there’s a gap between the plastic catch and the machine that the grounds can slip through.
We’ve owned this grinder for several years, so I know how it performs. However, for testing’s sake, I ran the same dark roast bean through the grinder on three different settings: fine, medium, and coarse. I also thoroughly cleaned the machine before I ran my test.
In the picture above, you’ll see that the coarsest grind is not super consistent. The coarse grind has chunks of coffee beans which are two to three times bigger than the other flakes. Ideally, a coarse grind should resemble flaky sea salt. Based on my best guess, I’d say that roughly five percent of the grounds are larger than they should be.
For the medium and fine grinds, the consistency is much better. For the medium grind, I only saw a handful of bigger particles. The fine grind was similarly consistent. One thing that does happen with the fine and medium grinds is compacted clumps of coffee, particularly for the fine grind.
Clumps in the coffee can affect the brewing process, especially for espresso. Water has a tougher time flowing through clumps. This can lead to under-extraction, which results in a watery or sour taste in your coffee. A few things can cause clumping: an uncleaned or poorly designed machine, heat generated from the grinder, static electricity, and a particularly oily coffee bean (dark roasts are generally oilier than lighter roasts).
If you’re using this grinder for medium or fine grinds, you should break apart the clumps before you brew.
Ease of Use
This machine is very straightforward to use. Add beans to the bean holder, adjust the grinder to the right setting, and press the “Start/Stop” button to begin grinding. The machine doesn’t have any other features to speak of.
The machine has twelve grind settings. You use the red wheel to set the grind size on the grinder. I like that it has icons instead of words for each grind setting. The coarsest setting has an icon of a French press, the medium has an icon of a Chemex/pour-over coffee maker, and the finest has an icon of an espresso portafilter. In between these icons are circles that get smaller in size the finer the grind setting is. I like the icons because they help me remember what setting I should use depending on how I’m brewing coffee that day.
The icons are difficult to see in lower light as they are only raised on the plastic. They are not a different color. They are also small in size.
The bean holder holds a respectable 220 grams of coffee beans. That’s just shy of eight ounces. That should be sufficient for most day-to-day use unless you’re brewing large batches.
One gripe I have with the machine is the shape of the plastic catch. It’s a half-circle with a slight dip on the straight side. Getting a coffee scoop in the catch to measure your coffee is hard. While the scoop fits, you can’t scoop the coffee easily to get it full. I usually pour the grounds into the coffee scoop or a bowl, which gets messy.
Speaking of mess, there’s a small gap between the plastic catch and the machine. This gap means that coffee grounds will make their way onto your countertop. I have to wipe down my counter around the grinder a few times a week. I have black countertops so it’s not noticeable, but if you have light-colored countertops, be prepared for some mess.
|Number of steps involved||3|
|Number of grind settings||12|
|Capacity||The bean container holds up to 220 grams of coffee beans (or 7.75 ounces)|
|Ease of cleaning||
Ease of Cleaning
As of this writing, I spent the morning cleaning the burr grinder as it was clogged. You’ll notice when it’s clogged because it will start making sounds it shouldn’t make. You’ll hear beans banging around in the machine, or it might sound like the grinder is straining.
In my opinion, the design of the machine makes it challenging to clean. It has a deep chute between the grinder and the catch. This chute loves to clog with compacted coffee grounds. The burr grinder itself has small dips around it. These dips also plug up with compacted coffee grounds. In my experience, using a coffee grinder cleaning brush is not sufficient to clean the machine.
We’ve had this machine for a few years, and as time goes by, it clogs more often and therefore requires more frequent cleaning.
How to Clean the Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Grinder
I recommend having a small coffee grinder cleaning brush, a wooden chopstick (or something similar), and a toothpick to clean the grinder. You shouldn’t use anything metal, like a knife, to clean the grinder as you can damage the components.
First, turn off and unplug the machine. Make sure there are no beans in the machine. If there are, pour them out into a cup or bowl. Then, twist the plastic bean holder counterclockwise to pull it out. Once you get it off, you’ll see the actual burr grinder. Remove the outer ring of the burr grinder (also called the female burr) by twisting it off. Lastly, remove the plastic catch from the machine.
My machine typically clogs in the chute between the grinder and the catch. If you turn the machine upside down, you’ll see a hole that likely has a bunch of coffee stuck in it. This is where the chopstick comes in handy. Use the chopstick to break up the clumps and compacted grounds. You can then use the brush to sweep the coffee grounds, or turn the machine over and tap it over the trash can to make them fall out.
You’ll need to repeat this exercise probably four to five times. You’ll know you’ve unclogged the chute when you can look up it and see an opening.
For the grinder, you can use the brush to sweep off the coffee grounds. I also use the toothpick to get into the small dips around the burr and break up the compacted grounds. You can tip the grinder over the sink or a trash can and tap it to shake out the coffee grounds.
The plastic catch is dishwasher-safe, according to Bodum. Personally, I just handwash it. You can also handwash the bean holder, but wiping it down with a damp towel is sufficient. The rest of the machine should only be wiped down with a damp towel. After that, reassemble the machine, and it should work well.
Appearance & Measurements
The Bodum Bistro grinder with a plastic catch is a small machine. By our measurements, the machine is 5.75 inches deep, 11.75 inches tall, and 6.5 inches wide at its widest part. It’s great if you live in a space with a small kitchen or little countertop space. Its small size was one of the primary reasons that we purchased it.
The machine only comes in the color black. Bodum’s higher-end model with a glass catch comes in black, white, and red.
I wouldn’t call the machine beautiful, but it’s not clunky or unsightly like some other grinders.
How Much Sound Does it Make?
We measured the sound of the machine using a sound level meter. It registered at 93 decibels. 93 decibels is in the same range as other noisy household appliances like hair dryers, blenders, power tools, and lawnmowers. Thankfully, you’ll probably be using this machine for a much shorter time, so the sound isn’t too disruptive.
Bodum frequently runs sales on the machine. We’ve seen the grinder on sale for 40% off on Bodum’s website. That is cheap for a burr grinder (most entry-level models start at $50 to $60).
I suggest buying the machine on sale if you want it. In my opinion, the design flaws of the grinder don’t justify buying it at full price. Bodum also offers a higher-end machine on its website. The same machine retails on Amazon. That machine has much better reviews on Amazon than this machine.
If you’re between buying a blade grinder or this machine, we recommend purchasing this machine. Despite the machine’s flaws, its burr grinder will produce better results than a blade grinder.