Investigating the Arist grinder scam and changing specs

In the latest Arist update, backers were surprised to hear all about a new, “modular” machine design. [As discussed previously the renderings show a machine that’s the product of an iMac having offspring with an Nespresso.]

Part of this new machine design, and an “upgrade” is the grinder. Arist makes a lofty claim:

Grinder Material

Problems with today’s grinder:

The base material is designed to brew up to 100,000 cups of coffee, but manufacturing these burr grinders is an expensive process. The tooling, machines, and material involved are very costly. That’s why today’s grinders are short. Grinding beans with short burr requires a fast motor, which will generate more heat and destroy the delicate flavor in the beans.

Our New Grinder design:

For a home-use machine, it’s unnecessary to use a commercial grade grinder and you shouldn’t need to pay for one. So we are using a material that is less dense to cut costs. With a less expensive material, we can build a longer grinder which doesn’t require a fast motor anymore to produce the same results. The slower motor produces less heat, which leads to better quality. In addition, wear and tear is not a problem, because the grinder is easily replaceable due to our modularized design.  Arist’s new grinder targets to last for 5000 cups of coffee. With an average of 5 cups per day, it may last for 3 years.

Backer Dan_R has now completely debunked this claim:

I’ve just done a little research into coffee grinders and I can only come to the conclusion that the Arist Team is spouting total BS to rationalize their product delays with ever changing design specifications and to make excuses for using inferior components.

We’ve been told it was necessary to redesign the coffee grinder to be a “tall grinder” so it could grind slower and in doing so will generate less heat and produce better coffee but we have been told the tradeoff for this is lower longevity meaning the grinding mechanism will only last about 3 years. If you are interested in seeing if this explanation makes any sense whatsoever please read the following post authored by president and chief designer/engineer at Baratza: Steel vs Ceramic burrs and heat generation – the lowdown.

The bottom line is that going with a quality burr material which provides sharp burrs is the best way to optimize coffee quality and minimize heat. In fact, slowing burr rotation is not even necessary since heat buildup occurs only when beans are ground for long periods of time. Heat is a non-issue in home units that only do the occasional shot because the grinder only runs infrequently and for short periods of time. Only in commercial settings like cafes do people need to even worry about heat being an issue.

Going with less expensive burrs (which cannot possibly be as sharp or last as long as quality burrs) makes absolutely no sense as the way to optimize coffee quality. Anyone who knows anything about coffee knows the the most important factor above all else is choosing a quality grinder that produces the most consistent grind quality possible – everything else is secondary and less important. It simply doesn’t matter how good the rest of an espresso machine is if the grind quality is not there – an inferior grinder used with a great espresso machine will produce lousy coffee.

Lowering the grind temperature simply cannot compensate for inferior grind quality and cheap burrs that aren’t sharp and/or won’t stay sharp cannot produce a consistent grind – and in the process they will generate more heat not less.

Lastly, assuming that “tall vs short” refers to flat vs conical burrs, here’s a good article to educate yourself on the differences and whether it even matters: Flat vs Conical Burrs. Bottom line: there’s no clear-cut advantage of one type of burr over the other – the overall design and quality of the grinder (including the quality of the burr set and the quality of the burr’s mounting) is the most important factor. Very expensive and high end grinders are available in both flat and conical burr versions. If one geometry was superior to the other, why would they even offer both on high end expensive grinders? They wouldn’t.

So it makes absolutely no sense to say it was necessary to redesign the grinder to accommodate a different burr geometry (especially when that necessitated going with lower quality components, a burr set that cost less to manufacture, and a grinder with a shorter life expectancy.

To see more discussion about how Arist may have falsified their original grinder pictures and details click here.



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