If you've been following along, we recently reviewed both the latest Porlex Mini as well as the Comandante C40 — two amazing hand grinders for their price points, and our two recommended hand grinders for use with Able products.
And yet, not everyone wants to grind coffee by hand. While there's something meditative and dare we say calming about the hand grinding experience, it's also the case that not all of us have the time or energy to hand grind each day — especially if we're making larger batches. Plus, with an electric grinder one can also find some quality improvements like larger, higher quality burrs. It's with these thoughts in mind that we review the latest grinder from Fellow, the Ode. Read on for our findings.
A functional design
Though it might look imposing in photos, the Ode in reality is surprisingly small and compact, easily slotting into any few free inches on your countertop. When it comes to touch points, they're good — the size adjustment dial moves with a dampened click, the grinds knocker feels high quality, and the catch cup slides into place with the aid of magnets. The only subpar-feeling component is the lid to the catch cup: it's somewhat finicky and just doesn't slot in as easy as we'd like.
The grinder in use
A few quirks and features separate this grinder from others at its price point. For one, its hopper is relatively small, holding about 80 grams. This grinder is designed to be single-dosed — that is, for the user to add just how much coffee they need for that morning's brew, and no more. We prefer this method of grinding, as we tend to switch up our coffee of choice ever few days, and don't want mysterious coffee lingering in our hopper.
Then there's the on-off switch. A feature we didn't think much about but have come to love is the Ode's auto-off function. Simply put, you turn on the grinder, it grinds your coffee, and then — a few seconds after it finishes grinding — it shuts off. This is surprisingly nice; you can grind your coffee, walk away, and attend to some other part of your brewing process — not having to worry about shutting it off.
And we should mention: it's fast. Very fast. The grinder will grind 25 grams of coffee in about 5 seconds. And though it isn't particularly quiet, the tone it produces is lower-pitched and less annoying than some competitors. Combined with it's super fast grinding speed (for the price point), this is a great grinder for anyone with roommates who don't like to be woken to the extended sound of coffee grinding.
The grind quality
We've been very impressed with the results from this grinder. Grounds are uniform and fluffy. Most importantly, our cups taste great — again (this is becoming a theme) better than they taste with any electric grinder at this price point. But our first qualm comes with the adjustability of the grind.
The Fellow Ode goes from 1-11 (with three notches per number), but if you're anything like us, you'll find out that you really hang out in the 1-4 range. This feels like a wasted opportunity, as we will likely never use almost two thirds of the grinding range. And while this grinder can grind fine enough for our purposes, we wish we had more points of adjustment in the range that we use — sometimes we find ourselves wanting to go between settings. Ultimately, the grinder gets the job done, but we wish it could both grind finer and give us more precise grind adjustments.
What's not to like?
Beyond the grind adjustment issues mentioned above, there are only two real qualms with this grinder. One, the Ode makes a quiet hum when it's plugged in. If you have a very quiet kitchen, you can definitely hear it from a few feet away — and if you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, this might really bug you. In practice, this was not a problem for us as we don't hang out in the kitchen unless we're cooking or making coffee.
The second issue is static. This grinder produces a lot of static. This in itself is not necessarily a problem; what is a problem is that the grinds knocker does not really work. That means that you might put 25 grams in and only get, say, 24 grams out, which is a significant loss and will impact the flavor of your cup if you don't adjust your water amount (and will inevitably fall out of the chute at some point in the day, or end up in your next morning's cup — the grinder is a bit messy as a result).
We really wish the grinds knocker was more effective, but solving this problem is not too hard — all you need to do is add a few drops of water to your whole beans before you brew, then shake or stir the beans to coat them. This very light coating of water removes almost all static, and has helped us get reliably to 0.1 gram of retention or less for our brews.
Ultimately, the Ode is an excellent first grinder from Fellow, and in our opinion, the best grinder in its price range. It can't grind super fine and it struggles with static, but the grind quality and quality of life makes these compromises worth it to us. This earns an Able recommendation!