Last week I felt a little spoilt, the feature set on the KRUPS grinder may have been a little light, but it more than made up for it in the pricing department. Add in the fact that it did exactly what I wanted it to do in a very timely fashion, and looked damn good doing it, and all subsequent grinders are facing something of an uphill battle. This series of reviews has been a lot of fun so far, and reviewing the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme has been my most fun yet. In the world of coffee and spice grinders it is much easier to spot a lemon, and I am here to steer you in the right direction.
So, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to point out. I am not a coffee drinker. Never developed the taste for it and these days it is very easy to get your hit of caffeine from other places. I did work for a number of years in a small coffee shop close by, and can make a passable latte, not to mention a damn fine Mocha Tall, but I rely on others to tell me how good the drinks taste. My partner is an avid consumer of coffee, and she will be the one drinking the fruits of my grinding. At home I use a stove top moka pot to make a facsimile espresso, I’ll talk about those later.
For me, the best thing about these grinders is their versatility. You can put all kinds of herbs and spices into them and make rubs for meat. I have a few ideas in mind, and I will be critiquing my own dinners here, but even the meanest of grinders can do a spice rub well, so I will not be recommending any grinders by the quality of the meal.
Last week I tested out the most popular grinder on Amazon, and today I will be moving onto the second most popular, The Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme. The difference in quality here is interesting. The Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is much larger, and as a result feels far more sturdy. What makes me pause from the outset is the price.
The coffee testing this week will be a little different. In blade grinders the fineness of the grain is related to the length of time spent grinding. Not the case with a burr grinder. You get the option to set the grain, coarse, medium and fine. So I will be making a cup of each.
So let’s get to it, see if the added features and build quality add up to a superior coffee.
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill Design and Build Quality
First things first. How does it look. The Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is very far from a pretty looking device. All grinders are going up against the KRUPS, and while the KRUPS was seriously lacking in terms of build quality, it was unarguably a gorgeous looking machine. I do like that the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is so traditional looking. When I worked in the Cafe the grinder I used was a classic Burr grinder, with coffee storage section around five times the size of the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme. As to the feel of the build, I loved it. I don’t have to like how it looks to like how it feels to use, and activating the grinder here is a joy. All the parts fit flush, unlike the KRUPS, and there is little to no rattle when spooled up. The warranty is limited though, and lasts a mere 18 months. It covers all defects that are judged to be the manufacturer’s fault, but they require that you pay them $4.00 for shipping, which seems a little weird to me.
Using the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is far from difficult. There are a few settings here, letting you select the grain of the coffee and the number of cups you desire. Once you have it set just hit the button and let it grind. It will stop when it reaches the selected number of cups. With a lot of other models, including the KRUPS, you have to dial in the amount by hand and eye, having it automated here is a major boon.
On the inside there is a lot to be impressed by. Leaving aside the settings for a moment, I want to talk about the difference between a Burr grinder and a blade grinder, and why it is important to get a Burr grinder. The core mechanics of the blade grinder should be easy to imagine. It is a rotating blade that grinds the hell out of whatever you put in it, much like a food processor or a blender. The Burr grinder is more akin to a mill, a pair of rotating grooved cylinders, with the distance set by the user. The closer together the cylinders, the finer the grain.
The reason this is so important for coffee is uniformity. Bladed grinders have a hard time creating a uniform grain, when the coffee grounds are randomly sized then when steeping the particles release their flavor chemicals at different times. Leave it too long and you get that extra bitter brew, leave it too late and you get a weak drink. With a burr grinder you can dial in the timescales to suit your tastes, and get the same cup of coffee every day. With a bladed grinder that extra element of chance makes that impossible.
The Burr grinder here is fantastic, and the extra settings, in terms of grain and number of cups, takes so much of the finesse and guess work out of making your morning coffee.
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill Testing
Now we get to test the drinks, and am now thinking it might have been a good idea to get a french press. I only make moka pot drinks, as it is a cost effective way to make espresso like drinks at home. The issue for me is the first grind level is very coarse, making the drink a little on the thin side. Not a huge problem, but it meant that the test was off to a bad start. The medium was okay, but again not up to snuff. It was only with the finest grain setting that the coffee really looked and tasted like coffee.
So a brief word on moka pots. If you have ever working in a coffee shop, or are a dab hand with the old espresso machine, and can’t afford to put a steam engine in the kitchen, then the stove top moka pot is a excellent alternative. I’ve been using mine for the last few years, and when you get it just right it is apparently impossible to tell the difference between a store bought latte and the home made alternative. The coffee itself does taste a bit different though, so if you are an espresso drinker better to look elsewhere. The major difference between an espresso and a moka pot coffee is the pressure of the steam. In a real espresso machine the coffee is under 9 times the steam pressure, so they tend to be a touch stronger. The main benefit of the moka pot over most other kinds of coffee extraction is the crema layer, unique to it and the espresso machine. I also use a hand pump milk foamer, which I don’t recommend, cleaning the thing is a chore even if it does foam milk fairly quickly.
So again, I made three vanilla lattes and had my partner drink them. Remember, a little stevia and vanilla extract make a nice alternative to straight up syrup. Unfortunately the first two drinks were quite unpalatable. The flavors where there, but I have been told that it was like they were muffled under a layer of milk. I imagine that in a press it would have been fine, but not the case with the moka. The third, finest grind, was amazing. More flavorful than the KRUPS’ finest grind.
I talk a moment about the spice mix here more for the cleaning than the actual meal. With the bladed build cleaning was easy, wash it out with a little water and clear the smells with a round of bread, done and ready for the paprika. Not quite the case here. I was able to get it in order with the above method, but it took ages. I looked into it, and it turns out there are products out there specifically for cleaning burr grinders. When I test out my next one I will be giving them a try, but until then I have to say this was more difficult that it had any right to be. So, while the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme did grind up my spice mix well it felt a little like overkill. If you want to get this for the coffee experience, with the added option to grind spices, then by all means, but if you are in the market for a core grinder, then look elsewhere.
Now we look at the price. The KRUPS is unbeatable in this field, and the complicated nature of Burr grinders over bladed grinders make them more expensive in general, I don’t think the $40 asking price on the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is all that high. Given the level of quality on offer I think it is a bit of a bargain. Best of all you can click here to see if Amazon.com has any coupons or discounts you can auto-apply to lower the price further.
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill Conclusion
The Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is something of a mixed bag for me. I like the features, and the eventual cup of coffee was judged wonderful, I feel like the price is a little high for those in the market for pure press coffee machine. If you use moka pots, or are lucky enough to have an actual espresso machine, then this becomes a must have. It is a full fledged Burr grinder at a very low price.
Price Discount Update: Click here to see the current discounts available at Amazon.com