For a beverage most people enjoy in the early morning, coffee can be a noisy endeavor. Even if you manage to avoid the espresso machine pumping out shots of coffee and the steam wand screaming into a whirlpool of milk, there’s still the earsplitting shriek-crunch of the grinder. On most mornings, I have to wait until my partner wakes up to brew my first cup.
Until I tried Fellow’s new grinder, the Opus. I thought having a quiet burr grinder was basically impossible: Pulverizing coffee beans between toothy metal disks requires a powerful (noisy) motor, and then there’s the din of high-velocity coffee bean shrapnel. But this one is so quiet, I can grind coffee with the bedroom doors open and still not wake anyone up.
The Opus is also the jack of all trades of grinders. It’s powerful enough to grind beans super-fine for espresso, but it can still make a coarse grind for a French press. It has a relatively small footprint, looks cute on the countertop, and is fairly inexpensive for its quality. All of this, combined with its astounding quietness, has made it a morning routine game-changer.
Perfecting Your Daily Grind
For a grinder that seems simple on the outside, the Opus is an infinitely fine-tunable machine. It has 41 grind settings and an internal ring for even further adjustment. For example, if you’re using it solely for espresso but find that one click toward coarse feels like it makes things too coarse, and one click toward fine makes things too fine, you can use the inner ring to make an even tinier adjustment. (Fellow has a video that shows how this works.) It’s not too dissimilar to what you’ll find on grinders like the Baratza Encore ESP.
The internal ring feature will also come in handy as the grinder ages. I’ve been using the Opus as my daily driver for about six months and it still produces grounds as fine as the day I unboxed it. But as you use any grinder over the years, the burrs will wear down a bit, which can make your super-fine settings feel only kinda fine. The internal ring lets you adjust the grinder to bring things back to true, like honing a knife after it’s started to feel a little dull. Basically what you’re doing is bringing the burrs closer together to compensate for their wear and tear.
The Opus also wants to make your coffee experience as tasty and hassle-free as possible. It features anti-static technology so you won’t have grounds flying around and sticking to things. The grinder is timed to auto-stop at 30-second intervals so you won’t accidentally over-grind your beans when you’re sleepy or distracted. Plus its low-hopper size means you’re only grinding what you’re going to use, which is a good habit to get into for the freshest, tastiest coffee.
Stacking Up to the Competition
Price is one of the Opus’ greatest selling points, but, at just $195, I was initially dubious that it could be anything but mid. A good burr grinder will be at least $100. You can find a few rare standouts below that price, but if you want something you won’t have to replace every few years, $100 is the minimum. That’s why the Opus is so impressive: It’s a $195 grinder that grinds like a $500 grinder.