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03
May

DF54 Grinder Review - The Best Entry-Level Grinder?

0 commentPost by : Jasmin Tétreault
DF54 Grinder Review - The Best Entry-Level Grinder?

The New DF54 Grinder

When I first heard of the DF54 grinder, I was excited because I knew DF made great grinders. But how could such an affordable grinder, priced at so low, could stand up to the more expensive models in the DF series? Over the past few months, I've put the DF54 to the test, grinding coffee for various brews from espresso to pour-over. In this review, I will share my impressions on its performance, quality, and value compared to similarly priced grinders.

Looks & Design

The DF54 grinder adopts its design from the larger DF64, it's the same cylindrical shape that tilts forward. It stands on a solid base, with a semicircular forked portafilter holder and an improved rubber dosing cup holder angled for better usability. Despite being smaller than the DF64 and DF83, the DF54 feels both well-constructed, making it an excellent choice for those with limited counter space.

These enhancements make it superior to previous versions, maintaining the robust aluminum build characteristic of more expensive models. It's worth noting that the DF54 has the new metal power button, which is more durable and satisfiying.

Features

Fixed Indicator

This feature is new accros all the DF range and I think it will be added to all new grinders as it feels more premium. However, its fixed placement can lead to issues when swapping out the burrs, especially if the new burrs have a different zero point.

Anti-Static

One of the best features is the anti-static technology in the chute that effectively reduces static, ensuring the grinds are fluffy and don't cause a mess.

Adjustment Dial

The rotary dial has a range from 0 to 90, allowing for precise grind adjustments. The numbers are clear and legible, making it easy to set, but does requires both hands to adjust smoothly.

Anti-Popcorn

Above the dial, the dosing chamber features an anti-popcorning disc and a small rubber bellows, topped by a lightweight wooden disc cover. While the chamber is satisfactory, the bellows often detach when opening. I mostly used it without the bellows with very low retention.

Flat Burrs

The 54mm flat burrs, designed with three holes for mounting and have aggressive cutting angles like most espresso burrs. They work best for espresso but do great with filter as well.

Workflow

In terms of user experience, the DF54 is a lot like using the DF64 Gen 2, with a few minor distinctions. As is standard with DF grinders, this model is a single-dose unit, therefore you need to weigh and load beans for each dose before using the grinder.

After grinding, you can tap the bellows to expel any grounds that may be clinging. The anti-static technology usually prevents most residues, and using only the anti-popcorn feature makes using the grinder more straightforward.

With the DF54, you have a wide adjustment range, effortlessly moving from espresso to French press. It exemplifies the versatility expected of a modern, multipurpose single-dose grinder.

DF54 Retention

Using the DF54, retention is impressively low, typically only 0.1 to 0.2 grams, leaving the grinding chamber and exit chute nearly empty. By simply employing the bellows, retention can drop to as little as 0.0 grams.

In single-dose grinders, retention is crucial—how much coffee remains instead of reaching the portafilter. The DF54 stands out for its neat design, limiting areas where grinds can accumulate, leading to satisfactory retention levels. Though some grinders may retain less, the DF54 performs well for its price.

Anti-Static

Static creates a mess  as static causes beans to scatter. With coffee grinders, de-ionizers have been making workflows much easier. The plasma generator in the DF54 helps this by neutralizing static with a small voltage, ensuring clean and precise grinding. It's worth nothing that it does not work as good as the DF64 and there is still some static left.

Grinding Performance

Espresso

Given its flat burrs, the DF54 is expected to excel at espresso brewing—and it does. The grinder produces static-free grounds that smoothly transfer to the portafilter, resulting in espresso that beautifully highlights the sweetness and body.

The DF54 features flat burrs with a similar profile to those in the pricier Eureka Mignon Specialita, resulting in similar espresso quality. The shots from the DF54 are sweet and full of body. Given its burr geometry, which closely resembles that of the base DF64 Gen 2, the taste is similar.

The DF54's espresso grinding speed is slightly slower, taking 19 seconds to grind 18 grams compared to the DF64's 11 seconds. This minimal difference of 8 seconds isn't a big issue for home use.

Pourover

The DF54's performance in pour over coffee was unexpectedly great, contrary to my initial thoughts that it was primarily designed for espresso. In comparaison to my filter focused Fellow Ode, it impressively held its own. Although, it has less clarity, the DF54 proved competitive for sweetness and overall taste. This shows that it shouldn’t be quickly dismissed when considering its capability for producing quality pour over brews.

DF54 vs Baratza ESP & Fellow Opus?

When compared to the Fellow Opus and Baratza Encore ESP, the DF54 excels in grind quality and usability within its price range among single dosing grinders. Ut offers superior build quality compared to its peers. It features an easy-to-use grind dial and presents a more premium look on countertops.

Pros and Cons of the DF54?

The DF54 grinder is a practical choice, featuring an easy-to-use adjustment dial and a de-ionizer that reduces its grinding speed to 1 gram per second for espresso. Despite the slower speed, it’s well-constructed, performs excellently in delivering quality coffee, and offers a user-friendly experience.

Pros

  • Anti-static
  • Solid build quality
  • Low retention
  • Low price for a flat burr grinder

Cons

  • Relatively slow 1 g/s for espresso
  • Not many 54mm burr on the market
  • Dial indicator is not adjustable

Conclusion

The grinders in the DF series are surprisingly affordable. Unlike typical conical burr grinders, which are cheaper and less premium, the flat burr DF54 delivers exceptional results without the high price tag. My testing has left me extremely impressed with its performance.

The DF54 retains many advanced features from the DF64 Gen 2, focusing on crucial performance metrics like grind quality and consistency. It uses 54mm flat burrs, slightly less in diameter than the 64mm standard in its series, yet still delivering comparable results across espresso and filter coffee brews. The grinder's low retention rate ensures efficient use of coffee beans, maximizing aroma and flavor extraction.

Despite some minor quirks and limited burr size options, the DF54 remains an excellent choice. It provides a superior flat burr grinding experience at a cost that is exceptionally competitive, appealing primarily to general coffee lovers rather than just connoisseurs.

DF54 All-Purpose Coffee Grinder $299.00

Featured in this article

DF54 All-Purpose Coffee Grinder

Equipped with 54mm stainless steel burrs and a plasma generator, the DF54 coffee grinder delivers a consistent and static-free grind. Its compact design includes an anti-popcorn cover for even grinding, making it ideal for home baristas seeking to elevate their coffee brewing.