Cheap coffee stuffs from China – a review

A word of warning, buying stuffs from China means long shipping time, and you will have almost no support or customer service (including warranty) ever. If things go wrong during transport – with very cheap items it’s not trackable once it leaves China, so it’s potentially

Timemore Black Mirror Basic Plus – $40/400kr

This is the most “luxurious” item I bought, and I think it’s well worth it. It’s well built, it’s fast, it’s accurate. Maybe it’s not as good as an Acaia – I have never been able to justify spending $200 for a scale, but I’d say it’s more than enough. It does not really matter if your espresso is off by a few tenth of a gram.

My rating: Buy!

Sprouted cup – 70kr

Once upon a time I made a double shots for me and my wife. I used the sprouted portafilter to divide the espresso into 2 cups, nice and easy. But that poses 2 problems: first i lose the fantastic view of bottomless portafilter extraction. Second, the sprouted portafilter is a PITA to clean properly. So I tried a different option – sprouted cup.

You can see in the photo above, a cup with sprouts that makes it easier to divide the espresso. It works, much better than normal cup. But it is also thinner and loose heat much faster.

We have now switched to 2x18gr shots every time I made coffee, so this cup just sits idle around, as it should.

My rating: Buy if no option is available to you.

Bottomless portafilter and balanced tamper

The balanced tamper is to fix the unbalanced tamping – with the traditional tamper, you might title your tamper a bit – i.e. it is not completely balanced and that might result in an uneven tamping. The plate will sit on the wall of the portafilter, and the base will do tamping. Because of that, you are guaranteed a perfect tamping every time.

The balanced tamper is very nice and I liked it a lot. But it has another design flaw – coffee ground gets into between the base and the outer plate. You will have to clean it as often as daily.

My rating:

Bottomless portafilter: Skip. Save and buy some nicer one

Balanced tamped: Buy if you can keep up with cleaning.

No name coffee scale – 20kr (96% off)

I am happy with my Timemore but I hate to move it back and forth between grinder and espresso machine, so I bought another one just for weighing coffee beans – because of crazy deal on Temu. It is a copy of the Black Mirror but smaller. The scale is quite flimsy, and not intuitive to use – you have to hold down the Power button for a few seconds to turn it on. The scale is fairly accurate, but slow to respond, and despite being tout as a coffee scale, there is no silicone pad to protect the scale from heat.

For 20kr, because I got the 96% off discount for first order on Temu, it’s OK. No way I would buy this otherwise. Certainly not at the “full” 250kr price.

My rating: Avoid. Buy Timemore.

Coffee bean dosing bowl – 65kr

When you get into single dosing, a dosing bowl is a must – it is nice to pour beans into it and then pour them into the grinder. I ordered one but it arrived broken (who could have thought a china would not stand shocks of ~10.000km traveling without a lot of wrapping?).

The bowl looks good in photos and seems practical. In the end China is known for their china, so what could go wrong. Well, it’s well made, but with one flawed design – as the nose is very low, beans will jump out of the bowl when you pour them into it. Not much, but 1 bean out of the bowl is 1 bean too many. The bowl was meant for tea (which is not as jumpy as coffee beans)

If you compare the design of this bowl

With the equivalent of Loveramics:

You can clearly see the difference. Loveramics obviously thought about the issue and their design is meant to fix it! I’m ordering the loveramics ones, although they are much more expensive!

My rating: Avoid. Buy Loveramics.

WDT – 100kr

You can see from some of photos above this WDT – I actually bought it for much less, but the price you can get now is closer to 100kr. It is as simple as some long, thin needles attached to a base. Surprisingly it works well to distribute the coffee ground. This is one thing you should own, and because it is so simple, you can’t go wrong. This is one thing that you can buy from Aliexpress without much thinking.

My rating: Buy!

Dosing cup – 70kr

When I decided to try single dose on my Eureka Mignon Specialita, I bought two things: the hopper and the dosing cup.

The dosing cup allows you to grind into it, maybe give it a few shakes then pour it to the portafilter. It easier to use in cases you can’t hold a portafilter, and the shakes are equivalent to using WDT (but some people still use WDT after that), so it has some values. However, the dosing cup has marks inside the cup which allows coffee ground to stick. You will eventually have to clean it daily to avoid build up.

Once you get a hold of Niche Zero dosing cup – you immediately notice the differences in craftmanship and finish. It is much better built, and it is entirely smooth inside. It’s unfair comparison because while the NZ dosing cup is $39.99 without shipping, but as you only need to buy once, maybe save up for that if you need a dosing cup.

Single Dosing Hopper – 200kr

The idea is by slamming on the cover, it forces the remaining coffee grounds inside the burr out. It was pretty well made and fits well to my Specialita (and was advertised to fit with any Eureka Mignon grinder). However, it has the bad plastic smell. Not really strong but definitely there, which made me question if it is safe for food. The It works, but I hate the smell. the main problem is that Eureka Mignon Specialita is not designed to be a single dosing grinder, so while it works to some extend, the workflow is not smooth or intuitive

Closing thoughts

So my advice when it comes to ordering cheap coffee stuffs from China (or with Chinese sellers) is … don’t. If you have to, stay with some establish brands like Timemore. Others are cheap for a reason and don’t expect them to feel nice or perform well.