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Fellow Opus review: A coffee grinder that doubles as a showpiece

Combining consistency and adaptability in one appealing package.

There are those who make coffee at home regularly and those who are devoted to the process. For a lot of us, getting a bag of pre-ground swill from the grocery store and dumping it into an auto-drip machine every morning isn’t an option. We require a collection of tools that can draw out the complex nuances of your locally roasted beans. You really never know what you’ll be in the mood for, so if you’re anything like me, you prefer having the choice of at least seven brewing techniques. A flexible grinder is an essential component of the at-home setup for serious coffee connoisseurs.

Fellow has a reputation for producing strong, well-designed coffee equipment. The business manufactures anything from kettles to travel mugs, as well as a grinder that is primarily used to grind beans for pour-over coffee. The Ode, the initial model, has flat burrs with 31 grind settings that can accommodate the Aero Press, French press, cold brew, and other brewing techniques as well. It cost a hefty $299 at launch (the manufacturer now offers it for $255) and is unable to produce the fine grounds required for espresso.

Come in, Opus. More adaptable than the Ode, Fellow’s second grinder may be used to prepare beans for many different types of coffee, including pour-over, French press, cold brew, and much more. It also uses conical burrs to produce consistent results and has ten more grind settings than the previous model. Similar to the Ode, the Opus has a catch cup that is magnetically aligned and equipped with a spouted ring that aids in keeping your counter clean thanks to Fellow’s anti-static technology. Like its predecessor, the Opus is designed to be a single-dose machine that can grind up to 110 grimes of beans at a time. As such, it lacks a large hopper to keep beans on top. As the Opus is significantly smaller, this conserves space than the majority of the rivals. Also, compared to a standard coffee grinder, this design decision provides the product a much more sophisticated appearance.

Since creating the initial coffee buyer’s guide for Engadget in 2019, I have been utilizing the Barraza Encore. If you polled expert baristas, I bet the majority of them would say that at-home coffee grinders don’t get any better than that. And for good reason: the Encore is extremely adaptable and has been churning out high-caliber output for years. Whether you wish to put your beans there or not, it does have a large hopper up top. It’s noisy, and a lot of mess ends up on your counter because it forces ground coffee into the catch from the side.

Two of the problems I had with the Encore were swiftly resolved by the Opus. It’s surprisingly silent to begin with. My two-year-old is sleeping in a room close to the kitchen at night or in the early morning, so I can run the Opus without worrying that I’ll wake him up. With the Encore, it isn’t always the case. Second, there is less space for debris to escape because the Opus drops grounds directly into the catch cup. In contrast to the Ode, Fellow’s new grinder does not include a knocker to lessen grind retention, yet it is unnecessary. Every time I put in 70 grimes of whole beans, I always receive back 70 grimes of ground coffee. I no longer feel the need to reevaluate the evidence because it has been so constant I went through an extra step with the Encore to ensure I had enough. Moreover, Fellow has added an attachment for the catch cup to make transferring small loads to a portafilter considerably less messy when grinding for espresso.

The Opus is also quite simple to use thanks to Fellow. A revolving ring near the top spins to change the coarseness to your preferred setting. A guidance from Fellow has been printed inside the lid of the bean chamber in case you, like me, frequently forget which setting to use for French press or pour-over. The information you require will be available when you go to load entire beans, so you won’t have to go looking for a notebook or your phone.

The controls are simple to use as well. The Opus just has one button, which you press once for 30 seconds, twice for a minute, and three times for 90 seconds. For the grinder to run for the full two minutes, you can also hit the button again. The Opus doesn’t shut off when it detects that all the beans have been ground, in contrast to the Ode. Instead, it keeps running until the chosen time expires or you return and hit the button one last time. However, as the Encore has no preset time settings and runs until you switch it off, the lack of auto-shutoff is not a problem for me.

Three aspects of my daily coffee regimen are enhanced by The Opus. No matter what setting I use, it constantly produces ground beans while operating quietly and keeping my kitchen tidy. It also looks a lot nicer than the two coffee grinders I’ve used for a while, mainly because the absence of a large hopper transforms it into more of a decorative object than a functional piece of brewing gear. It costs $195, which is slightly more than the Encore but substantially less than the Ode. I would gladly part with those few extra dollars in exchange for spotless counters, an additional few minutes of a toddler’s nap, and a touch of contemporary style.