In Review: GSI Java Mill
Up until a few months ago, the mini Porlex grinder reigned supreme in the compact manual grinder class (see my comparison with the Porlex vs. Hario Slim Mill). The only true downside to the Porlex mini was the price. When I first reviewed it, the Porlex was retailing for about $80. A quick check online shows that it can be had for around the $40 dollar mark. Just when it seemed like no other hand grinder would challenge it, the GSI Java Mill came on the scene. How does it compare? Read on!
I’ve had the GSI Java Mill for about a week and have been putting it through its paces. While I’m not ready to do a comprehensive review, here are some initial impressions. The form factor is pretty similar to the Porlex, but the GSI Java Mill is both a touch taller and heavier even though it is made with a plastic body. According to my scale the Java Mill weighed in at 268 grams and the Porlex at 240 grams (the difference of about enough beans to make a small pour over coffee).
The GSI is slightly less intuitive to use than the Porlex. You have to pop out the crank arm and switch the orange handle to the smaller end to get the grinder ready to crank. Not brain surgery, but just an added step. To get the beans into the hopper you have to really use your fingernails to pop off the top. The tolerances when new are pretty tight. Just like the Porlex you can adjust the grind setting by removing the bottom piece and turning a metal knob to adjust the conical burrs. I’ve found that the hopper holds about 26 grams of coffee, usually what I dose for a 12oz cup of pourover coffee.
Just as with the Porlex and Hario Slim Mill, the GSI Java Mill suffers from a little play in the burrs at the coarser settings which leads to uneven grinding. This is just a function of this hand grinder design, without something to stabilize the lower burr there will always be play at coarse settings. That said, proper grind size (“coarse sand”) for pourover was surprisingly uniform and certainly no worse than the Porlex.
One quirk I’ve noticed though is that if you grind and make contact with the bottom part that collects the grounds it tends to shimmy loose. It is best to hold it completely by the body and not touch the collection chamber.
I can’t quite comment on the longevity of the grinder only having it for a short while, but I was surprised by the grind quality. It does have some quirks and a few extra steps, but nothing that would be a big deal breaker. If you are looking to get into manual coffee brewing and want a grinder that won’t break the bank, then the GSI Java Mill is a great grinder. In order of preference, the Porlex is still at the top with the GSI Java Mill second and the Hario Slim Mill third. Personally, I wouldn’t use it as a daily work horse (we’ve even worn down a Porlex after two years of daily use), but it would make a great addition to any travel coffee, camp coffee or #coffeeoutside kit.