Coffee nerd or not, you've probably heard of — or at least seen — a Fellow product before: think the Stagg EKG Electric Kettle, Stagg EKG Pro Electric Kettle, Ode Grinder 1 or Ode Grinder 2. They're in every coffee snob's kitchen, whether they regularly use them or not. And, as they sung the brand's praises, plenty of at-home aficionados followed suit. Now, it seems, Fellow is everywhere.
But for good reason. So far, Fellow has no true misses. Sure, there were problems with the original Ode Grinder, but Fellow addressed them and launched a new gen model, the Ode Grinder 2. Neither version accommodated espresso, though, which calls for much finer grounds than pour-over or French press coffee. In fact, the company explicitly deterred owners from trying to use the grounds either model produced for espresso drinks.
Now, though, an entirely new model aims to be all-in-one, unlike the last two: the Fellow Opus Grinder. It's cheaper, too, thanks to a plastic body and its six-blade 40mm conical burr setup, which proves cheaper to manufacture than 64mm flat burrs. As such, the Opus is capable of coarser grinds for cold brew all the way to ultra-fine grinds for Turkish coffee. So, is the Opus an Ode replacement or better positioned alongside? We found out.
The Fellow Opus Grinder
What's Good About the Fellow Opus Grinder
It looks great.
Fellow's modern, black-and-white aesthetics are easy to spot. And the Opus is no exception. It has a similar shape to the earlier Ode models, and both hoppers are apparent and intuitive. Needless to say, it's still a stunning countertop appliance for any coffee snob, but it's a stylish upgrade for beginners, too.
It can do it all.
Unlike the earlier Ode and Ode 2 models, the Opus can grind for cold brew, French press coffee, Turkish coffee and espresso — and everything in-between. The conical burr system has 41 different grind settings, a 10-setting upgrade over the Ode (which has 31). You can make the adjustments using the front-end adjuster, either at the standard increments — 1-11 — or in between them, where ticks signal these small changes. Between each number, there are four macro ticks which represent 50 microns of vertical burr movement. But you can make micro-adjustments within, too, using an internal adjuster.
This allows for even further fine-tuning, Fellow says, which helps this machine's motor crank out six newton-meters of torque at the burr, delivering excellent grind consistency and flavor profiles that are approved by certified Q-Graders (sommeliers for coffee).
The catch cup got a makeover.
The catch cup still slides into place using the handy magnetic system, but there are now two parts to it, not one: a larger chamber for more grounds and a smaller vial for espresso. Once the grounds are in there, you remove it, place your 55 or 58 mm portafilter on top and flip it, dropping the grounds into place.
It's cheaper than its predecessor.
Given the upgrades on this machine over earlier gens, one could fairly assume that the Opus would be more expensive, not less. Fortunately, though, it is far cheaper, thanks to a few steps that shaved costs, like switching from a flat burr system to a conical one, which is cheaper to manufacture.
It's just $195, which is pricey for a conical burr grinder, but a whole lot cheaper than the Ode Gen 2, which sells for $345. You get more for your money, too, considering the Opus has an automatic stop function, a single-dose option, a volumetric dosing lid, an internal grind guide, a transparent 110-gram hopper and no-tool calibration.
It's easy to clean.
Open up the Opus and you'll find parts that come out, making it easy to clean — you kind of need to, and often, if you use this thing every day. (But more on that below.)
It's fairly quiet, even though 30 seconds feels like forever.
I've had quite a few coffee grinders, but none are this quiet — not even the one built into my semi-automatic Delonghi La Specialista. I live in a studio apartment with my fiancée, though, so this will still wake her up. But if I had an entire house, I could comfortably grind beans in the kitchen without waking her. That's a win, if we ever buy a house.
What's Not Ideal About the Fellow Opus Grinder
They didn't move the damn button.
A lot of my issues with the Opus are interconnected. First, though, let's talk about this button.
Located on the bottom right side of the device, it is used to activate the grind: tap it once for a 30-second stint, twice for 60 seconds, three times for 90 seconds or press and hold for 2 minutes of non-stop grinding. That's handy, for sure, but I have accidentally pressed the button so many times — moving it across my counter, wiping down the counter space directly in front of it and so on and so forth. Plus, it retains grounds almost every time, which means they come pouring out if the button gets pressed. Then I hit the button by accident again and more grounds come pouring out.
As such, I often unplug it just to wipe it down.
Dosing is easier, but coffee nerds will still need a scale.
Inside the lid you'll find a helpful dosing system as well as a visual grind guide. If you're doing a single dose, you fill the smaller side of the lid (2o grams). On the other side, you can fill roughly 40 grams of coffee. The whole lid, on the other hand, equals about 100 grams, which is good for 12 cups of pour-over coffee.
If you're not one for minute errors, this will make your brain melt. But if you're just someone who likes how the Opus looks and are only slightly curious about coffee — i.e. you'd never buy a scale — then this is more than enough for you.
It still makes quite the mess.
As mentioned above, this baby can still make a real mess, whether that's because it retained grounds and you hit the button or because the dosing cup didn't quite work as planned. As mentioned above, you have to hold the portafilter flush against the dosing cup and flip it to unload the grinds into the chamber. Then, you tamp it to your liking.
That's easy, in theory, but I've missed, over ground or simply slipped far too many times, making a complete mess of my kitchen counter. A few times it nearly made me return to my machine's built-in grinder.
There's no portafilter holder, and there really should be.
Given the fact that the Opus is meant to accommodate espresso, Fellow should really just design a portafilter holder. The flipping method sounds a little crazy, and it's often annoying to do, even once you got the hang of it. It's an extra, arguably unnecessary, step that could be bypassed by the designers there. They're clearly capable of creative industrial design, so why not flex those muscles on extras, which I know espresso drinkers would happily splurge for.
The Fellow Opus Grinder: The Verdict
I've tested a number of sub-$200 grinders, but the Opus — at $195 — is by far the finest. And, according to my team members that tested the Ode 1 and Ode 2 grinders, the upgrades made make this an excellent option for all types of coffee drinkers, whether you prefer crisp cold brew or a fine, frothy espresso.
Sure, some hiccups weren't hammered out, but Fellow clearly thought this one through, and it's likely to be the best-seller, simply considering its versatility. Is it the cheapest conical burr grinder? No, but it's a Fellow product, and Fellow isn't one for skimping. As such, its products cost a pretty penny, but $195 is far more swallowable than nearly $400. That lower cost comes at the expense of its construction — plastic versus aluminum — but it still looks just as good, even if the hand feel is slightly off.