Orphan Espresso Fixie Review: Most Unique Hand Coffee Grinder Yet?
There’s no need to hide anymore. You can say it.
You’re someone who researches your hotel to see if there’s drinkable coffee nearby. You’ve scoured stores to find the best thermos just so you can enjoy a mountaintop view with the perfect brew.
Orrrr, you could just get a travel grinder that’s actually decent.
Could the Fixie be the one? Is it really as good as people say it is?
In this Orphan Espresso Fixie review, I’m diving deep into the Fixie hand grinder universe.
We’ll find out if the Fixie is just the fix you were looking for — or if it’s as good at grinding coffee as your “fixie” bike.
Orphan Espresso Fixie Review Overview
The OE (that’s Orphan Espresso) Fixie was built to travel — literally.
Orphan Espresso designed the Fixie to be the ultimate lightweight yet high-performing hand grinder on the go. And they’ve delivered on that promise.
- 4 Unique disc placements
- Surprisingly consistent grind
- Well-built (titanium and carbon fiber)
- Only 19 grind settings per disc
- Not for hard core espresso drinkers
The Orphan Espresso Fixie is a well-built manual coffee grinder that offers surprisingly good results across a broad range of grind sizes while still being lightweight (approx. 330 grams) and easy to use.
This sideloading hand grinder is well-constructed, with a body of titanium and carbon fiber, which is both lightweight and durable. While the 47 mm conical burrs are made with wear-resistant hardened steel.
The Fixie holds about 30 grams, which is nothing special as far as hand grinders go, but it’s also more than some travel-friendly coffee grinders. Nonetheless, It’s plenty for an Aeropress or smaller pour-over.
Like any good travel grinder, the Fixie is easy to take apart and reassemble and easy to clean.
Burrs can be DRY cleaned with a towel and small brush. You can clean the burrs with a toothbrush!
The catch cup stays clean longer thanks to the lack of friction holding onto coffee oils and grounds.
Speaking of a lack of friction …
The grind retention is blissfully low — no sacrificing grounds clinging to the sides of the catch cup for dear life.
If you load 30 grams of beans in, you’ll get a near-perfect 30 grams of grounds out.
The Fixie is a stepped adjustment grinder with 19 settings on 3 different disc adjustment levels (fine, medium, or coarse). It’s easy and quick to adjust once you’re used to it.
Despite relatively few grind settings, the Fixie offers fairly good consistency.
The particle size will not be as even as some of the fancier hand grinders on the market, but the OE Fixie is far better than a travel grinder should be.
In all, the Fixie offers a quality cup of coffee across a broad range of grind sizes.
For most users, the Orphan Espresso Fixie is a solid choice for daily use at home as much as it’s the king of travel coffee grinders.
Where it falls a little short is on grind consistency — it’s good, but it’s not that good — and precision in grind adjustment.
The Fixie offers only 19 grind adjustments (on 3 broader grind size levels), and each adjustment is about 100 microns in size, which is much larger than most premium manual grinders.
Many find the Fixie is good enough anyway, but this is not the best choice if you’re buying a hand grinder to have superior grind control.
That’s why many hard-core espresso lovers will want to pass on the Fixie unless using it to travel.
The Fixie truly is versatile, but this star shines brightest for what’s sometimes called “manual” brewing methods.
Think Aeropress, Chemex, V-60, pour-over, French press, etc. (not Moka pot, drip/percolator, espresso machines…).
As a neat bonus, you can sort of fit the main body of the OE Fixie onto an Aeropress if you’re careful.
You can grind coffee directly into it, which is one less messy step for anyone fumbling to make coffee at work.
Orphan Espresso Fixie Conical Burrs
The Orphan Espresso Fixie grinder isn’t just a pretty face. It has 47 mm conical burrs made of hardened steel (because stainless steel wasn’t impressive enough).
These hardened steel burrs will last longer and remain sharp.
Hardened steel is more resistant to wearing down, which is an excellent quality in a hand grinder you’ll want to use often or for a long time.
That 47 mm diameter is on the larger side of average for a manual grinder, too. Considering the Fixie is a travel-ready grinder, it’s a bonus that you aren’t sacrificing burr size here.
Although size isn’t everything, larger burrs tend to maintain better control over grind size and range. At 47 mm, the Fixie offers consistent results at a broad range.
Overall, you’ll achieve the best results with manual brewing methods like pour-overs or Aeropress.
The OE Fixie hand grinder is decent for espresso, but with those hardened steel burrs, it shines best with something like a French press or Chemex.
Orphan Espresso Fixie Grind Discs
Like most hand grinders, the Fixie uses a stepped adjustment grind system, but the similarities end there.
There are 3 macro and 19 micro grind settings on the OE Fixie grinder.
The 3 macro settings correspond to the three Delrin plastic adjustment discs.
These light and durable plastic discs control the space between the burrs — meaning they control the approximate grind size.
There’s a Delrin adjustment disc for fine, medium, and coarse grinds, respectively.
These correspond well to an Aeropress, Chemex, and French press brewing methods for reference.
For more control, the Fixie also comes with four Teflon tuner shims (in two different sizes) to fine-tune your grind further.
You have to use these added tuner shim settings to get a full 19 steps’ worth of grind settings. But when you do, the Fixie can reliably handle grinds from as fine as a Moka pot to cold brew coarse.
Note: Although Delrin is a lightweight and wear-resistant plastic that’s becoming a popular replacement for metal parts, it is not BPA-free.
How Much Control Is That Really?
With the tuner shims, steps are about 0.1 mm (or 100 microns) in adjustment size.
With grinders like the 1Zpresso J Max adjustable down to about 9 microns, the Fixie does not offer the most precise grind control, but it provides a pretty good range and consistent results.
It comes down to what you’re looking for.
If you want to dial in your espresso fresh every time the sky changes slightly, the Fixie is not your best day-after-day kitchen counter option.
But if you want better travel coffee or just want a really solid cup no matter what brew type you opt for each day, then don’t be afraid to lean on the Fixie.
In terms of grind speed, the Fixie is about average.
You can probably grind the full 30 grams of espresso in 30-60 seconds, depending on grind size and hand/arm strength.
1Zpresso grinders, which can be tough for some users to work easily, can often take a little longer (well over a minute) to produce that much coffee at finer grinds.
By comparison, the Orphan Espresso Fixie hand grinder is not remarkable in grind speed, which is as much a good thing as a bad thing.
Overall, the OE Fixie yields a consistent grind over a broad range of grind sizes.
The grind consistency is good enough for many users — in fact, it’s something many devotees rave about, particularly those who love to brew pour-over, Aeropress, or even French press.
The Fixie falls a little when compared to some really exceptional hand grinders; it wouldn’t hold up in competition with a 1Zpresso K series grinder. But on its own, this hand grinder performs quite well.
If you want just ONE solid manual coffee grinder to use at home or want a great quality travel grinder, the Fixie is awesome.
However, if you already have a premium quality coffee grinder, you may notice the consistency here is a little underwhelming — unless you need something better for medium to coarse grinds.
The Orphan Espresso Fixie is a true blue travel hand grinder.
Not only is it lightweight and small enough to tuck into a suitcase (or even briefcase!), the Fixie grinder is ready to take on the road — the dirt road, as in biking, hiking, or camping.
Titanium and carbon fiber — the primary body materials — can really take a punch. Plus, they’re as lightweight as they are durable.
The OE Fixie comes with a Tyvek (read: waterproof) travel bag plus an adjustment disc storage tin.
Not that the body of the Fixie needs a lot of extra protection, but it’s nice to know where your hand grinder and all of its accessories are when hiking with a full pack.
Throw the Fixie in a bag with an Aeropress, a jar of beans, and a giant thermos. Tie it to your handlebars, and don’t even worry about it. Your Fixie will be fine, and your coffee a lot finer.
Of course, if you just want to appreciate the Fixie hand grinder’s build in a hotel room, that works, too.
Orphan Espresso Fixie VS Lido 3 Grinder
The Orphan Espresso Fixie is comparable to its cousin, the Lido 3 (also from Orphan Espresso).
The Fixie is basically the travel model of the Lido 3. There are some similarities in terms of overall quality and features, but it is much lighter and sacrifices some grind control for its perks.
The Orphan Espresso Lido 3 and the Fixie have similar steel conical burrs (48 mm Swiss steel for the Lido 3, 47 mm hardened steel for the Fixie).
Both are incredibly well built. Fellow writer Beau calls the Lido 3 a “beast,” which might make the Fixie a scrappy little pitbull. (And yes, its bark is harsher than its gentle bite — or smooth grind).
Both are also easy to use. They grind smoothly and easily and at a reasonable speed.
Overall, both are popular coffee grinders that offer better grind consistency than you might expect.
These OE grinders are especially great at maintaining grind quality across the size spectrum.
First and foremost, you probably don’t want to take the Lido 3 on the go, which is a little ironic since OE made the Lido 3 in part to be a more portable version of the Lido 2.
The Lido 3’s 1-kilo size didn’t actually facilitate traveling much, however. So the Fixie, at about 330 grams, was born.
Part of that extra weight was the giant hopper or grounds catch.
The Lido 3 can house a whopping 70 grams of coffee — that’s over twice the Fixie’s capacity.
So if you want an Orphan Espresso grinder that can help you make a 40-ounce French press for the whole household, try the Lido 3.
In fact, the Lido 3 is just BIG. It’s almost double the size of a more standard hand grinder.
It’s wide around the middle, making it harder for smaller hands to grip, and the hand crank is not the most ergonomic in shape and movement.
Although some swear their OE Fixie functions a lot like the Lido 3, the travel grinder is a little less consistent.
Both OE grinders will surprise you with their quality, but that mega grinder has better control with its step-less, or infinite, grind adjustment system.
So Which Is Better, Fixie Or Lido 3?
It’s obviously the OE Fixie.
It’s light, it’s small, and it’s easy to clean and assemble. And it sure beats hotel coffee or the coffee that’s been sitting in your thermos all day on your hike.
For grind precision and control…
The Lido 3 wins.
The Fixie is a really great grinder — but its light dims a little when you compare it to the Lido 3 for grind consistency.
The Fixie still wins for most users.
Although the Lido 3’s step-less grind system allows for more control, it’s also numberless and challenging to recreate.
It’s not like you can count back from the same point every day.
Realistically, the giant Lido 3 is larger and therefore a little more cumbersome than it needs to be.
And of course, even if you plan to use it at home, it never hurts to have the option to take your grinder with you.
The Orphan Espresso Fixie Grinder Isn’t For You If…
You Drink A Lot Of Coffee
Although it may seem obvious, a travel grinder is not your best choice for batch brewing.
The Fixie holds a modest 30 grams of coffee beans.
That’s fine for an Aeropress, but for those who like to make a large Chemex and nurse it all morning, you have to brace yourself for a few rounds each morning.
This hand grinder is also only average in terms of speed. So if you plan to use your grinder a couple times a day or to make a lot of coffee at once, you may eventually grow tired of the Fixie.
But at the very least, you wouldn’t have to work too hard even if you’re cranking that rubberized silicone handle for a while.
If you need an easier grind, try the Comandante C40.
To grind more in one go, the 1Zpresso K Max is an even more consistent grinder that holds up to 40 grams of coffee.
You Want Precision Control
Again, the OE Fixie’s grind adjustment is not very precise.
With large adjustment steps (about 100 microns) and only 19 total steps per disc with a tuning shim in place, that’s just not a lot of control.
For manual coffee brewers, the overall quality and portability are probably worth it. But some daily espresso or Turkish coffee drinkers won’t appreciate the lack of finesse.
It’s also worth noting that the Fixie takes an extra step to dial in.
It’s a straightforward coffee grinder to take apart, but still, you have to put both your chosen Delrin disc and Teflon tuning shim to adjust the grind.
If you’re not drinking the same Aeropress coffee each day or sharing a grinder with someone else in the house who prefers another brew method, this can get old fast.
For better control and precision, try the 1Zpresso JX Pro.
Related Read: Manual Coffee Grinders
The Final Verdict
The Orphan Espresso Fixie is THE travel grinder.
- 4 Unique disc placements
But it’s also a pretty darn good hand grinder.
With only 19-step adjustments, it’s surprising how high-quality coffee made with this grinder is. The grind consistency and hardened steel burrs really deliver as long as you’re not a die-hard espresso fan.
The Fixie can take a beating and weighs hardly anything in your bag, but you’ll probably find you use it at home anyway — whether you’re making a French press or Aeropress.
Unless you really need an espresso-perfected grinder with all the stops (that is, all the steps), go for the Fixie.
And no. You won’t be sorry.