Have you seen those DIY videos where someone attaches a power drill to a hand coffee grinder to create a jerry-rigged electric grinder? It’s pretty clever, so it was probably only a matter before a brand took that concept and made a product.
As it turns out, the time is now, the brand is Goat Story, and the product is the Arco 2-in-1 Coffee Grinder – a manual grinder that can be attached to a base, turning it into an electric grinder. Is it a revolutionary coffee grinder design or a short-lived gimmick? How does it stack up against the drill hack? Home Grounds will answer such questions in this detailed review.
Summary: The Arco 2-in-1 Coffee Grinder
- 2-in-1 conical burr coffee grinder that can either be manual or electric.
- Innovative external grind adjustment collar with 240 grind settings.
- Award-winning design with minimalist matte black aesthetic.
The grinder has a real quality feel to it, and the work flow is super satisfying. Coffee is full of that conical burr texture and tastes great.
– Customer review
The Full Arco Coffee Grinder Review
Goat Story is known for outside-the-box products with a unique blend of form and function. Remember their original claim to fame, the goat horn coffee mug? So they’re the perfect brand to tackle this new frontier in coffee grinders. While I was initially concerned that the Arco might be more hype than substance, its recent Best New Product win at the 2022 World of Coffee Milan expo laid those fears to rest (1). Let’s dig into what makes it award-worthy.
Design – 4/5
The design of the Arco grinder is the first thing you’ll notice, and its distinct inverted U shape stands out from the crowd. Indeed, the name Arco is about the architectural form of the arch.
While aesthetics can be a divisive topic, the Arco’s minimalist, industrial look and matte black finish are in keeping with current trends. This is no surprise as Goat Story is known for appealing designs, though the head of product design Luka Pirna assures us that form still comes second to function.
ARCO’s unique looks strictly follow the functionality. Our aim was to combine the user experience of an electric grinder with the grind quality, simple grind setting, and versatility of a single dose hand grinder.
The Red Dot Design jury agrees, awarding Arco a 2022 Red Dot Design Award and stating that it has a “striking design and cleverly unites the advantages of two types of grinders.” (2)
It’s a very compact grinder with one of the smallest footprints in its class. It measures just 11” tall by 3.6” wide by 7.5” deep and weighs only 6.2 pounds (the hand grinder alone weighs 1.76 pounds). It’s perfect if you’re short on space, especially given that it is essentially two grinders in one.
Arguably the most clever part of the design, which you won’t see in more great manual coffee grinders, is that the grounds catch cup is perfectly sized to dose into a standard 58 mm espresso machine portafilter. Espresso lovers will appreciate how nicely this fits into their workflow.
Durability – 4/5
As a relatively new product, the durability of the Arco 2-in-1 Grinder remains up in the air. However, Goat Story is a well-established brand with a good reputation for building quality products. Their last big release, the Gina Smart Brewer, hasn’t resulted in any longevity complaints.
The Arco has some plastic in the casing around the motor section, but everything important is made of metal. That includes the grinder’s steel drive shaft, aluminum body, and nitrided steel conical burrs.
Ease of Use – 3.5/5
Using the Arco grinder is easy but not perfect, or at least not perfect for everyone.
Let’s talk about the grind size adjustment.
Grind size is adjusted by rotating an external collar. Each rotation has 60 clicks, and it can rotate 4 times, providing 240 different grind settings – “from ibrik to cold brew,” according to Goat Story.
The settings are easy to track thanks to markings on the grinder, and the clicks are pleasingly tactile. You both hear and feel each one.
On the bottom of the catch cup, you’ll find a guide to choosing grind settings for different brewing methods. It was surprisingly accurate compared to some, though a tad coarse for our taste.
The external collar system is standard on electric grinders but unusual for a hand grinder. Goat Story totes this as “revolutionary,” which is a fun pun! I loved this feature. It’s much more straightforward than the system of counting clicks used for many hand grinders and makes it easy to switch settings and brew methods quickly. However, my colleagues with larger hands found they had to be careful when using the grinder manually because they accidentally changed the grind setting when their big mitts strayed onto the collar.
The Arco is a single-dosing grinder, so once your grind size is chosen, it’s as simple as adding your coffee beans to the hopper and grinding – either manually or by flicking the power switch.
The manual portion comes on and off the base via a twist-lock system, and the grounds catch bin is affixed with magnets.
Note that when you switch between hand grinding and electric grinding, you will get a different grind size and distribution at the same setting. So you need to dial the grinder into particular brewing methods in both cases. This might come as a surprise at first use, but it makes sense as the grinding speed significantly impacts the result.
Grinding Capability – 4/5
The Arco is a single-dosing grinder, a style that has become increasingly popular in recent years among quality burr coffee grinders for home use. The hopper holds up to 50 grams of coffee beans, enough for about 5 cups of coffee or two double shots of espresso.
It claims to be very low retention, meaning very few grounds get stuck in the machine after grinding. This is true, but only if you give it a good whack to knock them out. Unlike some grinders, such as the Fellow Ode, it isn’t equipped with a built-in knocker.
The Arco uses a 47 mm steel conical burr set which spins at 360 rpm. This is one of the largest burr sets I’ve seen on a manual grinder, and it offers superb grind quality. The popular Comandante C40 hand grinder has 39 mm conical burrs.
Flat vs. Conical Burrs
Let’s talk about flat burrs, conical burrs, and rpm. In general, conical burrs are known for creating more fines than flat burrs. Brewing coffee with more fines means more texture and a richer mouthfeel but less clarity and muddier flavors. This is why conical burrs are often preferred for espresso, while flat burrs are preferred for filter coffee. But, of course, this is a matter of personal taste (3).
Burr speed also plays a role. With the same conical burrs, a lower rpm yields fewer fines and a grind more akin to flat burrs. This is one reason why so many hand grinders use conical burrs. Grinding by hand is about as low rpm as you can go! All that is to say, if you want a clean cup and are worried about the Arco’s conical burr set, consider grinding manually for your pour-over brews and swapping to electric when preparing espresso shots.
Value for Money – 4/5
It would be easy to say that you’re paying for the brand, the hype, and the aesthetics with this grinder, but we don’t think that’s the case. Comparing it with other grinders in its class, it is very competitive in terms of price.
- The Baratza Sette 270 is about the same price but with a smaller conical burr set and poorer performance when grinding for drip coffee.
- The Niche Zero has a superior 64 mm Mazzer burr set but costs about $150 more.
- The flat burr Fellow Ode is about $150 cheaper, but it is only suitable for filter coffee.
And really, the Arco is in a class of its own because it is the only one with two grinders. There is no way you can buy a good electric grinder AND an excellent manual grinder for the price of the Arco.
Don’t Buy the Goat Story Arco If…
- You only want a hand grinder: Buying a manual grinder is more affordable if you don’t mind the morning arm workout. Check out our Comandante coffee grinder review and our Orphan Lido 3 coffee grinder review for two Home Grounds favorites. You can also buy only the hand grinder portion of the Arco for just under half price if you’re a fan of the collar adjustment system.
- You only want an electric grinder: No plans to travel? Then look at our Baratza Sette 270 review for a similar-priced electric grinder. Or upgrade slightly to the Niche Zero coffee grinder, which has a better burr set than the Arco.
- You prefer a flat burr grinder: If you’re only planning to brew filter coffee, consider the Fellow Ode grinder, which shares the Arco’s matte black aesthetic. If you also want the option of filter brewing, the Eureka Mignon series of grinders are beautiful and versatile, albeit a bit pricier.
Home Grounds is pleased to report that the Arco 2-in-1 coffee grinder is not only more than a gimmick but also a big step from connecting a power drill to your current hand grinder. It’s well built, easy to use, has a quality burr set, and comes at a very reasonable price given everything on offer. Even if you never take it apart, it’s still an excellent electric grinder with a small footprint and attractive design.
- Cadwalader, Z. (2022, June 30). Here Are The Best New Product & Coffee Design Award Winners From World Of Coffee Milan. Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/here-are-the-best-new-product-coffee-design-award-winners-from-world-of-coffee-milan-189196.html
- Red Dor Design Awards, Kitchen Appliances and Kitchen Accessories. (2022). ARCO 2-in-1 Coffee Grinder. Retrieved from https://www.red-dot.org/project/arco-2-in-1-coffee-grinder-56308
- Petrich, I.L. (2020, May 12). Coffee grinders: What’s the difference between conical & flat burr grinders? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/05/conical-vs-flat-burr-coffee-grinders-difference/