Zassenhaus Santiago 156MA – Vintage Coffee Mill [REVIEW] – The Coffee Barrister

Zassenhaus Santiago 156MA – Vintage Coffee Mill [REVIEW]


I recently renovated my kitchen and bought a Zassenhaus 169DG. The grinder caught my friend’s attention and told me about his Santiago 156MA Coffee Mill. Since I do reviews here, I thought it’ll be a great idea to try his one out and see how it goes. Here’s what I have to say about it:

Zassenhaus Santiago 156MA

The Santiago 156MA is beautiful, manufactured by renowned German artisan; the mahogany finish on the outside is flawless, and the brass coating on the handle and top brings the grinder to life. Other than that, this antique coffee grinder is very compact and would fit comfortably inside any cupboard – it measures 3.5 x 5.5 x 7.9’ (cm).

The Zassenhaus 156MA weighs 2.1lbs (kg) and even for a hand-cranked grinder, it’s very light. For extra stability, I recommend putting the machine between your knees when using it.

The burr grinder uses hardened steel burrs and claims to produce fine to coarse grinds, although I don’t think the coarser grinds are consistent enough.

Who's This Zassenhaus Coffee Mill
Suitable For?

Similar to my own Zassenhaus Grinder, the Santiago 156MA is suitable for people who have a retro décor kitchen. It’s also perfect for espresso fans out there since the 156MA produces fluffy fine grinds, which is ideal for espresso.

As a manual coffee grinder, this device is more suitable for those whose mesmerized by the aromas of fresh coffee – otherwise, you might burn up and get tired of grinding the beans yourself real quick.

What We Liked About This Grinder

  • Low wastage, there will be few stale coffee in your way
  • Most affordable way to get quality, fluffy espresso grinds
  • 25-years warranty

After testing the Santiago Coffee Mill for a while, I think it performed well in the extra-fine to medium range. The grinder’s finest setting was nearly enough for Turkish coffee, but not quite yet. At the coarser setting, I noticed the grinds become more and more inconsistent. As such, you should only use this burr mill to produce grinds for espressos, AeroPress, and drip filters that are not too coarse. The performance in this range is excellent!

Other than the performance (in the recommended range), what I really like about the coffee grinder is that there’re very little wastage and coffee trapped inside the system. This is quite important especially if it’s for personal use.

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Grounded coffee typically turns bad after an hour. So unless you clean your grinder every morning, the coffee trapped inside will affect your first cup of coffee. As such, with grinds stuck inside the system, it minimizes the impact significantly.

The Problems With This Burr Mill

  • Difficult to clean
  • Inconsistent coarse grinds, not suitable for French press
  • Difficult to use on the counter top, but more leverage when you put them between your knees

Like every single coffee grinders in the market, the 156MA Coffee Mill is not perfect. Other than not being able to produce grinds for French press correctly, it’s a little bit difficult to use and clean.

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Although this coffee grinder is more ergonomic and user-friendly, I noticed it’s difficult to use on a kitchen top. My friend pointed out that it’s a lot easier to grind if you put the device between your knees, but both of us agree that we won’t try that when there’re people around.

As for cleaning, disassembling the grinding unit is very tough. But here’s a video showing what you have to do:

If you like this sort of challenge, then fine. However, if you’re like us, who thinks screwing and unscrewing things is too much of a hassle, then you could try the Urnex Cleaning Tablets or read our coffee grinder cleaning guide.

Alternative & Similar Products

If you’re sold by Zassenhaus’s craftsmanship and antique designs, then you could check out the 169DG Burr Mill instead. This is a burr mill I personally use, and it’s Zassenhaus’s top of the range product at the moment.

Alternatively, if you’re only looking for something that’s eye catching and not really fussed whether the mill has any vintage designs or not, then you should check out the ROK Coffee Grinder. The ROK is very expensive but in terms of performance and functionalities, it’s one of the best hand-cranked grinders in the market.

Lastly, if you’re a French press lover, then you should go for the Hunt Brothers Coffee Mill instead. The Hunt Brothers is one of the few hand-operated grinders that produce coarse grinds that doesn’t suck. It’s probably the least expensive way to get consistent French press at the moment.

The Coffee Barrister's Verdict

Overall, the Zassenhaus Coffee Grinder – Santiago 156MA is excellent in producing fine to medium sized grinds. There are difficulties in using and cleaning the grinder, but as I’ve mentioned already, there are ways to make life simpler.

As such, if you’re going to make espresso, AeroPress, or another type of filters that don’t use grinds that’s too coarse, then I think this would be an excellent choice for you.

Zassenhaus Santiago 156MA Coffee Grinder

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