It is hard to comprehend, in the era of “the right to repair,” how a high-profile company can make it impossible to purchase essential parts. They’re not offered on the company’s website, through third parties, or even by independent after-market suppliers.
For example, Breville makes a burr coffee grinder called the Smart Grinder Pro that retails for $199. That’s not as ridiculously high as some Italian brands that specialize in espresso grinds, but it’s significantly higher than other all-purpose grinders — the ones that turn out a variety of options for everything from a coarse French press to an extra-fine espresso.
The Break Down
The Breville burr grinder has two components in its grind chamber that, according to owners who have posted comments and reviews on websites, are prone to failure — a felt washer and an impeller. Of course, Breville provides no instructions about replacing them if they do fail, and even ignores information about removing other grind chamber components to reach them.
That chamber contains four elements: the top burr grinder, the lower burr grinder, the impeller that moves grinds into a chute that leads to a collection cup, and the felt washer that fits under the impeller. Breville gives all sorts of instructions about removing the top grinder and using a brush to clean any clogs. It even suggests running uncooked rice through the device. It never suggests that problems might be related to the washer or impeller, and it doesn’t list those parts in any diagrams or parts lists.
The implication is that, if a problem can’t be resolved with brushes and rice, the grinder’s a goner. That’s hard to accept for an item that was cleaned once a week and that costs $200.
The felt washer can, with a bit of effort, be found on third party sites. It’s pricey at $7 (it’s probably worth 70¢), but it’s available. The impeller remains MIA.
Email messages sent to Breville support; Stephen Krauss, the President of Breville Americas; and Aaron Wanek, the VP of Global Customer Care resulted in… nothing. No one responded with offers to provide the parts or guidance about where to obtain them.
This might be understandable — maybe — if the machine were very old or out of production. It’s not. It’s five years old and still available around the world.
What I’ll use while waiting for the felt washer to arrive (to see whether it solves the problem) is a Moulinex blade grinder. It’s not as precise as a burr grinder, but it works. And it’s 50 years old.