Replacement Hopper for Starbucks Barista EL60 Grinder

Starbucks Barista Burr Grinder EL60
Starbucks Barista Burr Grinder EL60

A while back, my treasured Starbucks “Barista” Burr Grinder suffered a nasty fall.  It’s a long story. Not my best day.

The grinder itself was just fine, but the coffee bean hopper that sits atop the grinder didn’t fare so well. The “business end” of the hopper was ruined. I call it the business end because without the hopper installed, the grinder won’t run for safety reasons. It also is used to set the coarseness of your grind.

Broken Hopper for EL60 Burr Grinder
Broken Hopper for EL60 Burr Grinder

Locating a New Hopper

This should be no problem, right? I’ll just search Google for “starbucks barista grinder hopper” right?

Oh boy.

It turns out that Starbucks has sold a few different private label grinders wearing the “Barista” moniker. There were a number of results in Google that made me think I’d have no problem finding parts for my grinder. Unfortunately, though, it became clear pretty quickly from the photos on the sites that my grinder wasn’t the one they were selling parts for.

Starbucks EL60 Grinder
Starbucks EL60 Grinder

In the end, I turned the grinder over and located this sticker, which told me that I have the “EL 60” burr grinder specifically.

While that was nice for informational purposes, it didn’t seem to be much help online when hunting for parts.

Ultimately, I decided that my grinder was manufactured by Solis, a Swiss company which offers this model which appears (from the photo, anyway) to be identical to mine. Other searches revealed that my grinder had been sold as the “Solis 166” at one time.

Nice to know, but no parts.

After a few more rounds of Google searching, I decided that it might be worthwhile to contact Baratza, which appears to make (or at least import) the successor models to the EL 60—both for Starbucks’ “Barista” line and otherwise.

Prior to purchasing the replacement hopper from the Baratza website, I contacted their support department by filling out a form on their website.

I was very impressed with the great service I received—especially since I was only planning to spend $10 on the hopper (or, as it turned out, $14 including the lid). After inquiring as to whether or not they sold the replacement hopper I needed, I received the following via email:

Hey David,

Our hopper does not fit right onto the Barista. However, I did have one crafty customer modify one of our hoppers, he made a guide for doing the job. I have the guide attached- sorry it is in two parts, but the customer sent it to me already in PDF form like this.

Regards,

Pierce Jens
Baratza Email Support

Nice!

The PDFs that were attached were somewhat helpful, but unclear in some ways, so I decided to create this post as a way to “upgrade” the available information about how to make the Baratza hopper work on the Barista EL60 / Solis 166 grinder.

I ordered the grinder right away, and added the lid as well. I had a suspicion my lid (which was intact) would fit, but I could see that the Baratza hopper was kind-of a “smoke” color, whereas mine was clear. For $4, why not get the matching lid?

Opening the package, I decided the grinders Baratza sells today indeed must share some common ancestry with my grinder, as the hoppers are exactly the same diameter at the point where they come to rest on top of the grinder.

However, the “notches” that allow the hopper to adjust the grind—not to mention get “seated” properly in place—are not where they need to be on the Baratza replacement hopper.

EL 60 Grind Adjustment Notches
EL 60 Grind Adjustment Notches
Baratza replacement hopper as shipped
Baratza replacement hopper as shipped

So… I reviewed the modifications made by the generous and helpful person who created the PDFs that Baratza sent me, and went for it.

How I Modified the Baratza Hopper to Work in My Barista Grinder

The guides Baratza sent referenced a “rotary tool” which the customer apparently used to grind new notches in the Baratza hopper to make it fit. I’m guessing it was a Dremel tool of some sort, which I don’t have.

So I read and re-read the guides and decided that an super-sharp razor blade just might do the trick.

WARNING: Razor blades are incredibly dangerous. Seriously… use every possible precaution to avoid injury if you try this. Clear the area of any bystanders or spectators, and proceed at your own risk.

I started with 2 vertical cuts on the side that didn’t have anything in the way, as shown below. By cutting straight down, no body parts were in the “line of fire” (so to speak) in the event that the razor blade were to slip.

Baratza hopper mod: first cuts made with razor blade
First cuts made with razor blade

I was quite pleasantly surprised at how easily my sharp razor blade cut through the plastic hopper. If I got a little stuck, it just took a little forward or backward motion (not enough that I’d refer to it as “sawing”) to make progress.

I took my time, and when I had two nice vertical cuts, I very carefully made a horizontal one to finish out my notch.

Once that first notch was cut, I turned the hopper around and tried to discover what needed to happen on the other side. From what I could see, my hopper was slightly different from the one pictured in the guides I received. In my case, there was a “tab” that ran all the way to the “top” (when sitting upside down as it was when I was working on it) of the hopper rim. After some tinkering, I decided that at least part of it (enough to match the height of my other notch) needed to be removed. I decided not to remove all of it because it seemed like it may have had some purpose. Honestly, I’m not sure.

Baratza hopper mod: tab to be partially removed
Tab to be partially removed

Again, the razor blade really seemed like the ideal tool for the job. I worked very slowly and kept body parts out of the way in case of slippage.

Tab partially removed
Baratza hopper mod: tab partially removed

Once that was done, I cut a notch in the “rim” of the hopper just like the first one.

With both notches cut, I did a little comparison to even things out a bit, and ultimately cut both notches a bit “taller” than I had done originally. Once they seemed to match, I installed the hopper onto the grinder…

My Starbucks Barista grinder with its shiny new modified Baratza hopper
My Starbucks Barista grinder with its shiny new modified Baratza hopper

Voila!

The new hopper now works just as the original one did. By rotating the hopper, the grind can be adjusted from “coarse” (with the little tab above the french press as shown in the photo above) to “fine” just as before.

And… as before, the safety cutoff switch is activated properly only when the hopper is properly installed and rotated far enough to be “locked” into place.

Thank You to Baratza and the Unknown Crafty Customer

I wouldn’t have attempted this mod if it weren’t for the fantastic service from Baratza (thank you, Pierce!) and the anonymous Baratza customer who blazed the trail and wrote up the guide to the modification he or she made.

Hopefully, this guide is helpful to you. If I can answer any questions, I’ll do my best! Just add a comment below.

With this nifty mod, I plan to enjoy my Starbucks Barista EL60 grinder for many more years. It has truly been the best grinder I’ve ever owned! And… next time I need one, I’ll be buying a grinder directly from Baratza.

Enjoy!

26 Replies to “Replacement Hopper for Starbucks Barista EL60 Grinder”

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. My hopper suffered similar trauma, so I will be doing what you did. Thanks again!

    1. Hey Lou — I found the notches necessary to get my unit to work at all. Aligning with the markings is possible as well, once you get your hopper properly inserted into the unit.

      I’m sorry I didn’t see your comments sooner. I’m guessing by now you may have had an opportunity to tinker a bit further. Looking forward to hearing about your results!

  2. Solis do still make the original Starbucks machine as the Scala 166. Frustratingly, they also sell the exact clear perspex hopper for it as a spare part – but only if you live in Switzerland or Lichtenstein!

    In their Swiss online shop it’s available at
    http://www.solis-onlineshop.ch/fr/bohnenbehalter-nzu-scala-typ-166
    but it looks like they won’t ship to the US or UK, probably for some contractual reason.

    So it looks like your strategy of buying a similar product and then carving new slots into it is the only way to keep these machines running.

    1. Good find, Ian! My previous efforts to find the grinder (not to mention the hopper) on European sites were unsuccessful.

      This strategy does work, however, for those of us who aren’t able to order the item you found.

      Cheers!

  3. David, you are awesome! I should be slapped for the way I broke mine. I had the WHOLE assembly inverted stuffing the cord back in its hole when it got away from me because of the domed lid. I found your post while seeking out possibilities. I used a box cutter with a fresh blade and 20 minutes later was back in business. I noticed the dome inside the hopper stands a little higher. I don’t think I’ll have to tap as much while grinding fresh coffee beans.

    My wife gave me this Starbucks bean grinder and a Starbucks Barista assembly in 2001.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Ha! 🙂 You wouldn’t be so hard on yourself if you’d seen my dump mine. I carry it out to the garage when I’m the first one awake in the mornings, since the noise of the grinder tends to wake people up. So one morning, I was being careless and holding it in one hand, the hopper already loaded up with beans. With the other hand, I reached for the light switch just as I tripped over something that had been left in the doorway.

      The grinder went flying and landed on the hopper, sending plastic shards and coffee beans spraying everywhere.

      Like I said in the post… not my best day.

      My wife gave mine to me, too… but I can’t recall exactly when. Probably not as long ago as 2001, though!

      Anyway… glad you found this post useful, John! Hope your grinder gives you many more years of service!

      Cheers!

  4. I have the same grinder but with a different problem. It is slow to grind; the motor runs normally but the beans don’t drop down into the grinder mechanism. I have to shake or jostle it to get the bean to fall down where they can be ground up. Is this normal? Or, I am thinking it needs to be cleaned; any advice on disassembling it? I also use a somewhat “oily” bean, may be a contributor?

    1. Hey Karl — sorry I’ve been slow to respond here! Based upon what you said, I definitely think a cleaning is in order. I’m no expert on this, but if I recall correctly from when I had mine apart for this project, you can pretty easily get to the gears and other areas that probably do need to be cleaned.

      Years ago, I bought a make-up brush for this purpose. I would also grind up some much lighter roast beans (I tend to be a darker roast, “oily” bean kind of guy, too) which would help soak up some of the oils. I haven’t used any water or anything cleaning mine (although I guess there’s probably a “right” way to do something along those lines) — just the dry beans and the make-up brush.

      Hope this helps! I’m sure the folks at Baratza would be an excellent resource for better cleaning methods. I also know that they will refurbish their units when they get older, although I’m not sure whether they would take one of our Starbucks grinders and do that. When mine gets to the point where it isn’t performing as well, I plan to contact them and see what they recommend.

      Cheers!

  5. I’m glad you succeeded in your repair effort. I have a very similar grinder with which I’m loathe to part ways. The timer knob has broken and a search tells me that the Baratza knob will not fit mine. A small srewdriver is filling in for the broken knob. Aesthetically less pleasing, but quite functional, it will have to do until I find a replacement knob.

    1. Oh boy. I’ve often wondered what I would do if the other functions started failing!

      Just a thought… If your grinder is even close, it may be worth contacting Baratza to see if they have any ideas. I found them to be remarkably helpful!

  6. I wish I read your piece first. Thank you! It is worth $14 and a bit of time to fix our grinder that was working wonderfully before it jumped off the counter.

    1. Sorry to hear about your “jumping” grinder! I couldn’t agree more… not a big investment to fix a treasured component of my daily coffee habit.

      Thanks for taking a moment to write in!

      Cheers

  7. Thanks for this! I love my E61 and had a similar accident. I used a mine hacksaw to create the grooves and reduce the tab – it looks like a small hacksaw but half of the blade sticks out past the bracket which made the cutting a breeze.

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