Repair Compak K3 Touch or get a Baratza Sette 270

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
slyfink

#1: Post by slyfink » Jan 15, 2020, 4:33 pm

Hi all,

First, the TL;DR: does the Baratza Sette 270 grind beans for espresso at least as well as the Compak K3?

Now the long version!: I managed to cross-thread the top burr of my Compak K3 touch when putting it back together after cleaning it over the weekend. The top burr appears to be stuck, and I can't get it to budge. I brought it to my local coffee equipment repair place, and they haven't been able to break it loose either.

Over the years, I've been a little dissatisfied with the K3. While the coffee tastes great, I find too much coffee gets stuck in the chute, it's a chore to clean, and making small, precise adjustments to the grind setting can be finicky. The coffee tastes great, but I think there are other grinders that might be better for me.

First, my equipement:
Compak K3 touch
Quickmill QM67 (with IMS screen and 18g basket, bottomless portafilter)

I pick up a fresh bag of beans every week. My preference is typically Ethiopian (currently beans from the Guji region tend to produce my favourite coffee). If not that, then I'll look for a coffee that produces a "bright, sweet, juicy" coffee. Panamanian and Costa Rican - Caturra and Bourbon beans usually. And I also prefer washed over naturally processed beans.

My usual workflow:
- weigh 18.2 grams of beans
- turn on the grinder and drop beans in hopper
- once beans are done grinding I'll take a chopstick to knock loose the grounds that are stuck in the chute (usually between 2-3g) this is the part that irks me most.
- weigh grounds coming out in the basket, keeping no more than 18.1 g
- (I haven't really found the need to use the WDT)
- press the basket in the portafilter
- tamp
- lock in portafilter
- and brew!

Most of the time the coffee is great. I'll play with dose, temp, and pressure based on beans, but I've been happy with the outcome for the past 7 years I've had the setup. The part that bothers me is the grounds retention of the grinder, how hard it is to make small adjustments, and how finicky it is to clean.

When I saw the Sette (and to a lesser extent the Niche) a while back I'd thought of maybe selling the Compak and giving it a try. But I wasn't sure the grind quality was at least as good as the Compak.

But now it seems I might be faced with spending a couple hundred to fix the Compak, or do I get the Sette for $500 (I'm in Canada).

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BaristaBoy E61

#2: Post by BaristaBoy E61 » Jan 15, 2020, 6:12 pm

I would suggest finding a Compak dealer (Morala Trading or I Drink Coffee) and see if you can trade your K3 for a Compak E5 OD.

That's what I would do in you situation.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

User avatar
GC7

#3: Post by GC7 » Jan 15, 2020, 8:22 pm

When I owned a K3 I used an acid brush to remove grinds from the chute. Pulse and do that a few times and there is no (significant) retention of coffee.
I still do that with my K10. IMO the K3 has a very good grind quality and its unlikely the Sette will improve anything. In fact, I've read far too many headaches from that grinder. If you feel the need to upgrade then really upgrade. I'd fix the K3. It's built solidly except perhaps for that plastic "touch" flap that I never used.

User avatar
bluesman

#4: Post by bluesman » Jan 15, 2020, 9:56 pm

GC7 wrote:IMO the K3 has a very good grind quality and its unlikely the Sette will improve anything. In fact, I've read far too many headaches from that grinder. If you feel the need to upgrade then really upgrade. I'd fix the K3. It's built solidly except perhaps for that plastic "touch" flap that I never used.
Agreed! I was concerned about retention until I actually swept and measured it - it's only a gram or less in my K3T. I, too, use a chopstick to purge it, followed by a quick wipe of the chute with my finger (make sure it's OFF before doing this!)

It's hard to believe that you were able to jam the upper burr in that tightly with only your hands, even if it is cross-threaded. I've freed many a "frozen" fitting on race and vintage cars over the years by applying a good penetrating solvent/oil every 12 hours for 3 or 4 days before trying to loosen the assembly - you have nothing to lose by giving this a try. Admittedly, none of these compounds is food-safe, but if you can get the burr out you can tear down the entire machine (which is probably a good idea anyway given its age) and clean it thoroughly before reassembly. If the thread is really stripped, you'll have to replace the piece(s) with damaged threads.

I love my K3T enough to replace it if it goes belly up on me. If the repair bill's "only" about $200, you're way ahead of the game by doing that instead of compromising on a Sette. Compak's motors are tough, and their build quality is excellent.

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GC7

#5: Post by GC7 » Jan 15, 2020, 10:29 pm

bluesman wrote:Agreed! I was concerned about retention until I actually swept and measured it - it's only a gram or less in my K3T. I, too, use a chopstick to purge it, followed by a quick wipe of the chute with my finger (make sure it's OFF before doing this!)
Try this to clean the chute. I think it will work better than the chopstick. When the hairs get too bent just throw it away and use another.
https://www.amazon.com/Pro-Grade-Acid-B ... s9dHJ1ZQ==

I agree with you about the quality of the K3T. I got a great deal on an almost new K10 and sold the K3 but it had years more service in it.

apple2k

#6: Post by apple2k » Jan 15, 2020, 11:45 pm

I have a K3 and love it, have you thought about not single dosing and just weighing the beans after the grind?

That is what I do, I leave enough in the beans hopper so they're not jumping around and then just grind, weigh and grind more or toss some out based on the output weight.

About once a week I hit the chute with a brush and one of those Dyson hand vacs and it works quite well.

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bluesman

#7: Post by bluesman » Jan 16, 2020, 8:15 am

The other maneuver I use to dislodge retained grinds from my K3 is simple. I put a finger under the front to lift it an inch and let it drop back down on the counter while holding my catch cup under the chute. This has been very effective, based on bean weight in and dose weight out.

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slipchuck

#8: Post by slipchuck » Jan 16, 2020, 9:11 am

Take it to a machine jobbing shop they might be able to unscrew it and fix the threads


Randy
“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”

slyfink

#9: Post by slyfink » Jan 16, 2020, 11:35 am

Thanks everyone for your responses. It seems the overwhelming majority recommended getting the K3 fixed. Which is what I'll do.
BaristaBoy E61 wrote:I would suggest finding a Compak dealer (Morala Trading or I Drink Coffee) and see if you can trade your K3 for a Compak E5 OD.

That's what I would do in you situation.
Morala is where I brought it. They couldn't get it to move. It's good to see they are a recommended shop though, sometimes I find them a little... dispassionate?
slipchuck wrote:Take it to a machine jobbing shop they might be able to unscrew it and fix the threads
I think this is what Morala is planning to do. I know a good metal fabrication guy that's close to me, and would have brought it to him as my next step, but at this point Morala has the grinder, so I'll just continue down that path. With a bit of luck, having the threads tapped properly will prevent this situation happening again. My guess is that the threads were rough or uneven to begin with.

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slipchuck

#10: Post by slipchuck » Jan 16, 2020, 1:33 pm

slyfink wrote:Thanks everyone for your responses. It seems the overwhelming majority recommended getting the K3 fixed. Which is what I'll do.


Morala is where I brought it. They couldn't get it to move. It's good to see they are a recommended shop though, sometimes I find them a little... dispassionate?

I think this is what Morala is planning to do. I know a good metal fabrication guy that's close to me, and would have brought it to him as my next step, but at this point Morala has the grinder, so I'll just continue down that path. With a bit of luck, having the threads tapped properly will prevent this situation happening again. My guess is that the threads were rough or uneven to begin with.
Might be as simple as rounding the first thread or two to get the burrs started


Randy
“There is nobody you can’t learn to like once you’ve heard their story.”