Macap M4 Electronic Doserless vs. Mazzer Mini E Espresso Grinder - Page 3

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woodchuck

#21: Post by woodchuck »

Well, had the three girls (my M4 Doser), the M4 Doserless and the Mazzer Mini E at home today. I had done a few pictures for Dan and agreed to give them all a little taste test. One thing up front, my taste buds are no where near as developed as a lot of folks in this group so take my conclusions with a grain of salt.



My first observation, testing grinders is a messy business. My second, drinking espresso from a half a pound of beans can leave you with quite a rush!

Nothing too scientific here, I started with a bag of Toscano from CCC roasted on the 29th. Toscano gets better in my mind with a bit of age so this was at about its peak (10 days is about the best for me). Pulled a baseline on my M4 Doser, lots of chocolate and a buttery taste that only comes with a few days rest.

Next onto the M4 Doserless, took me a couple of tries to get the grind right. I have a a Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II. It will channel like crazy if you are not doing a good job of grinding, dosing and tamping. This grinder does clump a fair bit. WDT is your friend here. Using WDT, I was able to get a comparable shot to my own M4. You definitely need some mechanism to break up the clumps otherwise - channel city!

Finally, onto the Mazzer Mini E, again a couple of sink shots to dial it in. I do admit to trying all my shots destined for the sink or otherwise. Always interesting to taste what your mistakes create. Well, I have to say, definitely less clumping than the M4. I tried a couple of different techniques here but the one that gave me the best shot was a Chicago chop, or at least what I think of as a chop. A couple of quick taps as the grind progresses and multiple chops across the top of the pf with a sharp instrument, a leveling scrape, a tamp and voila a great pour. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed here because I do think I finally got a better shot out of the Mazzer than my M4. A little more, well defined, maybe less "muddled", not sure of the words but I did think the Mazzer had the best tasting shot.

Cleaning wise, I'd give the nod to either the Mazzer Mini E or my M4 Doser. I can't figure out how to get up inside that M4 doserless snout to clean it out.

Fortunately my wife was away this weekend, gave me a chance to clean up. I think she would definitely appreciate the convenience of the timer on either of the doserless grinders. That said I'm not sure she would have the patience to deal with WDT and the M4. She has learned to use a good thwack on the doser and I think a chop on the Mazzer would also work.

Hope this gives you a bit of insight into the two grinders.

Cheers

Ian

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HB (original poster)
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#22: Post by HB (original poster) »

SPOILER WARNING - SPOILER WARNING - SPOILER WARNING

If you wish to play "spot the distribution technique," click here before reading further!

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For the uninitiated, the Weiss Distribution Technique is a popular method for addressing the problem of uneven distribution of coffee grounds in the filter basket, which leads to extraction flaws and the attendant unbalanced and undesirable flavors in the cup.

The WDT is especially effective at dealing with clumping, although as you can read in the thread Why don't pros use the WDT?, not everyone agrees it's necessary. So as part of my research on the Macap M4 Electronic Doserless, I prepared espressos using the WDT and the Stockfleths Move (a rotational re-distribution technique).

(This is your last chance to take the "spot the distribution technique" poll above).

In keeping with the exploratory nature of the Bench, I took videos of all the extractions of the session, including the ones preceding grind adjustments. The extraction below was the first of the session using the WDT:

WDT first shot (too fast)
«missing video»

Whoa Nelly, slow down girl! Tightened the grind adjustment 1-1/2 full turns:

WDT after grind adjustment
«missing video»

Still poured a tiny bit fast, but acceptable. For those keeping track of seconds, I add 3-4 seconds to "normalize" a bottomless pour. So for example, a 24 second bottomless portafilter extraction is approximately equivalent to a 27 second spouted portafilter extraction.

For the next two extractions, I used the same amount of coffee, but redistributed using the Stockfleths Move.

Stockfleths Move first shot
«missing video»

Argh, typing this up now, I see that I accidentally included the post-adjustment WDT video and the pre-adjustment Stockfleths Move video in the poll. Seeing the poll results, 70% are correctly spotting the WDT video. I think the results would have been closer if voters saw this post-adjustment video. Oh well, too late to correct the poll. Next time I'll pay closer attention to which video I link! :oops:

To complete the series, I tightened the grind 1/2 turn. A very small adjustment yielded a nicer looking extraction:

Stockfleths Move after grind adjustment
«missing video»

For the record, I believe the WDT is a miracle worker for grinders that produce lots of clumps. But I did learn from this session that a well practiced Stockfleths Move is less labor intensive and the results are very close, in appearance and most importantly, in taste.
Dan Kehn

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HB (original poster)
Admin

#23: Post by HB (original poster) »

UPDATE:

Seeing the comparison of the grounds from the Macap M4 Electronic Doserless and Mazzer Mini Electronic, Chris Nachtrieb, owner of Chris' Coffee Service, contacted Antonio Schiavon of MACAP for his assessment. Antonio explained that the model I have is a prototype and isn't representative of the final production version. He sent a photo of the grounds from the Macap doserless production version and they appear essentially identical to the Mazzer's. Antonio also explained that the final version will have better access for cleaning the last bit of grounds from the chute.

To avoid confusing readers by continuing research of a prototype that differs significantly from the production model, this review is on hold. A replacement production version grinder is expected in 4-6 weeks. Thanks for your patience, and special thanks to Chris and Antonio for listening and acting upon the concerns of HB's espresso enthusiast community.
Dan Kehn

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jesawdy

#24: Post by jesawdy »

HB wrote:Thanks for your patience, and special thanks to Chris and Antonio for listening and acting upon the concerns of HB's espresso enthusiast community.
Dan, that is awesome news.... between this and the news of a potential Cimbali Junior/MAX hybrid grinder, it seems that MAYBE the espresso enthusiast community is getting large enough (or maybe just vocal enough) that manufacturers and distributors are taking more notice of that market. That's a really good thing.
Jeff Sawdy

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FireguySpro

#25: Post by FireguySpro »

So what is to become of this Macap M4 Electronic Doserless prototype? Is there a lucky owner?

HB you had stated earlier that there would not be a retrofit available...is there any way to get Chris to possibly influence Macap to consider such an option?

Is there ANY solution for the static that the M4 produces? There seems to be quite a bit of wasted grinds left within the burrs and snout, so any way to get them into the place where they belong and reduce the waste would be much appreciated.
"Try before you pry" & "Brains are slippery"

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HB (original poster)
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#26: Post by HB (original poster) »

FireguySpro wrote:So what is to become of this Macap M4 Electronic Doserless prototype? Is there a lucky owner?

HB you had stated earlier that there would not be a retrofit available...is there any way to get Chris to possibly influence Macap to consider such an option?
The prototype goes back to Chris. He didn't mention its final disposition, but I assume he'll sell it. As for a retro kit, I recommend contacting him to express your interest; also think about how much you would be willing to pay for such a kit.
FireguySpro wrote:Is there ANY solution for the static that the M4 produces? There seems to be quite a bit of wasted grinds left within the burrs and snout, so any way to get them into the place where they belong and reduce the waste would be much appreciated.
According to comments from Antonio at the MACAP booth, they eliminated static in the new doserless by placing a grounded wire at the snout exit. I didn't disassemble the prototype, but I can feel a small "spring" up there that I assume is the grounding he alluded to. I'll take a more careful look at how the new doserless M4 reduces static when the production version arrives.
Dan Kehn

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HB (original poster)
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#27: Post by HB (original poster) »

The production version of the Macap M4 Doserless Electronic arrived and I've had a couple weeks to test it. There are some minor tweaks to the exit chute mechanism, but the reduced clumping is small enough that the original photo from earlier in this thread accurately represents the production model:

Image
Clumps are problematic for many grinders, especially doserless ones

One of the advantages of doserless grinders is the repeatable measurements using the built-in timer. To see how the two grinders compared, I ground 7 samples and weighed them. Both grinders rely on a "back pressure" mechanism so the grinds extrude in a steady stream instead of a mixture of clumps and granules. The Mazzer has a screen at the chute exit. The Macap has an approximately 1" long thin metal ribbon bisecting the chute exit; the end at the exit of the chute has a cut V, presumably to help break up clumps before the grounds tumble down the snout. In testing oily or finely ground coffees for ristrettos, I found the Macap's exit occasionally clogged and slowed the motor, requiring gentle prodding up the snout with an implement to break up the clog or even removal of the upper burr carrier to clear the grinding chamber.

The means that you will have to discard a few grams of coffee at the beginning of a session, otherwise the first dose would be a mixture of fresh and stale grounds from the previous session. Below are the measurements in grams:
  • Macap M4 Electronic Doserless: 7.5, 8.4, 7.9, 8.1, 8.2, 8.2
    Mazzer Mini Electronic: 8.2, 8.6, 7.9, 8.3, 8.0, 8.5
Although these aren't statistically significant sample sizes, the standard deviations are 0.314 and 0.274 respectively, suggesting the Mazzer has slightly better reproducibility, though both are more precise than an above average barista dosing manually.

As shown in the poll Doserless to doser and back again... the debate continues, opinion is evenly divided on the merits of doser versus doserless grinders. Indeed, a doser is never used as designed by a home barista (i.e., measuring out a predetermined amount of coffee) because the home barista prepares one or two espressos at a time, not the continuous flow of espressos prepared by professional baristas in a cafe environment.

Choosing between these two grinders isn't easy: The Mazzer Mini Electronic produces grounds that are nearly as clump free as from a doser grinder operated by an experienced barista and evenly distributes grounds without clogging. The Macap M4 Electronic Doserless produces more clumps and may clog with oily coffees or very find grind settings, but has an attractive and easily adjustable timer mechanism (**). In terms of containing the mess, it's a wash: They both do a great job of directing grounds directly into the portafilter, though the Mazzer does have the advantage of a nice portafilter cradle for those too impatient to wait the seven seconds to grind enough coffee for a double. Those who prize neatness and are devotees of the Weiss Distribution Technique are unconcerned about clumping, giving an advantage to the Macap and its nifty adjustment. On the other hand, the fit and finish of the Mazzer line of grinders are the best in the business.

Alas it would be a much easier decision if the Mazzer had the same snazzy LED adjustment mechanism as the Macap at the same price instead of the tiny screwdriver adjustment potentiometer, wouldn't it? But that's what choice is about. Fortunately you can take comfort in the fact that at this level of grinder, there are no "bad" choices, just trade offs.

(**) To change the Macap's single espresso timer setting, press and hold the silver button for a few seconds to enter programming mode. Press the button once to switch to single dose setting. Turn the same silver button like a dial to increase/decrease the time in 0.1 second increments. Press to lock in the setting. Turn the dial counter clockwise to display "Exit" and click to finish. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it's actually intuitive and quick.
Dan Kehn

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luca
Team HB

#28: Post by luca »

HB wrote:The coffee is Intelligentsia's Kid O's Organic Espresso. It doesn't have a tendency to clump and indeed the Mini E's grounds are nearly indistinguishable in terms of texture from grounds dispensed from the doser-equipped Mini "competition style." In sharp contrast, the Macap doserless has large visible chunks. Based on appearances, the grounds dispensed from the Macap looked like the poster child for the Weiss Distribution Technique. But as evidenced from the thread Why don't pros use the WDT, not everyone agrees it's the only solution for an even extraction.
Hi Dan,

Could you explain to us whether or not the grind size that you used for these photos was the same? The thought is that if the macap were grinding finer one would naturally expect it to spit out chunks.

Cheers,

Luca
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

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HB (original poster)
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#29: Post by HB (original poster) »

I adjusted both grinders using the same coffee to approximately the same pour volume / time. You're right that the grind setting was quite fine since I was dosing to 14 grams.
Dan Kehn

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luca
Team HB

#30: Post by luca »

Sweet, thanks for that, Dan.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes