Compak K10 WBC grinder - user report - Page 2

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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Sebastiaan007

#11: Post by Sebastiaan007 »

Thanks for splitting the subject Dan!
Got a little carried away from the base line, the Compak K10 WBC and it's results with Wilco.

It's really amazing how you can have such big differences in such small things (LM baskets) and how amazingly different the coffee tastes with the K10.
I never believed in such a difference to be honest, i have Wilco to thank for getting to know the K10!
I barista, do you?

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shadowfax

#12: Post by shadowfax »

NoMilkToday wrote:Happily, on the internet there are instructions to be found on improving this. For example on http://www.espresso-passione.com ; see the page "Sweep mod for the K10". By the way, the proprietor of this informative and fine looking website seems to be a nice fellow, sharing his espresso experiences with us in an open and honest way.
[snip]
... Poor guy.
FWIW, Wilco, Teme has been (was?) a regular on Home-Barista and CoffeeGeek for a long time. I and many others of us have enjoyed his informative posts, thoughtful discussion, and awesome high-end equipment reviews/mod guides. However, I don't think, under any circumstances, I could brook calling him a "poor guy." He's got the fanciest toys in the land!

As for the K30, I am curious what you tried from it. I've had a pro barista pull me a number of shots with a K30 ES + Paddle Group LM Linea prototype, and they were quite delectable. Of course, the K30 was his favorite grinder, and he helped develop (and roasted) the coffee that made the shot.

For me, the most interesting thing to read of your review is the excellent customer service Compak is giving now. The choice of hoppers they gave you is particularly impressive. I wish something more reasonable were available (stock) for my Robur, although I'm not one to shy away from a little modding. I think you see a similar situation in the US from vendors like Espressoparts. Michael from Espressoparts talked to me for nearly an hour about Robur mods, keeping the thing clean, and whether the E model was worth it. I am sure from stories I have read about Mazzer, that your experience is 'as it is:' they aren't interested in making happy customers out of 'crazy' high-end home baristas. It's great to hear that Compak is willing to go that extra mile.
Nicholas Lundgaard

Cerini Coffee & Gifts: official US importer for Olympia Express
Sponsored by Cerini Coffee & Gifts
NoMilkToday (original poster)

#13: Post by NoMilkToday (original poster) »

Looking at the beautiful pictures and reading the stories in his blog, Nicholas, I indeed did not get the impression Teme is deprived of monetary means. And he was certainly not shy about the many espresso devices he bought and sold in order to arrive at his personal espresso nirvana. His modification descriptions are of particularly great value in my opinion. Thank you Teme (if you read this).

During my own grinder quest I learned that, indeed, some of the pro baristas can produce espressos of exceptional quality and that with only 'regular' equipment. These people, unfortunately, are rare in Holland.
During this quest the only non-conical grinder that made an impression was the Super Jolly. The other flat burr grinders produced a less sweet espresso, with the K30 being the most bright. At that time I also learned that some of the retailers and users can have very different tastes. Some of them prefer clear and bright and are not fond of 'sweet'.

Nowadays, when walking around in the streets of Amsterdam, I sometimes suddenly 'need' a shot of caffeine. And then I enter one of the many espresso bars in the centre of the city. In order to protect my palate, I always order an espresso with a chocolate bar, of which I first take a bite to compensate for the harsh and bright taste. Most of these espresso bars use K60's. And although the regarding baristas get paid for their work, I don't see them as 'pro'. Some of the bars with Super Jollies or old Macap K7's produce a less confronting espresso.

NoMilkToday (original poster)

#14: Post by NoMilkToday (original poster) »

Mahlkönig owners are not to be offended by my post above. Therefore I would like to add some nuancing remarks.

One. During my grinderquest I noticed that different people have different tastes. In most cases, I think, not because they have a real divergent taste in espresso than I have, but because they like to dilute their espresso with milk and sugar. It is a fact that the lovers of cappucinos and lattes constitute a vast majority of all espresso drinkers. By this dilution with milk (or soya) some of the expressiveness in the taste layers of espresso gets lost. It could very well be that with a well balanced roast a milk diluted espresso beverage has a too laidback taste for most people. For compensation an extra 'kick' is needed. This could be implemented by using a 'brighter' grinder or a, for this purpose, roasted blend. Other compensation measures, be it with less impact, are raising the pump pressure and/or upping the temp in order to get the resultant taste to have more bittertones in order to come through.

Two. Within the community of pure espresso and ristretto drinkers (the last one an even smaller minority) I discern - and I simplify here - two different groups of home-baristas: the Users and the Travellers.
The User is the one who simply likes espresso and therefore acquires the required equipment and - after some searching - selects an appropiate blend he or she is comfortable with and stays with that blend for years.
The Traveller is the one who is 'crazy' about espresso, spends more time and money on the subject and frequently change blends or beans to satisfy his or her need to discover new and interesting tastes. These are the potential buyers of high-end grinders. They are the ones who want a grinder that discerns all possible shades in taste layers. And for them obtaining a Mahlkönig is one of the possibilities of a 'clear tasting' grinder, in particular - I assume - when they also produce lattes.

For Travellers who want to buy a high-end grinder and did not make up their mind about a definitive choice, I recommend (re)reading the very clear written taste profiles in Jim Schulman's thread Array/grinders/titan-grinder-project-can-it-beat-mazzer-robur-t4499-20.html. There he writes about the K10:
"I did not get a taste profile distinction between the Robur and the two Italian 68s. The 63mm Macap MXK is definitely brighter, while the Compak is definitely more laid back. The Compak's profile is similar to the Mini's, except its flavors are more defined, so it can stand up to the Robur in this regard, while the Mini could not.
Now it gets interesting. The big conicals are certainly showing better than the smaller grinders, and if you spring for one, you can pick middle of the road with the Italian 68s or the Robur, go for brighter with the MXK or Kony, or more laid back, with the Compak."
And I conquer: there are some grinders, like the K10, that have it all: laidback sweetness coupled to discernable clarity. And if you want to know how a K10-produced latte tastes ... ask somebody else; I only use milk in my pudding :wink: .

zin1953

#15: Post by zin1953 »

I cannot speak to the situation in Holland. I can only speak on the situation here in the United States and, more specifically, on the West Coast. With that in mind . . . .
NoMilkToday wrote:Mahlkönig owners are not to be offended by my post above.

I'm not.
NoMilkToday wrote:During my grinderquest I noticed that different people have different tastes. In most cases, I think, not because they have a real divergent taste in espresso than I have, but because they like to dilute their espresso with milk and sugar.

No. It's because people have different tastes. People have their own taste buds within their mouths; they are unique, and not shared with others. Some people prefer hot, spicy foods, while others prefer foods which are more mild; some people love oysters, others do not; and so on.

Espresso is no different than wine, in that regard: the best wine in the world is not Château Lafite Rothschild, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Château d'Yquem, Vega Sicilia, Screaming Eagle, or any other specific wine. The best wine in the world is the one that you like the most! Scores, points, reviews, consensus -- none of that matters; what matters is what you enjoy.

There are people who, for example, love double ristrettos from Espresso Vivace. There are others who prefer a double ristretto from Zoka, or from Murky, or from Intelligensia, or . . . or . . . or (insert the roaster/café of your choice) over all the others. Some people like their espresso with sugar. Other like is without. Some like it with a lemon peel. And, yes, some like it with lots of milk! Others may prefer a macchiato. Meanwhile, some don't like ristrettos at all, but crave americanos.

Further, when we speak of making your own espresso at home, there are hundreds if not thousands of possibilities to use in making one's espresso. I can easily obtain freshly roasted beans from roasters here in the San Francisco Bay Area, from roasters up and down the West Coast, and from across the country. And each roaster has a variety of different coffees from which to choose. Some are very dark, oily roasts (Southern Italian, for lack of a better term); others are closer to what is associated with Northern Italy. Some are single origins; others are blends -- two, three, four, five different sources from multiple continents.

Why do YOU prefer the coffee beans from ________ as opposed to what you could buy from ________?

Does it have to do with having a Compak, a Malhkönig, or a Mazzer, or does it have something to do with the taste, with the flavor? And -- yes, absolutely! -- I understand that two different grinders can create two very different tastes in the cup, all other things being equal. But aren't the beans of importance, too?

I do not have a Compak K10. I do have a Mahlkönig K30 Vario at home, and a Cimbali MaxHybrid (CMH) in my office. I also have a Nuova Simonelli MCF. I had a Mazzer Mini and a Gaggia MDF. The Mazzer Mini resulted in some improvement over the Gaggia MDF, noticeable but not significant. The biggest leap in quality I experienced was dumping the Mini and switching to the CMH. That was eye-opening. Switching to the Mahlkönig is definitely more convenient than the CMH, is definitely quieter than the CMH, is subject to less clumping, is neater, and is -- I think -- better. (I say "I think" because I didn't ever do a side-by-side comparison -- clearly I should have, and one of these days, I'll bring the CMH back home for a weekend of just that.) I do know that I prefer the espresso at home over the espresso at work, but since two different machines are involved, conclusions are just speculative. Would I have seen as significant an improvement if I had switched from the Mini to the K30? I'm sure of it. Would I have seen as significant an improvement if I had switched from the Mini to a K10? From what I've heard about the K10, I feel the answer would be "yes." But no one I know has one, and so that remains an abstraction.

This would be an easy question to resolve if, for example, everyone could have access to 10, 20, 50(?) grinders -- all dialed-in, all with the same fresh beans, and the same espresso machine. Each of us could pull shots and taste the difference X grinder, Y grinder, and so on. Each of us could then decide for themselves (without concern for the cost) which is the "best" grinder. But I guarantee you we would not all agree that ____________ was the best. Neither would we all agree that ____________ is the best grinder for a double ristretto, but ____________ is better is one is making a latte, etc., etc. Our own individual taste preferences would mean we come to different conclusions about which is the best grinder . . . best for us. :wink:

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

NoMilkToday (original poster)

#16: Post by NoMilkToday (original poster) »

Jason,

People have different tastes. We are in total agreement about this fact. We also agree that reasoning from the result in the cup backwards everything is important, including - and especially - the beans.
The essence of my first point is, that people who mainly produce lattes should possibly buy a grinder with a different taste profile than people who mainly produce pure espressos.
And the essence of my second point is, that it is nice when the grinder has a basic taste profile in which 'sweet' and 'clear' is combined; this combination is rare, I found. I will add to this, that this specific taste profile is compatible with many more roasts, which is good news for adventurous espresso taste layer discoverers (or travellers).

Regards. Wilco

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shadowfax

#17: Post by shadowfax »

If you're looking for a grinder to denigrate vs. the K10, I've got one: The Anfim Super Caimano. They had one at Cuvée the other day, and it was a friggin' pain in the butt! The one they had was from 49th Parallel, and it had the 75mm Titanium flat burrs and the timer modification. Compared side by side with the K30 (the 'official' Cuvée grinder that Clancy Rose used to win the SCRBC), I was really left to wonder why in the world you would ever buy one.

The doser swept clean, but accumulated more than a little bit of coffee on the sides and the doser star. The chute was aggravatingly difficult to sweep out. And with the Brazil SO we were using, it still clumped worse than my Robur has (on both lighter and darker coffees). It should be mentioned that, in spite of it being more clumpy than my Robur, it was a darn sight less clumpy than the K30 boulders (from a superb, albeit too fresh Ethiopian SO).

Still, the overall impression is horrible. The doser sweeps clean, but still needs as much brushing out to be fully clean as a Mazzer does. The timer is incredibly sensitive to adjustment, and the dose changes by several grams when you adjust the grind size by a single notch. It was an unparalleled pain to dial in. The only good thing that I have to say about it is that, if you aren't overdosing, there is zero spillage of coffee onto the doser tray or the area around. This will earn you lots of 'clean' points at the USBC, but frankly, I don't see that it helps much. Clancy posited this as the one of the main reasons why competitors seem to like it so much. After several hours with this grinder, I'll agree with Luca Costanzo on this one: I don't see what the hype is...

Now I wait for someone to stick up for the Anfim. ;)
Nicholas Lundgaard

La Marzocco · Home: customized for espresso aficionados
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another_jim
Team HB

#18: Post by another_jim »

The step up in taste and shot consistency from home or decaf (e.g mini) grinder to a full commercial is so large that it trumps everything. But when one is dealing with just the good commercial grinders, taste is always going to be fairly close; and usability becomes a bigger issue.

My pet theory is that annoyances trump virtues in this regard. If you hate messy dosers, you won't be buying a Mazzer; if you hate noise and vibration, you probably will. Ken and I both had a choice of the Max and the WBC as grinders. He was annoyed by the way conical burrs that are 60 to 70mm in diameter are housed in grinder bodies designed for 80 to 90mm flats, so that one had an endlessly deep chute to clean out. I realize this was a negative, but I wasn't particularly annoyed by it. On the other hand, I was annoyed by the grand parade ground for beans that greeted me when unscrewing the Max hopper; again, a minor negative that happened to greatly annoy me.

Now if these annoyances influence an amateur who uses the grinder a few times a day; think on how it must weigh with baristas doing hundreds of shots each shift.

Now if only someone can explain why the numbers on the Compak grind adjustment face inward instead of outward :roll:
Jim Schulman

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cafeIKE

#19: Post by cafeIKE »

shadowfax wrote:Now I wait for someone to stick up for the Anfim. ;)
I have the same complaints about my M-1 Abrams... chews the driveway to shreds :roll:

NoMilkToday (original poster)

#20: Post by NoMilkToday (original poster) »

Interesting, Nicholas. Because of all the positive things I had read about the Anfim SC, I placed it in on my shortlist. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to assess its taste profile. This manufacturer is not represented in Holland. And because Anfim never answered my emails, I gave up on this one. Were you able to discern taste differences between the Anfim and the K30? If yes, could you describe them for us?

And Jim, I wondered about the same thing. Weird 'design', indeed. Of all the questions I asked Compak, this one slipped through. Maybe because I never look at the numbers. But then I only use one blend at a time. For you, changing blends continually, I imagine, this really is an annoyance.