Compak K10 WBC vs. Mazzer Robur taste test - Page 2

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

#11: Post by woodchuck »

Yep, Dan Kehn and Counter Culture Coffee. Life is good :-)

Ian

IMAWriter
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#12: Post by IMAWriter »

As you will be using these grinders at home, your observations will be most interesting and useful.
Rob
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peacecup

#13: Post by peacecup »

I just asked this question on the "true doubles" thread, where people were suggesting something like second mortgages for espresso equipment, but I see it belongs here.

Has anyone been given two shots of espresso and been able to tell which came from which of two grinders without prior knowledge? Its easy to taste differences when you know which grinder was used beforehand.

I'd like to see Dan, and some others with lots of cupping experience (Jim?), have a go at this. Prepare two shots from two competing grinders, and tell which shot came from which. When its been done correctly approx. 30 times (or a statistically-valid number out of 30) you will be confidently able say there is a difference in TASTE between the two grinders.

PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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peacecup

#14: Post by peacecup »

da gino wrote:I had four shots - two from each grinder, and three of them were remarkably similar, all earning A's. The fourth was quite good, but had a slight note of bitterness. It would have been a B. It was different enough that it crossed my mind that Dan might have had secretly had two different coffees in the machines, but the next set of shots put that question to rest for me. I hadn't watched the pour, but Dan told me when I commented on the shot, that there had been a little bit of channeling on that shot. If I'd ordered it in a cafe, I would have been thrilled, but in head to head with the others it didn't quite match up. That shot was pulled from the Robur, but so was my favorite of the other three shots. The two shots from the Compak were almost identical to each other as far as I could tell. The best shot from the Robur was slightly sweeter and slightly more syrupy than the other shots.

I could never expect 3/4 shots at home to be so similar, but I don't know if I should attribute that inconsistency to the grinder, the machine, or me (my guess is the last two are the biggest contributors more than the grinder).

In summary, from a taste perspective, I'd have to learn a lot more about coffee and repeat the experiment over a sequence of days to have a strong preference for one grinder over the other. I can't imagine regretting either one from a taste perspective, but I also didn't walk out regretting that I'd bought the Macap even though walking in I'd feared I might (price, size, wife acceptance etc all make it an excellent choice).
My point above is that if the grinder is ID'd before the taste test its just not valid. It needs to be done by comparing shots without knowing which grinder was used.
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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HB (original poster)
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#15: Post by HB (original poster) » replying to peacecup »

Usually I would randomize cups, but in this case I simply handed tasters two cups and asked for a comparison without mentioning which was which. However, if they were paying attention, they would know which espresso came from which grinder. Later discussion revealed that they were not paying attention. ;-)

As the posts above report, the Compak K10 WBC and Mazzer Robur produce a very similar taste profile. I think with practice I could tell their espressos apart, assuming it was an espresso blend that reveals subtleties. Once I get both grinders side-by-side again, I will do some blind tastings as I did for the Titan Grinder Project.
Dan Kehn

da gino

#16: Post by da gino » replying to HB »

I agree. I definitely did not know which cup was which and intentionally did not pay attention to if the grinder on the right went in the right portafitler and if that one then was handed to me on the right or left. It certainly wasn't hidden from me, but there was so much else going on that I didn't have any trouble keeping myself in the dark.

I also agree that I'd be unlikely to be able to consistently guess which grinder was which without practice, but that with practice it might be possible. It would certainly be fun trying!

Ken Fox

#17: Post by Ken Fox »

peacecup wrote:
Has anyone been given two shots of espresso and been able to tell which came from which of two grinders without prior knowledge? Its easy to taste differences when you know which grinder was used beforehand.

I'd like to see Dan, and some others with lots of cupping experience (Jim?), have a go at this. Prepare two shots from two competing grinders, and tell which shot came from which. When its been done correctly approx. 30 times (or a statistically-valid number out of 30) you will be confidently able say there is a difference in TASTE between the two grinders.

PC
Of course this is the sort of experiment I've been involved in numerous times with my two Cimbali Juniors, studying various things such as rotary pump vs vibe pump, coffee frozen for various lengths of time vs. never frozen, a grinder with brand new burrs vs. an identical one with older burrs, etc. Jim has designed and analyzed all these studies, and participated personally in some of them. This sort of testing is very time consuming and very arduous, as our taste buds fatigue rapidly when presented with multiple espresso shot pairs over any set period of time.

One of the keys to performing this sort of blind tasting study is to decide WHAT to study in the first place. This decision must be predicated based upon the likelihood of showing any worthwhile results after all the effort has been expended.

This sort of a study when it is done to the extent that you can get statistically valid data is a huge chore. My opinion is that comparing grinders such as the Compak K10 and the Robur, would end up showing that with any "doable" number of shot pairs, that few people other than supertasters could distinguish between them in a simultaneous blind shot tasting study. At the outset I would consider the probability of getting a result showing a difference, as so small, that I would not even attempt to perform such a study.

This is the sort of evaluation that I think is better done in a "descriptive" manner than with the goal of getting statistically valid data. The differences between a Compak K10 and a Robur are sufficiently small that it would be hard to come to definite conclusions, and you, the reader, is best off getting presented with contrasting points of view and trying to figure out for yourself what if any of it impresses you. On the other hand, the differences between a large Conical such as the Compak or Robur, and your typical high end home planar grinder (Mazzer Mini or Cimbali Junior) are so enormous that they cannot be missed. I would still prefer not to study those differences with a blind tasting study as there are problems with this method that are hard to deal with.

What do I mean by the above? What I'm getting at is that anyone with hands on experience with a large conical (or a Cimbali Max) who also works with or has worked a lot with smaller planar grinders, KNOWS that these grinders classes are different. When you make shots from a small planar grinder, you get a huge range of results, and you pitch a lot of your shots. You also have to constantly adjust the planar grinder in order to avoid having too many sink shots.

With the large conical or a Cimbali Max, few shots go down the drain and the shots have a remarkable amount of consistency. You end up adjusting the Max or conical about 10% as often as you adjust the small planar. You just get to the point where you expect to have good shots and not to have to constantly adjust the Max or Conical, because it is just THAT obvious.

So, in doing a comparison between a small planar (Mazzer Mini class) vs. a conical type grinder, you are going to be forced to pitch the shot pair a fair percentage of the time because you will conclude that the shot from the small planar grinder was "sub-par." This will bias the results in the favor of the small planar grinder, because you are only going to use the "best shots" that come from the small planar and toss the rest of them. As a result of this you have shifted the goalposts; instead of comparing the output of the small planar vs. the conical or Max, you are selecting out only the good shots from the planar and comparing those to the conical.

The other option would be to take all the shots pairs, good or bad, and compare them. In that case the results from such a test can be predicted in advance without even doing the study, because as I said above, anyone with experience using both types of grinders already knows that the conical/Max will "win," just as result of having used these grinder types. This is because there will be enough sink shots produced by the small planar grinder that will obviously get low scores, that one knows the results in advance. And I am very loath to study anything whose results I already know in advance, since there are so many other interesting things to study with this blind tasting technique, and so little time to actually study them.

ken
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#18: Post by IMAWriter »

da gino wrote:I agree. I definitely did not know which cup was which and intentionally did not pay attention to if the grinder on the right went in the right portafitler and if that one then was handed to me on the right or left. It certainly wasn't hidden from me, but there was so much else going on that I didn't have any trouble keeping myself in the dark.

I also agree that I'd be unlikely to be able to consistently guess which grinder was which without practice, but that with practice it might be possible. It would certainly be fun trying!
"Da"...considering that you could discern no major, or even minor differences, and equally enjoyed shots from both grinders, I ask "why spend a lot of time trying to quantify what does not need to to be quantifiable?"
If the ergonomics of the K10 works for you, and the price is 1/2 (approx), it would seem that it would be more a "pride of ownership" thing to have a massive Robur in a home. Yes, a Mazzer is beyond reproach as far as build quality, but I've read that Compak has gone to great lengths to correct problems, and their customer service seams to be good.
I just think sometimes we fuss with this stuff just to fuss with it, as if to justify our over the top espresso related purchases.
If I had the coin, I'd buy the K10, love it till I didn't love it anymore, sell it for a fair price and move on.
Of course, that's the rational part of me speaking. The irrational part would say "own the biggest grinder in the neighborhood!" :twisted: :lol:


EDIT...the "your" mentioned here is used pejoratively
Rob
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www.robertjason.com

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sweaner
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#19: Post by sweaner »

IMAWriter wrote: The irrational part would say "own the biggest grinder in the neighborhood!" :twisted: :lol:
Robert, I have a Mazzer Mini, and I suspect that even it is the largest grinder in MY neighborhood.
Scott
LMWDP #248

da gino

#20: Post by da gino »

IMAWriter wrote:"Da"...considering that you could discern no major, or even minor differences, and equally enjoyed shots from both grinders, I ask "why spend a lot of time trying to quantify what does not need to to be quantifiable?"
If the ergonomics of the K10 works for you, and the price is 1/2 (approx), it would seem that it would be more a "pride of ownership" thing to have a massive Robur in a home. Yes, a Mazzer is beyond reproach as far as build quality, but I've read that Compak has gone to great lengths to correct problems, and their customer service seams to be good.
I just think sometimes we fuss with this stuff just to fuss with it, as if to justify our over the top espresso related purchases.
If I had the coin, I'd buy the K10, love it till I didn't love it anymore, sell it for a fair price and move on.
Of course, that's the rational part of me speaking. The irrational part would say "own the biggest grinder in the neighborhood!" :twisted: :lol:


EDIT...the "your" mentioned here is used pejoratively
It isn't true that there weren't subtle differences between the shots, it is just unclear to me that the grinder was the cause of the differences from such a small sample size. (For example perhaps there was a bigger variance within the groupheads on the espresso machine). On the other hand, I certainly agree with you that if I had to buy one of these I'd buy Compak because it is so much cheaper and is still of high quality.

I'll take your remarks one step further and point out that I also had some shots from a Super Jolly that day and although I didn't have them head to head with the other shots, I thought they were great and although different they were not obviously inferior to me (in fact while they were all great, the best shot I had that day for my taste was probably one that wasn't part of the official taste test pulled on an Elektra Semiautomatica and ground on the Super Jolly).

On the other hand, even though I wouldn't spend the money on a Robur and a La Marzocco three group machine I sure think it is fun and interesting to use them and test the subtle differences!