Monolith comparisons

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

Postby phillyguy » May 10, 2019, 12:02 am

I've read countless posts on HB about the various Kafatek Monolith grinders (flat, conical, Max). Was just curious if any of you with experience with them might provide some comparative feedback on the following (if there are difference to report):

1. Complexity of workflow/use on day-to-day basis
Flat:
Conical:
Max:

1. Complexity of changing and dialing in grind for different beans
Flat:
Conical:
Max:

3. Complexity of maintenance (cleaning, etc)
Flat:
Conical:
Max:

4. Most notable problem/limitations/downsides:
Flat:
Conical:
Max:

Two last questions:
- Anyone know if any Monolith has a portafilter holder that can work with the 53 mm PF of the Mini Vivaldi?
- Any Monolith owners have thoughts/concerns about what would happen if Dennis from Kafatek decided to retire/stop (repairs, maintenance, etc)?

Thanks!

Beewee

Postby Beewee » May 10, 2019, 1:26 am

For the most part, all three grinders have the same workflow, ease of dialing, and maintenance requirements. The portafilter is adjustable and can accommodate a wide range of sizes - 53mm Spaziale portafilter included.

There's a risk in companies discontinuing support, no matter whether it's a one person shop or a multinational. That being said, with the Monoliths, they're so simple in mechanical design and built with such high quality long lasting parts, there's really hardly anything that will go wrong with them over time unless someone does something very silly to them. It would have to be something like power surge that blows up the the motor controller, drowning the grinder in water, shoving metal objects into the grind chamber while the motor is running, putting stuff into the grinder and trying to grind something it wasn't designed to grind (like metal, or glass), or something at that level of sillyness.

The only wear items on the grinder are:
1) Burrs which you can contact SSP directly if needed
2) Bearings inside the motor which you could purchase directly from Oriental Motor if needed since it's an off the shelf part
3) Bearings for the burr holder and drive shaft - this is really the only thing that I'd imagine you would be seriously hooped if something did go wrong. However, it's also the one thing that would take decades for the lubricant to dry up under normal use. You could accelerate this by storing the grinder improperly such as in high heat and high humidity environments or drown the grinder in water but outside of those types of edge cases, it should last many decades.

The only area that could be improved to increase the longevity of the grinder would be to use some really high end low friction ceramic bearings that do not require lubrication but this would probably add another $1000-2000 to the cost of the grinder.

nuketopia

Postby nuketopia » May 10, 2019, 2:00 am

1. Complexity of workflow/use on day-to-day basis

2. Complexity of changing and dialing in grind for different beans

3. Complexity of maintenance (cleaning, etc)

4. Most notable problem/limitations/downsides:

Two last questions:
- Anyone know if any Monolith has a portafilter holder that can work with the 53 mm PF of the Mini Vivaldi?
- Any Monolith owners have thoughts/concerns about what would happen if Dennis from Kafatek decided to retire/stop (repairs, maintenance, etc)?

Thanks!


I can't really compare, as I only own the Mono-Con.

1. Single dosing workflow. Weigh beans, RDT if desired, dump them in. Put the funnel on the PF under the spout, press the button. Several seconds later, it's done grinding. Press the button to turn it off. Take the magnetic spout out and tap it to release any stuck grinds. WDT if desired. RDT bottle and WDT tool included, as is the funnel. Tamp and pull.

2. Very smooth and repeatable adjustment. Easy to switch back and forth just by moving the pointer to wherever you liked it before. I try lots of very different beans, and it is pretty easy to dial it in.

3. Pretty easy. Requires allen wrenches. Take the top plate off, clean it with a brush and vacuum cleaner. I like to make sure the mating surfaces are perfectly clean and use a tack cloth or even just a ball of masking tape to make sure to get any tiny crumbs.

4. Can't speak to the flats, but the conical isn't my first choice for brew methods, like pour over or especially press pot. My early one doesn't have a PF holder, just a rest. I have to hold the PF in place while it grinds.

questions
A. I think so.
B. Not really. It's brutishly simple and robust. The components that Kafatek make are not at all delicate or prone to wear. Burrs are replaceable. The motor is a mostly off the shelf unit, but the bearing is upgraded to a very robust SKF made in USA type. Nothing unusual in the wiring or electronics. There aren't any really, switch and motor capacitor.

Honestly, it should last a lifetime unless you drop it or your house burns down and it might survive that.

def

Postby def » May 10, 2019, 5:07 am

I owned both MC3 and MF with SSP; now I just own MF. I purchased both not because I needed two grinders, but because I was curious whether there was a significant difference in taste between the two. So I tested each, side-by-side for roughly two months using several different espresso blends and single origins, from fairly light to dark roast. I could not detect a significant difference in taste or anything else, so I had no use for one of these. It was nearly a tossup, but I feel the Flat is a better brew grinder because it creates fewer fines. There is a subtle difference in taste, but someone who is a better taster than me should elaborate. For me it did not make sufficient difference to keep both, however I sometimes wonder whether I should have sold the Flat instead of the Conical. They are both outstanding.

The nitty gritty:
Both are clearly in a league of their own in terms of single dosing workflow, very low retention, and grind quality. No need to repeat what makes these grinders so popular. They are both a pleasure to use on a daily basis.

The MC3:
Pros:
  • Excellent tasting espresso; nice extractions are easy
  • Nice fluffy grind
  • Ability to make very fine adjustments, repeatably
  • Very little static produced with Mazzer 71mm TiN coated burrs.
  • Little bit faster than the Flat

Cons:
  • Sometimes a bean will get stuck between sweeper arm and funnel
  • The spout magnets are a little weak and sometimes a small amount of coffee grounds accumulate between spout and spout base. This happened about 1 out of 10 grinds.

The M Flat:
Pros:
  • Excellent tasting espresso; nice extractions are easy
  • Ability to make very fine adjustments, repeatably
  • variable rpm, however I rarely change mine from 550.

Cons:
  • Sometimes a bean will get stuck between sweeper arm and funnel
  • Some static with SSP burrs, but it is lower than when I received it. It is also warmer, more humid, so that may be why.
  • Grind not as fluffy as MC3. Some lumps, but does not seem to affect extraction. Now has fewer lumps then when it was new.
  • Little bit slower than MC3

Your questions 1, 2, 3 same answer: No significant difference. Question 4, see above.

phillyguy wrote:- Anyone know if any Monolith has a portafilter holder that can work with the 53 mm PF of the Mini Vivaldi?

adjustable for any portafilter size

phillyguy wrote:- Any Monolith owners have thoughts/concerns about what would happen if Dennis from Kafatek decided to retire/stop (repairs, maintenance, etc)?

I don't think it matters; these grinders will probably outlast you and Denis.

phillyguy

Postby phillyguy » May 10, 2019, 10:58 am

Thanks for all that great feedback so far!

Could I trouble you guys to provide your summary thoughts about all the major (functionally important) "options" available for the monoliths (eg, burr upgrades or options available, etc)?

tamadrummer

Postby tamadrummer » May 10, 2019, 11:44 am

suggest the search feature for the difference in burrs. the rest of the options are purely aesthetics.

Firedancer

Postby Firedancer » May 11, 2019, 12:16 am

Let's hope Dennis never leaves. The innovation needs to survive!

8899

Postby 8899 » replying to Firedancer » May 14, 2019, 10:49 am

Yes, and production needs to continue!

3cordcreations

Postby 3cordcreations » replying to 8899 » May 14, 2019, 8:57 pm

He needs to hire someone and keep the same strict tolerances and high quality, but be able to offer a more buyer friendly way to purchase his grinders.

tumendoza

Postby tumendoza » May 14, 2019, 11:05 pm

[quote="3cordcreations"]He needs to hire someone and keep the same strict tolerances and high quality, but be able to offer a more buyer friendly way to purchase his grinders.[/quote

Nobody is as picky as him and the quality we know and love would not be the same. :D