Not that I think I'm super special or anything, but I'm not a fan of megathreads, so here's a new one with my thoughts on my new Monolith Flat. Had it for about a week, since last monday.
Service: Denis personally tests each grinder, first dialing in with Caffe Lusso Gran Miscela Carmo by taste and then providing a refractometer extraction analysis. My extraction came in at 20.1%. Note that he is not making any attempt to maximize this number, rather going by what tastes good with that particular blend. Questions are answered quickly by email, and a free bag of the Caffe Lusso is included. Not to mention all the great accessories (see below). You are just not going to get that level of attention from a larger company.
Looks: Aesthetic matters are not my strong suit or primary concern (otherwise I probably wouldn't have stuck with a Pharos for multiple years
) but the Monolith looks great. Nice modern appearance, finish on each individual component is perfect to my eyes, and the red top and wooden hopper cover are all nice touches that give it a unique look. People often asked me if I put the Pharos together myself, no one is going to make that mistake with the Monolith. Most importantly for my kitchen and low cabinets, it is small, roughly the same height as a Baratza Preciso (I currently have them side by side). A full size Titan just wasn't going to happen in my kitchen, but with the Monolith I have plenty of room.
Accessories: The accessories provided with the Monolith are second to none, you get everything the obsessive HBer needs for great espresso. Glass RDT spray bottle, metal portafilter funnel, and a metal WDT tool. Not sure if this is always going to be standard, but this batch also came with a snazzy red distribution tool similar to the OCD tool. Set it on top of your portafilter and give it a spin before tamping for a nicely groomed coffee bed. This solves the age old problem of how you level your coffee if it is below the lip of the basket. I don't see them on the kafatek website but I imagine at some point they will be available separately.
Retention: No measurable retention on my 0.1g scale. You can have a few bean fragments stick themselves to the hopper funnel if you get overzealous with the water (one spray from the included bottle is enough) but barring that there is only the tiniest bit of coffee retained in and behind the grinds chute. One of the more ingenious aspects of the design is the magnetically attached grind chute. So if you truly must have every last milligram, you can remove the chute to brush out those grinds. I would recommend leaving this be and just cleaning it out at the end of a session, its not enough to be worried about. This tiny bit of retention would be out of sight and out of mind on most other grinders, and again it is too small to even register on most scales. But thanks to the magnetic attachment its easily accessible if you want.
Pours: I've been sticking with my 18g VST basket thus far. I did a few no WDT shots, and while not picture perfect they were acceptable. I expect this may get even better as burrs break in further. Spend the extra few seconds to stir the grinds and you get perfect pours every time. I had gotten out of the habit of using WDT with my Pharos (getting the grinds out took long enough as it is without any extra steps) and although I never had serious issues the occasional quick spritzer was not uncommon. Haven't experienced a single spritzer yet with the Monolith, but in fairness to the Pharos I have almost always used WDT.
Adjustment: this is one of the few areas where I have (minor!) quibbles. The direction of adjustment is opposite to the "righty tighty lefty loosey" convention the is intuitive to most people. I'm sure there is a good design reason for this, but if I could wave my magic wand I would change it. Adjustment in the espresso range is silky smooth and repeatible. Don't forget to tighten the collar though, or the act of grinding will loosen it. Only made that mistake once so far.
I've had good results with pourover and cold brew, but the appropriate settings for this are off the scale for the adjustment range, which is geared toward espresso. I could always put another arrow sticker on it to identify another range. When making a large adjustment from coarse back to fine, it is best to run the motor (as is true of all grinders). I believe tiny bits of bean fragments are sometimes binding between the burrs, causing it to not turn easily if the motor is not running. Be sure to grip the hopper firmly so it doesn't turn away from you when adjusting. In a perfect world would be nice if the hopper had some feature to hold onto for better grip when adjusting. Again though, in the espresso range adjustment is smooth and easy.
Taste: "But how does it taste?" is a phrase you see oft repeated here at HB. Well, it tastes great, thanks for asking.
Every shot I've had has been good so far, even ones that weren't quite dialed in. After running through a bag of cheap grocery store coffee, I tried a shot of the Lusso at the same setting Denis left it. This flowed way too fast on my setup, but I've paid good money for worse. Tightened the grind up several notches, and next shot was smooth rich chocolaty bliss. In addition to the Lusso I've been drinking Blue Bottle Kenya Nyeri Kamunyaka, Sweet Marias New Classic Espresso, and some Panama Esmerelda Gesha roasted to not quite the end of 1st crack. Its all been great. Gesha shot this morning was phenomenally floral, with pleasant but not overpowering acidity. All of these required different settings, and returning to where I came from has always been repeatible. Tried both Kenya and Gesha as pourover as well, (setting adjustment arrow somewhere between 10 and 11 o'clock). What I have not done is any side by side comparison with my Pharos or Preciso. I've been enjoying my shots so much, I haven't wanted to. I know confirmation bias is a thing, and without blind testing (easier said than done) its hard to make definitive statements on quality. But I will say that I really like my Pharos, and I believe it is capable of making similar quality shots. But the process of grinding, and ease of adjustment is just so much more enjoyable that it is easier to dial in and hard to want to go back.
Conclusion: I'd say this is about the best espresso grinder a home user could ask for. You have to hunt to find something bad to say about it. If you are on the fence, get off it and buy one. You won't regret it. Its easy to use, remarkably quiet, pulls fantastic shots, and looks like it will probably outlive me. Its a pretty good brew grinder as well, although ergonomically speaking its obviously designed primarily as an espresso grinder. I will be keeping the Pharos, but its going to mostly live in my office at work from now on. I've been happy enough with pourover results that I may move the preciso to work as well, although wife (who is out of town for the moment) gets veto power on that. She uses the preciso for her daily drip pot, and while she'd be happy to free up the counter space, she'll be less happy with having to adjust the monolith every day.
Well, I think that's long enough. If you have questions feel free to ask, and other owners please post your impressions as well.