Titan Grinder Project: Can it Beat the Mazzer Robur? - Page 3

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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another_jim
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Postby another_jim » Jul 26, 2007, 2:57 pm

Paul_Pratt wrote:So glad to see that you gave the Lux a decent score. I use an Isomac branded one with a 1 group machine and the shots are great. Sure the build quality isn't the best and the adjustment pin is so flimsy it's ridiculous and the noise, arghh the screaching noise of the motor is enough to have the neighbours cats thinking they are in for a bit of action...

But it does grind extremely well and produce great coffee. It's important for people to keep an open mind and not believe great espresso can only come from the best equipment money can buy.



I like these grinders for the sheer stubbornness displayed in their design. They've cut every corner there is to cut except on grind quality, where they are painstaking.

All the other small domestic grinders sacrifice on grind quality in order to make the grinder more civilized. They use flexible plastic burr carriers, and have burrs that can't be zeroed and have no solid outer fine grinding ring. They'll give you 3rd rate grinds in a nice quiet, parlor-safe way. Then you have the Lux, screeching like a banshee, putting out a great product, but relegated to deepest recesses of the kitchen.

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Postby another_jim » Jul 26, 2007, 6:38 pm

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Tale of the Tape

The Baristas at the 2006 USBC at Charlotte were in for a surprise. Instead of the Mazzer Super Jolly grinders they were expecting, there was a never before seen grinder waiting for them, the Compak, made by a Spanish start-up that had won the grinder sponsorship for WBC and national level barista competitions. Spain has a slightly odd reputation when it comes to espresso equipment. There's a lot of well run companies there producing innovative and economically designed equipment, and they get the recognition for that. But they aren't Italian; and so, Spanish espresso equipment suffers from a serious mystique gap. But the grumbling soon faded. As with any new piece of gear, there were some oddities to which the baristas had to adapt; but the Compak WBC model was a large, solid conical grinder that performed well for the people who chose to use it. Several of the competitors took them back to their shops for further evaluation, and the reports have been excellent. The grinder is said to be as consistent a shot maker as the Robur.

These reports dovetail with what I've been seeing from the M7K and Doge Conico: the 68mm conicals have performance characteristics virtually identical to the Robur. The Compak WBC distinguishes itself from the 68mm pack because it is designed for "3rd Wave" barista-ing. The rotation speed is slightly lower (275 versus 400rpm), the motor is a bit bigger to accommodate the required gearing (750 watts versus 500), and there are no auto-grinding accouterments inside the doser. From a home user perspective, that, along with the simple grinder throat and chute, which favors single dose operation, makes this grinder a hair more home user friendly than the other Titans. I was looking for a replacement for the M3, and these little details made me spring for the Compak rather than one of the others. The grinder is solid, and starts up more quietly than the other 68s, because it has a motor starter. The only problem so far has been a flimsy on/off switch that needed to be replaced.

The Fight

In the early bouts of this contest, I had to close my eyes in the first 15 seconds of the pour, so I couldn't see the Robur's identifying flow. It turns out that this flow is characteristic to all the big conicals when using a spouted PF. So I've been able to watch the early flow since the MXK test. The flow simply switches on, no slow start, no dribbles; the pump starts, there's a dwell time, then there's a constant flow. Forget analog, this is digital espresso. I have a feeling that when people are assessing these grinders, and perhaps in the technical scoring of barista contests, this will play a large but unacknowledged role. I've been pulling shots a very long time, and there's something almost hypnotic about this. Even knowing it's just a glamor, I'd be loath to go back to a grinder that doesn't have these flow optics.

In the first two, 16.5 gram rounds, the Compak tasted a hair more laid back than the Robur. In the first round, I slightly preferred the Robur, in the second, the Compak, in both cases, due to extra sweetness. Unlike the the other conicals, the difference did not vanish on retasting. The Compak's crema was more persistent in both rounds, so it split the rounds, but came out 2 points up in the early going.

In the second two, 13.5 gram rounds, the pattern repeated, only more strongly, and I could tell which grinder was which instantly. However, for the life of me, I couldn't decide which of the shots I liked better. The mellower Compak shot showed more definition on the aged Sumatra, and the brighter Robur shot on the Biloya. Both were equally sweet. When I gave the edge to the brighter MXK, the Robur's losing shots did not bring out the Sumatra's flavor to the extent the Compak did. The Robur showed better crema in the third round, the fourth was dead even. The final score is 1 round to the Compak, and 1 round to the Robur on flavor, the Robur won an extra round on crema, while the Compak won the overall scoring with 1 point for the same reason.

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. How about the big planars? The Max is up tomorrow, and because it uses a conical augur, its grind surface is the largest of the lot; later on comes the Super Jolly which has impressed the other testers. Will they have the neat clap on/clap off pours of the conicals; will they show up with the same clarity of taste? Stay tuned.

Detailed Scores

Code: Select all

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grinder  Dose  Shot ExtG  ExtR  CPer  CApp  Flav  Body   Swee  Acid  Bitr  Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Compak   16.5  1.1   20.2 21.4    1     0    -1     0     -1    -1     1    -3
Compak   16.5  1.1   20.8 20.8    1     0     1     0      1    -1     1     5
Compak   13.5  1.1   19.8 21.3    0    -1     0     0      0    -1     1    -1
Compak   13.5  1.1   21.3 20.6    0     0     0     0      0    -1     1     0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Legend:
Shot: 0 is tight, 1 is good, 2 is loose, first figure is the test grinder, second the Robur. All shots run to 50mL with crema. If the time difference is more than 6 seconds, the test is redone. Tight/Loose mean differences of 4 to 5 seconds.
ExtG, ExtR: Percentage solubles extracted, G is the test grinder, R the robur
CPer, CApp: Crema persistence and appearance. Negative scores means the Robur wins, Positive means the Test grinder. These scores are added to the final tally
Flav, Bod: Flavor and Body. These scores are multiplied by four for the final tally.
Swee, Acid, Bitr: Sweetness, Acidity Bitterness: organoleptic categories NOT added to the score.
Total: The total score, CPer + CApp + 4*Flav + 4*Body


Running Score Sheet

Code: Select all

Grinder          Score       Rounds Won-Tied-Lost
-------------------------------------------------
Nemox Lux         -7              1-0-3
Mazzer Mini      -15              0-0-4
Versalab M3      -10.5            2-0-2     
Macap MXK         +3              2-0-2
Macap M7K          -3              1-1-2
Fiorenzato Doge   -0.5            1-1-2
Compak WBC        +1              1-1-2


Tomorrow, the Cimbali Max

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another_jim
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Postby another_jim » Jul 27, 2007, 4:09 pm

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Tale of the Tape

In the Max, Cimbali is reviving the conical/flat burr-set from the fabled Alinox-DRM grinder. There are a few changes. The Max is housed in body of the Junior grinder, a 64mm flat burr. This means that the original 68mm planar has been shrunk down slightly. Since this changes the inner diameter, the conical section, which acts as an augur to force the beans into the flat burr, is also slightly smaller. Finally, the direct drive 350 watt motor from the Junior has been retained, so the grinder spins at 1800rpm, rather than the geared down speeds of the conicals. As in the original burr-set, using a conical stone as an augur allows one to eliminate the widely spaced grabber burrs on the inside of conventional planars, and increase the actual grinding surface. The increased distance the bean travels means it is reduced to powder more gradually, and presumably, with better uniformity.

The Max is a pure espresso grinder; converting it to a single dose, all purpose grinder would take more than the usual amount of hacking. It might be doable, but the other grinders in this test are far more suitable for this than the Max. On the other hand, the look and size of this grinder are a lot more counter friendly than any of the large conicals and even of most 64mm flat burr grinders. I have to admit I'm not fond of the way this grinder is set up, since I prefer grinders that can be used general purpose; but as a pure espresso grinder, the form factor is outstanding.

The Max is a fairly loud grinder when running empty. However, this is not much of an issue, since single dose operation is not really possible, and since it quietens down to roughly the same noise level as the others when grinding beans. The clacking of the doser is the quietest of any grinder in this test. Given its use as a pure espresso grinder, my only beef is with the hopper. The funnel leading to the burrs is substantially narrower than the throat of the grinder, and does not go all the way down. Consequently, the beans jump back up, miss the funnel, and land in the ledges and gaps between the hopper and the grind chamber. In there, they play a game of bean-billiards while the grinding goes on. The only way to prevent this is to grind enough beans so that these nooks and crannies get jammed up with beans and bean fragments, roughly 15 grams worth. If purchasers of the grinder find this waste unacceptable, they can easily and invisibly modify the existing hopper, by extending and widening its exit funnel with some tubing.

For the purpose of this test, I cut a disposable cup so it fits snugly against the static outer burr, and used that as a hopper. I kept this hopper adequately filled to prevent all popcorning, partly in deference to Ken, but mostly because the geometry of the grinder's throat does not allow for an effective way to press down a single dose of beans.

The Fight

The Max pours more steadily than the Mini or M3, but not quite as well as the big conicals, and I had to keep my eyes closed early in the shots to keep the tasting blind. But this did not affect the shot taste.

In the first round, today starting with 13.5 gram doses, I had a huge surprise; one of the cups was a god shot. The cinnamon from the Biloya, marzipan from the Yellow Bourbon and Cenaproc, and the sherry cask from the aged Sumatra came out well-integrated but gloriously distinct as well, as did the floral honey of the Biloya dancing up top. The shot's flavors shimmered on the tongue, and I would have scored it a 5 to 5.5 in competition. It wasn't difficult to guess which grinder it came from, since the Robur was its reliable 4 point self. The Robur won the body category by half a point with a hint of extra creaminess. First round to the Max with a surprising 4 points.

In the second and third rounds, whatever lightning struck was gone, and the two pairs of shots were dead even in taste at the usual 3.5 to 4 level. In the second round, the Max's balanced a little brighter, but it didn't affect the overall quality. In the third round, the tastes were indistinguishable. In both rounds, as in the first, the Robur was slightly creamier in body. After the first shot, I had cut a cup and created micro-hopper for the Robur, ready to eat crow and admit popcorning detracts from quality. But, alas, god-shots are not so easily wrought -- the change from a piston to a hopper made no difference whatsoever except for slowing down the pour by a few seconds.

In the fourth round, the Max produced a very good shot, although not the great one of the first, with slightly more clarity in the taste, and, surprisingly at this point, a creamier body. It won the round by 4 points.

I don't much like this grinder, but so far, it's done the best in the beat the Robur stakes, splitting the rounds and winning by 4 points. It is not a distinctly bright grinder, like the Macap MXK, nor a laid back one like the Compak. My early sense of the Max, relative to the other Titans, is that it does an outstanding job with the middle flavors: caramels, nuts and woods, reproducing them with great clarity. However, this is my first full day with it, so this is still very tentative.

Detailed Scores

Code: Select all

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grinder  Dose  Shot ExtG  ExtR  CPer  CApp  Flav  Body   Swee  Acid  Bitr  Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Max      16.5  1.0   20.8 20.2    0     0     0    -0.5    0     0     0    -2   
Max      16.5  1.1   19.5 20.2    0     0     0.5   0.5    0     1    -1     4
Max      13.5  1.1   20.6 21.3   -1     1     1.5  -0.5    1     1     1     4
Max      13.5  1.0   18.3 19.8    0     0     0    -0.5    0     1    -1    -2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Legend:
Shot: 0 is tight, 1 is good, 2 is loose, first figure is the test grinder, second the Robur. All shots run to 50mL with crema. If the time difference is more than 6 seconds, the test is redone. Tight/Loose mean differences of 4 to 5 seconds.
ExtG, ExtR: Percentage solubles extracted, G is the test grinder, R the robur
CPer, CApp: Crema persistence and appearance. Negative scores means the Robur wins, Positive means the Test grinder. These scores are added to the final tally
Flav, Bod: Flavor and Body. These scores are multiplied by four for the final tally.
Swee, Acid, Bitr: Sweetness, Acidity Bitterness: organoleptic categories NOT added to the score.
Total: The total score, CPer + CApp + 4*Flav + 4*Body


Running Score Sheet

Code: Select all

Grinder          Score       Rounds Won-Tied-Lost
-------------------------------------------------
Nemox Lux         -7              1-0-3
Mazzer Mini      -15              0-0-4
Versalab M3      -10.5            2-0-2     
Macap MXK         +3              2-0-2
Macap M7K         -3              1-1-2
Fiorenzato Doge   -0.5            1-1-2
Compak WBC        +1              1-1-2
Cimbali Max       +4              2-0-2


I'll be taking a break tomorrow

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Postby cannonfodder » Jul 27, 2007, 5:28 pm

Interesting. I have always liked the Cimbali Jr because of its countertop footprint, power button and doser/doser lever over the Mazzer's. It does not have the sexy lines and counter top appeal of the Mazzers, but I have always thought the business end was better than the Mini and pretty much equal to the Super Jolly. I also use it as an espresso only grinder and the micro adjustment controls make tweaking the grind super easy. However, try opening it up for a press pot and you will be turning that adjustment knob for 5 minutes.

With the promise of a Max burr set in a Jr body, this could turn out to be a super bargain hybrid. Now the question becomes, how does it compare to the flat burr grinders, or rather how do the flat burrs compare to the Kony.

Did you observation parallel that of Ken's and yours when it comes to the ease of adjustment and 'no fuss' factor for the dose. Or was it a little more temperamental when it came to daily adjustments to compensate for bean age and environmental changes?
Dave Stephens

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Postby another_jim » Jul 27, 2007, 6:43 pm

cannonfodder wrote:Did you observation parallel that of Ken's and yours when it comes to the ease of adjustment and 'no fuss' factor for the dose. Or was it a little more temperamental when it came to daily adjustments to compensate for bean age and environmental changes?



It only arrived yesterday, and I threw it to the lions straight off; so I'm not sure about day to day tweaking.

The adjustment was no problem at all. I pulled my morning cappa at 15 grams with it; and guesstimated the 13.5 and 16.5 positions. The guesstimates were correct, and the test shots I pulled were not necessary. Although the business end of the grinder is planar, the turn distance to change grind settings is as large (roughly 2.5 times the Mini) as the conicals. The hardest to dial in these tests was the Mini, since I'd gotten so used to using the other grinders that I kept overshooting.

It's probably the most ergonomic of the lot as a dedicated grinder, and the least so if one switches coffees a lot.

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Postby another_jim » Aug 03, 2007, 1:50 pm

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Tale of the Tape

Many people swear by manual grinders. These come in all sizes, from the titanic Country Living grain mill, with its large augur and 125mm flat burrs, to tiny pepper mills designed for Turkish coffee grinding. The most popular size is the box coffee mill with roughly 45mm conical burrs. Zassenhaus is the most famous manufacturer, followed by Peugeot, who is still manufacturing. But people using these for espresso prefer the Pede grinder, short for Peter Dienes, which was manufactured until the 1960s.

Peacecup sent me one of these, and when I tried it I could see why people preferred it to the Zass. The grind adjustment is a lever that sits underneath the burrs, and which adjusts very precisely. A 30 to 90 degree turn away from the zero provided the range for the commercial groups in my Elektra and Silvias; this is roughly the same turn angle as regular espresso grinders. Although the shots were acceptable, I was skeptical about how well it would do, since on the Elektra, using Heather's WBC blend, they seemed light bodied and bright.


The Fight

In the actual contest with my test blend, which is less bright and heavier bodied, the difference wasn't as marked. The Pede did lose every round on flavor, but it wasn't a blow out except the 3rd, where it lost by 1.5 points. The others were all close 1/2 point rounds. The final score was all rounds to the Robur, with 13 points total.

This is really quite a good showing. The scale of the loss is similar to the Minis. I do not think the grinder has quite that taste quality, but it is close. Since these can be had for around $50 on ebay, they represent a quite solid approach to budget espresso grinding for those with the elbow grease. The amount of this required actually seems to be somewhat exaggerated by users, since I managed to grind the shots in under a minute.

Detailed Scores

Code: Select all

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grinder  Dose  Shot ExtG  ExtR  CPer  CApp  Flav  Body   Swee  Acid  Bitr  Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pede     16.5  1.1   21.4 20.2    0     1    -0.5  -0.5   -1     1     0    -3
Pede     16.5  1.1   19.0 21.4    0     0    -0.5   0      0     0     0    -2
Pede     13.5  1.1   21.3 21.3    0     1    -1.5   0     -1.5   0.5   1    -5
Pede     13.5  1.1   21.3 20.6    0    -1    -0.5   0     -0.5  -0.5  -0.5  -3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Legend:
Shot: 0 is tight, 1 is good, 2 is loose, first figure is the test grinder, second the Robur. All shots run to 50mL with crema. If the time difference is more than 6 seconds, the test is redone. Tight/Loose mean differences of 4 to 5 seconds.
ExtG, ExtR: Percentage solubles extracted, G is the test grinder, R the robur
CPer, CApp: Crema persistence and appearance. Negative scores means the Robur wins, Positive means the Test grinder. These scores are added to the final tally
Flav, Bod: Flavor and Body. These scores are multiplied by four for the final tally.
Swee, Acid, Bitr: Sweetness, Acidity Bitterness: organoleptic categories NOT added to the score.
Total: The total score, CPer + CApp + 4*Flav + 4*Body



Running Score Sheet

Code: Select all

Grinder          Score       Rounds Won-Tied-Lost
-------------------------------------------------
Nemox Lux         -7              1-0-3
Mazzer Mini      -15              0-0-4
Versalab M3      -10.5            2-0-2     
Macap MXK         +3              2-0-2
Macap M7K         -3              1-1-2
Fiorenzato Doge   -0.5            1-1-2
Compak WBC        +1              1-1-2
Cimbali Max       +4              2-0-2
Pede Manual      -13              0-0-4

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Postby peacecup » Aug 06, 2007, 3:04 pm

Jim,

Thanks for running the tests with the hand grinder. I often get questions from people who are considering buying a hand grinder. Because I haven't used a good electric grinder myself, and am no expert of coffee tasting, I wanted to provide an objective view of how hand grinders compare.

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

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Postby another_jim » Aug 10, 2007, 6:26 pm

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Tale of the Tape

The Mazzer Super Jolly is either the most common commercial espresso grinder on the planet, or a close second to the Rossi RR45. 64mm flat burr grinders are the automatic choice to accompany two group espresso machines, and the Super Jolly has an even more bullet proof reputation than other Mazzers. I could easily see why; this grinder is a no frills tank that does its job without drawing attention to itself.

In these tests, it's been a surprise -- a bit like getting a Chevy and finding out it's not just utilitarian, but fun to drive as well. Almost all the testers so far personally preferred it to the Kony and Max, and some even to the Macap. I played with the grinder yesterday and this morning, prior to testing; and I also found it very impressive. It's currently sporting the duranium burrs, which are very nice for hopperless use, since they seem to suck in the loose beans without much popcorning. The grinder is faster and the quietest, by a ways, of all tested. My test shots weren't quite as easy and solid pouring as from the conicals, but it was noticeably more consistent than the Mini.


The Fight

I was expecting another boring Italian soccer match, but instead it went back and forth. The Jolly is different, period. In successive rounds, it produced "interesting," identical, far worse, and far better shots when compared to the as always steady tasting Robur. I found while the pours and packing are fairly consistent, the taste of this grinder, with a sensitively balanced blend, is all over the place.

In the first 13.5 gram round, its shot tasted like it had been roasted a few notches darker, with a lot more caramel, and a lot less fruit. The crema was thinner and browner as well. My half point taste edge to the Robur was subjective -- the shots were different, and others would have the preference the other way around.

In the second 13.5 round the shots were nigh indistinguishable, except for a nicer tiger flecking on the Jolly's.

In the first 16.5 round, the Jolly's taste was over-aggressive, and it lost by 4 points.

In the final round 16.5 gram round, the same aggressive taste was coupled to improved sweetness and a more persistent crema, which enhanced the shot enough to give it the taste edge. This time it won by 6 points, the biggest single round score of any grinder over the Robur.

Final score: 2 rounds each, Robur wins by 1.5 points.

Detailed Scores

Code: Select all

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grinder  Dose  Shot ExtG  ExtR  CPer  CApp  Flav  Body   Swee  Acid  Bitr  Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jolly    16.5  1.1   21.4 22.6    0     0    -1     0     -0.5  -0.5   0    -4
Jolly    16.5  1.1   23.9 22.0    1     1     1     0      0.5   0.5  -1     6
Jolly    13.5  1.1   21.3 22.8   -1.5  -1    -0.5   0     -0.5  -1     0.5  -4.5
Jolly    13.5  1.1   22.1 22.1    0     1     0     0      0     0     0     1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Legend:
Shot: 0 is tight, 1 is good, 2 is loose, first figure is the test grinder, second the Robur. All shots run to 50mL with crema. If the time difference is more than 6 seconds, the test is redone. Tight/Loose mean differences of 4 to 5 seconds.
ExtG, ExtR: Percentage solubles extracted, G is the test grinder, R the robur
CPer, CApp: Crema persistence and appearance. Negative scores means the Robur wins, Positive means the Test grinder. These scores are added to the final tally
Flav, Bod: Flavor and Body. These scores are multiplied by four for the final tally.
Swee, Acid, Bitr: Sweetness, Acidity Bitterness: organoleptic categories NOT added to the score.
Total: The total score, CPer + CApp + 4*Flav + 4*Body



Running Score Sheet

Code: Select all

Grinder          Score       Rounds Won-Tied-Lost
-------------------------------------------------
Nemox Lux         -7              1-0-3
Mazzer Mini      -15              0-0-4
Versalab M3      -10.5            2-0-2     
Macap MXK         +3              2-0-2
Macap M7K         -3              1-1-2
Fiorenzato Doge   -0.5            1-1-2
Compak WBC        +1              1-1-2
Cimbali Max       +4              2-0-2
Pede Manual      -13              0-0-4
Mazzer Jolly     -1.5             2-0-2

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Postby Ken Fox » Aug 10, 2007, 6:44 pm

another_jim wrote:The Mazzer Super Jolly is either the most common commercial espresso grinder on the planet, or a close second to the Rossi RR45. 64mm flat burr grinders are the automatic choice to accompany two group espresso machines, and the Super Jolly has an even more bullet proof reputation than other Mazzers. I could easily see why; this grinder is a no frills tank that does its job without drawing attention to itself.

In these tests, it's been a surprise -- a bit like getting a Chevy and finding out it's not just utilitarian, but fun to drive as well. Almost all the testers so far personally preferred it to the Kony and Max, and some even to the Macap.



Jim,

I'm confused.

Above, you state, "Almost all the testers so far personally preferred it to the Kony and Max," however the only other taster I know of who is part of the TGP who has formally tasted the Max (other than yourself) is Dan. Neither Dave nor John, to my knowledge, have ever worked with it. If Jeff is part of this evaluation, the only Max he has tasted is one he bought used off ebay, and he's not seen the one that you received from Dan who received it from TJ. Furthermore, Jeff has yet to work with the other TGP grinders, unless I am mistaken.

I think your sentence, above, implies more than it can support.

Best,

ken
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Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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Postby another_jim » Aug 10, 2007, 7:08 pm

If you think I have the vaguest clue at this point what grinder has been where; you're overestimating my attention span.

The Jolly produces sweet, bass heavy seductive shots when it's "on." I think all the reviewers agree on that. However, I don't think it's all that consistently on. I don't think it's as consistent as the Max, and it isn't even close to any of the conicals for reproducing the same taste time after time. However, Dan has the opposite opinion on the Jolly and Max; and the other reviewers think its consistency is in the same ballpark as the conicals, and, by inference, greater than the Max's. If you say nobody else has seen the Max, I'm sure that's right.

It could be that the Duranium burrs are changing the grinder's properties, and I'm going to get to do this all over. Oh goodie :roll:

 
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