Macap M4 Electronic Doserless vs. Mazzer Mini E Espresso Grinder

Behind the scenes of the site's upcoming equipment reviews.
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HB
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#1: Post by HB »

Like the perennial debate over the merits of flat versus convex tamper pistons, the debate over doser versus doserless grinders divides the online espresso community's opinion. Forum topics like Pros and cons of doser vs. doserless grinders? and its accompanying poll have reached no consensus. However, among the doserless grinder lovers, many agree the Mazzer Mini E is the best suited for home baristas; its two models are included in the site's Feature Spotlight on Espresso Grinders.

Recognizing the increased interest in doserless grinders, Macap has introduced a new model specifically designed with the home barista in mind. In fact, the new Macap M4 Electronic Doserless is so new, it doesn't have a price yet, though according to this review's sponsor, Chris' Coffee Service, it's rumored to arrive somewhere around the $700 price point, depending on the Euro.

The photo below is the Macap M4 Electronic Doserless beside the Mazzer Mini E:

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Macap M4 Electronic Doserless, Mazzer Mini E (Type B)

The Macap Electronic Doserless' switch arrangement is similar to the Mini E (Type B), which also has a single push-type switch that starts the dosing cycle by pushing the portafilter against the switch. Tapping the Mini E's switch once selects the single dose, tapping it twice selects the double dose. The same switch acts like the momentary button by pressing and holding. In contrast, pressing and holding the portafilter against the red switch starts the Macap's selected grind cycle (display is not illuminated in the photo below).

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Press portafilter against red button to start cycle

Want a double dose from the Mini E? Tap twice. From the Macap Electronic, press the silver button above the blue display until "Double Dose" is displayed. It's then in doubles mode and pressing the red button will grind a double's worth. The easily readable display rapidly counts down the seconds to completion in 0.1 second intervals.

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Press silver button above display to select dosage (Single, Double, Continuous)

The two grinders differ notably in their programming. The Mini E has two set screws, one for the single dose setting and another for the double dose setting. Unlike the Macap, there's no indicator of how much time is added or subtracted by each increment. I set the Mini E dose settings by trial and error.

The Macap's programming is pleasantly straightforward and very accurate. To program:
  • Press and hold the silver button for ten seconds to enter program mode.
  • Select the dosage measure to be changed by spinning the silver button above the blue display; it will cycle through the menu of choices (Single Dose, Double Dose, Continuous, etc.).
  • Press and release the silver button to select the desired dose setting.
  • Turn the silver dial to decrease/increase the dosage in 0.1 second intervals.
  • To exit program mode, press and release the silver button until Exit is display, then press the button again.
For example, to set the double dose setting: Press and hold silver button for ten seconds, turn button to go from Single to Double, press button, turn button clockwise/counter-clockwise to set to desired time, press button, turn button to go from Double to Exit, press button. OK, it sounds like a lot of steps when read, but it's intuitive and only takes 20 seconds once you've done it a couple times.

Note that the settings are in 0.1 second intervals, not by weight or volume. As a rule of thumb, the Macap grinds approximately 2.5 grams per second, depending on the hardness of the beans and the grind setting (the time increases slightly as the grind setting is made finer).

Unlike the Mini E, I was able to "predict" the correct setting for the desired amount of coffee with precision. For example, I set the single dose timing to 4.0 seconds and the double dose timing to 8.0 seconds, then weighed the resulting grounds of both doses. Calculator in hand, I divided the difference in weight by the elapsed time delta (4.0 seconds), allowing me to calculate the time needed to grind 17.0 grams of coffee. My calculation was accurate within 0.2 grams on the first try. With my usage of the Mini E, the dose timers are "set and forget" because (a) it's tiresome to adjust with a tiny screwdriver, (b) it would be difficult to go back and forth between settings, and (c) the potentiometer adjustment wasn't designed for constant fiddling. The accuracy and ease of setting the Macap's dose timer makes it a snap.

The dose settings out of the way, I started by dosing directly into a basket to check for clumping since this is frequently cited as a weak spot for doserless grinders:

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Clumps are problematic for many grinders, especially doserless ones

Most grinders clump to some degree; the barista must develop techniques that correct for this unevenness because the distribution of grounds in the portafilter basket is critical for an even extraction. For doser-equipped grinders, the barista can "thwack" the doser handle to advance the doser vanes, which helps agitate the grinds exiting the chute. Baristas using a doserless grinder cannot "mix things up" until the grounds reach the portafilter and use post-dosing techniques like the Stockfleth's Move or Weiss Distribution Technique to even the distribution (see Tamp and Dose Techniques Digest for details).
Dan Kehn

lud

#2: Post by lud »

One of the Mazzer distributors mentioned that the electronics he had scanned at the Mazzer booth (SCAA) was on the Mini E.
From what he described, the buttons that currently exist on the Mini E (Type A) was being replaced by a digital panel with similar timed shot features as well as some stats of your grind history. His first shipment on these new units is scheduled to arrive in June/July.

Where PIDing a machine gave us temperature consistency, its starting to feel like digital timers are coming out in full force for 2007/08 and providing dosing consistency (and in some cases, distribution as well) in grinders.

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HB
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#3: Post by HB »

lud wrote:From what he described, the buttons that currently exist on the Mini E (Type A) was being replaced by a digital panel with similar timed shot features as well as some stats of your grind history.
Thanks for the heads up, I'll try to dig up more details.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#4: Post by HB »

I'll return to the usage differences between these two grinders later in the week, but tonight let's look more closely at the grinders' interior, beginning with the burrs. The Macap doserless has the same motor and 58mm burr set as the doser Macap M4. The Mini E uses the same motor as the doser Mazzer Mini, however, the doserless has a 64mm burr set, same as the Mazzer Jolly:

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Macap M4 upper burr, Mazzer Mini E upper burr

Although the Mini E shares the same burr set as the Jolly, it doesn't have the same duty cycle capability, as noted on the side of the grinder:

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Duty cycle is 20 seconds on, 30 seconds off

The burrs and carrier on the Mini E are larger than its Mini sibling (64mm versus 58mm), although both share the same-sized housing. That means the Mini E's exit chute is shorter, which allows less room for grinds to hang up. In addition to the difference in burr size, the Mazzer and Macap distinguish themselves by their burr carrier design.

The Macap upper burr carrier, shown on the left below, threads deeply into the motor housing. The adjustment is by turning the knob(s) of a worm gear on the backside of the grinder. It's a smooth motion and offers very precise, repeatable adjustments.

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Macap M4 upper burr carrier, Mazzer Mini E upper burr carrier

The Mazzer's upper burr carrier is under the tension of three stiff springs pushing it firmly against the adjustment collar; this "floating collar" design holds the burr carrier firmly in place and can't jiggle in its threads. All Mazzers have this same adjustment mechanism. The adjustment is by rotating the large knurled chrome-plated collar that encircles the throat of the grinder. It's a two-handled maneuver and doesn't have the same ease as the Macap's stepless adjustment, but after some practice, it's not difficult to make minute adjustments while still having the option of swiftly moving from the espresso setting to the coarser settings required for French press.

The Macap's new chute design is a huge improvement over the previous "bag clip" design. This grinder was designed for shops or grocery stores selling small amounts of ground bagged coffee. It has no need for a portafilter rest:

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Chute of the Macap M4 Doserless

Since the chute's end would be covered with a bag when in use, there wasn't much worry about static. Although some home baristas put it to use as a doserless espresso grinder, it lacks the purpose-built qualities of the Mazzer Mini E and new Macap Electronic Doserless. Unlike the previous version, the new Macap doserless delivers static-free grounds neatly into the portafilter rest. I haven't measured how much grounds are retained in the snout, but judging by how much knocks out, it's not excessive.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#5: Post by HB »

lud wrote:From what he described, the buttons that currently exist on the Mini E (Type A) was being replaced by a digital panel with similar timed shot features as well as some stats of your grind history.
According to Luca Maccatrozzo, export manager for Mazzer, there is no new Mini Electronic. Perhaps the distributor is thinking of the new "grinders on demand" (doserless) models on display at the SCAA conference? I saw them along the existing models. In his reply, Luca elaborated about a few other minor improvements in the Mazzer Mini coming later this year (larger tray, moving cord to underneath):
Luca Maccatrozzo wrote:The 2 new grinders on demand were Major and Royal (no Mini electronic). In October at Milan show we will also display Kony and Robur on demand. We expect the new Mini with new tray with new cord location by the end of the year.
Dan Kehn

lud

#6: Post by lud »

HB wrote:According to Luca Maccatrozzo, export manager for Mazzer, there is no new Mini Electronic. Perhaps the distributor is thinking of the new "grinders on demand" (doserless) models on display at the SCAA conference?
I also thought perhaps he was thinking of the Macap doserless electronic (and not the Mazzer), though he specifically made reference to the Type A. Oh well. The new cord location (on the E) is welcome news. It was a minor, but niggling factor when I was considering that grinder, and I'm sure, welcome news for all.
Luca Maccatrozzo wrote:The 2 new grinders on demand were Major and Royal (no Mini electronic). In October at Milan show we will also display Kony and Robur on demand. We expect the new Mini with new tray with new cord location by the end of the year.
No! :( That figures. I just sealed the deal on a Kony on Friday, but :) perhaps that means I can retrofit the Kony to be doserless should I decide to later.

naked_barista

#7: Post by naked_barista »

Dan,
Any word on a retrofit kit to make the current M4 doserless into an M4E?

Larry
larry at laurelnet dot com

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Niko

#8: Post by Niko »

Any word on the expected ship date of this new MACAP?
I'll be all over this one, unless it doesn't fit well with Spaziale 53mm PF's...

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cannonfodder
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#9: Post by cannonfodder »

The M4 burr looks much deeper. The slant angle from outer edge to inner edge appears to be steeper. The burr thickness at the center also appears to be thicker than the Mazzer from the photo. That would get the bean from the crush zone to the fine grind zone faster. I wonder what effect that has on grind quality versus the gentler slope of the Mazzer burr.
Dave Stephens

podo98

#10: Post by podo98 »

Do we know when the Macap will be available?

BP