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:
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).
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.
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.
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:
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).