Mazzer Mini E Doserless, Type A & Type B

Behind the scenes of the site's upcoming equipment reviews.
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HB
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Postby HB » Jun 24, 2005, 9:59 pm

Teme suggested that I update the Feature Spotlight on Espresso Grinders to include the Mazzer Mini E. Chris' Coffee agreed to
loan me not one but two! Time for an update to the Mazzer Mini, Cimbali Junior, and Macap M4 review...

Feature Spotlight on Espresso Grinders, Reloaded

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Mazzer Mini E - Type A & B

They arrived today and I've just unpacked them. Both are similar in form to the standard Mazzer Mini and have the new "shorter" hopper that makes them very kitchen cabinet friendly (not shown in manufacturer photos above). You'll have to look closely to see the difference is the on/off mechanism:
  • Type A = touch pad on top of funnel lid (left),
  • Type B = metal push-click switch below funnel and above portafilter rest (right).
The Mini E also has 64mm burrs like the Super Jolly, compared to the standard Mini's 58mm burrs.

I've not seen much information on the Type B, so the update will include a section specifically explaining the differences between these two models. I'll use both for a couple weeks and hopefully provide enough distinctions to help potential buyers decide which suits their preference; I'll also contrast them to the other three grinders already covered in the Spotlight: Mazzer Mini, Cimbali Junior, and Macap M4.

In the meantime, below is an excerpt from my comments on the Mazzer Mini E (Type A) from last year's Counter Culture Coffee EspressoFest:

Every review I've read about this grinder just raves and raves. So needless to say, I was anxious to see what all the excitement was about. At first glance it appears to be a $200 funnel accessory for the stock Mazzer Mini, plus some touchpad buttons. After a few uses, the pricing still seems excessive, but I see why owners are so pleased -- Mazzer nailed a great doserless design.

To fill the portafilter, you place it in the MME's cradle and press the single or double doser button atop the funnel. In about 12 seconds, a perfectly centered pyramid of grinds fills the basket. For those of us who have resigned ourselves to the "left throw" tendency of most doser grinders, watching this spectacle is a small miracle (indeed, geeks are impressed by the darnest things ;-).

The burrs and carrier on the MME are larger than its Mini sibling (64mm versus 58mm), although both share the same-sized housing. That means the MME's exit chute is shorter, which allows less room for grinds to hang up. The finger guard is an angled stainless-steel grate. It looks like it may be dual-purpose, i.e., preventing curious fingers from entering the chute and also dispersing the grinds more evenly for their death-spiral to the bottom of the funnel. I didn't test my theory by removing it.

Mazzers are built rock solid -- so well in fact that I believe a warranty is an unnecessary gesture. The MME, as nice as it may be, complicates the reliability picture by adding electronics. I have no data to support the assertion, but in general I prefer simple switches to fancy buttons, if only because I can repair them myself if need be. Quibbling aside, if the MME were available at the time I upgraded from the Rancilio Rocky DL, I would have seriously considered it despite the eye-bulging pricetag.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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Postby HB » Jun 26, 2005, 3:49 pm

Perhaps too much sun today in North Carolina for an outdoor photoshoot, but I gave it try:

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Type A (left), Type B (right)

Since the dosing controls are what distinguishes these two grinders, let's zoom in on them, starting with the Type A control pad atop the doser funnel:

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The purpose of the one and two cup buttons is self-evident; the "hand" button is a momentary switch. Pressing and holding it runs the grinder, releasing stops it. Pressing the one / two cup button runs until the end of the cycle, unless you toggle the main power switch:

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(Long-time Mini owners will recognize this toggle switch; it was used prior to the introduction of the timer version)

Notice the added warnings (did you see the typo?). It's a shame to mar the Mini's appearance with a permanent placard. Apparently lawyers have been coaching Mazzer on the hazards of the American legal system, as evidenced by this pamphlet included with the owner's manual:

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(I will refrain from commenting on the possibility of unskilled commercial use :wink:)

The dosing adjustment is set by turning one of these two screws:

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Type A (left), Type B (right)

A quick tare on the 0.1g accuracy scale confirmed they work reliably. Those who overdose may be surprised to learn that the Italian definition of a double espresso is indirectly enforced by these grinders: The adjustment mechanism stops at around 17 grams. I set the double to half a dose (nine grams), which works out well since I prefer to smooth out and tap the grounds down before the "pyramid" overflows.

Looking to the grinder on the right, note the indicator lights. The Type B has a single push-type switch in the place of the screw shown on the left; you press it by pushing the portafilter against the switch, conveniently using only one hand. Tapping it once selects the single dose (one cup indicator illuminates), tapping it twice selects the double dose (two cup indicator illuminates). The same switch acts as a momentary button on the Type A's (the "hand" button shown earlier). That is, press and hold the Type B's push-type switch instead of releasing it immediately; the grinder will run and the dosage indicators will flash to make it obvious it's in "momentary grind" mode. Very nice!

The next few days will the the Type A's turn, then the Type B's...
Dan Kehn

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HB
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Postby HB » Jun 26, 2005, 7:58 pm

This will be the last of the photoshoot. Removing the doser funnel lid reveals a stainless steel fingerguard:

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In addition to keeping wandering fingers out of harm's way, this guard also helps deflect the exiting grounds downward, which may mean a more even distribution. I'll test this theory later in the week. Removing the guard shows the exit chute:

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Again, the thin wire barrier serves two purposes: Keeping wandering fingers out and breaking up clumps. This is the first Mazzer I've seen with such protections; sweeping the chute with a brush won't fly unless you're willing to remove two safety features. Given the shorter, narrower exit of the Mini E versus the Mini, I'll try initially running the grinder for a couple seconds and discarding instead of mucking with a brush.

Speaking of brushes, the Mini E includes a small red-handled "painter's trim brush" plus a plastic (disposible) tamper. Apparently the manufacturer felt guilty for omitting the tamping appendage on the Mini:

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I've never used it except as a carrying handle, but some like JonR use for "mid-tamps." C'est la vie, mon vieux pote.
Dan Kehn

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Teme

Postby Teme » Jun 27, 2005, 9:59 am

I look forward to reading further experiences on the Mini E. The fact that both models are included and compared not only between each other but also with the other grinders in the feature spotlight makes this even more intriguing...

There are a couple of items that are of specific interest to me personally.

Firstly, the wire barrier in the chute and the finger guard in the funnel seem to be necessary to achieve consistent particle distribution in the ground coffee as well as to avoid static. Is this really so? If you retain them in place cleaning must be a pita - therefore eliminating some of the Mini E's benefits?

Secondly, I find it surprising if the dose timers really limit the size of the dose at the upper end to approximately 17 g max for a double. I also suspect that since the Mini E uses time, not weight as the measure, the amount of coffee ground is subject to quite a bit of variance depending on the beans used (age, blend, roast etc)...

Finally, I must say that the shorter hopper looks markedly better than the regular Mini hopper.

Br,
Teme

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HB
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Postby HB » Jul 05, 2005, 12:29 am

The Mini E carries a hefty premium -- currently Chris' Coffee sells it for $695 versus the Mini at $449 and the Super Jolly at $535. Besides a nice funnel and portafilter rest, what else are you getting compared to the standard Mini? Let's look at the specifications:
    64mm burr set (same as the Super Jolly)
    Two programmable dosing timers
And obviously the doserless-ness. Although the Mini E's motor is driving larger burrs, the housing is the same size as the standard Mini. The exit chute of the Mini E is subsequently shorter, leaving a very small ledge for grounds to collect. Running the grinder for a couple seconds at the beginning of a session ejects the remnents.

Neatness is one area where the Mini E excels. Today I switched over from the Mazzer Mini E / Type A to the Type B. After a week's use, even the purged grinds from switching blends neatly form a pyramid:

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The tiny plastic tray catches the majority of errand grinds (hint: The Super Jolly's stainless steel tray looks nice with the Mini and catches all the grinds). This is in contrast to the doser Mini, which tosses grinds hard to the left if you pull the handle too quickly.

The Mini E consistently delivers the grinds to the same spot, which is great for neatness, but you'll need to work the distribution. I set the dosage setting to nine grams, redistributed halfway, and then tapped / redistributed a second time before tamping (normally I rotate the portafilter while dosing with the standard Mini, but wanted to try out the Mini E's portafilter rest).

To see how consistent the dosage amounts are, I recorded the weights for a series of shots (two presses of the single dose each):
    18.0, 18.3, 18.3, 18.5, 18.1, 18.8, 18.8, 18.8, 18.9
Not enough data points to be statistically valid, but suggests that there's a variance of about ± 0.5 grams. That's pretty good for a timer and the consistency of the half + half approach coupled with standard volume dosing makes it easy to improve accuracy to 0.3 grams or less.

Teme wrote:Firstly, the wire barrier in the chute and the finger guard in the funnel seem to be necessary to achieve consistent particle distribution in the ground coffee as well as to avoid static. Is this really so? If you retain them in place cleaning must be a pita - therefore eliminating some of the Mini E's benefits?

I've never noted static problems with any Mazzer, including the Mini E. Although it wastes a couple grams to expel the old coffee, I've resisted the temptation to sweep the chute, consoling myself with the fact that there's a very small ledge. It hasn't bothered me and I'm a neatnik. Maybe it's a case of "out of sight, out of mind" thanks to the funnel and the doser lid / switchpad that I rarely remove.

Secondly, I find it surprising if the dose timers really limit the size of the dose at the upper end to approximately 17 g max for a double. I also suspect that since the Mini E uses time, not weight as the measure, the amount of coffee ground is subject to quite a bit of variance depending on the beans used (age, blend, roast etc)...

It varies considerably depending on the beans, as noted in the weights above for Ecco Caffe's 2004 Dattera Reserve Sustainable compared to my earlier comments based on grinding Intelligentsia's Black Cat blend. Ecco Caffe's coffee ground more densely and it's reflected in the weight. Realistically I would use the Mini E's dosage adjustments as a very close "ballpark" weight and confirm by volume after dosing.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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Postby HB » Jul 08, 2005, 8:05 pm

It's doubtful that a commercial establishment would bother sweeping the grinder between shots, but it's not uncommon among home baristas, so naturally I was curious about what's behind Door Number 3:

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(doser funnel, inverted)

Clearly the Mazzer product designers are not expecting anyone to remove the wire grid; it is sandwiched between the funnel and a thin piece of sheet metal held in place with an adhesive-backed neoprene. Once assembled, the funnel is held tightly against the face of the grinder and the neoprene assures there's no gap for grinds to sneak into.

Enought talk about removing the finger guard and wire grid to get easy access to the exit chute, let's look at their raison d'etre more closely. Conveniently Lino's recent observations about his Super Jolly doserless modification underscore the reasoning behind this thin wire grid -- to help break up clumps.

Ever notice the frenetic "thwack thwack thwack" of the doser handle baristas employ in competition? The sound almost blurs into a continuous buzz. One explanation for this behavior, besides nervous energy and way too much caffeine, is that the rapid advancing of the doser vanes helps agitate the grinds exiting the chute. Baristas using a doserless grinder potentially lose the ability to "mix things up" until the grounds reach the portafilter.

Over the next few days I'll compare the evenness of the regular doser Mini using a reasonably paced handle pull, competition style handle pull, and the Mini E Doserless.
Dan Kehn

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Teme

Postby Teme » Jul 11, 2005, 4:41 pm

HB wrote:Ever notice the frenetic "thwack thwack thwack" of the doser handle baristas employ in competition? The sound almost blurs into a continuous buzz. One explanation for this behavior, besides nervous energy and way too much caffeine, is that the rapid advancing of the doser vanes helps agitate the grinds exiting the chute. Baristas using a doserless grinder potentially lose the ability to "mix things up" until the grounds reach the portafilter.

Over the next few days I'll compare the evenness of the regular doser Mini using a reasonably paced handle pull, competition style handle pull, and the Mini E Doserless.


I look forward to reading up on this. So far the Mini E really seems to be clearly superior to the "regular" Mini - but is there a difference in the cup? And is it easier or more difficult to achieve...

Also, I had not come to think of the fact that the chute are in the Mini E is actually shorter than in the dosered Mini, but it makes sense because of the Mini E's larger burrs and is another benefit of the Mini E.

Interesting stuff.

Br,
Teme

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HB
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Postby HB » Jul 16, 2005, 9:54 am

It looks like the fast thwackers may be onto something:

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One basket was filled using "competition style" dosing, the other was filled by the Mini E without using the portafilter cradle. It's quite evident that the extra agitation of the doser vanes helped smooth out the grinds prior to distribution.
Dan Kehn

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cannonfodder
Team HB

Postby cannonfodder » Jul 17, 2005, 4:32 pm

HB wrote:Perhaps too much sun today in North Carolina for an outdoor photoshoot, but I gave it try:


It is nice and gloomy here in Ohio. You could send me one for a couple of weeks and I will take lots of photos for you. :wink:
Dave Stephens

singforsupper

Postby singforsupper » Jul 19, 2005, 10:42 pm

I have a Mini E. I took it upon myself to permanently remove the screen from the chute. I then tried it with the fingerguard and without for clumping and grind trajectory out of the cone. I think the trajectory is better without the finger guard and clumping did not seem much different without the finger guard. So, I am using my Mini E without the finger guard and without a screen on the chute. I can now brush out the chute if I choose.