Posted Thu Aug 25, 2011, 7:53am Subject: Compak K3...time for Upgrade-itis?
I'm currently using a dedicated pair of grinders for different tasks. My K10 is my king grinder for my rotation to different beans and the evening coffee sessions in the non-summer months. My K3T is my daily morning grinder in which I keep the hopper stocked. Incrementally I've been adding to the number of shots pulled in the mornings for making my big milk drinks, plus some more for morning shots, macchis etc. Presently I've been pulling six doubles back-to-back.
I've found a very consistent pattern in so doing. I'm using the timed dosing on the K3, and have it generally dialed in well. But there's the issue. Before the session I generally purge roughly a single shot's worth of coffee. I used to manually run the purge, but I've taken to just doing a single click of the button for a "single shot" grind which purges a little more than I was manually purging. I've now got it dialed to "the center" of where this issue occurrs. Essentially at my current fineness, the first shot is just short of a blond gusher. Maybe 2.5oz in 18-20 seconds. It's not QUITE a gusher...but it's faster than it should be. The second shot is also somewhat fast. The third shot is about right. By the time I get to the fifth and sixth shots, at my current setting it gets down to what I'd consider a little slow....maybe 2oz in 30-32 seconds. Still quite tasty in the cup though. The first four are used for big milk, the last two as straight shots.
Prior to compensating this issue, the first shot was slightly fast but mostly normal, and by the last shot it was plugging the vibe pump to the point that you'd hear it "rev" a few times before it finally got an even (albeit rather slow) flow going and produced a slightly bitter cup as a result. Thus why I compensated to "gusher" for the first ones.
The question here is this: The problem is not temp on the machine....it's a lovely stable HX. The grinder is at issue. Surely this grinder isn't ENTIRELY intended for 6 back to back doubles...though mechanically it could handle a lot more than that. It's 58mm burrs. Not the biggest, but not the worst.
So the open question is: who believes this issue is due to heating? Who believes it is due to packing in the burr carrier (which magically unpacks itself by the next day?), Who believes it's due to drifting of the dosage?
And the more open question is, who thinks that means it's time for an upgrade...and if so, would a ProM be an adequate upgrade to compensate for this issue? (Due to the VERY close price I'd prefer the K30 if going that route...or even a K10 Fresh, but unfortunately the Fresh won't fit where I want it (too tall), and the K30 would be "an uncomfortable fit" (just short enough but hard to refill, and the face comes too far forward to fit comfortably behind the corner sink). I already have the big K10 WBC at the "grinding table", so the morning grinder is all about convenience. Whatever I get MUST fit where I want it. Assuming I upgrade at all.
Posted Thu Aug 25, 2011, 10:06am Subject: Re: Compak K3...time for Upgrade-itis?
The K30 is worth a look. Without a hopper, you get 2 doubles per loading. Loading it up every second double takes about 5 seconds with a scoop. A canning funnel could be fashioned to hold 8 or 10 doubles worth of coffee. I make 4 doubles most mornings and the K30 just rocks. Fast, quiet, steady and forgiving.
If Jethro from NCIS knew about the K30, he'd drink espresso.
Well the height is only 1/4 the issue. Yes, it'll be a pain filling it, but it WILL fit with the short hopper (barely.) And using a hopper for THIS grinder is a must (I single dose the K10 of course...this is the convenience grinder for when I don't feel like futzing with manual dosing :) And of course if I were going to do THAT, I might as well just use the K10, which is superior to and more forgiving than even the K30 (and one of the few things that is, at that...) There's a reason I use the "weak" K3 when I have a big shiny K10 sitting on the bench, and it's not because I like the slow grinding! ;)
It's actually the circumference of the K30 that frightens me. It's .6" longer than the K3...which already butts up to the back of the sink. It would fit that way, just barely. But the actual grinding face would be right up to the sink creating sort of a "wall" behind it (and giving the K30 a chance to get wet, which the control distance of the K3 avoids.
Besides, if I was going to get into single dose hopperless automation....might as well get the K10 fresh and pair it with my K10 WBC :P But I don't know about the grinds retention of the Fresh. I've heard anything ranging from "much better" to "15% better"
And of course, all this assumes that a grinder upgrade (to anything but another conical) will solve my issue to begin with....
I think I poorly stated my statement. I didn't mean the K30 MUST be used with a hopper. I meant whatever grinder I'm using for this particular location/application must have hopper usability as a required feature for me. That doesn't eliminate the K30 from the running at all. It eliminates the K8/K10 Fresh models. The K30 would JUST fit with the short hopper. Having a filled hopper on my "grinder #2" is a workflow requirement.
I hear the superior and perhaps you're right. Just not sure to which characteristic you're referring.
Forgiveness is one, but mostly the "conical flavor", slower blonding etc. I absolutely can tell the difference.
Honestly the K3 is a fantastic grinder, it just seems to have an "issue of some kind" when popping out numerous back to back shots where the shots get tighter and tighter. The shots aren't anywhere near the same level as the K10 mind you, but they're good all the same, and the grinds are nicely distributed and fluffy. Its also very predictable. If I set it for my first two shots and used only two shots per session, I'd never need to adjust it. And each session/day, despite how tight the shots get by shot #6 the day before, they're back to the same exact looseness the next session. I feel kind of deranged for even considering other grinders...it's a reliable workhorse with good dependable output. I don't honestly expect the K30 or the ProM to taste particularly better. I'd just expect (hope for?) more consistency for back to back use.
Anyway, sounds like the K30 is not for you. Best wishes on the journey,
One thing I wish I could find is a direct comparison of current model ProM vs. K30 output. K30 is faster and obviously has a higher duty cycle rating, but the burrs are supposedly similar/the same.
One question for you on the K30. Every picture I see of it makes it look like a giant cylindrical can. yet measurements show it as 9.5 x 12.6. How does it end up oblong? It never looks that way. Is that extra room just the catch tray? And is the tray removable?
Interesting...I'm really not sure where that 12.6" comes from from a 9.5" cylinder....
For either of you, when you're pulling lots of shots back to back do you ever experience what I described that the shots get tighter and tighter as you grind the first 5 or so? Could that just be the nature of stale beans still in the chute, even after a 7-8g purge? (I'd say it was the result of a diminishing hopper, but the same is repeatable whether I start the session with a full hopper or 1/3 hopper....loose first 2 shots, tight last 2 shots.)
I'm going to do some shopping around still. The K30's still on the list...but my K10 has spoiled me with shot quality and ease of adjustment so much that I hate to spent that much on just a flat burr grinder :) Even though it's no doubt far better than the K3.
I still have the K30, the K10 Fresh, and the Versalab M3 back on the list again. A lot about the Versalab appeals to me for the application. The slow speed and the fact that it would convince me to be lazy and use the K10 less than I'd want to doesn't :P I like not having to purge from it at all though. I've also heard both good and bad about the M3 in terms of reliability. I think they've worked out the kinks now...but still.
The K10 fresh would have to go on the other side of the room....next to the K10 WBC on the grinding table. That would be inconvenient. I just have to find out how bad the purge is from it, and if I could just throw two shots of coffee at a time into the chute via the hopper flap.
K30, ProM could go in my "morning grind station" next to the espresso machine. K10F, VL (with hopper) would have to go on the grinding bench with the K10.
VL has no purge at all, K30 you say has minimal purge. K10...purge unknown (less than regular K10 used with hopper I'm sure...but still a bigger loss no doubt.)
I don't know; I don't notice it. And FWIW, I've tossed beans down the throat and used my hand to eliminate "popcorning," as well as my usual practice of tossing (approx.) 125g into the hopper every two days . . .
. . . I hate to spent that much on just a flat burr grinder :) Even though it's no doubt far better than the K3.
Now, admittedly, I've never owned a "large conical" grinder, but I kind of think the difference between high-end flat and conical burrs may have more to do with flavor profile than quality. I don't want to open that can of worms up for debate*, but I've had "got shots" with the same beans from both conical and flat burrs, but the flavors are different . . . not better or worse, but emphasizing different aspects.
One last thought. Well, OK, two . . .
1) On paper, certainly, slow grind speed = higher quality, but I'm not sure how much of an issue heat transfer/build-up is in a home environment. Commercially, sure, but even pulling 4-5 doubles in a row, nothing seems "hot" to me.
2) You know as well as I do that there is no one perfect grinder for you, and that (in all probability) any of these grinders will serve you well. But the debate is part of the process, part of the journey, and something to be enjoyed!
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