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Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Grinder Upgrade...  
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Jun 2, 2013, 1:29am
Subject: Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
 

Hello everyone.

I've been reading numerous threads about slow speed, inconsistency, clumping and grounds retention produced by the Mazzer Mini E. Having experienced these issues
myself, I've been wondering if there is anything I can do to address these shortcomings or if I should just consider replacing this grinder with something else. It does the
job so far, my only beef with it is the difficulty of making fine grind adjustments and the inconsistency. I don't care about clumping and I can live with the 19 seconds it takes
to grind 17 grams.

So, I'm wondering a few things:

  1. I can't get a definite answer on what I should expect if I remove the screen. Some people say it works better with it off, others say don't do it.
    I live in a very very dry environment, so I'm a little concerned about static electricity. I'm also worried this mod could decrease the value of the grinder.

  2. Is an upgrade to Super Jolly burrs worth it? What are the caveats I should expect by doing this? Is this just a bad idea or a great cheap upgrade?

  3. If I do decide to sell this grinder and trade up, what can I expect to get for this grinder in it's current state? I've owned it for 5 months,
    it still makes great coffee and it has a lot of life left in it. The counter only reads about 875. I paid $1100 for it new.

  4. If I do decide to go "The next step up", what should I be considering? The Mahlkonig K30 and the Compak K8 Fresh look like a decent step up.
    I can't believe how fast the K30 is, in comparison to my Mazzer. The Compak K10 fresh may be a little outside of my budget, depending on how much
    I can get for my Mazzer. Are there any comparisons or opinions people may have about this?

Thanks everyone.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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OttoMatic
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 78
Location: Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario,...
Drip: Capresso MT500+
Roaster: Cast iron dutch oven
Posted Sun Jun 2, 2013, 6:12am
Subject: Re: Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
 

qualin Said:

Hello everyone.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Hey, Bud.  I've been pretty vocal about this lately.  My intention is to save potential buyers from going through the same frustration I did.  I expect you've seen some of my responses and comments here as well as at H-B, but you have some slightly different questions here that I'll give a go with...

qualin Said:

I've been reading numerous threads about slow speed, inconsistency, clumping and grounds retention produced by the Mazzer Mini E. Having experienced these issues myself, I've been wondering if there is anything I can do to address these shortcomings or if I should just consider replacing this grinder with something else. It does the job so far, my only beef with it is the difficulty of making fine grind adjustments and the inconsistency. I don't care about clumping and I can live with the 19 seconds it takes to grind 17 grams.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

In the end, I decided that the issues were annoying enough that I'd just replace it.  I actually had an RMA from SCG within the 30-day return window, but effectively convinced myself that I shouldn't worry so much about gear.  Besides, a new guitar or new tennis racquet never actually did anything to improve my skills, so why should new coffee gear?  I've thought about it a bit more, and I think the difference is that I rely more on my coffee gear than I do on a guitar or a tennis racquet.  The latter two require more skill from me, whereas many people would consider my skills (the "mano") the least important thing in making fine espresso.  In any case, it did make a difference in the process and in the cup.  And if you do to a faster grinder, you wouldn't want to go back (unless it made terribly superior coffee, I suppose).

qualin Said:

I can't get a definite answer on what I should expect if I remove the screen. Some people say it works better with it off, others say don't do it. I live in a very very dry environment, so I'm a little concerned about static electricity. I'm also worried this mod could decrease the value of the grinder.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

I also live in a very dry climate -- the front range of Colorado, where citizens are actually required to carry two liters of water with them at all times, and we drink hand lotion to hydrate our skin!  Yeah, it's dry, especially in the winter.  I cut the screen out carefully, using a razor to simply slice around the shape of it without tearing up all the tape into a sticky mess.  If you haven't seen how it's installed in other threads, they basically just use a piece of foamy tape to stick it right to the back of the dosing cone.  I think you can buy a new screen & piece of tape from Mazzer for a small sum, so you could put it back to almost new if you didn't like the result.  In my case, there was enough sticky on the tape around the screen itself that I just stuck it back on place and put the machine back together.  The force of the dosing funnel being screwed to the rest of the machine holds it in place such that it doesn't move around and from the front, it looks like nothing ever happened.  When I told the buyer that I'd done this, he didn't flinch or ask any questions.  I just told him that it worked like new and that was the truth.  So, I don't think it necessarily decreased the value of the machine.

Now, what to expect...  Clumps are essentially gone (or 90% gone).  The clumping seems to happen as the coffee builds up behind the screen, and is then pushed through said screen.  I believe that the clumping also contributes to the uneven distribution, and thereby uneven pulls, as evidenced when using a bottomless PF.  So, there's improvement in distribution, and WDT (which I always considered mandatory w/ the Mini-E) is much easier & quicker.  I still did WDT in the yogurt cup, though.  Why?  Because without the screen, there's significant static, and I felt like I had to use the yogurt cup to catch the mess.  The static then makes a clingy mess within the yogurt cup, so you have to scrape everything off the walls and do WDT at that point.  Worse than that is the buildup you get on the inside of the dosing funnel.  Instead of being pushed through the screen and falling in the cone, the grinds now launch out of the exit chute and fly against the opposite side of the dosing funnel.  They build up in there and stick to the side, and I would constantly swipe it out with the supplied brush.  I ended up leaving the top of the dosing funnel off most of the time, which might be a bit worse for you, as it sounds like you have the Mini-E Type A.  And of course there are staticy grinds stuck to the outside of the dosing funnl at the bottom.

I tried to resolve the launching (and hopefully the static) issues by putting in pieces of toilet paper roll to control direction, pieces of aluminum foil to slide grinds this way or that, etc.  Nothing really worked, and I didn't want to spend any more time with it so I just put it back together and decided to sell it.

qualin Said:

Is an upgrade to Super Jolly burrs worth it? What are the caveats I should expect by doing this? Is this just a bad idea or a great cheap upgrade?

Posted June 2, 2013 link

I didn't try this because I didn't think it would fix all the problems.  I understand it makes things a bit faster, but I don't see how it will fix the clumping and retention problems, since I believe they are directly related to the screen.  Perhaps they result in a slightly better grind and therefore a better shot in the cup, but I wouldn't count on it.  I doubt it'd make much difference in the way the timers work, and you'll still get different grind mass per timers.  

qualin Said:

If I do decide to sell this grinder and trade up, what can I expect to get for this grinder in it's current state? I've owned it for 5 months,
it still makes great coffee and it has a lot of life left in it. The counter only reads about 875. I paid $1100 for it new.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Well, I had the Rocket branded model because I liked the polished finish.  I bought it in Jan 2013, and sold it in March 2013 (something like that; didn't have it for long, that's for sure!).  I paid $799 shipped to my house from SCG.  I believe prices have since risen.  I think I sold it for $600 inclusive of shipping.  This was all within the US, and all US$.  So I lost about $US225 since I paid for shipping on the way out.  Just kinda had to eat that one.  I actually probably could have waited it out and either sold it locally or waited for $700 or so, but I took the first guy up on his offer and moved it out.  

qualin Said:

If I do decide to go "The next step up", what should I be considering? The Mahlkonig K30 and the Compak K8 Fresh look like a decent step up.
I can't believe how fast the K30 is, in comparison to my Mazzer. The Compak K10 fresh may be a little outside of my budget, depending on how much
I can get for my Mazzer. Are there any comparisons or opinions people may have about this?

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Well, as you probably read, I have the K30 Vario.  Bought it used for $US1K and it works like new.  At this point, I have zero complaints.  Well, other than the hopper is way too big for home use, and no one has the short hopper in stock.  I'm going to cut down the original hopper one of these days, and everything will be fine.  That's not a real complaint, though.  I also can't believe how fast the K30 is compared to the Mini-E, especially since it's so much more accurate in the grind mass that results after the programmed time.  I rarely measure the mass on a scale anymore, since I know I can trust the K30 to pruduce the right amount into the basket.  I can also get everything into the basket with zero mess if I pause in the middle of the grind and tap things down.  If I just let it dump it all into the basket, a bit of grind will spill, but probably < 0.5g.  

I'm not sure the K8 is in the same class, but I haven't researched it.  I'd think they K10 Fresh is a closer competitor to the K30 Vario.  I got into all this stuff based on some recommendations from a friend that's does commercial shop setups.  He does the design, install, etc. for coffee shops and knows the machines.  He'd recommended the K10 Fresh to me, but I went with the Mini-E instead.  He has since said that the K10 was unreliable and clumpy, and some other complaints and said he wouldn't use them.  I have no first hand experience with those machines and like any of us, I don't have the time and budget to buy and test every machine.  But, I'd go with his recommendation and look for something else.

I don't know if I've ever seen a thread with complaints about the K30 Vario.  The only possible question mark on the K30 is its reliability and its repairability.  I'm not sure how readily parts are and I'm not sure of breakdown frequency.

That's all I have for now.  Have a nice day.

Thanks everyone.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 653
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Jun 2, 2013, 6:30pm
Subject: Re: Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
 

OttoMatic Said:

Hey, Bud.  I've been pretty vocal about this lately.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Hey, thanks for the response, I appreciate it!

OttoMatic Said:

My intention is to save potential buyers from going through the same frustration I did.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

In some ways, I'm kind of regretting not doing more research. Everyone I spoke to recommended the quality and durability of the Mazzer grinders and
I certainly don't doubt that at all. It was within my budget for a grinder at the time when I bought it.

OttoMatic Said:

In any case, it did make a difference in the process and in the cup.  And if you do to a faster grinder, you wouldn't want to go back (unless it made terribly superior coffee, I suppose).

Posted June 2, 2013 link

The Mazzer produces a far better cup than my old Rocky did and I really feel the upgrade was really worth it. Part of me is wondering, like you said, if any further upgrade will make any difference.
I can certainly tell you that I feel that if I upgraded from my Duetto to a GS/3, I probably wouldn't notice any difference in the cup.

OttoMatic Said:

I understand it makes things a bit faster, but I don't see how it will fix the clumping and retention problems,

Posted June 2, 2013 link

From my point of view, the only reason for upgrading to Super Jolly burrs is to speed up the grinder, that's pretty much it. My only worry is the load on the motor. Since I only make about three cups of
coffee a day, maybe going up to six or seven when I have company over, I think it may not be a worry, but it does make me wonder.

OttoMatic Said:

I think I sold it for $600 inclusive of shipping.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

OK, so basically about 60 percent of what I bought it for is reasonable then. For me, that's about $400 hit. Well, as you can understand, I'm a little leery about selling these things over the border so I'll
see if I can consider selling it locally first, but FIRST I'll consider saving my pennies as the price difference is a little steep.. New K30's sell for $1800 here, so unless I can find one used, that's a $1200 difference.

OttoMatic Said:

Well, other than the hopper is way too big for home use, and no one has the short hopper in stock.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Is the diameter of the mouth of the K30 different than the Mini? It makes me wonder if one couldn't just buy an OEM Mazzer Hopper?

OttoMatic Said:

I rarely measure the mass on a scale anymore,

Posted June 2, 2013 link

I admit that it is a nice feature to not have to weigh EVERY shot which I grind. That's a big selling point, no fuss no muss in the morning!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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OttoMatic
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 78
Location: Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Brewtus IV-R
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario,...
Drip: Capresso MT500+
Roaster: Cast iron dutch oven
Posted Sun Jun 2, 2013, 8:35pm
Subject: Re: Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
 

qualin Said:

In some ways, I'm kind of regretting not doing more research. Everyone I spoke to recommended the quality and durability of the Mazzer grinders and I certainly don't doubt that at all. It was within my budget for a grinder at the time when I bought it.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Exactly the same scenario for me.  My friend even has a Mini-E and it was the first real grinder I ever saw in action.

qualin Said:

Part of me is wondering, like you said, if any further upgrade will make any difference.
I can certainly tell you that I feel that if I upgraded from my Duetto to a GS/3, I probably wouldn't notice any difference in the cup.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Well, the primary difference to me in taste is that it's more consistent and creamy.  To be honest, it's not night and day -- more like a night and a summer evening, if you will.  The Mini-E is 85 or 90% of the way there...   In addition to improved taste, there are all the convenience factors that mean a lot to me personally.  I agree that I also probably wouldn't notice a difference if I upgraded my Brewtus to a GS/3.  As you have probably had, I've drunk espresso, americanos and lattes from real coffee shops with very real espresso machines.  The stuff I'm making at home is entirely competitive with them, and mine is even better if the barista isn't paying attention or something else is off.  In general, from day to day, I feel that I'm extremely consistent -- and the grinder has a lot to do with that.  When I had the Mini-E, I ended up fiddling around a lot more than I do now.  With the K30, I don't have to tweak for aging beans much.  I don't have to play with the timers much (maybe +/- 0.1 seconds here or there).  Sorry, I'm going on again.  I don't mean to be a K30 fanboy, but I do appreciate the machine.



qualin Said:

From my point of view, the only reason for upgrading to Super Jolly burrs is to speed up the grinder, that's pretty much it. My only worry is the load on the motor. Since I only make about three cups of coffee a day, maybe going up to six or seven when I have company over, I think it may not be a worry, but it does make me wonder.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

I probably wouldn't worry about it, but doesn't the Mini-E have some duty cycle requirement like 30 seconds on followed by 60 seconds off?  Something like that, right?  I don't remember the details, but it seemed a bit lame to me.  Of course, given Mazzer's reputation, I would totally ignore that.  I mean, I wouldn't grind a pound of coffee non-stop for some weird reason, but if I wanted to run it for a minute straight, I would.  I've lined up a triple and a double for back to back pulls, so it's probable that I've violated that rule already.  If the SJ burrs put it under more load on a regular basis, perhaps I'd have to give it a little more though.  Of course, many people have done that change, and I haven't heard much complaining about motor failure, so .......


qualin Said:

OK, so basically about 60 percent of what I bought it for is reasonable then

Posted June 2, 2013 link

60% seems a bit low; I'd hope more like around 75%.  It shouldn't be hard to move that machine if you're even slightly patient.  

qualin Said:

New K30's sell for $1800 here, so unless I can find one used, that's a $1200 difference.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Keep an eye out for used as well.  They're definitely not as common as Mazzers, but they do come around.  Or, you could always sell your car -- this is coffee we're talking about here.

qualin Said:

Is the diameter of the mouth of the K30 different than the Mini? It makes me wonder if one couldn't just buy an OEM Mazzer Hopper?

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Yeah, I tried exactly that, and I still have my Mazzer short hopper.  The Mazzer hopper will sit there and you can use it, but it doesn't fit right and doesn't lock down.  If the wind blows or you look at it wrong, it will tip over and fall off.  The K30 hopper throat is much larger and it has three notches that fit into pins in the neck of the grinder.  From there, you rotate the hopper ~1cm clockwise to lock it into place.  There are no set screws that you can use to hold a Mazzer short hopper in place.  I guess you could build up the throat of the Mazzer short hopper with a material of some sort and make it a friction fit.  Since I can't buy the Mahlkonig short hopper at the moment, I just moved the grinder to a counter that has no cabinet above it, and I'm using the full sized hopper.  There's a machine/fab shop at work that should be able to cut it down, but I just need to line that up.  I plan on cutting it to size such that it will fit a plastic lid from a Tupperware type thing.  I would prefer to just have the official Mahlkonig short hopper.

qualin Said:

I admit that it is a nice feature to not have to weigh EVERY shot which I grind. That's a big selling point, no fuss no muss in the morning!

Posted June 2, 2013 link

Yeah, if you're plumbed in, it's along those lines -- ultra convenient, and you'd never want to go back.
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russel
Senior Member
russel
Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 438
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: 73' Cremina, '74 Club,...
Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,...
Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Sun Jun 2, 2013, 9:37pm
Subject: Re: Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
 

OttoMatic Said:

Since I can't buy the Mahlkonig short hopper at the moment, I just moved the grinder to a counter that has no cabinet above it, and I'm using the full sized hopper.  There's a machine/fab shop at work that should be able to cut it down, but I just need to line that up.  I plan on cutting it to size such that it will fit a plastic lid from a Tupperware type thing.  I would prefer to just have the official Mahlkonig short hopper.

Posted June 2, 2013 link

I actually don't like the Mahlkoenig short hopper, it doesn't look good or compliment the grinder's design in any way (also the last time I purchased parts from Mahlkoenig they didn't have an ETA for finding a new supplier).  The nice thing about the stock Mahlkoenig hopper is that it can be cut to fit a wide variety of lids.  I cut mine down to fit a spare Compak hopper lid I had lying around.   I think it fit about 1 1/2 lbs.  If you wanted smaller you could use a Mazzer small hopper lid or maybe a Mazzer doser lid.  You can do it yourself or have someone do it, but either way it's quick, easy, and works for a wide range of hopper heights/lid diameters.

I would caution anyone about buying these guys used online.  They are a little over engineered and a lot more delicate than they look.  I've had 2 damaged past the point of reasonable/cost-effective repair thanks to poor packaging and the incompetence of my local UPS personel.  Scope out a local one if you can, or get in touch with Mahlkoenig's Canadian office to see if they have any demo models that they need to get rid of.  If you can fit it into your budget it's a wonderful grinder that's quite unique in it's ergonomics a real pleasure to use.
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Flori
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Apr 2013
Posts: 114
Location: USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jun 3, 2013, 3:09am
Subject: Re: Grinder Upgrade - Retrofit or replace?
 

finally, a post about issues with Mazzer Mini E. I have been trying to check on this grinder and glad to have come upon this. defenite must read :).

flori
blogger, coffeeloversofworld.com
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