Posted Sat Feb 16, 2013, 4:13pm Subject: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
I'm looking to upgrade very soon from my Baratza Vario to something more commercial and have narrowed it down to either the K30 Vario or K8 Fresh (I am disregarding the ~$150 price difference for this decision). I anticipate this to be my final upgrade for life, and for reasons unknown I have a preference for flat burrs.
The single most important features for me is grind retention, I just want to grind and tamp avoiding rituals (sweeping chute, purging lots of coffee, etc). Both grinders sound like they have very low retention, and I'm leaning more towards the K30 in this regard, though I don't know how the two specifically compare.
Both grinders sound like they meet the bill with grind quality, I just want to grind and tamp without any distribution rituals (nutation, wdt, etc). K30's grind speed is of great interest to me.
Aesthetics is a tough one, the K8 is by far the better looking machine, slender and tall with a nice 'futuristic' look. The K30 on the other hand looks like a mini-keg, short and fat. The K8's display is more to my liking as well. I can easily see either on my counter though.
Adjustments is a weird one for me. I know both models are are stepless, so that part of dialing in is not my concern, but rather what happens when I need to adjust finer. The K30 manual (unless I'm blind) makes no mention about going finer with beans in the hopper/burrs and running or not running. The K8 manual flat out states to empty it all out before going finer. I'm sure both could be adjusted while grinding, that's what I do with my baratza vario, but then the K30's superior grind speed means adjusting may lead to more wasted coffee. In the end, I suppose once dialed in, only the most minimal of adjustments are needed at best, so it wont be a big deal either way.
Experience, for lack of a better word seems like the K8 is relatively new to the market vs the K30 which has been around longer. With coffee, I'm not too interested in 'early adoption' as new models tend to get fixes and upgrades over it's first few generations. It seems like the K30 would be the safer bet in that regard, and perhaps may be easier to service and get replacement parts for should it be needed.
In the end I am leaning more towards the K30, though I would love to hear any input anyone has on these two grinders. I'm expecting to make my order as early as Sunday night. Thanks in advance :)
gearbolt Senior Member Joined: 9 Aug 2007 Posts: 39 Location: San Jose, CA Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3.0 Grinder: Mahlkonig K30 Vario Vac Pot: Kona Roaster: TBD
Posted Sat Feb 16, 2013, 10:23pm Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
First of all, I didn't use other quality espresso grinder before.
I got my K30 Vario for about one week. I LOVE IT.
I don't think you can adjust the grind on the fly. You need to loosen a lock nut before doing it and then relock it. If not, when it grinds, the adjust lid will be rotated to the right (the coarse direction).
My is short hopper version which is about the same height as my Duetto.
The grinder is quiet and fast and most important is the accuracy of the timer vs the weight. I measured the weight of my grinds 3 times today at different time and they are all the same, 16.5g in 3.3sec. My scale is only down to 0.1g resolution.
JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,598 Location: Berkeley, CA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -... Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -... Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup Drip: CCD, Chemex Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 8:25am Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
I've not used the Compak K8 Fresh, and so cannot comment on that machine other than to say the people who have the "higher end" Compak grinders (K8s and K10s) seem to be quite happy with them.
I have a Mahlkönig K30 Vario. I purchased it in 2009, directly from Mahlkönig when they were still based here in California, rather than in North Carolina (I believe). It was a trade show demo model, and so "lightly used" when I bought it. It is my primary home grinder.
After four years of daily use, I can honestly say I have absolutely no need, and little desire, to upgrade.
When I'm not traveling, my typical routine is to grind and pull 4-5 doubles every morning. (This is what happens when you have teenage kids who would stay up late doing homework, and would love to sleep until one in the afternoon!) The grinder has been completely trouble free, and has only needed routine maintenance (every so often I run some GRINDZ through it). The grind is consistent, fluffy, and the damn thing is fast! 15.5 grams in a little over 3 seconds.
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 8:17pm Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
Very interesting, I hadn't even put thought into the timed dosing consistency but that's a pretty important one. My Baratza Vario can fluctuate with timed dosing so I'd just gotten used to it (though it improved once they sent me a new metal pulley to replace the plastic one).
russel Senior Member Joined: 12 Mar 2010 Posts: 480 Location: Los Angeles Expertise: Professional
Espresso: Conti Princess 2grp, GS/3... Grinder: Super Caimanos x2, Forte BG,... Drip: V60, Kalita Wave, Clever,...
Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:15am Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
OK, so I owned a K8 Fresh for about a month before it went back in favor of a Nino. The Nino turned out to be too loud for my family, the timed grinding went out the window with less than 1/2 of bean in the hopper, and there was no pulse grinding to compensate. I now use a K30 Vario, Anfim Super Caimano, and a HG71. I agree that the adjustment on the K30 is super nice. I found the adjustment knob on the K8 Fresh great for fine adjustments (better than the K30) but not as nice for larger changes. I run through a very wide variety of coffee in a week and it's nice to be able to make "macro" adjustments easily (I'm dyslexic and can't connect the numbers on the K8 to different roasts/beans but can remember the position of the K30's little paddle). Neither has the ease of grind time adjustment that the Anfim has, so they are equally deficient on that point. In general the K8 Fresh is a more flexible grinder. It does timed dosing, it pulse grinds, and it will do a full on manual grind. I like the K8's PF holder more than the K30's. For my uses the K30 feels more "right", although I still hate adjusting the grind time. If all you want to do is fill the hopper full of you favorite espresso beans, I would go for the K8. If you have trouble with numbers and often find yourself jumping from a dark roast (by west coast standards) to a very light single origin, I would vote for the K30.
Also of note, the K30 is very height-customizable. Find the heigh you want, find a lid (Mazzer hopper lid, Mazzer doser lid, Compak hopper lid, whatever) that is a close fit, and then chop away. The whole thing can be brought down to a very reasonable height and still hold 12oz of beans easily.
On the on other hand, the little Compak Fresh hopper is really nice as is.
If you single dose...I would get a HGOne, maybe a Verslab (no first hand experience here), or wait a couple of months and see what crops up...
EDIT: You have to purge, get over it. Don't want to purge...single dose.
Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:52am Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
Thanks for the comparison, along with the other replies, it helped me make my final choice. Went ahead and placed an order for a K30.
I don't have to worry about height clearance, but went with the shorter hopper anyways. I usually keep about 1/4lb of coffee in the hopper. I roast half a pound every other day and while I tend to stick with a bean/profile that I like, I do experiment with different beans, blends, and roast profiles so sometimes I do jump around.
Posted Wed Feb 27, 2013, 1:09am Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
So I've had my new K30 for two days now and am quite impressed. It's grinding my 14g of coffee in exactly 3.0 seconds, which makes it possible to dose and tamp before my machine is even done with it's cooling flush. Ended up increasing the bar pressure on the machine so it can rebound faster and keep up. Played around with a few different tamping techniques with my VST basket and seems a nutation still brings out something in the coffee that just tastes best to me.
Two things I've noticed that I think are worth mentioning. The first is that despite having light roasted beans (full city+ range) I'm seeing clumping towards the end of the grind (not a problem in and of itself), and it grinds so fast a little bit will actually hit the coffee in the portafilter and bounce off onto the counter. I'm only dosing 14g of coffee into a 15g VST basket so I don't really have a tall mound overflowing the basket. If I went up to 16g (this basket is designed for 14-16g), I imagine a good bit more would bounce out of the basket and on the counter. Maybe the burrs just need a few good lbs of coffee to break them in, or maybe it's some kind of static thing.
The second thing I noticed is quite interesting to me. Back with my old Baratza Vario, starting a shot gets a normal stream going in maybe 3 seconds at most and remains mostly constant to the end. With the K30, It takes 9-12 seconds before I get any drip drip drip, and it eventually builds into a steady stream that thickens until it's blonding and ready to be cut at the 30 second range that I'm calibrated for. Tastes good, appropriate volume, beautiful tiger flecking, it's definitely not ground too fine. It's like my Rocket's E-61 is actually performing a pre-infusion for the first time ever (not that I have a problem with this). I wonder if this is a characteristic of the K30's grinding, or if this is a general characteristic for grinders at this price range.
I think at this point, my only regret would be aesthetic (I really do like the look of the K8). But, I don't ground retention doesn't seem to be a problem and I'm getting both the speed and convenience I desire. In and out of the kitchen with my drink in under 2 minutes, and happily going about my day.
Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 11:32am Subject: Re: K30 Vario vs K8 Fresh, trying to decide
Two things I've noticed that I think are worth mentioning. The first is that despite having light roasted beans (full city+ range) I'm seeing clumping towards the end of the grind (not a problem in and of itself
Well, IMO, a FC+ is definitely NOT a "light" roast. City/City plus, yes. In the espresso world, I suppose you could say a "full city" stopped before 2nd crack might apply. :>D
As regards clumping, many are now doing something called a "RDT", especially when single dosing. It involves lightly water sptritzing the beans before grinding. This eliminates static. Do at your own...and your burrs risk!
Hi Rob, I do not know the RTD but I think it should be the opposite regarding clumping because at high humidity clumping is more pronounced. My understanding is that high humidity=clumping, very low one=static.
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