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Compak K3 or better grinder?
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Compak K3 or...  
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sharky
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sharky
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 182
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Compak K3 Touch
Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 9:24am
Subject: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

I presently have the K3 grinder but am thinking of upgrading!  I am looking at a $1500+- ceiling cap.  Any recommendations from those with better grinders? Will I taste a significant difference in the cup to justify the cost or not? I saw a K10 for sale and that looks like an good choice!  I am making 2-3 espresso shots & 2 latte drinks each day.
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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,354
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 10:02am
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

K10 will be noticeably better, thats titan conical level. Even a Baratza Vario will outperform a K3 in the cup. If you don't mind hand grinding there's the HG-One for about 1k as well, I'm a single doser so the HG-One would be my go, but thats just me.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 10:44am
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

Compak K-10PB is king of the hill when it comes to conical, dosered, Titans at their $1500, everywhere on the web, "discount" price.  At least I can't think of anything which comes close in that category.  

Titan, Conical, (Doserless) Electronic Walk-Up:
You can get a Ceado E-92 for significantly less than the $2K list if you call WLL and negotiate with their head of sales, Mark Jackson, for a best price.  I'm not going to handicap either party, but significantly less than $1800 for sure.  

The K-10 Fresh is going for $2K everywhere.  I believe SCG offers a 10% discount on everything if you sign up for the e-mail list.  Call that $1800.

You can't make the other performance-competitive conical walk-up -- the Robur E -- price competitive no matter how much you negotiate.  It's $2500 street.  

Titan Conical Single-Dose Manual
HG-One.  $945 with 83mm TiN burrs; or about $1100 with the necessary accessories, when everything's said and done.

Titan Flat Burrs, Dosered and Walk-Up:
Some fairly impressive people think flat burrs are better than conicals for SO, and conicals better than flats for blends.  I don't buy it... but thought you didn't have enough to agonize over so thought it worth mentioning.

Plenty of highly competitive doserless walk-up and dosered big flat burr grinders in and even a little below you price range.   I like the Ceado E37s, Compak K-8, Compak K-8 Fresh, and Mazzer Royal ($1800 internet price, but remember, WLL negotiates) in terms of what I've heard about the grinders and know about the brands, but have never used them.

There's a pro consensus that the Anfim Supercaimano ($1700 at Pima) is EXCELLENT in spite of the facts that it's stepped and noisy as hell.  

I've had some experience with the Mahlkonig K30 Vario, and it's a great grinder.

Cutting to the chase, if I were open to flats for espresso, knowing what I know about Ceado (more later) I'd take a chance on the E37s.

Personal Experience:
For the last three years I've been using a La Cimbali Junior Max-Hybrid; and have used the Compak K-10 Fresh, Compak K-10 PB, Mahlkonig K-30 Vario and Mazzer Robur E enough, recently enough, to have a pretty good idea as to what they're about.  

I bought and have been using a Ceado E92 for the last couple of weeks; and have been blogging it on H-B.  At this stage of the game, I think its only real competition for "in the cup" performance are the Mazzer Roburs.  (The Robur E is $2500, and the Robur -- with doser, without electronics -- is $2000.)  

The Ceado, both K-10s and both Roburs are extremely well built -- but slight edge to the Ceado because it's so quiet and the silky feel of the grind adjuster.  On the other hand (well both hands, and don't forget to bend your knees) the Robur E at 30kg is a great deal heavier than either the E92's and Fresh's 17kg.  

Compared to the Compaks, both K-10s have slightly better ergonomics and are slightly neater dosers.  However, the Ceado is no slouch in those categories.  The Ceado is VERY easy to clean in that you can remove the top burr without losing your grind setting.  The E92 gives better mouthfeel than the K-10s -- and is equal to the Robur.  In the other "in the cup" categories of high notes, low notes, separation and nuance the E92 hits me as slightly better than the K-10s as well; again, equal to the Roburs.  

But Caveat, Caveat, Caveat:
(A) It's been too long since I've used a K-10 to be sure about that judgment;
(B) Used them all with Klatch WBE, but never the same roast;
(C) To the extent those distinctions exist at all they are miniscule; and
(D) I don't trust my own judgment about anything that subtle given inevitable "just bought one" bias.      

Bottom Line:
I just went through a very similar decision process, but mine may have skewed a bit more towards "final piece of the puzzle," and less towards budget.  It's hard so say, especially since so many of us are inured to the inevitable nature of budget creep, and pitch our initial budgets accordingly.  But -- while I thought about it as the "for sure" answer -- I never seriously considered pulling the trigger on a Robur E.  So same deal, basically.  

It's a lot of money, and you wouldn't be human if you didn't worry whether spending it would make a difference commensurate with the expense.  Any "Titan" grinder will be a huge frikkin' improvement over the K3.  Don't even worry about it.  And $1500, even if that's the absolute limit, is more than enough so that you don't have to sacrifice ergonomics, ease of use, and all that stuff for performance, as you would with -- say -- a Fiorenzato Doge Conico or Quamar T48.  So again, don't sweat it.

FWIW, I'd buy the Ceado again.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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sharky
Senior Member
sharky
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 182
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Compak K3 Touch
Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 11:26am
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

Thanks, BDL for all your info.  I noticed the K10 has been sold so that takes it off the list . . .   I have seen good reviews on the Baratza Forte.  However, it is sooooo small in stature, I find it hard to believe it is a serious espresso contender in the $1000 range. I may be wrong, as looks can be deceiving, no??  Owners may chime in with their opinions . . .  And others with the K6 or better may chime in with their evaluations on the higher end Compak models.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 11:44am
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

Forte in the $1000 range -- as always -- Compared to What?

The Forte is super clean, no grind retention, no clump, great electronics, built-in scale, etc., etc.  It wins on convenience and user friendliness by a great deal.   You can also find them for around $700 if you look.    

"In the cup" is something else.  It's new on the market, still very early days, and early adopters tend to be enthusiastic, but my guess is that equally well-made grinders with bigger burr sets will show themselves superior because they have... wait for it... bigger burr sets.

At $1K there are trade-offs which aren't there at $1.5K.  What are your priorities?  What are you willing to sacrifice?  The Forte is a great choice if it checks your boxes; and not so good if it doesn't.  You could say the same thing about a Mazzer Major.  

If you're willing to spend $1500 and are seriously interested in a K-10, you can get the K-10PB just about anywhere.  A lot of knowledgeable people who could use anything -- including both Mark Prince and Dan Kehn -- chose them.  What can you say?  Great choice.  

If what you really want is a doserless grinder with "walk-up" electronics, there are some very good, flat burr options in the $1K range; but "very good" isn't "excellent," and they aren't Titans.  Having gone from a near-Titan/Titan grinder which did extremely well in the "Beat the Robur" comparison -- I'm very sensitive to the differences between very good, excellent and awesome.  

Go for awesome,
BDL
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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
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Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 2:14pm
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

Just throwing it out there.  I don;t have hands on this model but there a Compak K8 on sale at Chris coffee for $121 off.
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sharky
Senior Member
sharky
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 182
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Compak K3 Touch
Posted Thu Feb 6, 2014, 1:14pm
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

Thanks for the link, Burner0000.  It looks like a great grinder!  Does anyone have knowledge of taste differences between conical burrs (K10) vs flat burrs (K8).  Is one truly better than the other or just a lot of hype?
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Feb 6, 2014, 2:24pm
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

sharky Said:

Does anyone have knowledge of taste differences between conical burrs (K10) vs flat burrs (K8).  Is one truly better than the other or just a lot of hype?

Posted February 6, 2014 link

Let's start with:
  1. I've never (at least not that I'm aware) had coffee ground from a K-8; and
  2. "Better" is a loaded term, and doesn't really apply.  It's more a question of which grinder is more likely to deliver what you most want.  

With that out of the way...
A lot of people (me included) find a generic difference -- everything else being equal -- between big flats and big conicals.  

The conical signature is a balanced more towards high-note sparkle, like fruits and florals, and less towards low-notes like chocolate, nuts, etc.  Big conicals are better at nuance and separation.  Flats are more about comfort food.  

Someone who sells a lot of grinders to commercial operations said that some baristas prefer conicals for blends and flats for SOs, but I think that "some baristas" might have been "one barista" who was thinking out loud rather than expressing a consensus or even an opinion based on focused tasting.  At least, I've never heard anyone else express the thought.  

I don't know if I've ever tasted coffee pulled from a really big flat (e.g., 83mm), but have had plenty from fairly big flats (K-30, Kony and Major), rate them as roughly equal to my old La Cimbali Jr. Max-Hybrid (could it have more names?).  I think the Ceado E92, Compak K-10 and Robur are all at least as good on the low end and significantly better in every other way for blends and SOs; and the E92 and Robur are both way better for mouthfeel.  That's a very personal take though, and no-doubt greatly influenced by enthusiasm/bias for my recently purchased E92.    

The Kony is a step better, while the Anfim Super Caimano, Ceado E37s, Compak K-8, Macap M7D, and Mazzer Royal are a giant step ahead of the Major. You don't hear much other than admiration for the K-30 despite the fact that it's burr set is a mere 65mm in diameter.  I like the K-30 quite a bit, at least as much as the Kony; but as I already said don't like either nearly as much as the E92 or Robur.

No matter how you slice it, when you get to this level you're talking about a lot of money and nothing but great grinders.  I think compromising on your choice to save 10% is a false economy; but no matter which great grinder you buy, it's going to be a great grinder.  Confusing, isn't it?

I hope this adds at least a little something other than confusion,
BDL
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,947
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Feb 6, 2014, 2:36pm
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

boar_d_laze Said:

I don't know if I've ever tasted coffee pulled from a really big flat (e.g., 83mm), but have had plenty from fairly big flats (K-30, Kony and Major)

Posted February 6, 2014 link

huh? Am I reading this wrong?

K-30: 65mm flat (as you mention further down in your post)
Kony: 63mm conical (or 67mm, if you get a 3 phase)
Major: 83mm flat

and what further makes the selection process between different commercial class grinders is the fact that many experts, tout the differences between flat and conical, and then go off and make comparisons between different subgroups - according to their taste - yet include both flats and conicals in at least one of those subgroups.

I think the bottom line is (as Rich indicated at the end of his post) all of the commercial grinders are going to freakin' rock!.  You need to find one that fits your style, space, functionality, etc...and cross your dam# fingers after shelling out $1-2k.

What I did, was read, read, read...manuals, threads, specs, sales ads at the sites I'd most potentially buy from, reviews I could find.  Then, I made a table comparing the grinders still in the mix.  Then, I sent that list out to a few guys asking the questions I hadn't be able to find the answers to, some of the intangibles, and truth be told, some of my questions were very open ended.  I summarized and sorted through the replies, etc and thought really hard about what I love about my Macaps, and what I wished for in a big commercial beast, and finally made a decision. I hope I'm happy with it, but only time will tell, as I haven't even gotten the chance to use it yet.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Feb 6, 2014, 3:35pm
Subject: Re: Compak K3 or better grinder?
 

emradguy Said:

huh? Am I reading this wrong?

Posted February 6, 2014 link

Nah.  I was just fertummelt.

...and cross your dam# fingers after shelling out $1-2k.

+1

What I did, was read, read, read...manuals, threads, specs, sales ads at the sites I'd most potentially buy from, reviews I could find.  Then, I made a table comparing the grinders still in the mix.  Then, I sent that list out to a few guys asking the questions I hadn't be able to find the answers to, some of the intangibles, and truth be told, some of my questions were very open ended.  I summarized and sorted through the replies, etc and thought really hard about what I love about my Macaps, and what I wished for in a big commercial beast, and finally made decision.

Great approach.

I hope I'm happy with it, but only time will tell, as I haven't even gotten the chance to use it yet.

Enjoy!

BDL
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