If stepped grinding is your preferred method, Macap M4 is your machine. Blow the cobwebs off your wallet and buy it, and you will never have those nagging doubts wondering if you could have done better.
Positive Product Points
The Macap is satisfying on so many levels; it is at once beautiful and supremely capable. It is very easy to find the “sweet spot” for consistent and repeatable “penultimate” espresso shots and then switch to coarser grinds for drip or press pot. This is a machine that will satisfy the most discerning coffee aficionado.
Negative Product Points
None so far.
Macap M4 or Mazzer Mini? You may be asking yourself the same question. You can‘t go wrong with either, and I’m very satisfied w/the Macap. The following are my non-technical impressions and observations of the Macap M4 after using it for a couple of weeks.
The Macap is a considerably weighty machine, approx 22 pounds, and packed solidly in it’s shipping box. I wrestled it out of it’s cardboard cocoon and with the help of my strapping teen-aged son, hoisted the Macap to it’s new home on my kitchen counter. The Macap was an upgrade from a Solis Maestro, so with giddy anticipation my first impression echoed in my thoughts “this has GOT to be overkill”.
The hopper is a substantial smokey colored plastic with a 1.3 pound bean capacity and finger guard. A feature that I really like is the hopper trap at the bottom of the hopper. The trap allows a hopper that contains beans to be removed without spilling when you want to switch to another variety of coffee. You simply remove the hopper, open the trap over the container you wish to deposit the beans into, and replace the hopper. I’ve forgotten on occasion to re-open the trap after re-filling, and was quickly reminded after hearing the hollow sound of the empty grinder at full speed.
The beauty of this machine is worth a special mention. Mine is chrome, and looks quite impressive alongside my Isomac Tea.
Adjusting this grinder is very easy, especially for someone who is not particularly mechanically inclined. It has stepped grinding, which means each incremental step on the grinding collar has a corresponding notch, which you can click in to in order to set the grind. This makes honing in on your favorite grind for espresso, drip or press pot very easy once you discover it. I suggest having several pounds of inexpensive beans on hand while discover your settings. Initially I ground my way through several pounds of my home roast (the good stuff), which I ended up giving away to a grateful friend.
Now that I have found the right setting for espresso I am able to produce shots that begin with a nice mouse tail stream followed by a beautiful Guinness effect with tiger striping. But when I try to go one step finer I choked my machine. I could get a decent shot going a step or two coarser, but not as good as that “sweet spot”.
This may be elementary to those reading this review, but I had to learn it by trial and error: When you adjust the grind, going from coarser to finer, you have to have the machine turned on. Which leads me to the on/off switch. There is a plastic cover over the toggle-type switch, which I presume is to protect the grinder from coffee dust entering at that point. There is no timer on this machine, so you do have to keep an eye on it, lest you grind more than you can use at once. I’ve found that if I turn the machine on and count to “9” I can get just the right amount of coffee for a double.
The Macap has a dosing chamber that collects the ground coffee. A small lever is activated to empty the grinds into the pf. A small amount of coffee is left in the doser and it is necessary to sweep it out when you are done with your grinding session. Sweeping the chamber after dosing is not a problem, probably most coffee-geeks enjoy the ritual, as I do, but the process isn’t entirely efficient. There is a small tupperware-like plate that fits under the portafilter fork to gather the stray grinds. It is useful, but not fully sufficient to keep all stray grinds off the counter.
The Macap comes with a tamper that can be attached to the front of the dosing chamber. This is a superfluous item that is probably going to be of no use to anyone who loves coffee enough to buy a grinder at this price point. I have the Reg Barber tamper and didn’t even bother with the attachable tamper.
The portafilter forks are quite serviceable. The design makes it very easy to turn the pf to aim the grinds in the general vicinity of where you want them to land in basket.
I got a good deal on the chrome version of the Macap M4 from Chris’s Coffee since I ordered it with an espresso machine. I placed my order on Monday, the Fed-ex man delivered on Thursday! I thought that was pretty incredible, and I was very happy to get delivery so quickly. I have had no problems with the grinder whatsoever, though I was assured by Chris’s coffee that they were just a phone call away if I needed any help, but so far I haven’t needed it.
Three Month Followup
After three months of use, I'm more than satisfied w/ my Macap. There have been a couple instances where I've inadvertently let go of the grinding collar while adjusting the grind, and it got away from me. In these cases, I completely unscrewed the collar and reset it. It took a little finagling to get it reset just right, but once I found the right setting, my Macap continues to work like a charm. Another aspect of this machine I am appreciating more over time is the aesthetics. This machine is beautiful, eye catching, and never fails to elicit compliments from my guests. I use this machine daily, and it was well worth the investment. While I've long forgotten the initial investment, everyday I continue to appreciate the luxury of this machine's superb function, and it's stylish, beautiful form.
One Year Followup
No regrets, the grinder is going strong, no problems to report. This grinder works very well and rounds out my home coffee roasting/espresso experience very nicely.