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Rising popularity of EK43s in cafés

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  • Rising popularity of EK43s in cafés

    Any thoughts on the rising use of EKs in cafés here. Sure, they're only used in a very small number of cafés, but it does seem that some of the top end places in Melbourne are switching over, or at least using them alongside Roburs. (Proud Mary for one)

    Perhaps the trend was given a boost by Matt Perger in WBC last year, although from memory he was using a coarser grind for his espresso.

    So do these cafés consider it a better grinder? Or are they still using Roburs as their main production grinders and just using EKs for SOs or non-espresso drinks?

  • #2
    It is a better grinder in some aspects, depends on what your preference is. It's mainly the workflow and the steep learning curve that stops cafes from using it. According to the 3FE video it takes over 50secs to load a group handle.
    Matt made it famous but it has been used in a few specialty cafes for a while already. It's about pushing the boundaries and trying something different.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by hyperwave View Post
      It is a better grinder in some aspects, depends on what your preference is. It's mainly the workflow and the steep learning curve that stops cafes from using it. According to the 3FE video it takes over 50secs to load a group handle.
      Matt made it famous but it has been used in a few specialty cafes for a while already. It's about pushing the boundaries and trying something different.
      Yes...its about pushing the boundaries but not necessarily in the way that you think. Its pushing the boundaries in the image marketing and wow factor stakes and its working, because these things get picked up in places like CS, and then everyone is talking about it/, placing something that no one has ever heard of before (in retail end coffee), on everyone's lips.

      Pumping out volume in a busy cafe, this grinder would be murder to work with. As a secondary where it will get little use, no worries, but there are any number of other, less "wow" looking grinders that can do the job well. Its got "the look" of an old style grinder and can impress, despite that its not designed or intended for cafe use.

      Some coffee suppliers pick up on this and will use the equipment to snag new clients (eg "...look, so and so big name cafe in Fitzroy or wherever uses this fantastic grinder in their cafe. If you come on board with us, we will supply you with one of those....).

      Too often people in these places think its all about the coffee when in fact, its all about the image. Present a good marketable or avante garde image, and the coffee will sell, in many cases regardless of whats in the cup.

      From my point of view then wrt to the topic at hand, its nothing more than the latest trend in the making and the importers and manufacturers of the model can expect to see an increase in sales volumes at least in the short term.

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      • #4
        Yes the EK43 was and still is originally made as a retail coffee grinder. I have read most of the studies done on the grind particle that is produced by the EK and personally have used and drank coffee from it. The flavors that is produced is a lot clearer and is a lot cleaner than from a Robur E.

        You said there is other grinders that don't look that good but equally as good at grinding, what grinders are those??

        As for marketing gimmicks, suppliers have used that trick for a very long time and will never use the EK as one of them because it's normally used in speciality coffee only but the biggest reason is that there is little to no wastage with the EK. 20gm in 20gm out and if the grind setting is not exactly right, change it and the next dose is changed. This means about 20% to 30% savings on coffee and would mean better fresher coffee for customers but buying less coffee from suppliers.

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        • #5
          I find your comments on the cynical side TOK, given Matt Perger's fastidious approach to coffee making, I find it hard to accept that he would choose the grinder for its 'image' or 'wow factor' or any other commercial interests. I'm sure he did his research and found it to be a superior grinder. You say its not practical in a commercial environment but thats only in the context of what you consider to be the commercial ideal, eg 'pumping out coffee' in the Italian way. When really the industry is moving towards slower and higher quality coffee production. Look at filter coffee for example, i'm happy to pay $6-$8 for a good quality filter coffee if I know the guy took 10mins to make it. Go to Dukes in little flinders if you can and you'll see what I mean.

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          • #6
            Cynical? Not at all. I think you've misunderstood what I've written. And before anyone goes there, ...nowhere did I say that I don't think image and WOW aren't good things, my post is just a straight forward opinion based on many years experience in coffee industry, of how it works particularly these days, and how it all goes round.

            WRT Matt Perger taking the grinder in to the comp...Well of course he didn't take the grinder in on the basis of image / wow factors. He took it in to get a particular result from his competition entry. Its the people watching (in effect the celebrity watchers of the coffee game) that make something like that the stuff of legend and start talking it up. And from there it progresses to the point where people in cafes will start specifying stuff for their working cafes, that others used in their competition entries.

            Note making coffee in a comp (indeed the whole "performance") has not much to do with making coffee in the places where business is being conducted. But we all know there is a "rub off effect" in many ways from the comps and this is yet another starting right here.


            Hope that helps.

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            • #7
              Whats the betting that now the genie is out of the bottle the Mahlkonig EK43 will be the next must have toy for aspiring geeks, who will undoubtedly be able to identify flavours and other attributes we earth bound mortals have never heard of let alone hope to make sense of.

              $4500 for a home grinder? guess if you have the cash and can convince yourself the improvement will be worth the outlay.

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              • #8
                It's abit over $3k, which is in the realm of Robur E home owners.

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                • #9
                  A few shops in Bris and on the sunny coast are trending this way, was a bit taken back at first but had some good conversation about it with the operators and as with all things positives and negatives both ways.

                  Total change in work practices, time consuming, large outlay (somewhat diminished as you only have 1 grinder on the bench instead of 2/3/4) difficult to manage in high volume outlets/periods.

                  Next to zero waste, zero grind retention, very stable grind even with atmospheric changes, improved evenness of grind particle size resulting in better more consistent results in the cup (don´t hang me I know taste is a pretty subjective thing) $ outlay for only one grinder.

                  I think we will see more of them in high end shops and there is talk of a deal between a well known barista and manufacturer developing a weighing/dosing model that resolves some of the time management issues. Have to wait to see the validity of this in due course.

                  Fad or new development in coffee, think it´s a case of sit back and see where this one goes.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wynton87 View Post
                    You say its not practical in a commercial environment but thats only in the context of what you consider to be the commercial ideal, eg 'pumping out coffee' in the Italian way. When really the industry is moving towards slower and higher quality coffee production. Look at filter coffee for example, i'm happy to pay $6-$8 for a good quality filter coffee if I know the guy took 10mins to make it. Go to Dukes in little flinders if you can and you'll see what I mean.
                    For sure there are people on CS who'll wait and pay the extra $ for a coffee, but if you try to make a living out of those people you'll go broke quickly.

                    Incidentally, I had an espresso 20 mins ago at Dukes on Flinders Lane - the guy weighed the shot into the Strada but he still produced an average shot, not bad by any measure but lacking body and a little flat in taste. They've never been quite to my taste, but that's just a personal thing, they clearly try hard.

                    (Still haven't found anyone to beat Courtney at Cup of Truth for espresso in the CBD)

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                    • #11
                      Here is a couple of links. Just for some reference to the discussion.

                      I don't have an opinion, other than in its current form it won't get much take-up from high volume cafes for espresso.
                      If they can reconfigure the 'dosing to p/f ' operation ...... and I wouldn't be surprised if they're working on it, they might have a
                      more accessible product.

                      The You Tube one is more about the Coffee Catcha than the grinder but it shows the um workflow of the grinder.

                      EK 43 - Mahlkönig

                      Dosing coffee with the EK 43 grinder & Coffee Catcha - YouTube

                      The American site has a list price of $US2950 ....at todays exchange that converts to $AUD3256.
                      That would have to put a landed, retail grinder here at (guessing) over $AUD3500??
                      Last edited by Andy; 26 February 2014, 11:17 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Here's another link for reference. Interesting discussion on how they used it in a commercial situation.

                        EK43; Tales from the bar. | Dublin Barista

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by chokkidog

                          The American site has a list price of $US2950 ....at todays exchange that converts to $AUD3256.
                          That would have to put a landed, retail grinder here at (guessing) over $AUD3500??
                          It is possible that things can be cheaper here - it's not completely impossible!

                          For example look at the GS/3, Chris at Talk Coffee has it listed at $6,325, so about US$5,700. Now take a look at US online pricing and it's about US$6,700 and that's not including sales tax, so in some states that's about US$7,370 or AUD$8,140 - almost two grand more in the US than here!!! And the UK pricing isn't much different.

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                          • #14
                            Great link Pete39, pretty well sums up the thinking on this grinder.

                            Great thing about coffee people, always wiling to push the bar in seek of that repeatable god shot, and we the consumer will benefit on our taste buds. yummm coffeee!!!!

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                            • #15
                              Being such an expert I of course don't readily understand how one grinder that costs X thousand dollars can be better than another one that costs Y thousand dollars. Perhaps someone can enlighten me? My Bodum burr grinder cost $99 (on sale from RRP $150 at time of purchase) and with that I have produced some amazing coffee at home. Sure, I understand that it may wear out after a month of use in a busy cafe, and likely it won't allow a barista to work fast enough during a peak ordering period, so I can understand that a commercial-grade machine would be required in a cafe, but one costing *thousands* of dollars? Is it self-cleaning and self-sharpening? Can it self-diagnose itself and e-mail the manufacturer when it's time for a service? Can it be pre-programmed with all the different types of products that the cafe makes so that with a single push of a button it will automatically grind the coffee using the correct grind type and exactly grind quantity, automatically selecting from one of several types of beans loaded into the hoppers at the back? Can it automatically compensate for different types of coffee beans? Does it "sniff" the ground coffee to analyze the aromatic compounds and adjust itself accordingly? Does it compensate for the weather? My suggestions may seem naive, but I'd sure like to know what these hyper-expensive grinders can do for that money. I have been subjected to some pretty awful coffee in some supposedly "wow" places where seemingly no expense has been spared on equipment and image, so I do wonder how much of the expense achieves performance versus image. For example, a friend once bought me a $30 coffee (I would never pay $30 for a coffee!!!) - and the brew could just as well have been boiled worm farm juice. It was an awkward moment for us both.

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