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Breville smart grinder to K3 upgrade

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  • Breville smart grinder to K3 upgrade

    Well I finally managed to satisfy my curiosity for a user friendly "decent" grinder and picked up a Wega instant (AKA K3 touch) to see if it's a worthwhile upgrade from the SG. Had a brief play and pulled some good shots already. Some observations:

    Soild build like all the "decent" grinders, can't see these sort of grinders wearing out with domestic use.

    Relatively mess free, some stray grinds but certainly manageable.

    Can dose either through the timer (one or two shot) via the tongue or via main switch. I believe the K3 touch does on demand with the tongue press in one of its modes? Adjustment is under grinder (what were they thinking??) and no PF holder. Looks like current version has addressed both of these issues.

    Top burr is mounted on a spinning plate on the bottom of the top burr carrier. This bottom part sits in three grooves with a bit of play, although the play appears to be only in the adjustment plastic ring, and doesn't affect the position/spacing of the burr, just means you need to be consistent in referencing your collar position to return to a previous grind setting.

    I guess without a worm adjustment, if the burr was solid mounted on the carrier (like a cimbali junior) the friction of the grinding could rotate the burr/carrier assembly and adjust the grind setting while grinding.

    There is some sort of rubber flap in the horizontal chute between the burr chamber and the outside sloped chute so some grinds remain in this area until pushed out by fresh grinds. I will remove this and see how it effects things, hopefully it will still be mess free.

    It still baffles me why most (all?) grinders have this horizontal section, why don't they make it on an angle to minimise grinds sitting around?

    Noise wise it's probably a bit quieter then the SG but definitely sounds more solid/quality.

    It is much larger then the SG (obviously) but hopper less it's still quite short, although the WAF is definitely lower. Working on that one!

    I did experience some clumping that some people complain about but it was only when the grind setting was too fine, otherwise it's not an issue.

    The gloss black paint (it's a couple years old) has a nice subtle pearl/mica finish when the light hits it. Longer term I am thinking of re painting a bright silver or even better stripping the paint and buffing the bare alloy. Has anybody done this?

    Another upgrade project would be a digital timer.

    Taste wise it's hard to say at this stage, I know the SG well after three years and just new to this one but have had some great shots. They do seem to have a different flavour in the espresso shots but maybe that's just me imagining things? The shots did seem to taste more "bright" and "fruity" from the K3. With more familiarisation the K3 should trump the SG for consistency/quality in grind, based on the fact all the grinding components are housed in chunky metal (instead of plastic) and are more heavy duty.

    Overall it's a great grinder, my concern of it being more messy than the SG proved largely irrelevant, and represents great value (seen the push version for ~$400 at one of the sponsors before), it's probably the cheapest of the "real" grinders.

    Hopefully the above info will help those that are theorising a similar upgrade.


  • #2
    Your thoughts and review on this will be great for many who wish to ask this question. I once was asking this very question and would have found this response to it very helpful. I have had mine now for 2 plus years and its still works a treat. I was also baffled by a few of the design features on it but overall they are minimal issues compared to the difference in grind i was able to get from the onset of using it.

    Great Review.




    • #3
      I pulled the little rubber curtain out of the horizontal chute, perhaps a few more stray grinds during grinding, but again minimal, and no increase in clumping, which is one of the reasons a lot of people think is the purpose of this curtain. This enables the horizontal chute to be mainly cleared with a quick poke of a brush (I am using the Breville brush).

      I am using the aeropress funnel as a hopper (fits like it was meant to be there!) and am getting shots that are improving. Today had some Brazil Yellow bourbon and it was the most chocolatey I have ever tasted it. Not sure if its a coincidence or just me imaging things, but the shots do seem to be more complex in flavour, in a positive way.



      • #4
        Artman, It would be good if you could do a blind taste test on the SG and K3.

        I have a Brevelle Smart Grinder and a Mahlkong Vario Grinder. While the Vario has ceramic burrs and very fine adjustments and should last longer, I prefer to use the Breville as there is less mess and it has a much better portafilter holder that holds my naked PF hands free and I cannot notice difference in the taste.



        • #5
          Yes I plan to do that at some stage as it seems to be the unanswered question.

          I would need to use accurate scales to minimise variables like dose, use naked to make sure pours are even, no channelling etc. when I get a bit of time and extra hands I will do this and report back.

          Pity there is no more beanbay monthly meets, would be a good way of doing it with a few snobs in the one place.



          • #6
            Thanks Artman for a very useful review. As it happens I'm looking to ditch my em480 (can't wait!) as my Slivia objects to it and I want to keep her happy. I also don't won't to spend a bomb. I think I'll go the K3, now just need to work out whether to get the touch or push.


            • #7
              If you want to minimise the spend, the push will be ok. The newer touch would be much better than the old as you can adjust the time easily. If you sweep out old grinds then the timer function won't work too well as the first few seconds are used to fill the horizontal chute before the grinds start coming down. If you purge to get rid of the old grinds, timer might be handy. It's just as easy to use either way and your choice will probably more depend on your technique/process.

              Don't forget the Wega equivalent, mechanically they appear identical and are sometimes cheaper than the Compaks.

              It will be a huge step up from the 480.



              • #8
                Just a bit of an update, grinder is going great. Definitely sprays grinds around, not huge but there are always stray grinds on the bench, compared to the SG which had none. Pretty sure removal of the rubber curtain in the chute is contributing to this as the grinds shoot out with more velocity. It does make it easier to sweep grinds out of the chute with a brush though.

                Still very happy with it.



                • #9
                  Another update.

                  I have reinstalled the rubber curtain in the chute and it has reduced the stray grinds (still some strays remain). I just purge for a few seconds and discard for the first shot.

                  The extent of stray grinds seems to depend on something I can't pin point (humidity, temp?). Sometimes the grinds mound up nicely in the basket and sometimes they tend to just bounce off? Weird.

                  I still plan to do a comparison with the SG, have some precise scales on the way that will help with reducing the variables.



                  • #10
                    thanks for the review and updates artman.
                    I have a K3 also and it has been great for a year or so now. no complaints at all.


                    • #11
                      Artman, nice review and detail there. Are you still having problems with stray grinds with the K3? I've got one too and find that it does spread the grinds around a bit.


                      • #12
                        There are always some stray grinds, not a huge amount but they are there. Most seem to be due to the grinds bouncing out of the basket, especially near the end when it's getting full. At times its minimal, other times there is more.

                        I normally grind about half way, tap to settle then top up.



                        • #13
                          If people are really worried about stray grinds, the Orphan Espresso dosing funnel pretty much removes that as an issue, should last a lifetime and is unobtrusive.


                          • #14
                            Good thinking Barry. I keep forgetting these sorts of things are around.