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Thread: Macap MC4 Review

  1. #1
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    Macap MC4 Review

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    For the past 10 days I have been living with my new Macap MC4 micrometric doserless grinder, replacing the Sunbeam EM0480, which I found worked very well within its design limitations but for espresso I found the steps not small enough and changing grind settings from press/drip to espresso never returned me to exactly the same grind I had before.

    The reason I chose the Macap is twofold. I wanted a doserless grinder and it had to look good. Now I know that what I like is not necessarily your cup of tea (or coffee). I looked at the Compak Touch and the Mazzer Mini but the Macap was the winner.


    It stands at 43 cm tall while the others mentioned here are 47 cm tall. The silver colour blends in nicely with the rest of my equipment.


    I dialed it in with a kilo of cheap beans from Safeway. It took some time to get a decent grind and shot with these beans, but eventually succeeded. Chris (2mcm) warned me not to drink this and poison myself, so I obliged.


    Back to the Veneziano Estate and ready for my first drinkable coffee from this grinder, I thought.
    I did expect some more adjustments of course but it was more like starting all over again, the Safeway beans must have been really, really stale.
    Eventually I achieved what I consider some very good coffee. No dust, nothing but uniform coffee grinds. I had espresso and my wife a flat white; I also had a long black which tasted very good. No doubt, Luca or Chris could have found room for improvements, but my palette is not as finely developed as theirs, I can only dream.

    The grinder is also very quiet, even more so than the Mazzer Mini I used briefly at the Home Espresso Course recently. Something I learned there, a.o. is that dosing is very important. I tried something different now with the Macap, I remove the hopper and use two measured spoons of beans and deposit them straight in the collar where normally the hopper sits.

    I put the retaining screw back in to prevent split beans from flying around and put my single basket on top with the Pullman tamper in the empty basket for extra weight. The dual purpose tamper prevents the beans from flying through the kitchen.



    A small container under the exit chute and flip the on switch. Gee, this grinder makes a beautiful noise and it won’t wake up the kids or grandkids either, you can just hear when there are no more beans in the grinder, I flip the clip on top of the exit chute a few times and that will release all the coffee and end up with an exact dose, each time, every time and hardly any clumping.
    For me this takes care of one variable and it improved my consistency immensely. I usually make only two coffees at a time but if you need more this might be to time consuming.

    Back to the Macap, changing grinds can be a bit time consuming, because of the very fine adjustments possible. The adjusting screw on the Macap is a nice fit for a tool that musicians use to fit new strings to a guitar. I bought this tool in a guitar shop for $3.95, a beauty.



    I can change now from espresso to drip in ten seconds and what is even more important also back again to the exact espresso setting. Love it.


    Cons:
    What I don’t like is the small black bib to catch the grinds, this is close to useless and I tend not to use it.

    The price, it is fairly expensive.

    Pros:
    I think I’ve mentioned most positives already apart from the fact that it is build like a tank, very heavy indeed.

    A special mention deserves the power cord; it exits at the rear and under the grinder so it gives it a very neat appearance.

    These are small details worth more to some people than others.

    Anyhow, it is good to know that whenever I want to upgrade my espresso machine, my Macap will be a perfect match!

    Now, what’s next, roasting?

    It was a pleasure putting my thoughts on paper, I’ve learned so much from you CS’ers that without you I would not even have owned this grinder.

    English is not my native language, so a few errors might have slipped in, especially when I use the words “than” or “then” etc. Please forgive.

    Cheers,

    Dick




  2. #2
    Flo
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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Hey Dick.

    Good job with the Macap! I just got my Mini and learning to dial it in is just trial and error. So, I can appreciate where youre coming from. But isnt it nice to use good equipment? ;)

    BTW..I couldnt see any of the photos that you were suggesting..and your english is just fine! [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

    Flo

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    I needed some help to get the photos attached. Thankfully 2mcm is working on it.
    I could not work it out.

    BTW Thanks Flo

    dickwyn
    EDIT- photos are all now up 8-)...

    2mcm

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Great review Dick,

    And the MC4 sounds like a beaut grinder and worthy of being near the top of prospective purchasers equipment lists... Nice photos too and that little Guitar String Gadget is a little ripper ;D

    Mal.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Nice review dickwyn.

    I agree about the grind catcher, it misses some of the stray grinds when Im dosing and Im left with a round outline of it when cleaning up.

    At the moment Ive also put it aside to see how I go without it.

    Excellent find that guitar string gadget, you might be able to sell a few to offset your purchase cost.

    And yes the Macap is solid; I fully expect mine to be working long after Im gone.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Thanks for the review, Im glad youre having fun with the grinder. :)

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    This looks (and sounds like) a fine grinder... It may fit the bill for my next mad coffee tool purchase. But I cant find much info on them, esp. who sells em and at what price they might be obtained for - can anyone enlighten me?
    pete

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by xpress link=1169870752/0#6 date=1170337439
    This looks (and sounds like) a fine grinder... It may fit the bill for my next mad coffee tool purchase. But I cant find much info on them, esp. who sells em and at what price they might be obtained for - can anyone enlighten me?
    pete
    You should probably talk to Chris at Talk Coffee or Attilio at Cosmorex.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by xpress link=1169870752/0#6 date=1170337439
    . But I cant find much info on them, esp. who sells em and at what price they might be obtained for - can anyone enlighten me?
    pete
    pete

    Have a look at:

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163235531/0#9

    Chris must sell them - and there is a rough price given.

    (from the grinders info thread)

  10. #10
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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by JavaB link=1169870752/0#8 date=1170338030
    Quote Originally Posted by xpress link=1169870752/0#6 date=1170337439
    . But I cant find much info on them, esp. who sells em and at what price they might be obtained for - can anyone enlighten me?
    pete
    pete

    Have a look at:

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163235531/0#9

    Chris must sell them - and there is a rough price given.

    (from the grinders info thread)
    Yes- from either Attilio or myself- and $700 + freight....

  11. #11
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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    I got my M5 from Chris and love it.
    I have the doser version.
    The older stepped one.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Thanks for the replies/info... hmmm, that could be doable.
    pete

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    I also have the M5 stepped grinder.
    Excellent unit, looks great, performs great too.

    I did a LOT of research into my M5 and am very happy that I bought it .. the other option was the Mazzer Mini, which had the steppless option, but to my eye was not as classy ... and seemed to have a slightly less effective doser mechanism (though that may be marginal).

    With the Macap now coing with stepless adjustment, the whole micro adjustment issue is a non-issue.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Dickwyn, thanks for the very positive review of the MC4. In my own search for a grinder upgrade its got me looking at the Macaps again. It has also raised some questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by dickwyn link=1169870752/0#0 date=1169870752
    Eventually I achieved what I consider some very good coffee. No dust, nothing but uniform coffee grinds.
    How is the grind quality at press and plunger settings? One of my main dislikes of the MDF is the amount of dust at plunger settings.

    I flip the clip on top of the exit chute a few times and that will release all the coffee and end up with an exact dose, each time, every time and hardly any clumping.
    Is that enough to dislodge all remaining grinds? i.e. are you sure there are no grinds remaining in the horizontal part of the chute?

    changing grinds can be a bit time consuming, because of the very fine adjustments possible.
    But no more time consuming than with any other stepless grinder right?

    I can change now from espresso to drip in ten seconds and what is even more important also back again to the exact espresso setting. Love it.
    This is brilliant! That was the main reason I had previously crossed the Macap off my list.

    Thanks to your guitar string winder idea the MC4 is now back near the top of my list :) (though I really would prefer a conical in the same quality/feature/price range.)

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Hi BJ
    1. The grind quality for plunger I find very, very good, I used it only twice but it was perfect with very little dust.

    2. This depends a lot on the beans I find, I now adopted the habit of rocking or bumping the grinder once or twice.

    3. Indeed, changing grinds is very, very fast with the tool.

    Why are conical burrs an advantage? My knowledge of different burr types does not go far enough.

    Im sure youll make the right decision. Good Luck

    Dick

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dickwyn link=1169870752/0#14 date=1171243778

    Why are conical burrs an advantage? My knowledge of different burr types does not go far enough.

    Dick
    Dick,

    Conical burrs (on a quality machine - not a Solis 166 type ::)) produce more elongated grinds than their flat counterpart..... which is supposed to produce a smoother espresso than the more rounded grinds from flat burrs....

    The problem is quality conical grinders are mega expensive!

    Some have reported a similar taste is possible by dumping the first second or so of a pour made from a flat burr grinder..... this apparently contains most of the overextracted tastes.

    Havent tried it myself as Im happy with the taste of what I produce from a flat burr grinder. :)

  17. #17
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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    I agree with you JavaB and thanks for the explanation.
    Cheers!
    Dick

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Thanks for the info Dick,

    The MC4 certainly ticks all the right boxes for me. My main concern would be the fact that you cant actually get at the chute to clean it, or even see whats in there. Does it look like it would be easy to remove the front chute piece?

    I just dont know why say Mazzer dont make a Mini size grinder with conical burrs. Couldnt add that much to the cost you wouldnt think. I have no size restraints so I could even wait for a second hand commercial grinder to appear. In the meanwhile the MDF is hanging in there...

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by beanjuice link=1169870752/15#17 date=1171277617

    I just dont know why say Mazzer dont make a Mini size grinder with conical burrs. Couldnt add that much to the cost you wouldnt think.
    beanjuice... Quality conical burr grinders will always be a lot more expensive than similar build quality flat for several reasons....

    Flat burrs only need to be held a stable distance apart whereas conical the height must be constant (much like the distance apart of the flat) but it must be retained in exactly the same position (side to side) relative to the fixed burr as it rotates.... (bigger and better / more expensive bearings)

    The conical burrs rotate more slowly (400 rpm conical 1500 rpm flat) requiring an expensive gearbox.... they generally process the beans faster requiring a more powerful motor.... both of which add to the cost.

    Because of the gearbox, larger bearings etc.... even a "domestic" conical grinder would be a lot bigger than its flat burr counterpart.

    The small conical grinders (domestic) like the solis 166 dont have the expensive components required so they do a poor job (lots of variation in grind size between powder and the size wanted) and the burr turns too fast (heating the beans as they are ground - bad!!)

    So using Mazzer as an example - expect to pay nearly twice as much for a conical as you would for a flat burr - all other specs being similar. (and thats why they are only available in "top end" grinders.....)

    So when I get my Synesso, Ill have to get a Mazzer Robur ::) ;D..... until then my La Cimbali flat burr will do just fine!!

    Of course you could always buy something with the Lux conical burr set like the Lux, Iberital or Sunbeam.....

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Thanks for the explanation JavaB. Now it makes perfect sense why conicals cost a lot more.

    A friend had a Trespade brand conical grinder which I think had the same burr set as the Lux. Grind quality was on par with or perhaps even slightly better than the MDF. Trouble was it made a horrific noise while grinding and the motor burnt out after around 3-4 years of average home use. Still I guess the Lux, Iberital etc may use better quality motors.

    Synesso and Robur hey? Sounds like a sweet pair to me. :)

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Just a couple of points from skimming the above:

    a) Gentlemen, I dont understand the comment "....My main concern would be the fact that you cant actually get at the chute to clean it, or even see whats in there. Does it look like it would be easy to remove the front chute piece?..."

    The exit chute of the MC4 is nothing more than a straight, open tube measuring not quite 3 inches from the exit hole at the grinding chamber, to its end. When I look up the tube, I can clearly see the exit hole. *I can actually touch the exit hole with my fingers and I dare say if I prodded a little further, I could probably touch the grinding plates (with grinder off & plug out of wall of course). The access for cleaning couldnt be any easier!

    The tube has an ID (inside diameter) of around 1 and 1/3 inches (you could probably fit an aussie 50 cent piece in there).....quite sizeable.... I can get quite a fat grinder cleaning brush all the up the tube and touch the exit hole and there would be no problem using an artists brush, many of which are far skinnier than a grinder cleaning brush. The end of the vacuum cleaner is a perfect match for sucking it out.

    With that kind of access, why bother removing or trying to remove the chute / exit tube....it wouldnt make cleaning any easier or better, and will only give you something unnecessary to do!

    The MC4 is probably the easiest to access and clean small commercial grinder on the market!

    b) The theory of conical burrs has been well explained above...but I would wager there isnt a single person anywhere that could actually tell the difference between a cuppa made with grinds from a good quality commercial *flat burr grinder, and an an "identical" cuppa made with grinds from a good commercial conical burr grinder, in a blind taste off. *And even if you could (taste the difference), what significance does this have, or could you actually attribute the difference to only the burrs and not one of the many other variables involved in making/brewing the cuppa?

    In commercial use, whether someone wishes to option conical instead of flat burr equipment has more to do with the capacity to produce a good standard of grinds in very high volume situations, where smaller diameter flat burrs would be more likely to heat up from friction and therefore produce a cuppa of lesser standard. Again this is due to size / capacity / volume.....not because someone might be able to *"taste the difference" in small volume use or in a "one on one" taste off.

    For me then, the only way conical burrs can offer any advantage is if I am in a very high volume cafe. In home use there is absolutely no advantage and the price difference is a definite dis-advantage....except of course where money is no object, and I just want what I want because I can, and I will hehe!

    Regardz,
    FC.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Hi FC

    In response to the points you raised

    a) My concern about cleaning the chute is because I currently clear the chute of the MDF between each shot, so as not to have any coffee left in the chute between shots. This is important if you are making fine adjustments to the grind between shots. My question is really how much coffee is left in the chute after grinding and how easy is it to remove that coffee. I want to be able to grind an exact weight ie. 14g in gives 14g out. On the MDF this requires physical cleaning of the chute to remove the 2-3g that remains there.

    b) regarding conicals, it seems a number of coffee luminaries on home-barista.com and coffeed.com do prefer conical grinders for home use. Whether you need a GS3 or Synesso to appreciate the difference I dont know, but the fact is they claim to be able to taste the difference.

    Will I taste the difference between the MDF and say a Mazzer Mini if I upgrade? If so, why? If not, why should I bother upgrading?


    cheers,

    BJ

  23. #23
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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by beanjuice link=1169870752/15#21 date=1171932767
    the fact is they claim to be able to taste the difference.
    Id want verified independant test results before Id accept their claim.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1169870752/15#20 date=1171686420
    Just a couple of points from skimming the above:

    b) The theory of conical burrs has been well explained above...but I would wager there isnt a single person anywhere that could actually tell the difference between a cuppa made with grinds from a good quality commercial flat burr grinder, and an an "identical" cuppa made with grinds from a good commercial conical burr grinder, in a blind taste off. And even if you could (taste the difference), what significance does this have, or could you actually attribute the difference to only the burrs and not one of the many other variables involved in making/brewing the cuppa?

    In commercial use, whether someone wishes to option conical instead of flat burr equipment has more to do with the capacity to produce a good standard of grinds in very high volume situations, where smaller diameter flat burrs would be more likely to heat up from friction and therefore produce a cuppa of lesser standard. Again this is due to size / capacity / volume.....not because someone might be able to "taste the difference" in small volume use or in a "one on one" taste off.

    For me then, the only way conical burrs can offer any advantage is if I am in a very high volume cafe. In home use there is absolutely no advantage and the price difference is a definite dis-advantage....except of course where money is no object, and I just want what I want because I can, and I will hehe!

    Regardz,
    FC.
    Totally couldnt agree more. I challenge any one of us to a blind cupping using both conical and flat burr grinders. I would wager that none of us would be able to conclusively pick the correct grinder. If you did I think it would be down to dumb luck. Even better, try 2 cups made from a flat burr and 1 drink made from a conical. That would reduce the "dumb luck" factor.



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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Hello Beanjuice.

    OK serious questions requiring a thoughtful reply:

    I dont know that anyone can reply to the detail that you are seeking. In forums like this it becomes obvious very quickly that some have vastly different expectations of the equipment, than others.

    a) The exit tube on the MC4 is only around 3 inches in length (at the short end) and wide enough on the inside to fit a 50 cent piece in there. This should make it the best grinder on the market anywhere in terms of access for cleaning.

    In addition, lets just for example say (whether its true or not) that you may get less stuff caught in the exit shute of the MDF than that of the MC4. But the MC4 is in my opinion a far superior grinder than the MDF in every other way...so only you as an individual can decide what significance this has, for you. I would take the overall better grinder, you may have a different opinion.

    Ive never tried to grind an exact weight but wonder if the expectation to put 14 grams in the top, and get 14 grams out the bottom, is too high?

    If for example you bought an MC4 and decided you didnt like the amount of coffee that might remain in the shute, you could easily (because of the good access) brush out the shute, you could as a project, shorten the shute, and even change the angle of the exit point if it is considered to have an effect.

    All of this is up to you an individual, because the questions being posed are I think, going outside the realms of what the equipment was designed for.

    b) The trouble with some of our overseas coffee website luminaries and the information they disseminate, is that many of them are so far into the "high end" of coffee that they are way up past the clouds and up into the stratosphere. I prefer to give more realistic advice although I realise it is much less enticing and intoxicating..... *

    c) Ultimately only you can answer the question about whether you will taste the difference between coffee made with MDF or MC4 or whether you should upgrade but as stated above in a roundabout way, there is more to a grinder than just the quality of the grinds it produces. There is the level of noise, the ease of operation & serviceability, type of noise, the feel, the weight, the size, the look, the level of support offered / expected, etc etc etc and it all in the end comes down to compromise and individual preference.

    I will however offer the personal opinion, that one is a far superior piece of equipment to the other, even if it ***may / or may not*** in the end (& also most dependent on type of beans, style of roast, age of beans, finness of grind etc) ...retain more or less grinds in the shute?

    Regardz,
    FC. *

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    I know this is about the doserless BUT...the machine is the same with just the doser or doserless chute attached to the body.

    My machine always has some grinds left in the exit path from the burrs.
    They build up at the point where they would either fall into the doser or the doserless chute.

    I clean mine out with a brush, a final burst on the power switch which always throws out a few more grinds, and a final brush.
    This removes most of the grinds.
    I say most, not all, because if I remove the hopper and blast a bit of air down the throat, a few more (not very many) grinds exit. I do this when I am cleaning the grinder. Usually after a light brush of the grinding chamber as well.

    I removed the finger guard from mine very early on to make it easier to access with the brush.
    As I clean mine from above Im not sure what access would be like with a brush from below through the doserless chute.
    But I wanted to point it out so that beanjuice knows what hes dealing with.

    Heres a picture (no grinds in exit chute).


  27. #27
    TC
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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1169870752/15#25 date=1172016632
    I know this is about the doserless BUT...the machine is the same with just the doser or doserless chute attached to the body.

    My machine always has some grinds left in the exit path from the burrs.
    They build up at the point where they would either fall into the doser or the doserless chute.

    I clean mine out with a brush, a final burst on the power switch which always throws out a few more grinds, and a final brush.
    This removes most of the grinds.
    I say most, not all, because if I remove the hopper and blast a bit of air down the throat, a few more (not very many) grinds exit. I do this when I am cleaning the grinder. Usually after a light brush of the grinding chamber as well.

    I removed the finger guard from mine very early on to make it easier to access with the brush.
    As I clean mine from above Im not sure what access would be like with a brush from below through the doserless chute.
    But I wanted to point it out so that beanjuice knows what hes dealing with.

    Heres a picture (no grinds in exit chute).
    Me thinks that many of us can be a tad retentive when it comes to a few grounds in a chute and/or bottom of a doser chamber. I give my grinder a short pulse, empty it and then go again.

    I seriously doubt that even the best of our CS palates can pick the difference in the cup with any reliability. Even if there was a difference, is it barista or coffee?

    Who wants to have a go (in a blind tasting of course *;)) to prove or disprove it?

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Thanks for the replies people, and for the photo Thundergod,

    I can consistently grind 14g with the MDF and get 14g +/- 0.1g out by doing the chute brushout. Yes I became "a tad retentive" ;) when I was a poor student paying $40-60/kg for coffee beans. I would often be grinding 10g singles so 4g left in the chute was significant. I maintain this workflow now not so much for financial reasons, but because its probably quicker to do it this way than to grind a little, empty the doser, grind again and dose. Regarding a grinder upgrade, if I cant access the chute on a new grinder then I guess I have to change my workflow, which I am willing to do if other things about the grinder make it worthwhile. Im just trying to envisage the workflow.

    Anyway all this is making me reconsider whether I really need a doserless. The dosered grinders seem to have better access to the chute - the Mini-E being one possible exception.


    BJ ;D


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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    If you are only grinding 14g at a time maybe you can dispense with the hopper and cover the beans with a tamper as some do or add a small home made hopper (vegemite jar etc).
    Then you could blow the last few grinds out of the chute with a air pump.

    I use the bellows part of one of these cheap do-dads.

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    Thundergod

    Yeah I tried removing the hopper but found it unnecessary, and also it allows beans to get caught on the ledge where the hopper would normally sit. Also my aim in the morning isnt that good and beans ended up spilling. Heck even with the hopper on Ive managed to miss and spill beans!

    With the M5 how many clicks of the doser do you need to empty it after grinding say a double shot? With the MDF I have the lever mechanism removed and just spin the vanes with my finger a few times, which is probably equal to about 20 clicks of the lever, but much faster and quieter.

    The pump looks like a good idea for cleaning. I should try that some time. Cleaning that is. ::)


    BJ

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    Re: Macap MC4 Review

    I give it enough clicks for a full rotation of the vanes to clean out the hopper.
    6 I think.

    But I dose through and can judge pretty well how many beans I need for my double shots.
    So my cleaning clicks usually end up as my final dosing ones.

  32. #32
    kbc
    kbc is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Great grinder. Highly recommended.



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