Moccamaster KM 4 Grinder Review
By Nicole Battefeld, Coffee Professional, Barista Champion, Coffee Roaster, Trainer, Cocktail Maker
A couple of weeks ago I had a parcel arrive in the mail. Moccamaster Australia had sent me a grinder, the KM 4, to try out. To be honest, at this time I didn't know that Moccamaster even made grinders! I unpacked the parcel and realised quickly that the grinder I was facing was one that I've never seen before, so I was excited to try it out and see how it worked.
There are different types of grinders on the market. Typically, there are burr grinders that can grind various grind sizes for more precise taste experiences, and blade grinders that have one single setting. Now, as a coffee professional I like to to be able to adjust my grind size. The Moccamaster KM 4 grinder is a blade grinder, so naturally I was quite sceptical at first.
Moccamaster machines are typically suited for two different groups of people: domestic brewers, who desire simplicity and ease of use; and baristas in cafes, who need a consistent, efficient and easy brew to suit a fast-paced environment. The challenge I set for myself with this grinder was make a delicious, consistent batch brew and find the right grind size and ratio for 2 different coffees - a natural Ethiopian and a washed Kenyan.
To test out the grinder, I thought I’d do things a little different and conduct a bit of experiment with the first group of people, home brewers. I wanted to see what their thoughts would be on a coffee grinder - what they understood, and what they need. I ended up doing this experiment with eight different people. I know that this isn't strictly a scientific representation or method, but it still gave me a good insight of how normal people would make their coffee at home.
When I gave this task to my mother, she was terribly confused even by the choice of coffee I was talking about, and said she'd rather buy pre-ground coffee. Off to a good start, I guess! 7 out of 8 of the participants preferred the Moccamaster, due to its very easy handling and mainly because it's not as complicated. What I could clearly see was that everyone was absolutely overwhelmed by the burr grinder and the different grind sizes. It was stressing them out - they felt pressured and most of them had no idea what to do. When they used the Moccamaster KM 4 they only had one choice/setting - on or off.
When we compared the four brews we had made in the end, the brews from the Moccamaster KM 4 generally tasted more consistent. We compared these brews to coffees made using the same Moccamaster machine, but using a burr grinder instead so that they are able to adjust their grind size. Again, we saw the same results as the User Experience session - people were overwhelmed and weren’t quite sure where to set the grind, which meant that some of the brewed coffees were over-extracted, and some were under-extracted. The ease of use (the on/off and single setting) of the KM 4 again proved to be the variable that was controlling the consistency across all participants.
The next question I asked was: How do you brew your coffee at home? In addition to asking the 8 participants, I asked this question on my social media channels (@nbattefeld), to my friends and to my customers. The majority said they use a plunger at home, which I thought that is very interesting! When using a plunger, an extremely uniform grind size isn't necessary to get a good tasting result.
So what the majority of people consumed was pre-ground coffee, made in a plunger. And this is where we as specialty coffee experts can now elevate the quality and the drinking experience of our customers tremendously. Freshly ground coffee is always better than pre-ground coffee as it oxidises the moment it's ground and will lose its flavour much quicker.
The next experiment I did was the following: I bought a burr grinder for $30 AUD (about 16 euro) - the reason I bought this grinder is because I wanted to compare the Moccamaster KM 4 to a grinder that a home brewer with limited or no coffee experience might use.
The cheap model was sooo loud that I couldn't use it in the morning without waking everyone in my building up. And, it got hot very very fast. In comparison, the Moccamaster KM4 was much quieter and didn't get anywhere near as hot. That is because it has an aerodynamic grinding system where the grounds fall away from the stainless steel blades into the attached container, which removes the risk of heat damaging the coffee. Also, the grind size distribution was extremely different between the two grinders. The Moccamaster KM 4 has such a surprisingly even grind size, I was really fascinated.
All these years I've only heard bad things about blade grinders, but this one really changed my mind. It is, in my opinion, the perfect tool to make high quality coffee more accessible to the majority of coffee drinkers - and at the end of the day, we as coffee professionals are trying to achieve that accessibility and knowledge in specialty coffee amongst the general public. Its ease of use, consistency and has completely convinced me and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy their coffee without being a trained barista.
Reviewed by Nicole Battefeld, Coffee Professional www.nicolebattefeld.com