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Compak K10 Conical Burrs with Doser - In Depth Review

Posted by Barrett Ellis on 2nd Mar 2020

Compak K10 Conical Burrs with Doser - In Depth Review

Bringing out the big guns, the Compak K10 professional shop espresso grinder!   The K10 with doser is 100% designed for a busy coffee shop.  Even the badge on the front of the doser states "Professional Barista".  It can easily handle 35-40 pounds of beans per hour.

The K10 is a very elegant design, more shiny surfaces than the F8 I reviewed recently.   From an aesthetic standpoint, I love the way this grinder looks.  The adjustment ring on the top is reminiscent of the classic Mazzer adjustment ring that rotates, but way more stylized. 

The grinder came in typical Compak packaging, a nice box with side handles and plenty of padding.  

The K10 is designed for a coffee shop, it has a large motor, a large bean hopper, and a dosing mechanism.  When I went to use the grinder for the first time, I almost felt lost as there are no electronics on this grinder for dosing.  First thought in my head was "eeeeh I kind of like my electronic dosing".  To get it dialed in, I started out by weighing out about 20g of beans and doing single dosing until I figured out about how much to dose and got the burrs set right.   To my astonishment I was able to dial this grinder in within 4 shots.  The standard electronic dosing seemed to take quite a while to get right because whenever you would adjust the grind, you would need to adjust the timer as well.  You seem to constantly chase the 2 parameters.    I consider this a huge plus for a busy shop, making adjustments is quick and easy, especially for a shop that transitions beans every few days.

Comparison between the F8 and K10

Typical grind time for 20 gram dose.  5-7 seconds.   

Compak K10 Espresso Grinder from Barrett on Vimeo.

The K10 utilizes conical burrs.  The typical espresso scene now days seems to gravitate towards flat burrs.  I am definitely more familiar with flat burrs outside of using Baratza which also utilizes conical burrs.  The K10 and Baratza are in no way similar by the way.  The espresso that the K10 is capable of making has a different more rich taste.  I didn't think I would notice a huge difference between the burr style, but I could easily tell a difference.  Using a bottomless portafilter I never seemed to get as rich of tiger stripes coming through, but the taste was amazing and rich.

Another thing I noticed with the conical burrs is after tamping, when I would polish the top of the puck, it always looked kind of rough, or at least didn't have the same smooth look as I get from using a flat burr grinder.   At first I thought this would lead to a downside fearing it might promote channeling, but I get no channeling, and the taste is amazing.  I asked around and several people that have used both said they noticed the same thing.

The hopper is different from many of the large Compak grinders, it has a smaller neck that fits into the adjustment ring.  It has the more classic espresso grinder bean hopper styling.  A few things I don't care for on the hopper is the bean cut off is plastic and kind of cheap.   A plus is that it has a tab to lock the flap in the open position, so no accidental closing of the chute.    Another thing that was kind of weird to me at first is that the hopper set screw is built into the adjustment handle.   For whatever reason, every time I would go to adjust the grind size, I would loosen the hopper set screw.  The adjustment ring set screw is on the top.  For me it just didn't seem intuitive but honestly is not a big deal what so ever. 

As for the doser, I have used one before, but not very often. When I was first getting into espresso I thought the concept of a doser was awesome. It allowed for easier distribution and you can have more control over the dose. As electronic dosing became more popular, I lost interest in the doser and for most of my needs at home, single dosing was the way to go for me at the time. Now from a shops standpoint I think a doser has a lot of pluses that seem to be overlooked now days. With electronic dosing you have the added complexity of a timer, but you are also constantly starting and stopping the grinder if you have a busy shop. With 4 portafilters laid out, you could partially fill the doser, and be dosing all of the portafilters quite fast. It all comes down to personal preference and your shop needs.  The doser will require a more skilled barista that is capable of eyeballing the dose.   Parting thoughts on the doser, I recommend cleaning it out daily with a brush.  It does retain a little bit of coffee grounds, but cleaning out only takes a few seconds.

Compak K10 Dosing Mechanism from Barrett on Vimeo.

Since the K10 has a doser, it has a different portafilter cradle, reminiscent of the fork style that is popular on so many brands.   The fork is cupped and works much better than many of the forks I have used.  I tried with standard E61 portafilters, as well as Gaggia, La Spaziale 53mm, and a few others, all fit great.

Going back to the grinder having almost zero electronics, there is an on/off switch on the right side.  Conveniently located and easy to switch.  Turning the switch to on illuminates the green light.  Quite simple.  One thing I was surprised they did not do is have a spring timer switch.  For example on a super jolly you can crank the timer switch all the way back and be dosing away, and once the timer runs out the grinder shuts off.   This is just on or off.

The grounds tray is exactly the same as the F8 I reviewed, as well as many of the other Compak grinders on the market.   I really like the design, especially the more I use it.   The front is open and allows for fast and easy cleaning in a busy shop.   I usually just hold a trashcan or knock box up to the front and sweep out with a brush.   It already has very little mess to begin with.  I just like that I do not need to remove the tray from the grinder.

Circling back to the grind quality, I love the way the conical burrs in the K10 grind.  The conical seems to have a less fluffy feeling, but zero clumping.  Just totally different than flat burrs in my opinion.  I have been pulling shots almost daily for a month, and the taste of the espresso this grinder can make is superb.  

Pros:

  • Grinds amazing, no clumping, no static.  I consider it a huge step up for many of the classic espresso shop grinders such as the Mazzer Super Jolly.
  • The quality of shot that this grinder can produce is about as good as you can get.  I recently heard someone compare the K10 to their Mahlkoning Peak, and they preferred the K10.
  • Setting the grind adjustment was the easiest I have experienced in a long time.  With such a simple machine there is no dose timer, no electronics, no multiple things to change/chase when changing beans.
  • Elegant design, I really like the way this grinder looks.  The shiny dome shaped adjustment ring on the top looks great. The doser really seems to fit the style of the machine, the base is heavy and has a built in grounds tray.  Design is great overall.
  • Everything about this grinder is designed for a busy shop.

Indifferent thoughts:

  • While the K10 grinds relatively quickly, some of the very large flat burrs grind a bit quicker.  Still, with the doser, this is not a huge concern.  It will easily grind 20 grams of coffee in 5 seconds, the equivalent of one espresso shot dose.
  • Seems a tad louder than I was expecting, but yet it is still quieter than many grinders I have used.
  • The grinder comes in either chrome or black. 

Cons:

  • Not everyone is going to want a doser or have a shop busy enough to need one.   If electronic dosing is desired the Compak E10 might be a better idea but have a similar design.
  • The doser will need to be swept out daily, an easy task, but to prevent old grounds from lingering around until the next day, a quick sweep with a brush is all it takes to clean up.
  • A con if someone is considering this grinder for home use.  This grinder is built for a shop environment.  For a shop owner, this is a definite pro. 
  • The set screws for the hopper and the adjustment ring just didn't feel right to me.  The screw on the adjustment handle is the screw for the hopper, not the adjustment ring.  I got used to it but didn't seem intuitive at first.

Extras:

Below is a size comparison of various popular grinders.  Left to right: Baratza Preciso, Rocket Fausto, Mazzer Super Jolly, Compak K10, Compak F8

Below From Left to Right: Mazzer Super Jolly Flat, Simonelli Mythos Flat, Compak K10 Conical

Below Left Compak K10 Conical, Right Baratza Preciso Conical