Is the new Compak PK better than the Mahlkonig EK?
We have had the opportunity to try out the new Compak PK100 grinder this week, the PK100 is the Compaks first single dose grinder aimed at the high end commercial coffee market. The Grinder has tough competition in this market with the Mahlkonig EK grinder being a staple currently in specialty cafe’s as the single dose grinder of choice. The big difference tech wise is the blind burrs Compak have developed which allow for better particle distribution and less retention of grounds. The PK100 is a flat burr, low rpm cold grinding system with the burrs sitting horizontally unlike the vertically orientated EK.
First impression of the PK100 is the look of the grinder, we sat it on our bench next to our Mahlkonig EK43S, it’s tall, sturdy and looks a bit like a rocket ship. The Compak built for functionality with a large grind adjustment dial, and on/off button in the most logical place and a locking fork for handsfree grinding straight to the portafilter. The iconic shape of the Mahlkonig is a hard one to compete with design wise, however the PK100 is built with ergonomics in mind and it looks like it’s there to make good coffee.
The functionality of the PK100 is good, it is very simple to use with a single on/off button, centrally located, large grind adjustment wheel and dosing shute. The grind adjustment wheel looks and functions really well; it has all increments clearly marked which allows easy and extra fine adjustment of the grind. The scale of the grind seems great as well with increments going much finer than you would ever need for regular espresso which is a nice change from the EK, where I am often grinding at the lowest setting and having to recalibrate the burrs. Quality of grind produced by the grinder is great and tasting side by side with the EK, I would say the quality of espresso is comparable if not better than. The only thing I can fault with the PK100’s grind adjustment is that the adjustment wheel feels very stiff which makes it a little more difficult to adjust in very small increments.
The dosing shute of the PK100 is a tiny 60g, this is perfect for single dosing, however, if you are looking to make a lot of filter coffee or grind retail bags I would recommend getting the optional hopper attachment. A warning for all you tiny baristas; the PK100 does sit quite tall on the counter and with the hopper attachment you might need a step to operate, also it weighs a whopping 24kgs. We struggled to move it into place (it lives here now lol).
Another feature that the PK100 boasts is hands free grinding, again aimed more at single dose grinding. The universal fork that comes attached locks a portafilter in really nicely and allows you to operate the grinder without holding the handle. The fork system is a bit more clunky when using dosing cups, it does take most size cups but the system of pushing them into the fork springs is a bit slower than the simple clamp of the style the EK uses, but with the forks designed to fit a portafilter so well there is not a huge need for all the dosing cups that are necessary for other single dose grinders. Grinding retail bags is also a little awkward with the fork getting in the way of positioning and then there is no clamp to hold them in place. You can do it, but this grinder is designed around single dosing, rather than as a lab grinder.
A big positive I will give the PK100 is that for a single dose grinder of it’s type it makes very little noise. Comparing it to the EK, which makes a real roar every time you run any quantity of beans through it, the PK100 makes much less noise and is comparable to your regular on-demand grinders. This would be great for cafes where the grinder would be situated near the service area.
Overall I would recommend this grinder to cafes that want a single dose grinder for grinding a variety of different single origins primarily for espresso, but also want the option of being able to grind for filter or retail coffee if the need arises. If you need to move your grinder around often this one is just far too heavy for that.
UPDATE: After we wrote this review, we went and bought one 🤪🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 So feel free to pop into Grouch and see it in action.
May 2021; We are loving the Pk so far. The upside of the pk. Clarity of flavour, quick for demand.
The downside. It shakes. Small doser - only just fits 70gms of whole coffee. (unless you add the hopper attachment)We use it for both filter and espresso. We find the output of fines greater than our old EK.
Ergonomically we don't love it. We seem to have a high percentage of staff who are smaller than taller and the PK sits sooo high. Its hopper gate is hard to use and causes smaller staff to overreach.
On the whole, though we really do love it. If taste clarity is the aim then this grinder is for you.
Also, just a reminder that when you use it you have to have it on to adust the grinder.
An update January 2022
We are still loving our compak, we do find it retains a bit of grind and can be a little bit messy but all in all we find clarity of flavour to be outstanding. It also hasn't missed a beat, comapired to some other equipment in our cafe.