For a long time, I wanted to test the El Comandante C40 MKIII coffee grinder. In truth, I had already spotted it during my research to acquire my first high-end coffee grinder but I could not buy it because at the time I lived in Canada, the C40 was not available in this country.
This coffee grinder is presented by many forums as being one of the most reliable on the market. What is it really? To be able to try it, I ended up buying it on Amazon. You will understand, this test was done by passion and in a completely objective way.
Although very busy for several months, I decided to take over my blog on coffee. Today, I offer a detailed tutorial, on all the steps that allow me to make a success of my coffees with a levered La Pavoni.
You should know that the levered La Pavoni are very “sensitive” machines. That is to say that the slightest “mistake” has consequences that are immediately felt in the cup. Therefore, when you start with a La Pavoni, the first coffees are very often missed. But do not be discouraged, with practice, you manage to find your technique and implement your protocol to make all your coffees successful.
A few months ago I participated in a contest organized by BPlus: a company that I have presented several times during my articles. The object of the competition was to create a short video of their Apollo coffee grinder and put it on Youtube. In this way, the most liked video chose the winner. Lucky, I won first prize in the contest: a $ 300 voucher from BPlus.
Since I live in Europe, the director of the company offered to take over an almost new electric coffee grinder. He only used it during the world coffee in Milan: the BZF64 normally sold much more expensive.
Several reasons push me to prefer manual mills to electric mills. They are less noisy, have precision mechanical side that I like, waste less coffee (with less retention). At the time I sought to acquire a coffee grinder, I started listing all the premiums manual coffee grinders on the market. This is the purpose of this article.
Do you like coffee and you’re in a hurry in the morning? Do you have people at home or you do not want to waste time grinding coffee by hand? So like me, you probably thought about acquiring an electric coffee grinder.
Like hand coffee grinders, there are many models, all prices and different qualities. Some of the electric coffee grinders will have applications for espresso coffee, others for coffee filters. I was looking for a discreet, pretty coffee grinder, with low coffee retention at an affordable price. The coffee grinder I was looking for must marry well with my machines: a La Pavoni and a Lelit 41TEM.
With its success, the Apollo coffee grinder (which I recently compared to the Kinu M47) was out of stock. On Instagram, I saw that BPlus will in the coming days release a new batch of Apollo mills. From the photos, it seems that the builder has chosen not to modify the Apollo coffee grinder. Indeed, the latter is a real success and is in my opinion one of the best (if not the best) coffee grinders available on the market.
BPlus posted on Instagram some pictures and videos of the construction stages of their coffee grinders. Here they are :
As you know, grinding your coffee is essential for making a good espresso. I started with a Porlex that I later replaced with the Kinu M47 (which I did the review here). Then I decided to replace Kinu M47 with the latest high quality manual coffee grinder: the “Apollo coffee grinder” (manufactured by BPlus, with the appreciation and permission of La Pavoni). Why ? because the coffee grinder Apollo solves some problems that displeased me, after a longue use, with the Kinu M47.
Let’s see the technical characteristics of the Apollo mill
It is made entirely of metal: the body of the mill is in CNC anodized Aluminum, everything inside is stainless steel, the only rubber element is a non-slip placed under the base. The 48 mm conical burrs are manufactured by the italian Italmill (Nanotech Coating).
Burrs are standard stock by Italmill. It will be easy to replace if needed and are guaranteed for 100k shots.
The mill is available in three colors: gold champagne, silver and matt black. It has a total weight of 1030g and grinds up to 25g of coffee beans.
According to my tests, I grind 13g of coffee in 40 cranks. That is to say that I put between 15 and 20 seconds to grind the coffee necessary for an espresso.
For a coffee grinder of this category, it has a rather attractive price : 222 €. It was delivered to me in a week and I did not have any customs fees.
Design is important for me. Expensive products that, in addition to grinding the coffee, must give a certain pleasure to look at and using them.
Apollo : retro et modern at time
It really looks like the columns of the “Basilica Santissima Annunziata del Vastato”, a monument in the style “Mannerism” that is in Italy. This design seems to honor the Italian origins of the burrs brand. In addition, this shape greatly improves the grip of the coffee grinder during use.
The care of
Since the body of the mill is cylindrical, when grinding coffee, it must be able to hold it should prevent turning on itself.
Almost all the coffee grinders on the market are simple smooth rolls. This is binding: you have to squeeze very hard to prevent them from slipping. I had the expense with my first manual mill: the Porlex.
For instance, the Kinu M47 has been designed with a small wedge for the thumb to avoid the rotation of the mill. After several months of use I can say that this approach is not optimal because it requires always the same finger (thumb) to hold it firmly to prevent it slips. To be really effective, it would be necessary to be able to block the mill with all the fingers.
For the Apollo coffee grinder, with its “honeycomb” shape (which is an integral part of the design), the palm of the hand and the fingers adhere perfectly to the mill. It is not necessary to squeeze very hard, which makes it more pleasant to use.
By its shape I think we better hold the handle of the Apollo than the Kinu M47. As you can see in the photos, it is bigger and rounder. When I use a coffee grinder, I always place the palm of my hand on the top of the handle. The crank Kinu is a little narrower and does not have the roundness of the palm of the hand when it is tightened.
The Kinu handle is not unpleasant, but it is less comfortable than the Apollo coffee grinder.
Other generalities of design
Exist two categories of manual coffee grinders. It’s distinguished by the number of steps necessary to prepare the grinder:
The mills you need:
open a lid
pour the coffee inside
replace the lid
look for the crank that we often lose (believe it, there is some experience with my Porlex mill)
place the crank
grind the coffee
The mills you need:
pour the coffee inside and grind the coffee
To my knowledge, there are only two mills that meet the second category: the kinu M47 and the Apollo.
In my opinion, there is one detail that has been better thought of with the Apollo coffee grinder. It has an angle of attack of the funnel which is more pronounced compared to that of Kinu M47. During daily use, this detail is not anecdotal and is important because, it allows you to pour the coffee at once without grains bouncing on the edges (of the funnel) and end up on the ground. In addition, the opening of the cylinder is a little more important at the Apollo mill reducing the chances of loss of coffee.
Setting the fineness of the grind
The setting of the grind of the Apollo and Kinu M47 is not stepless but is done click by click. Like many grinders that work by this mechanism, it is very very accurate (see below for more details).
Although visually similar, the mechanisms of Kinu M47 and Apollo are totally different.
On the Apollo coffee grinder it is possible to turn the adjustment wheel without having to loosen the screw that holds the crank (of course, the adjustment knob does not jump when using the grinder). This is not possible with the Kinu M47: you must loosen the screw first (which holds the crank) and then adjust the coffee grinder coarseness.
More, on the Apollo, it is not necessary to tighten very much the screw that holds the set. The setting will never jump.
By cons with the Kinu M47, I often had the bad surprise to see my setting jump one or two notches when using it.
The container fixing system
The container of the Apollo coffee grinder is screwed while that of Kinu M47 is fixed with magnets. Both systems are effective. Personally I have a small preference for the magnetic fastening system even if the screw system may look much stronger over time.
You will notice in passing that the base of the Apollo coffee grinder is wider than the Kinu M47. This accentuates its foundation.
Disassemble the Apollo
The Apollo mill has a great advantage over its competitor: it can be disassembled entirely and reassembled without losing the settings. The complete cleaning will be all the easier.
Although complete disassembly of Kinu M47 is possible, it is strongly discouraged.
As you can see, you have to go with hammers, at the risk of damaging the coffee grinder. Moreover, when reassembling it is impossible to find the initial setting. Here we go again on several tests to find the good fineness of the grind.
The maker of Kinu M47 says on his site that his grinder can be disassembled without tools in 1 minute. The only problem is that we do not disassemble the entire mill (we remove only the central rod does not allow access to the inside of the coffee grinder for cleaning).
With the Apollo coffee grinder, after removing the central rod, we dismantle all the remaining parts by removing two small screws. We can then remove the second part of the wheel and one of the two ball bearings. As a result, it is very easy to clean the interior of the mill and reassemble it, without loss of adjustment.
The cleaning of the coffee grinder
Time spent grinding
This is a recurring question for anyone looking to buy a manual coffee grinder: “How long will I spend grinding coffee?” – “I want it to be fast.”
To grind 13 grams of coffee with the Apollo coffee grinder, I do about 40 crank turns. That is to say that I put 15 to 20 seconds to grind the coffee (18 seconds on average after being timed 3 times). Note that the setting is a fine molding compatible with an espresso machine.
In the demonstration video of the Apollo coffee grinder, the operator takes about 25 seconds to grind 15 grams of coffee. As I do not keep the mill on the table when I grind by rotating both the coffee grinder body and the crank, I’m a little faster.
The retention of coffee
The retention of coffee is extremely low on manual coffee grinders (compared to electric coffee grinders that can sometimes hold several grams of coffee). Generally I put one or two drops of water in the coffee before grinding it to neutralize the static electricity responsible for the retention.
I observed that coffee tends to stick a little more in the container of Kinu M47. This forces me to kick on the side of the containers to loosen the rest of the coffee. I have the Apollo for less time but I sincerely feel that it is less the case.
Quality of the grind
In my opinion, the Apollo and the Kinu M47 are quite equivalent in terms of the quality of the grind. They both make excellent espresso (and even use a bottomless filter holder).
The Apollo is a very good coffee grinder. It is beautiful, very functional, with a very good grip, the ability to disassemble fully, easily, finding its settings. It grinds coffee quickly. The defects that I have seen with the Kinu M47, are largely corrected with the Apollo.
In addition it costs less: 222 € against vs 329 € for the Kinu M47. There is therefore a difference of just over 100 € between the two products which is not negligible.