After having the fortunate opportunity to use the Kafatek Monolith Flat Grinder for two very thorough espresso sessions, courtesy of a generous fellow Home-Barista, this post serves as the other side of the coin of sorts to the Compak K10 Pro Barista Ownership Report, posted here. In that report of the K10 Pro Barista, I go in-depth on the process (and tradeoffs needed) to bring commercial quality espresso grinding into the home. So, this is essentially referencing a grinder that has been modified with work arounds for single dosing, with a grinder that was purpose built for the highest quality and lowest retention single dosing in a home friendly package. The process and usability of the KafaTek Monolith is just so good.
- Weigh the dose, add a spritz of water (RDT) from the supplied spray bottle.
- Add the dose to the grinder, grind through the dose, pulse the grinder a few times. Peak inside the cap to make sure any fragments or beans didn’t get caught in the throat.
- Depending on the coffee, you may need to remove the magnetic chute and tap any remaining grinds from it. In my experience with the burr comparison post two coffees, using a good spray on each, this was pretty much unnecessary.
- Distribute the basket as needed.
One nitpick of this grinder is that the grinds tend to shoot a little more erratically at the end of the dose. This seems to be partially due to the chaff of washed coffee, and partially due to the fluffy mound that is created while grinding, kind of ricocheting grinds all over. This was somewhat mitigated by tapping the dose down mid grind, but the grinds are very fluffy and this did not eliminate the more erratic end. I believe that using a collar or dosing funnel would channel of the grinds into the basket and that you could then just do a few side taps and a vertical tap, like with the K10 to settle the grounds, tamp and go. This would mean that WDT would not be needed with most coffees. KafaTek does supply a really well made WDT tool if/when needed, like in the case of the Ethiopia Kochere used in this test. I suspect you can get away without WDT with most coffees though as the aim during the first 2/3 of the grinding process is neat and uniform and the grounds can really be aimed to be equally distributed around the basket.
The common question on the forums seems to be if this grinder can be used to grind straight into the portafilter without WDT. That answer was yes without a funnel, but with a little mess, and I believe it is a definite yes if using a funnel, as this will allow you to better side tap and shake out any clumps to ensure the distribution is even.
The grind quality of the Monolith is fantastic, grinds are extremely uniform, so much so that we were able to find a significant difference between grinding at 300 rpm vs 600 rpm. Slowing the grinder down produced shots that flowed significantly (about 8-10 seconds) fast, all other variables being held constant. The guess is that this is caused by a more even grind with less fines at lower grinding speeds, thus allowing water to pass through the grinds more rapidly. What would be interesting with this grinder is to then see how the slower grind speed might allow you to use a finer grind and thus push extraction levels further. The other interesting variable is that grind speed could potentially be used to manipulate flow rate of the shot, rather than just adjusting fineness. There are a lot of variables and a lot of manipulation and tweaking that could come into play. The motor has adjustment all the way up to 800 rpm’s but comes standard set to 600 rpm, as I have heard that’s what the supplied Mythos burrs were best tested to.
As is expected (and as it should be at the price), the control and quality of grinds is certainly in the upper echelon of grinders. Being that is somewhat of an expectation though, what really blows you away about this grinder is the build quality and attention to detail. The finishing and thoughtfulness of the entire package is next level. Everything is done “right” and “just so”; all of the components fit together precisely, and the entire package has a very solid and robust presence and feel. The grind fineness and motor speed adjustments are well integrated, slick, and straight forward. The power switches are solid and provide confidence they will be reliable, and it is remarkably quiet. All of this attention to detail and design makes the grinder a real joy to use, especially if you’re someone like me that really appreciates the well thought out and well executed. The height, footprint, and overall aesthetic of the grinder are also very pleasing. This might be the most compact grinder at this level. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a pretty charming piece of machinery that looks like it belongs in a mechanical engineering lab, and I mean that in the best way possible.
So obviously I am quite fond of the Monolith Flat, and I would expect nothing less out of its conical twin, which is said to be slightly less messy as well. But outside of the Kafatek offerings there are a few other options. I’ll dig into “titan-tier” espresso grinders for home use in a post soon.