Compak R120 – First Impressions
My main grinder is an EK43 and I’ve seen a few posts on the R120 which, as a coffee gear head, got me thinking….. Due to the stars aligning I managed to borrow Dave’s for a couple of weeks and thought I’d post some initial thoughts.
Let’s get it out the way, this thing is a monster, it’s freakin’ massive, there’s no way around It, it dominates the EK in every dimension. Oh yeah and it weighs a bit too!!! Certainly not on for the faint hearted or for those with a back condition.
It’s built like a tank, the materials and construction are outstanding, from the divine on/off button, the chain driven adjustment mech and just the overall feel, it’s as solid as its weight suggests. It’s pretty quiet whilst running which is presumably again down to build quality and thickness of the case etc..
I’ve been using it for single dosing and for such a massive grinder I couldn’t believe how low the retention is. As others have said previously it simply doesn’t retain any coffee. I measure to 0.01g and you maybe get +/- 0.02g on average. Taking its giant hood off it’s easy to see why. The exit chute is located beneath the grind chamber so the coffee grounds are flushed out aided by gravity as well as the sweeper arms on the burr carrier. There is then a secondary motor which runs a second sweeper which gives the coffee a final de-clump and hand on its way out of the chute. This attention to detail is quite something! As a result of all this and combined with monster burrs and high spin speed, the grind consistency is quality. It’s as easy as throwing your beans in the top, letting it work its magic and knocking the thwacker a couple of times, it’s a pleasure to use. I find that the EK can make quite a bit of mess, the R120 is much cleaner overall.
My only niggle in the usability category is that the stock dial lacks some accuracy, this is no different to the EK out of the box. This could easily be resolved so as I say it’s only a minor gripe.
As with any grinder this is all academic if it doesn’t deliver in the cup and in this price range potential owners will be expecting something special! The good news is that it certainly does deliver. As the limited user base have already suggested the party piece of this grinder is the clarity that it delivers. It’s strange really, I never felt like there was a gap to be filled with espresso, my current shots are really tasty and sweet, just delicious really but there’s something different about the R120 shots. I would say that it seems more comfortable around 18-21% extraction yield, above 21% and you start to get a drying sensation on the tongue with most coffee that I’ve tried. I’ve not noticed any bitterness though, even on the 60s shot I pulled. I would guess that the R120 produces less fines than the EK but maybe a narrower main peak, hence the very clearly defined flavour profile. Hopefully someone will test it at some point as it would be interesting to see what’s going on. So in the cup you are getting a traditional style body and amazing flavour clarity. I find that this extra clarity really shines through on coffee with fruit notes, these are really nicely accentuated for espresso and makes brewed coffee taste super juicy! After owning the EK for over a year now I found myself missing the sweetness that particular grinder excels at. I was quite surprised by this in all honesty as I guess I must have got used to it, but the juiciness is something new and totally delicious.
So in summary you have a fantastically well-built grinder that is totally suited to single dosing, it’s a pleasure to use a delivers amazing body and superb clarity and juiciness in the cup. Would I swap it for the EK? I don’t think so, I think I would miss the insane sweetness that the EK delivers. Would I own one along-side the EK, absolutely, it brings something completely different to the table, something different to any other grinder that I’ve used. Really glad I’ve had the opportunity to get one of these fantastic grinders on the bench and I look forward to continuing to experiment over the coming days.
Where the magic happens…
That ain’t a clump crusher, this is a clump crusher!
What a knob!
The over-engineered grind adjustment mech
For more information head over to Compak’s Website.