Test Drive: The Mahlkönig X54 Grinder
The Mahlkönig X54 grinder changes the game by “doing the same thing“ Mahkönig has always done well.
BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo by Alex Bolen
Home coffee enthusiasts are having a field day right now. It is safe to say that never before have there been more toys, gadgets, and gizmos for the in-home coffee aficionado. Lovingly dubbed the “prosumer” market (combining professional and consumer—get it?), new and long-standing companies are rushing to bring their best and brightest additions to this formerly untapped market segment.
Prosumers Want More
No longer are “pared down” commercial models or flimsy cheap options appealing to this growing segment of coffee drinkers with refined taste. Those wishing to enter the prosumer market are working hard to ensure that what they are offering is as high quality and durable as the professional offerings, but with a new specific user group in mind.
This segment has been making considerable strides for home users through the grinder market. Options like the Niche Zero, Fellow Ode, and La Marzocco Lux D have all gathered cult followings in recent years. Never one to be outdone, Mahlkönig has entered the arena with a new heavy hitter called the X54 Home Solutions Grinder.
Meet the Mahlkönig X54
Distributed in the States by GH Grinding and Brewing Systems, the X54 follows the trend of the newer Mahlkönig models in styling. Sleek matte black lines rounded in a small yet sturdy footprint will instill confidence in even the most discerning home coffee aficionado. Not a fan of the black? Then be sure to pre-order a limited-edition chrome model that will complement your stainless-steel espresso machine nicely.
The X54 is designed to accommodate particle size for many brewing methods. In order to accomplish this goal, Mahlkönig has equipped the grinder with a large, graduated adjustment knob that makes it easy to fine-tune your espresso grind, turn to a French press setting, and then return to your same espresso grind in a snap. The laser-etched tick marks on the adjustment knob are smooth and user-friendly.
Not an espresso fan? The X54 has two options for dosing your coffee as well. The portafilter forks fit most standard 58mm portafilters, while the “forkless” dosing option delivers nice, fluffy grounds into a vessel of your choice. The swap between the two settings is easy and fast, with just the touch of a button and no tools required.
Functionality is controlled by an LED display that sits prominently in the center of the grinder, like all Mahlkönig espresso models. It allows for easy adjustment of the grind time and quick changes between four different pre-programmed settings. Start, stop, and pause functions are built-in and automatic. Or, you are always free to get crazy with the manual grinding mode and throw caution to the wind!
I personally really enjoyed my time with the X54. I found the overall grind quality to be extremely efficient, as is to be expected with Mahlkönig products. I mostly put the grinder to use with my Breville Precision Drip Brewer, and had it provide me with a 30-32-gram dose at a medium grind setting.
In general, the grind size distribution made a lovely curve, with “fines” only representing about 9% on average of the overall dose at a standard grind setting for a drip brewer. For a home grinder, I consider this to be impressive. That same 32-gram dose took about 12.3 seconds of time for the X54 to complete, and the grounds were always delivered fluffy without clumps or static.
The overall noise of the grinder was low, especially when compared to other common home coffee grinders. While the dose amount wasn’t spot-on every time (but let’s be real, what grinder is really THAT consistent with its dosing volume?), it was nice to have overall consistency with minimal effort.
Doing the Same Great Thing Mahlkönig Has Always Done
To be honest, I’ve been struggling to sum up my thoughts on the X54. Does it do something new? No. What new features does it have? None, really. Are there new innovations at play? Nope. Mahlkönig isn’t doing anything new or groundbreaking.
The X54 is just another top-quality grinder they are known for. To put it a different way, the X54 is exactly what I expected it to be as a person who works with commercial grinders every day. It did exactly what I asked it to at a high-quality level. But then, I remember back to the days when I didn’t have access to so many high-quality commercial grinder options—struggling with fines-choked pourovers, inconsistent espresso shots, spraying, loud grinders, and cheap quality parts. That’s when it hit me: The innovation in the X54 is that Mahlkönig has taken the same quality that they are known for in their commercial models, and put it in the hands of the home user. It was then that I came to see that the X54 is, indeed, truly groundbreaking.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Taves (he/him) is the head of business development for Stovetop Roasters in Michigan and the creator of CuppingBrewer.com. He is also a 2017 USBC finalist, so he knows his way around lots of different coffee gadgets. He has been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and enjoys taking advantage of all the great adventures the outdoors has to offer.
Source: Barista Magazine