I finally decided to invest in a high-end manual coffee grinder and in doing so, go further down the rabbit hole in pursuit of that perfect cup.
I've been experimenting with using different beans to develop my sense of taste for different flavours in coffee. However, I had trouble differentiating between beans with very different taste profiles - they all seem to taste very similar when brewed with my French press. After learning about the importance of an even grind size, I began to suspect that my previous entry level grinder might be to blame.
I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade all the way to the Kinu M47 Classic. Here's a quick review after a month of use.
- 9 Nov 2020: updated with more thoughts after 5 months of use, and how its worked out for me for use in Espresso.
- 14 Jun 2020: added more info after a month's use and to fix some typos, thanks to Kyle Murphy for pointing them out.
Unboxing and First Impressions
The M47 came wrapped in ample cushioning. The body is mostly stainless steel and is built like a tank. It feels very sturdy and well-constructed. If dropped, you'd be more likely to damage the floor than the M47. However, it is noticeably heavy - 1.1 kg is something you will definitely feel when grinding. This is something that I've gotten used to with time.
To adjust grind size, there's a thumb screw at the top which you loosen, which lets you adjust the size wheel. It features near stepless adjustment. The size adjustment wheel has a resolution of 50 subdivisions per revolution, useful for espresso brewing. I had 3 problems when adjusting grind size:
- Turning the wheel clockwise causes the M47 to produce a finer grind. Turning anti-clockwise produces a coarser grind. I felt that it would have been more intuitive if it were the other way around instead but this is standard in the industry.
- The manual didn't have any suggestions on what settings to use for various brewing methods. This is a surprising omission, since Kinu's competitors had this information on their websites. First, turn clockwise until the wheel no longer moves - this is the 0 point. You'll see M47 users describe their grind settings with a number such as 4.5, which is 4 and a half revolutions from the 0 point, which you adjust by turning anticlockwise. Higher settings = coarser grinds. I found the /r/coffee subreddit really useful as there are numerous posts on which settings to use.
- Each micro adjustment of the wheel doesn't provide enough tactile feedback, a consequence of the stepless adjustment. There's an indicator line on the wheel which shows how much it's been spun, but I had trouble seeing it because it is too small. I couldn't find any satisfactory workarounds which would let me adjust grind size independently so I've written to Kinu to request the indicator line be made tactile in some way.
The First Grind
The M47 doesn't have a lid, so is loaded by simply pouring in beans at the top. Because of the conical lip opening which funnels coffee beans into the body, I never had any issues with beans bouncing off the drive shaft and flying out, something I previously had to pay attention to.
The grinding action is very smooth, and the handle moves easily without applying much force. It also ground extremely quickly thanks to the 47mm burrs - at least twice as fast as my previous grinder. I can grind 25 g of beans in less than a minute but I often do so a little more slowly to savour the experience.
Because of the open lid, the aroma released by the beans being ground comes up strongly through the top. I always found grinding coffee therapeutic and these aromas really adds to the experience.
The ground coffee goes into a cup at the bottom, which is magnetically attached to the body. It feels tightly secured, which allows naturally holding the grinder with one hand at the top while grinding with the other. There's a thumb rest for the non-grinding hand which I found comfortable.
Overall, the ergonomics and thoughtful design made the M47 such a pleasure to use.
The First Cup
The coffee was very evenly ground. The improvement in taste was unbelievable, and I no longer have difficulties with differentiating between beans. The unique characteristics of the beans comes across very clearly in the brew. I used a grind size of 4.5 with a French press brewed with the James Hoffmann method. I look forward to experimenting to see if I can make it taste even better.
Nov 2020 Update
After initially using it for french press, I switched to using the V60 to brew coffee for a few months. In Aug, I caved in and got an espresso machine, the Lelit Mara X.
The M47 performed really well for all these brew methods taste wise. The stepless adjustment also provides the needed precision for dialing in for espresso.
I did not mind using the M47 at all for filter coffee. However, when the espresso routine already takes 15 minutes, spending an entire minute to manually grind 18 g of beans for it bothers me a lot more. I am increasingly regretting not biting the bullet and getting an electric grinder like the Niche Zero from the start.
The M47 is a very good grinder. It is also outrageously expensive - $329 in the US and S$525 here in Singapore is a lot of money.
If you're interested in the M47, Kinu sells the M47 simplicity and M47 Phoenix. They are more reasonably priced - having the same grind technology as the M47 classic but with plastic in place of stainless steel for the non-essential parts. This also makes them much lighter than the Classic.
Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with the M47 classic. It is very well built, easy to use and makes delicious coffee.
If you're not doing espresso, it shouldn't take more than half a minute to grind coffee at medium settings which is pretty reasonable. I would recommend the M47 without hesitation if you prefer not using an electric grinder or have space constraints in the kitchen.
If you're doing espresso, I would highly recommend investing in an electric grinder instead because of how long it takes to grind at espresso settings. The M47 is one of the best hand grinders for espresso. Using an electric grinder would mainly be for convenience rather than better grind quality at this price point.