Mahlkonig X54 Coffee Grinder Review: Does it live up to the brand’s reputation?
Mahlkonig may be the most famous name in commercial coffee grinders, but they’ve steered clear of the home market. Until now. The X54 Allround is the brand’s first coffee grinder designed for the home barista, which has yielded plenty of hype.
But has it yielded an incredible coffee grinder? Did Mahlkonig innovate and add something new to the space? Or are they just trading on their reputation to make a quick buck? This review has the answers.
Summary: The Mahlkonig X54 Coffee Grinder
- The first home grinder from famed commercial manufacturer Mahlkonig
- Burr grinder with 54 mm flat steel burrs
- Programmable timed dosing that is easy and intuitive to use
Great looking, easy to use, very silent compared to my Mazzer Mini. Could wish for a smaller hopper though.– Customer review
The Full Mahlkonig X54 Allround Grinder Review
In this section, we’ll dig into the details of this brand-new offering, including design, operation, and durability. We’ll sum it all up by looking at value for money. Because any Mahlkonig grinder will be a good grinder, the question is whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
Design – 3.5/5
If you’ve ever worked in a commercial coffee shop with a Mahkonig grinder, you’ll find similar design cues here on their first home model. Of course, the X54 has a smaller footprint, but the circular body and programming display will look very familiar.
Also familiar? The iconic tall, conical bean hopper.
This prominent design feature makes a lot of sense in a coffee shop, where a Malhkonig grinder is a showpiece, and high turnover mandates a high-capacity hopper. At home? Not so much. The towering 500 g hopper makes the X54 home grinder an impractical 17 inches tall and seems like a design decision rooted in brand consistency rather than function. For comparison, the popular grinders of the Eureka Mignon series, with their stylish square hoppers, are under 14 inches tall.
The rest of the design is very well thought through, as you’d expect from a company that has been building and innovating some of the world’s best grinders for nearly 100 years (1).
The universal portafilter rest is large and sturdy, and it keeps a solid grasp on the portafilter.
When not grinding for espresso, you can easily swap it out for the included dual-walled aluminium grounds catch container. Such a feature indicates an all-around grinder and not just a fine-espresso one.
Durability – 4/5
The build of the Mahlkonig X54 is excellent, as is befitting the brand. The engineering is top-notch, and everything fits together in a snug and satisfying way. You can feel that it’s a premium quality grinder when you take the hopper on and off, remove or insert the portafilter holding fork, or adjust the grind size. As a result, the Mahlkonig X54 is capable of light-duty commercial use, like an espresso cart or pop-up.
However, the X54 does have significantly more plastic components than the brand’s commercial models, including a plastic body. Though it’s durable plastic, at this price, compared with competitors’ offerings, it would be nice to see more metal.
Ease of Use – 4.5/5
Ease of use is the defining feature of the X54. It is clearly built by a company with decades of experience knowing what baristas want – and don’t want – from a product. It’s intuitive to set up and program, even without the included user’s manual.
The Mahlkonig X54 uses programmable timing to deliver a consistent dose. You can pre-program four different grind times for different brewing sizes and methods, or you can run the manual mode. Because it’s Wifi-enabled, you can even connect with the Mahlkonig database to find established settings for different coffee preparation methods and access firmware updates.
One issue with home grinding by time instead of weight is that you can get inconsistent results depending on the weight of beans in the hopper. However, that does not appear to be a problem for the X54, and it yields the same dose consistently and with a surprisingly quiet operation.
The X54 is already being commended for its superb mess-free delivery, and cleaning is as easy as everything else.
The grind catcher tray and grind chute are magnetically attached, making them simple to clean. The hopper is easy to remove to gain access to the burrs, and a kill switch inside ensures that the grinder cannot turn on until the hopper is correctly back in place.
Grinding Capability – 3.5/5
The Mahlkonig X54 relies on a 54 mm flat steel burr set – hence its name – powered by a 1050 rpm motor (2). To a loose approximation, bigger is better when it comes to burrs, and 54 mm is disappointingly small compared to the competition. For example, the similarly priced Eureka Specialita has 65 mm burrs.
That said, the X54 yields optimum grind consistency and fluid grind delivery from fine espresso to coarse French Press coffee. While grind retention is sometimes an issue with flat burrs, according to Sprudge magazine’s Zac Cadwalader, the X54 performs well in this regard.
In action, the whisper-quiet grinder by and large had no real grind retention to speak of; what you put in is what you got out.
The grind adjustment mechanism is best described as a hybrid between stepped and stepless grind adjustment. It has a firm start and end with 35 marked grind settings in between, but within those 35 settings, the adjuster knob moves freely, giving you infinite grind size options.
The espresso end of the spectrum is where this model really shines. For espresso, Aeropress, Moka pot, filter coffee, and small format pour-overs, the X54 knocks it out of the park. But, as you go a bit coarser into French Press, larger-scale pour-overs, and cold brewing, the consistency flags slightly, with some over-large chunks making their way through.
Value for Money – 3/5
For me, the value for money is the main sticking point with the X54. Given the size of the burrs, it seems clear that you’re paying for the Mahlkonig brand name, but the primarily plastic body suggests that you aren’t getting the expected Mahlkonig quality.
That said, it is probably the most capable all-around grinder at a price, perfect for those who prefer many alternative brewing methods. For example, comparably priced prosumer grinders like the Mazzer Mini, the Eureka Mignon Specialita, and the Fiorenzato F4, might perform better for either espresso or drip brewing but lack the range of the X54.
The X54 Allround is more expensive than the Niche Zero, another capable all-around grinder. But the Niche is designed for single-dosing and has a conical burr set, so it is probably targeted at a slightly different market subset.
Don’t Buy the Mahlkonig X54 Allround Coffee Grinder If…
You don’t use an espresso machine – If you only brew drip coffee, there’s no reason to drop the extra cash on an all-around grinder. Instead, consider some of the Eureka coffee grinders, like the Mignon Crono or Filtro, or check out the popular Baratza Virtuoso. If you like the matte black aesthetic of the X54, you might be interested in the Fellow Ode.
You prefer a conical burr grinder – The debate between conical and flat burrs rages among coffee pros. Some prefer the cleaner cup of flat burrs, while others like the heavier body yielded by conical burrs, especially for espresso (3). If you fall into the latter camp, then consider other grinders like the Niche Zero or Baratza Sette.
You prefer single dosing or a lower profile – If you prefer to single dose, or just can’t find space for that towering Mahlkonig bean hopper, consider the Turin DF64. It’s a single dosing grinder, like the Niche, but with 64 mm flat burrs.
For anyone who likes brewing coffee AND pulling espresso shots, the Mahlkonig X54 is an exciting new addition to the home grinder market with outstanding versatility. As you’d expect from a trusted quality brand with the storied history of Mahlkonig, its first foray into the home sector, while not perfect, is already one of the all-around coffee grinders on the market.
- Global Coffee Report. (2018, March 1). Mahlkonig grinds the perfect cup. Retrieved from https://www.gcrmag.com/mahlkoenig-grinds-the-perfect-cup/
- Lemos, C. (2018, July 17). Espresso Grinder Burrs: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/blog/2018/7/17/espresso-grinder-burrs-whats-the-difference
- Schomer, D. (2019, August 30). A Call to Action on Espresso Grinders, by David Schomer. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/08/30/a-call-to-action-on-espresso-grinders-by-david-schomer/