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Mahlkoenig caters to a niche in industrial coffee grinders

From the March 2013 issue.

Mahlkoenig lend their retail and HORECA expertise to the industrial coffee grinding level, with a grinder ideal for a mid-volume market.

Kristian Klatt Mahlkoenig coffee grinderWhen it comes to coffee grinding innovation, few companies have pioneered on so many fronts as Mahlkoenig.

At the retail level, the company partnered with roasting giants around the world to encourage self-serve grinding on grocery shelves. At the hotel, restaurant and café (HORECA) level, Mahlkoenig drew a few raised eyebrows back in 2000 when they introduced the first grind-on-demand machine. Five years ago, the company further pushed the innovation front, with Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) that locked cafés into only grinding as much coffee as they purchased from their roasters.

In addition to innovating in these markets, Christian Klatt, Product Manager for Mahlkoenig, says that the company’s efforts in the industrial space have filled a necessary niche for mid-volume commercial roasters. With the choice of grinder largely dependent on grind speed, capacity, and, naturally, budget, Klatt says there has been a rift between the highest capacity retail grinder and industrial roller mill grinders.

Klatt explains that companies looking to grind from 100 – 300 kilograms a day of coffee could probably use Mahlkoenig’s largest size retail grinder. However, for companies looking to grind 150 – 450 kilograms an hour, then an industrial grinder is absolutely vital to keep up with that level of capacity. To fill in that gap, Mahlkoenig offers the DK27 disc grinder.

“These disc grinders are great for filling that gap between retail and roller mill grinders,” Klatt says. “For a roaster who’s grinding 400 kilograms a day, it doesn’t make sense to make such a high level of investment. It’s better to get a simple machine that’s going to minimise costs.” 

Klatt points out that major companies looking to grind around the clock are more likely to opt for roller mill grinders. However, at a quarter of the price flat disc grinders are ideal for companies working in volumes of up to 450 kilograms an hour.

Mahlkoenig Industrial coffee grinder DK27 Price considerations further come into play with flat disc grinders when companies are budgeting for servicing. Klatt explains that disc grinders are easier, quicker and cheaper to maintain, and can often be serviced in-house. With roller-mill grinders, an off-site skilled technician is often required, leading to higher costs and more equipment downtime.

The durability of roller grinders over disc grinders is often cited as a major advantage, but in this regard Klatt cites Mahlkoenig’s efforts in durable disc materials. While the standard steel discs work great on “clean” coffee – i.e. coffee that has been properly filtered for sand, rocks and other by-products – he says when coffee has not been as well cleaned, steel discs can rapidly go blunt.

In these cases, Mahlkoenig offers the option of upgrading to cast steel discs. These more durable discs are worth the extra investment, Klatt says, especially in markets where the coffee going through the machines may be a little “rougher”. Compared to the steel discs which grind at a speed of 280 – 300 kilograms an hour, cast steel discs are a bit slower at 230 – 250 kilograms an hour. However, the durability of the material means these discs stay sharp, and have a longer lifetime than steel discs.

For even longer lifetimes, Mahlkoenig offers an additional upgrade to the tungsten carbide discs. With a grind speed of 260 – 280 kilograms per hour, these discs work at a speed and volume capacity similar to steel discs, with an impressive 18 times the lifetime. As a significantly higher investment, Klatt says companies looking for durable grinders, especially in markets where coffee may not be “as clean”, should consider these carbide options.

Mahlkoenig’s industrial grinders can be fitted for ultra-fine Turkish coffee grinding. The company’s steel Turkish discs can grind particle sizes of 90 – 1200 micrometres, at a capacity of 180 kilograms per hour. Alternatively, the up-scaled, longer-life carbide Turkish fine discs can grind down to the same sizes, but at a capacity of 220 kilograms per hour.

At such a sophisticated level of grinding, Klatt says Mahlkoenig sales representative around the world can help with adjustment and maintenance. In addition to this network of representatives, the company has offices in the United States, France, Italy, United Kingdom, China, Australia, Scandinavia, Japan, Switzerland and India.

“Our sales representatives have undergone an extensive training program,” he says. “They can fit all our versions and adaptations to the customers needs. Most of them can put together an industrial grinder from scratch.”

The key to a successful grinder, Klatt says, is one that will ensure a smooth flow of operation. A break of a few hours can lead to a significant loss of capital and resources for any level of business.

“Everything has to work together. You can’t have a grinder that’s blocking up every day,” says Klatt.

As Mahlkoenig produces every part of its grinders in-house in Germany, Klatt says the company is able to adapt the grinders to individual customer needs. The company offers six basic models of industrial grinders, however with at least 100 adaptations available on each model, tailored to individual clients.  

“We’re always looking for new solutions,” says Klatt. 

Outside the industrial area, Mahlkoenig’s efforts in innovation continue to push the forefront of the coffee community. With a goal to invest in research and innovation, in 2009 the company partnered with Marco Beverage Systems Ltd., an Ireland-based specialty coffee equipment developer known for its exact water brewing device the Uber Boiler. Together, they worked on a grind profile project to help limit fines in filter coffee. Discovering that many of these finer grinds are extracted via screw holes in the grinder, the company developed discs that fit together magnetically. The result is the Ubergrinder exclusive to Marco as an advancement of the Tanzania grinder, that improves freshly ground coffee for popular brew methods.

In working across the depth of the coffee industry – from niche specialty coffee to the industrial scale – Klatt says Mahlkoenig is able to offer a unique level of expertise in the industry.

“From the ‘coffee geeks’ in the industry, we hear a lot of about the finer refinements we need to make. For the chains we need to deliver 200 grinders that produce to the exact same setting. For retail we consistently improve our user interface,” he says. “All these segments of coffee really give completely different inputs, that we’re able to use to improve all of our products across the board.” 

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