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Mahlkonig K30 Vario, Air & Twin Commercial Grinders Review 2018

An image of K30 Vario, a fabulous grinder for power coffee drinkers

Mahlkonig Grinder K30

9.3 Total Score
Mahlkonig K30 Vario, Air & Twin

A sleek and beautiful high-tech marvel, offered in three different flavors, but you’ll pay a premium for whichever one you pick.
Recommended for: Anyone who can afford it. Note, however, that novice baristas will face a learning curve, thanks to the stepless grind feature.
** Note that although there are some differences between the three models we’ll talk about here, in our view, they all rate the same, out of five stars**

Capacity
9
Number of Grind Settings
10
Ease of Use
9
Extras and Options
9
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Set Alert for Product: Mahlkonig K30 VARIO - $1,595.00

An Overview of the Mahlkonig Grinder K30 

Do you run a small business where specialty coffee drinks are offered or sold to your customers?  Do you run a busy office?  Have a large household, filled with power coffee drinkers?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re going to love our detailed Mahlkonig K30 Review.  Mahlkonig makes fabulous grinders, which are one of the keys to making world-class specialty coffee drinks.

Owing to the vast popularity of the Mahlkönig K30 Vario, the company created two variants of the base model; the K30 Twin, and the K30 Air Grinder.  They are highly similar but do have a few differences that may cause you to gravitate toward one or the other.

We’ll cover all three in the sections below, so you’ve got all the information you need to figure out if one of these is perfect for your busy home or business.  Ready?  Let’s get right to it!

Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic

All three of the machines in the Vario lineup are sleek, modern looking devices, fashioned of sturdy ABS plastic (either black or white, at your option) with silver highlights and feature a clear bean hopper sitting atop (two, in the case of the Twin).

The Mahlkonig K30 Vario Air and the base model share the same dimensions, and measure 9.5” x 12.6” x 21.75” and weigh in at 28.7 pounds.  These grinders are small enough that finding a permanent home for them should not be a problem in most environments and light enough that even if you have to move them about from time to time, you won’t struggle to do so.

The Mahlkonig K30 Twin is somewhat larger, as you might expect, measuring 14.6” x 11.8” x 22” and weighs a hefty 57.3 pounds.  It might present a bit of a challenge to find it a full-time home in smaller kitchens with limited counter space, and is heavy enough that you won’t want to move it if you don’t have to, which might make it a non-starter for some, depending on the space you’ve got to work with.

All three grinders are quite handsome and would make an excellent addition to any home or business kitchen, or break room.

Hopper Capacity

This is a critical component of our Mahlkonig K30 review, because in a commercial setting (or a large home, filled with power drinkers) hopper capacity really matters, as does grinding speed.

The base model and the K30 Vario Air both impress, offering a 3.3-pound hopper capacity, and can grind 3.3g per second.

Note: You can buy both of these models with a smaller 1.8-pound hopper if you choose, although doing so won’t save you any money.  It’s an interesting option, but we’re not really sure why it’s necessary.  Given that both are designed with businesses in mind, our view is that since the larger hopper won’t cost you extra, you may as well get it, even if you don’t need it when you first open your doors. You can always grow into it!

The Twin features a pair of 1.8-pound hoppers sitting atop it, giving you a total of 3.6 pounds of hopper capacity to play with, and offers an even better grinding speed, averaging 4.8 grams per second, which is nothing short of amazing.

While there are some commercial grade grinders that offer a slightly higher hopper capacity, Mahlkonig is definitely top-tier in this regard.  Unless you’ve got a huge store, and do a tremendous volume each day, these machines should have no trouble handling anything you throw at them.

An image of K30's bean hopper, which has a 3.3-pound capacity

Burr Configuration and Materials

All three models feature 65mm stainless steel grinding burrs, arrayed in a flat configuration.

Many coffee aficionados have a strong preference for either stainless steel or ceramic burrs.

The differences are slight, but stainless-steel burrs do tend to give you a more consistent grind.  We prefer ceramic because stainless steel, being metal, tends to heat up with extended use, and too much heat will ruin the flavor of the coffee you’re grinding.

An image of K30 Vario's stainless stell grinding burr blade

K30 Vario Burr

An image of K30's Twin burr blade

K30 Twin Burr

That’s only an issue if you’re using the grinder on a near constant basis, so for most people, it’s not an issue.

If your shop is especially busy though, this is the key advantage of the Mahlkonig K30 Air.  While it offers the exact same functionality of the base model, it’s got fans near the grinders designed to prevent them from overheating.  Testing confirms that when comparing the base model to the Air, the latter machine keeps the grounds up to 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than the base model does.

Again, this won’t matter unless you’ve got an extraordinarily busy shop and your grinder is in near-constant use, but if that’s the case, then the Air is the one you want, no question.

Grind Settings

This is another critical component of our Mahlkonig K30 Vario review and an area where it, and it’s two sister models really shines.  All three are stepless grinders, which means that there are no predefined settings at all, giving you complete freedom to fine-tune your grind as much as you’d like.

Experienced baristas tend to prefer this approach because they don’t like being locked into any manufacturer’s predefined settings, even if there are quite a lot of them, but it is a bit daunting to novice baristas because recreating a specific grind can prove challenging.

While we personally prefer a grinder with a ton of predefined settings, we acknowledge that it’s mostly a matter of convenience and that opinions will differ on this score, so we give Mahlkonig high marks here!

Use and Cleaning

The Mahlkonig K30 Vario and its two cousins are amazingly well designed, with a clean, well-organized interface and full programmability, including support for multiple languages, so whichever model you’re most interested in, it’ll be incredibly easy to set up and start using, and you’ll love the precise, computer-controlled doser.

An image of K30's Twin Burr, which is easy to use and clean

Again though, as easy is the machine is to learn to use, the presence of the stepless grinder does make it somewhat difficult to master, in that it takes time, practice, and skill to be able to consistently reproduce a specific grind.

All three models are exceptionally well designed (thank you, German engineering!), and can be disassembled in about a minute, making the burrs easy to clean as needed.

The big thing to mention here has to do with the K30 Twin.  Since it’s got two separate hoppers, it opens up some interesting possibilities that most other grinders just can’t match.  You can create your own custom coffee blends, drawing a small number of beans from both hoppers to craft truly one-of-a-kind coffee creations.

If you love experimenting with the world of flavors to be found in coffee beans, this is fantastic, and even if you don’t, the ability to whip up a “half-caf” drink in a flash is certainly not without value.  It’s a great feature, although we’d note that the Twin grinder is probably overkill for all but the busiest of coffee shops.

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Pros & Cons of Mahlkonig Grinder K30

There’s a lot to talk about here.  Since all three grinders have a common heritage, they all have the same basic strengths.  Mahlkonig makes excellent, long-lasting grinders, so any of these three will provide your business with years of reliable service, and they’re incredibly easy to use, right out of the box.

An image of Mahlkonig's brand logo

The support for multiple languages and precise dosing control make it easy for even someone who’s not particularly tech-savvy to get up and running right away, as long as you’re not trying to reproduce an intricate, very specific grind.

Front view image of the K30 Twin Grinder

The Vario K30 Twin is an especially attractive option for bustling coffee shops, and for anyone who has a love of experimentation, owing to the possibilities that the two hoppers make possible.

In a similar vein, the Vario Air has its own advantages where busy shops are concerned, given the presence of the advanced cooling system, which neatly sidesteps the problems that some stainless-steel burr grinders encounter with heat after extended periods of constant use.

On the negative side, aside from the learning curve associated with all stepless grinders, the biggest disadvantage, whichever model you choose, comes down to price.  You’ll pay a hefty premium for the quality and ease of use.

It’s also worth noting that the strengths we pointed out about the Twin and the Air variants can also be weaknesses for some users.  If you don’t have a bustling coffee shop, then it’s probably not worth paying extra for the Air, and if you’re not really into experimenting with custom blends, then there’s little need to pay extra for the Twin.  In both cases, those variants are rather self-selecting.

Mahlkonig K30 Review Conclusion

And that brings us to the conclusion of our Mahlkonig K30 review.  All three models in the Vario lineup are exceptional, and are all highly recommended. Before spending the extra money on the Twin or the Air though, be sure you want and need the added functionality they bring to the table.  If you can’t make a compelling case for them, then the base model would be your best choice.

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Sources & Resources

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