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The X54 is a flat burr grinder from Mahlkonig built for the home barista market. It promises a premium café-like experience and great grind consistency for all brew methods. The X54 retails for around £500 and shares a similar design language with their commercial line of grinders such as the E65S and K30. Today we’ll be finding out if Mahlkonig have managed to bring high quality coffee into the home, and whether the X54 is worth considering as your next upgrade.

X54 Technical Specifications

So as the name suggests, the X54 is a 54mm flat burr on-demand grinder that produces a uniform and high-quality grind consistency. It features an on-demand grinding system with time-based dosing and a 500g hopper feeding directly into the burrs. It grinds somewhat slowly at 1050 rpm, which makes for a pretty quiet and relatively pleasant sound while grinding. We’ve found it takes about 18 seconds to grind a standard double shot of espresso, which isn’t really something you’ll have to worry about in a domestic setting.

Slower grind rates are typical with cheaper domestic motors compared to their commercial counterparts, though the x54 motor and burrs are rated for up to 25,000 shots of coffee. You can look at your grinders statistics, usage rates, and download software updates by connecting to the built in wifi module.

Design Features

With plenty of high-quality materials and solid metals, the X54 weighs in at 5.3 kilos. It’s relatively large for a domestic grinder at 42.5cm tall, 19cm wide and 28cm deep, which might cause issues sliding this under your kitchen counter.

You can choose to grind straight into the portafilter or into a dosing cup depending on if you’re grinding for espresso or filter coffee. To swap between either option, all you have to do is press the button on the side to remove the portafilter fork and swap in the base plate.

You adjust the grind size with the stepless knob on the right hand side, with numbers from 1 to 35 all the way from espresso to French press and cold brew. The grinder is calibrated at factory to be around four steps coarser than where the burrs touch. And you can recalibrate this yourself by twisting and removing the cap, pulling out and turning the adjustment dial, then pushing it back in and adding the cap once again.

There’s a very simple user interface featuring a manual mode and four programmable dose timers which you can swap between or fine tune using the dial. There’s a manual grind button next to the display, along with a grind button that’s pressed when you place the portafilter on the fork. You can adjust the spacing of the fork to help fit most portafilters by removing the plate and adjusting the screws on the back.

Workflow and User Experience with the X54

So the X54 is really designed to be an on-demand grinder where you’ll be going through one bag of coffee at any one time. Rather than weighing out your shots and single dosing one by one, the X54 is designed to go through one bag of coffee at any one time. Once you have dialled in your grind size and dose, you can simply leave the grinder at the same settings until you finish that bag of coffee. Because it’s such an easy grinder to use, the X54 is perfect for someone who likes to tinker and dial-in the grind size, but who also has to share their coffee setup with family or colleagues.

There are some issues you see in the X54 that are inherent to hopper based grinders, rather than single dosing grinders. Changing grind size can be difficult with beans in the burr chamber, so you may have to grind coffee whilst adjusting the grind size. You’ll also need to purge a small amount of coffee through any time you change grind size or open a new bag of coffee to get rid of anything that might have been stuck inside the chamber.

Finally, the speed at which beans are pushed down into the burr chamber slows down as you gradually finish your bag of coffee. This can have an effect on the grind size and uniformity, so your shots may taste a little different at the same grind setting as you go through the bag.

Can You Single Dose With the X54?

It is possible to ignore the intended use of this grinder and operate it as a single dosing grinder. This would let you weigh out the beans before every shot and easily swap between grind sizes, coffees and brew methods.Whilst it’s certainly possible to use this as a single dosing grinder, it’s simply not built to be used in that way. The retention issue means you’ll have to purge a small amount of coffee through the grinder every time you swap grind size or coffee, and the hopper itself is shaped in a way that makes some beans stick to the walls when single dosing.

It’s certainly possible to single dose with this grinder but it is a little wasteful, and it’s designed to go through one coffee and brew method at a time. Mahlkonig calls this an Allround grinder referring to the fact that it can do espresso and filter, but in our opinion it should really be espresso OR filter thanks to the small retention issue and on-demand hopper system.

Grind Quality from the X54

The grind quality coming out of the X54 is genuinely very good. You can absolutely grind for a large range of brew methods as they state, and we have had some very delicious cups of filter coffee along with sweet and balanced espressos.

The X54 produces a very uniform grind size so in terms of espresso it works incredibly well with light roasts and longer ratio shots of espresso. This week I’ve pulled shots of a light roast coffee from Burundi at a ratio of 1:3 which produced very light, complex and sweet espressos in the cup.

Filter coffee has also been very enjoyable producing clean and crisp coffees. At £450-500 this grinder is competing with the likes of the Fellow Ode and DF64 grinders and, whilst I haven’t personally tested these, I can say that the coffees coming out of the X54 have been very enjoyable. I can definitely see this grinder being paired with a small batch brewer or domestic espresso machine for large families of coffee drinkers or in an office cafe environment.

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Grind Distribution and Static

The X54 distributes grounds into the portafilter quite well. We only ran into issues with grounds clumping together when grinding at the finest settings. We did notice that when using the portafilter hooks, the grounds are dispensed slightly off centre and can spill over the edge if you’re not careful. To make sure this doesn’t happen you can quickly remove the portafilter midway through the dose, give it a few taps to level the bed and restart the grinding. Static is perfectly acceptable and hardly even noticeable when grinding for espresso, a little more so at coarser grind settings.

Who is the X54 Grinder For?

So the X54 is targeted towards the home coffee drinker, but with Mahlkonig choosing to go with an on-demand hopper style grinder they have made their target market more clear.

The X54 is for large families of coffee drinkers, offices, small businesses that want to offer their guests coffee, or maybe even being set up as the decaf or guest espresso grinder in a café. Whilst the coffee enthusiast might lean more towards a single dosing grinder that lets them easily swap between brew method and coffee, some people don’t want to be weighing out their coffee every time. For those people, the X54 is a great choice of grinder for brewing delicious espresso and filter coffees.

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