Hand grinders tick a lot of boxes for me because they add so much to the routine of coffee making. They’re tactile, often beautifully machined, and most importantly can provide excellent bang for your buck if you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease in return. Today, we’ll be looking at the 1Zpresso K-Max. A serious competitor in the mid-priced to low-premium hand grinder market.
Build Quality / Design
As mentioned in the intro, one of my FAVOURITE things about hand grinders is that they are beautiful in and of themselves, once you cross a price point that allows for it. The 1ZPresso K-Max falls firmly into this category, with an absolute rock-solid build that is a pleasure to interact with daily.
The body is all metal, with recessed grind setting markings, and a slightly more grippy central section to avoid spinning in your hand. The grinding action itself is smooth and refined, clearly using very fine tolerances, and running on good quality bearings. Grind selection very satisfying, giving a clear and crisp click with each adjustment, and the catch cup holds nice and firmly thanks to a ring of strong magnets around the lip.
In terms of the design, I think this will be slightly divisive. It certainly leans more towards the modern side as opposed to traditional, with the gunmetal color, large grind indicators, and textured body. But I think it comes together well as on overall package, in keeping with the 1ZPresso design language.
Speaking of packaging, the K-Max comes with a cylindrical protective travel case for traveling, but I’m not sure why it had to be quiiite this oversized. It’s a pretty chunky thing to try and pack if you’re tight on space.
Living with the K-Max has been very enjoyable, and I attribute my recent switch back to daily filter coffee almost entirely to this grinder. It’s just so nice to use, and adds an enjoyable element to my daily routine. Not to mention, I can easily take it with me wherever I go.
Grinding on the K-Max is smooth, but not particularly easier or harder than other hand grinders I’ve used. Grinding on coarser settings or with darker roasts is a breeze, but as you get to the finer end of the filter range, or start using lighter roasts, the effort required can get up there. This did become easier as the burrs slowly seasoned over the first few weeks of use, but I think a slightly longer grinding arm, or at least an aftermarket one as an option would have been nice for an added bit of power if needed.
Retention is essentially non-existent, and a quick RDT is a more than enough to keep static the same way. I didn’t really feel any need to purge the grinder when switching from one roast to another, which is also very nice.
The grind catch container can hold between 35 to 40g depending on grind setting, and attaches magnetically. I personally really like the magnetic system because it eliminates the need to thread it on and off every time. The one small downside to this, is I did notice that after a week or so of use, the lip can accumulate some chaff, making the magnets less effective. So I had to consciously clean this area out every once and a while.
User experience alone is one thing, and I’m a sucker for a well-built product, but those aren’t important if the grinder doesn’t deliver on grind quality. Luckily, the K-Max does!
When I bought this grinder, I was on the hunt for a great pour-over daily driver. I was using the Mahlkonig X54, but wanted a bit more clarity. So, I went to the clarity MONSTER SSP Multipurpose in a Fellow ODE. But for now, this is where I’ve landed, and what I find to be an effective sweet spot (no pun intended).
The cups the K-Max are able to give me scratch that pour-over clarity itch, giving me the impression that I’m getting a true sense of the coffee’s character, and am not missing out because of mixed or muted tasting notes. Is it AS revealing as the SSP Multipurpose, absolutely not, but I think for my taste preferences that’s a good thing. I’m getting beautifully balanced cups from this grinder, that combine clarity and sweetness to provide a more relaxed but still insightful representation of the coffee I’m drinking. I really like it.
Can this grinder do espresso? Yes, and actually quite well. If you’re up for the workout, espresso shots will give you good body along with a well-rounded and sweet flavour profile. Speaking overall in terms of hand and electric grinders, the K-Max is probably one of the least expensive grinders out there that can produce a truly GREAT shot of espresso.
So, should you buy the K-Max?
If you’re in the market for a second grinder for pour over, a travel grinder, or even just looking to add a little bit of manual charm to your mourning routine without sacrificing drink quality, the 1Zpresso K-Max is a great great option. It comes in at a medium to high price point, but the build quality and performance you get for the money make it absolutely justified, and could even be seen as a bit of a bargain when comparing to other more expensive hand grinders.