The Mahlkonig X54 Grinder: Does It Live Up To The Hype?


Very few brands are as synonymous with high-end commercial coffee as Mahlkonig, but that’s all; they were commercial machines for a long time. 

Bringing one into the home would be more than overkill. Both from a form factor standpoint and because you would be paying for commercial duty cycles that you would barely be scratching the surface of.

But now, all that has changed with the introduction of a purpose-built home grinder. So can the X-54 bring the pedigree of their commercial offerings into the home? Let’s find out.

Build Quality

This is a very well-built grinder that feels like it could cost multiple times the asking price.

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The whole body is made of metal which contributes to the 8-kilogram total weight, and every interface clip spring or adjustment feels robust.

For example, the hopper connection it’s simple but feels sturdier than a more typical turn-to-lock system. 

The main interface style has a nice tactile feel, and the portafilter holder is solid metal; the grind setting knob is laser etched metal. 

I don’t want to beat this point to death, but this is a well-put-together product, and it was the very first thing that stood out to me about it.

If I had to pick one negative, it might be that the magnets that hold the bottom tray in place are a little weak, but that would be nitpicking. 

And thinking about it further, the fact that these magnets are there in the first place is a nice touch.

Design

In terms of the design, you could say that the X54 is classic Mahlkonig. A broad cylindrical body and a tall, sweeping hopper. 

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In this case, however, the tall, sweeping hopper is a design choice that I started to question slightly for a home setting.

In my review of the Sette 270, I noted how it was just tall enough to start blocking my overhead cabinets; the X54 is a full inch taller than that. 

It may not be an issue in your home, but you’re going to want to grab a tape measure just in case.

We are quickly running through a few more specs before we jump into the user experience. First, this grinder uses 54 millimeter flat burrs, hence the name. 

It has stepless grind adjustment ranging from French press coarse to espresso fine. The hopper has a capacity of 500 grams, and it has a 64-inch long non-removable power cord.

Technical Specifications

The X54 comes with two dosing configurations, which are interchangeable using a button on the right side of the machine. Direct into a portafilter or use the included dosing cup.

The dosing cup feels very nice, but I was surprised and confused to discover it wasn’t 58 millimeters or any other standard basket size. 

To be honest, it is too large to dose nicely into any portafilter, which seems like a pretty silly oversight.

User Interface

The user interface is very straightforward. You get a manual mode along with four programmable time-based modes that can be set by pressing the knob, rotating to the desired time, and then pressing and holding to save.

Grinding is triggered by the portafilter when the forks are installed or using the start-stop button when using the dosing cup. 

Regardless of which method you use, you can also pause to redistribute the grinds before continuing with the remaining time.

The display can also be put to sleep or has a five-minute timeout, at which point there is just a single pulsing red light.

Bean Hopper

One of the advantages of this tall hopper is that there’s always a good amount of back pressure on the beans as they enter the burrs. 

This leads to consistent doses of around plus-minus 0.2 grams, which is the best I’ve seen from a time-based grinder.

In terms of single dosing, which I’m sure is a question that will come up, the retention I was seeing was only around 0.2 grams. 

But there’s likely some exchange going on there. So it’s certainly not designed to operate at absolute zero retention.

This is a hopper-fed system, and when used in that way, the user experience is great. 

I got a demo unit right before Thanksgiving, and when I was serving four or five people at a time, it was an absolute blessing compared to the workflow I would have had if I were using the Niche.

Grind Settings

One final thing that I would like to note is that while the grind knob feels nice in hand, its action wasn’t the greatest in some cases. 

When moving all the way from the finest to the coarsest settings, some ranges provided more resistance than others.

It didn’t feel plasticky or like anything was going to break, but it just didn’t feel as refined as the rest of the grinder. 

Not to mention that they could have gone with a large adjustment ring on the collar like they use on the majority of their other grinders, which is just such a more precise and enjoyable mechanism.

Grinding Performance

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The grinding range easily spans from French press course all the way to espresso fine and possibly even slightly finer. 

But getting into the absolute finest settings did result in some quite considerable clumping.

I think this starts at a point that is much finer than you would ever be grinding for an 18-gram double shot, but it was still something I didn’t expect from a grinder of this caliber.

Apart from the clumping at the finest settings, the grinds throughout the whole range looked beautifully consistent, and the coffee they produced reflected that.

Espresso shots were able to run very evenly with good texture and extractions reaching above 20 percent. However, in my experience, what impressed me was the performance with pour-overs.

I was getting very clean, balanced, and flavorful cups, and in a blind taste test, I preferred the X-54 for that type of brewing compared to the Niche, the Fellow Ode, and the DF-64 with its standard burs.

Grinding Speed

Grinding speed was very average, not slow but not particularly fast at just over 16 seconds to grind an 18-gram dose of espresso.

The noise level, however, was quite impressive. Compared to the very quiet Niche zero, they came in at around 65 decibels, but the sounds are distinctly different.

I think that the higher-pitched Mahlkonig might be slightly less intrusive to an ongoing conversation, but it’s really too close to call.

Now, this next item is a first for me. The X54 has a built-in WI-FI module and before you go running to the comments, trust me, I was equally as skeptical. 

What could a grinder possibly need connection capabilities for? Other than for something extremely gimmicky.

Well, there’s no app to download, and you can’t start it remotely from your phone to impress your friends, but what you do get is a quite nicely executed diagnostic tool.

Simply turn on the WI-FI, connect using the password, and enter the fixed IP address to access the web interface. 

Once inside, you get no-nonsense access to software updates, error logs, event logs, and an extremely in-depth breakdown of the number of total shots pulled.

You also get access to total grind time, those stats again but broken down for each program. The total motor on time, total standby time, you name it.

I believe it’ll even give you a notification when the burs have reached the quoted 25 000 shot lifespan and require replacement. 

Who Is This Grinder For?

If you’re the kind of person that switches out coffees every other drink or only makes one or two coffees per day, this might not be the grinder for you.

The process of changing beans is a little bit tedious, and in such low volumes, you won’t be benefiting from the advantages of a hopper-based system. 

However, if you’re someone who uses a full bag of beans before moving on to the next and often serves three, four, or more drinks per day, then I think you should be giving this option some serious consideration.

The build quality has clearly trickled down from their long history in the commercial space, as has the great grind quality.

Everything is well thought out, intuitive and well-executed, with that slight exception of the grind dial.

But in case you haven’t noticed, I am finding it difficult to find things to fault with the X54.

If you’re anything like myself and you’ve always longingly looked at those Mahlkonig grinders in your local cafe, then I can say without hesitation that the time has finally come where you can bring one home.

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