Here is a list of sections – just skip to the part you want to read.
- THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- THE BACKGROUND
- UNBOXING AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
- SPECIAL FEATURES
- WHAT I DON’T LIKE
- WHAT I LIKE MOST
- VALUE FOR MONEY
- WHO IT WOULD BE BEST FOR
This is not an engineering or durability review; it’s simply a user’s impressions.
I wasn’t paid for this review, I don’t receive commissions, I don’t keep the unit.
Feedback, questions and suggestions for improving future reviews are always welcome. Mindless brickbats, not so much. You are welcome to post comments or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note that at around the 13 minute mark in the video below I interview the creator of the Skope X)
1. THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- An easy way to make your favorite hand grinder hands-free.
- Adaptors available for C40, ZP6, Kinu M47 but more on the way
- This is a real niche product: it’s only going to appeal to people who love the coffee from their hand grinder but don’t want to hand grind (or can’t due to wrist issues). Prosumers will likely either love the Skope X or won’t understand why it exists.
2. THE BACKGROUND
I have a 1Zpresso ZP6 for filter coffee and a Comandante C60 which I especially like for espresso. I really don’t mind grinding by hand once a day but I’m a sucker for a nice piece of kit and so I ordered two of these units a few months ago after seeing Lance Hedrick’s review of the previous Skope model which is now two years old.
Three weeks ago, I had a message exchange with Shauvik, who is the creator of the Skope X. He offered to send me a prototype for review which I agreed to.
3. UNBOXING AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This is a prototype, so it came packed in a simple carton with plenty of protection. The production models will ship with professional packing.
The first impression was that the unit is solidly made, stylish and very stable.
The unit came with two Hex keys, one for the vertical adjustment of the grinder on the Skope X frame and the other for tightening the lock collar.
Two thick rubber bands were also included which fit onto the grinder, inside the lock collar. The rubber bands are for the C40 and one is customized for the timber finished model and one for the powder coated version. Different bands are needed for each because the circumferences are different.
No assembly of the frame is required and fitting the rubber band and lock collar is quite simple as shown in this video:
The band and lock collar have to be fitted exactly as shown in the video. If fitted correctly, then it’s simply a matter of lining up a ridge on the lock collar with the slot in the base of the motor and the grinder can be attached and detached quickly and easily.
Pretty darned good with two ‘quirks’ that need to be managed.
The first is that after grinding, when screwing the catch cup back onto the C60, I needed to use one hand to hold the grinder, otherwise if I screwed the cup on a little too far, the grinder would unlock from the base of the motor. Not a biggie at all but it is a design challenge that may be addressed in a future version. Once I realized the problem, it was easy to manage by holding the grinder with my spare hand.
The second issue that needs to be managed is the variable RPM unit, if you opt for that. Without this optional unit, the motor runs at 180 RPM and around 140 RPM when grinding. Assuming you want to grind at the lowest RPM possible, the variable RPM unit is best used to ‘dial in’ the RPM. You can do this by grinding your first dose starting at 180 RPM and dialing the RPM down until the motor stops, then increasing the RPM a little until the motor is running smoothly again.
Based on my use so far, my guess is that for espresso, a medium roast bean will grind happily at around the 40 – 60 RPM range, a medium-light at around 60 – 80 range, a light bean will need around 80 – 100 RPM. But remember, I’m using a C60 with a burr set that is much larger than a traditional hand grinder so you may find that the motor will cope just fine with lower RPM ranges for your hand grinder.
5. SPECIAL FEATURES
- Stock RPM is 180, with variable RPM unit the range is 40 – 180.
- Weighs around 2.5kg without the hand grinder fitted.
- Motor: brushed, rated to 800 hours at 75W with max wattage 144W. 24V – 6Amps.
- (800 hours = 102 year lifespan assuming 2 grinds a day at 40 seconds each 😊).
- Variable RPM unit fits neatly into frame and cables tuck into a purpose-built slot.
- Has a good sized power brick.
- Cable management is clever with cable visibility minimized (see video).
- Wide bean hopper located at the front of the unit (previously at the rear).
- Knocker works quite well to get an extra 0.3 grams of grounds in the catch cup.
- Grounds catch plate slides easily into place in the center of the base via magnets.
- Aluminum band stamped with numbers fits onto lock collar and can be used to note the number of clicks that you prefer to set your grinder to.
- Whilst there is always some popcorning with single dose grinders, there was none visible and certainly no bits of beans flying out.
6. WHAT I DON’T LIKE
Slippage with the C60
I had a problem with the grinder body spinning when grinding light roasts for espresso at the mid to low RPM range (40 – 80 RPM). Shauvik hasn’t had that issue with other hand grinders and we’re reached the conclusion that the bigger burr set of the C60 (50% larger than the C40) requires a different thickness of rubber band and possibly even an extra screw adjuster on the lock collar, to cope with the extra power required. That will be addressed by the creation of a separate, dedicated band and lock collar for the C60. That said, I was able to grind some Tim Wendelboe Nordic Light beans at an espresso grind at 180 RPM with no problem.
It works well, I’d just like the direction to be reversed so that I can flick it towards me instead of away from me. (Yes, I’m knocking the knocker.)
The power brick
To be clear, the power brick doesn’t bother me at all because I have ample space to hide it under the espresso cart bench but I’m mentioning it again because it will inevitably be something that some people won’t like.
7. WHAT I LIKE MOST
- The looks: elegant, modern, slim.
- The integration of the variable RPM unit into the base of the frame. Super easy to fit.
- The clever cable management.
- The quietness of the motor.
- The fact that I can lazily prepare my portafilter
while the grinding is done for me.
8. VALUE FOR MONEY
There will probably be big debate around this one. Is it worth handing over hundreds of dollars to motorize your hand grinder? Only you can decide that because you know your budget, and you have the best idea of your hand grinding tolerance threshold.
If budget is not a big consideration and you think that you may have a low tolerance threshold for hand grinding, then the Skope X is a no brainer.
That aside, I rate the value for money as fair, given the quality of the motor and the quality of other components and just how smooth and seamless Shauvik has made the Skope X to use and enjoy.
It may be that I inherited some of my father’s engineering genes because I really derive enormous satisfaction (is ‘pleasure’ too strong a word?) from a piece of kit like the Skope X that is so well designed and built, and that operates so smoothly and seamlessly. And for me, that’s worth something because it adds value to my daily coffee experience.
The other item that I value (others may not), is that the Skope X has been under development for four years, and fittingly the ‘X’ denotes the fourth generation of Shauvik’s love-child motorizer. To be fair, if it was four years of hard labor that produced a pile of junk then I wouldn’t be assigning the same value to Shauvik’s contribution of what must surely be thousands of hours of work and quite a dollop of money too. But as it is, I sincerely hope that the Skope X is an outrageous success because it, and Shauvik, deserve it.
9. WHO IT WOULD BE BEST FOR
I’ve covered this above but in short again: assuming you have the budget, the Skope X is for you if you love the coffee from your hand grinder but don’t feel quite as enamored with hand grinding, either due to the faff required or due to wrist issues such as arthritis.
And it’s for you if you just love an elegant piece of kit that does exactly what it was built to do.