I've been working today on putting together a "Fundamentals for Baristas" training packet.  Ran across something interesting regarding "The 4 M's"... there seems to be a bit of disagreement regarding what they are in Italian.


The Machine, The Blend, The Hand, and The Grinder, translate from:

La Macchina, La Miscela, La Mano, and...

Il Molino? La Macinadosatore? La Macinzaione?


Looking for some sort of definitive reference here.  Does anybody know who originated the notion of "The 4 M's", and what they really are?


On a related question... Why does my coffee reference library still suck?

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FWIW, according to the Mazzer srl website, the Super Jolly is called a macinadosatore.


Is this the 4th M???

A quick search turned up this http://www.coffeemakersetc.com/espresso-drinks.html   Other links provided the same info...

Not sure about origin, but Maccinadosatore is the 4th M.  I think the inconsistencies are those of usage: Grind, Grinder, Grounds, etc.


What about the 5th M?  Mwater!  (ok, not an M, but just as important as the other 4)

The ever-trustworthy Alton Brown says that they are:

La Miscela...........................The Beans
La Macinazione...................The Grind
La Macchina........................The Machine
La Mano..............................The Hand

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbqE3Npk13k - He explains this at about the 1:22 mark. He gets other stuff off a hair in the rest of the episode, so he's definitely not the final arbiter of espresso truth.

Interesting how many different "4 M's" there are...

Good thoughts, you seem to be getting the difficulty of the question.


My fundamental issue is this:  I'm creating a training document that I'd like to be accurate and based on solid and well-respected sources.  None of the references I have even mention it, none from a lengthy online search met the "well-respected sources" criteria.  I'd like to be able to both accurately repeat this and attribute it to the group or person that popularized it.


It seems to be a useful guideline, so I'd like to speak to it, but don't want to blindly repeat something inaccurate.  Though I have great respect for Alton Brown (I'm a huge fan), the fact that he's the highest authority that's been mentioned so far leaves me wondering.


Thanks for the thoughts so far, guys.

Ask Gianni! Shoot, HE was probably the one who said it!



I consider him to be an excellent and well-respected primary source :)

Paul Yates said:

Ask Gianni! Shoot, HE was probably the one who said it!

In the engineering world, I've been exposed to the 4M concept for a while. Not sure the historical origin but in English here is the general definition:


Man (barista)

Machine (espresso/grinder/roaster/etc)

Material (beans)

Method (process: roast, grind, tamp, extract)


The definition you have seems to split up the roasting, grinding and extraction, as well as combining the process with the person (Hand). The engineering way (if that's the case) differentiates between the human and the process. The process is a standardized method that can be quantified regardless of the person or thing doing the work. The human can be trained in the process but may also imply a less quantifiable aspect, namely subjectivity in art, taste, presentation, interrelationship with fellow baristi and customers, etc. The beans, as the primary material (although water is another major component) are clearly in the Material group; however the roast and blend (miscela/mixture) certainly impact their influence. Essentially, the more harmoniously these groups work together, the better the final product.


There's no wrong way of looking at this; the 4M concept just helps clarify what's involved.

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