Seems we need a thread about coffee grinders in The Speakeasy.
To start, here's a quick review of my new Solis Maestro Plus. Quick background - I love good coffee, but have only just recently been interested in improving the quality at home. So take my comments as coming from basically a newbie. Other coffee connoisseurs, such as DJ, have much more experience than I and would be able to offer far greater advice.
My previous equipment was a basic blade grinder and a typical department store drip coffee machine. My initial goal was to be able to make espresso at home and my wish list (from talks with a board member and reading coffeegeek.com) included a Rancilio Rocky grinder and a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. The grinder was number one on my list and I was waiting for a good deal. After reading quite a few reviews I had the Solis Maestro (standard) as a second choice.
Talking with my wife changed the plans slightly, as she really wanted to just be able to make a great pot of drip coffee, without all the skill and time required for espresso. So, while espresso is still a goal, great drip coffee has become the immediate plan, and the need for espresso quality grind is lessened.
Right before Christmas, my wife broke our blade grinder. Luckily my in-laws planned on getting me a grinder as a Christmas gift. When asked for recommendations, I suggested the Maestro ($115) as I didn't necessarily want to ask for the Rocky due to the higher price. I had my hesitations about the Maestro as I've read that there were a few shortcomings, including noise and instability from a light machine, and not a quite fine enough grind for espresso. I knew the Plus model ($150) was an improvement in both areas, but at the increased price, the Rocky wasn't that much more.
Luckily, eBay came to the rescue and this gentlemen occasionally sells the Maestro Plus, factory refurbished for $115 shipped, the same price as the standard model. The grinder is drop shipped from the distributor in Portland, and includes a 6 month warranty (versus the normal year). Actually, since I purchased mine, I've seen him sell it for $105 shipped, so you may be able to get a better deal.
While I still would like to get the Rocky, I'll probably be happy I got the Maestro as having a dedicated espresso grinder seems to be recommended. So I'll need to purchase another grinder in the future. The Maestro will handle my normal drip and French press needs quite nicely. I believe it will also let me at least get started with espresso once the need arises.
So, finally, on to my brief review.
It's a very nice machine. The 4lb metal base really promotes a quality feel. It's very easy to use and cleaning seems to be easy as well.
While it takes longer than a blade grinder, the resulting grind is infinitely better than my old blade grinder. The grind is very consistent and the resulting coffee was the best made at home so far. The grind is easy to adjust and there are helpful markings for common grind size (drip, espresso, etc...) It also seems to leave very little residual grinds left in the machine with an empty bean hopper.
It's very stable and quite a bit quieter than I was expecting.
Compared to the standard model, it has 40 grind settings versus 16, and claims to be able to grind fine enough for Turkish coffee (although I have no plans to actually test that).
Another plus is that my wife thinks it looks nice, so leaving it on the counter is OK.
The timed grinding feature will probably go unused.
While not really much of a concern, I've found two things that could be improved. I find I get some grinds behind the grind catch box. Also, while it incorporates some design features to reduce static build-up, it's still there.
Overall I'm very happy with the grinder.
Do you have a favorite grinder and would you care to review it?