This was purchased along with my first 'serious' espresso maker, a Rancilio Sylvia. Instead of paying for a grinder of similar quality to the machine, I bought what I thought would be good enough. In the end this product will be relegated to use with my french press or a future vacuum pot.
As stated in previous reviews, the general design of the grinder is great. It drops grinds straight down, and while there is a bit of clogging in the chute, it is easy to dislodge the grounds. You can use your finger to dislodge grinds from the chute (unplugged of course). Lightly banging the whole grinder on the counter top works as well. This may be a bad technique for the long term as the construction is fairly light.
Grinding straight into the portafilter is a breeze, but it a two handed operation due to the light weight of the grinder and the pressure required to engage the switch. It takes roughly 17 seconds to fill the portafilter. You will need to clean out any spillage before replacing the bin, as it is a tight fit.
When moving the grinder take care when grabbing the hopper. It takes very little pressure to rotate hopper and change the grind. A little more resistance to adjustment would be welcome.
Disassembly and cleaning is easy. Simply empty the hopper, rotate it to the coarsest setting, and lift. The top burr set then lifts straight out exposing the innards for cleaning.
One minor gripe on the power cord. There are small vertical notches on the bottom of the grinder. These, as near as I can tell, are not for the power cord. I used one for that purpose, and it cut into the insulator. Unless you are confortable with electric shock (I've taken 1,000 volts before, and no I'm still not comfortable with it) take care with the cord. Anyway, the cord will lay flat under the back or side of the grinder. A fixed exit point would be welcome, as it is possible to get the cord under a leg (foot?) and make the grinder unstable. Either way it's a minor point.
As this was purchased for use with the Sylvia, I would have to say it's not quite up to the task. With several different I've been running down to Espresso Vivace in Seattle lately, and with the dolce roast the best I could do was 18 seconds for 2.5 oz of coffee. With the vita roast I can get in the 21 second range, but both of these are with the grinder set to it's finest setting, and a 30+ lb tamp.
The bottom line is this is a well executed product. It is a very good grinder for most brew methods. I'm going to test it against a machine with a pressurized portafilter to see if it's suitable for that use. But if you're going to spend $400 on an espresso machine, pair it with an equivelent grinder. I'm planning on ordering an Innova for use with the Sylvia, so the Maestro this will probably end up at my office for use with the previously mentioned french press, and the communal Saeco Classico.
****** 8 HR Update ********
Ok readers. I performed a decalcification on my Sylvia, cleaned the portafilters and basket(s), and switched to a new La Marzocco basket to see what effect it might have. My first pull produced just under 1.5 oz in 25 seconds. Why? Remembering way back to my economics classes in college, I recall the latin 'ceterus parabus', or all things being equal. Well I changed more than one thing, so I'm not sure. I backed the grinder off two clicks, and the next pull went 2.5 oz in 15 seconds. There will be some more experimentation to try and re-create the pull, and switching back to the Rancilio basket. Both appear to have the same volume, just that the La Marzocco is narrower and deeper. I'll update my review if/when I learn more.