Solid "introduction" grinder, but lacks consistency for espresso
Positive Product Points
An ďall aroundĒ good grinder for those just getting into coffee/espresso. It was a good introductory grinder for me, but Iím ready to upgrade.
Negative Product Points
At times I have trouble getting a consistent fine grind. It seems that I live on the brink of the metal burrs touching but believe that this is where the best grind lies. I prefer a fine grind with a light tamp (15+ lb.) that results in slow syrupy extraction. The Maestro can deliver this, but not on a consistent basis.
The ďgrind directly into the portafilterĒ feature really didnít work for me; the appliance is too light and it can make a mess. I prefer to measure out my beans, grind into the bin, the pour the grinds into the portafilter.
As reported extensively, there is some slack in the removable burr carriage. I remedied this by cutting up business cards to fill the gaps. This seems to have worked.
I purchased this from Baratza directly and it was a refurbished/returned machine. I bought this grinder along with a Solis SL90 espresso machine. Both were my introduction into the world of espresso aside from my Salton steam toy and pre ground coffee.
I contemplated buying a high-end grinder after reading it preached over and over on alt.coffee. I chose not to because I wasnít sure how much I would enjoy espresso and didnít want to shell out big bucks for something that I would be disinterested in after a few months.
The plastic build is actually done very well, all pieces fit tight and the grinder doesnít feel cheap. I made a modification to the burr assembly (see NEGATIVE), but this was minor. The assembly comes out easily and clean up with a vacuum hose and brush is painless.
As noted in prior reviews, consistency at the espresso level is lacking. Some times itís OK, other times youíre scratching your head. I find that Iím getting very near the toughing of the burrs and the machine gets nosier the closer I get. Iíve replaced my burrs once ($15) in the year that Iíve owned it.
Moving from espresso grind to drip/vac grind is easy, but itís hard to come back to your original position and have the result you had before without some dialing in and wasting some shots.
I am planning on upgrading to a Mazzer sometime soon and will keep this for drip or vac pot. All in all, I can't complain at spending $100 for a grinder that will have given me 1.5 years of acceptable (and sometimes very good) shots.
I purchased this along with a Solis SL90 from Baratza. Both were refurbs/returns; the Maestro costing $100 and the SL90 $325. The transaction was non-eventful and Josie at Baratza was nice. I knew what I wanted so I didnít require much ďhelpĒ from them in making my decision.