Must-have entry-level grinder if you want high quality espresso without breaking the bank. You will have to upgrade eventually.
Positive Product Points
Good grind. Great price.
Negative Product Points
A little flimsy and lightweight. Grind chute or burrs clog if you don't clean regularly.
I use my Solis everyday to grind for my La Pavoni Europiccola. I upgraded to the Solis from a Pavoni high-speed burr grinder. Compared to the Pavoni grinder, this is wonderful!
I have to use one of the 4 finest settings to get the right grind, depending on the beans. If the beans are oily, you need to clean frequently to prevent the chute or burrs from clogging. My machine also came with a supplemental instruction sheet stating to clean the burrs at least once a week to prevent the plastic holder that supports the stationary burr from breaking from coffee-ground build up.
A heavier machine with metal casing and/or parts would be nice but probably increase the cost.
Scroll down to the 1 year followup for more details.
Easy to purchase online. I bought a refurbished model that was on sale ($80 I think). Unfortunately I don't remember from which vendor.
Three Month Followup
No changes. The Solis is working great.
One Year Followup
I have been using for almost 3 years now and I just broke it while I was cleaning it. I still think that it is a good grinder, but I broke a mount or support that holds the interior guts to the exterior casing. The grinder assembly now falls to the rear which makes the hopper very difficult to line up and re-assemble after cleaning the burrs. With patience however, it is possible to re-assemble. The grinder is still usable and seems to make a fine, consistent grind that I can still use in my Europiccola. $80 dollars for three years use is not too shabby, considering that I broke it by banging it on my countertop to dislodge some stubborn coffee in and around the grinding mechanism. Overall, I would recommend this grinder while you are saving for a more expensive, higher quality grinder, just be more gentle than I was and it should last for a long time. I just purchased a new Kitchen-Aid Proline to replace this one (see my new Kitchen-Aid review). I will still use my Solis as a backup/decaf grinder.
4/13/07: Well, the Kitchen-Aid did not work out as planned, and I have upgraded my espresso machine from the Pavoni lever to a Quickmill Alexia, and I also found a Mazzer Mini grinder on eBay (check out all of the reviews). The Mazzer sets the standard for what an espresso grinder should be, but I have rebuilt the Solis (new burrs, timer switch, motor mounts, and upgraded hopper mount and adjustment collar) and it works great as a backup or decaf grinder now. The Solis is much more capable of grinding a consistent fine espresso grind than the Kitchen Aid was, especially now with the new burrs.
I am currently using the Pavoni and Solis at my fire station to make a couple shots of espresso per shift for myself and another budding coffee-geek. The Solis is working wonderfully after the rebuild and I would recommend it and buy it again if needed. It is easy to rebuild and repair with the parts and instructions available on baratza.com. If you are going to need a grinder for multiple shots from a high-end home or prosumer espresso machine, skip the Solis and go right to a Mazzer or Macap, unless you like upgrading, and want to keep the Solis as a backup. It is very capable, but it requires frequent cleaning, and an upgrade/rebuild to perform well if you have an older model.