Unless you have over $200 to spend on a grinder, this machine is IT.
Positive Product Points
Very consistent and adjustable espresso grind. Very high build quality for price with good engineering. Can grind directly into portafilter, which minimizes waste. Good sized hopper.
Negative Product Points
Some static, and not exceptionally consistent on coarse grinds, but much better than a spinning blade grinder. Fairly light weight makes grinder move when using front switch. Plastic construction (although what do you expect for $100).
I bought this machine refurbished direct from Baratza for $100. Apparently it was a return that they cleaned up. It still has the full warantee. Given I only paid $145 for my ebay-purchaced Saeco classico, this was a pretty large amount to spend on a grinder, but I am very glad I did. Believe it when people say that the grinder is VITAL to good espresso, and you need to spend a good part of your espresso budget on one. I use the third finest setting for espresso, and it produces an extremely uniform, fine grind that leads to very consistent shots. Given it can go two notches finer and I alreay pull 2 oz doubles in 25 seconds, the grind range is just fine. The first time I cleaned the machine, I took it apart to inspect the build quality. The conical burrs are very solid, and the mechanism that controls the grind fineness is also well built. The motor and gearbox are very sturdy looking as well. Other than the fact most things are plastic, the build quality is very good. The motor is the size of a baseball, the gearbox has all brass and stainless steel gears and shafts, and the burrs are heavy steel. I'm sure the grinder would be better if all the other parts were metal like more expensive grinders, but then it would be more expensive, wouldn't it?
The only disadvantage I have found is with very coarse grind settings for french press. While the grind is quite good for this purpose, it still produces a little powder, and the grind is not totally consistent. Also, there is a little static problem with coarse grinds that make it necessary to tap the bin before removing it. There is no static whatsoever for fine grinds.
Very good. I emailed Baratza to ask if they had any refurb grinders, as their website instructed. They were very helpful and happy to sell me one, and at the right price: $100+$7 shipping! As far as I can tell the grinder was brand new, well packaged and came with the full warantee.
Three Month Followup
I'm still quite happy with the Maestro. It can be a little messy, but I think most grinders are at some level. I ended up taking the grinder apart to give one more click finer adjustment by changing the burr group settings, but that's all. With that mod, I have no trouble getting a 1.5 oz double ristretto shot with another full ounce of crema with 36 hour old home roasted beans. I think that will do for now!