After upgrading to a Rancilio, I thought it would be appropriate to upgrade my grinder from a blade to a burr. After much research, I decided on the Solis Maestro because it claimed to offer an excellent grind at a reasonable price. We have used this machine daily to produce between 2 and 4 espressos -- not alot of grinding, but more than most people we know. Well, today the Solis broke -- that's right -- BROKE. It was impossible to remove the plastic housing around the burr, even though we had removed it numerous times before as per the manufacturers directions in order to clean the burr. For some reason, the plastic ring around the burr had become jammed on and no matter what we did, we could not budge it. We tried teasing it off ("come on, you stupid piece of plastic..."), pushing it ("maybe we are using too MUCH force..."), nudging it ("maybe this is too little force..."), jiggling it ("come ON, you @$*%!($...), and, finally, after 20 minutes of torment and frustration, the small plastic nubs that hold the hopper to the machine had deformed. When I tried to straighten them, they fell right off (!) thus rendering this machine completely useless. Like I said, we have removed this housing before without problem, and followed the manufacturers directions to the letter. What was unusual was that when you looked down onto the burr from above, the entire plastic housing had rotated clockwise instead of being lined up squarely with the rest of the machine as depicted in the owner's manual. I can only think that the grinding process gradually forced the housing unit out of true, and the plastic ring just fused to the burr assembly in an unremovable position as a result of repeated use. In any event, we then determined that the warranty for parts and labour of one year applies to US residents only. So, to ship the Solis off to where we purchased it (Ontario to British Columbia) and pay for parts and repair, would cost more than replacing this machine -- in fact, to service this machine locally, it would have to be sent out of our town and the nearest place is still several hours (and many dollars) away. Notwithstanding the broken hopper, we have experienced other problems with this machine. We have had difficulty in adjusting the grind to suit our espresso machine and have found that, one you get the dial number, DO NOT ADJUST IT, as once adjusted for another grind, the fiddling around with it to get the same grind is maddening as the preset number does not duplicate well. Finally, the burr assembly seemed to be getting dull after only 8 months and would require replacement in the near future. Hey, if I wanted to slap my coffee beans into submission rather than grind them, I would have stuck with my $30 blade grinder.
This situation has definitely been a learning experience -- it has reinforced the concept that YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. In this regard, if you are looking for a temporary step-up from a blade to a burr grinder but aren't sure how much you want to pay, this is the machine for you. The grind produced is superior to that of a blade grinder, and will buy you time (hopefully a year's worth) until your next purchase. On the other hand, it is a shame that this item is essentially a disposable item that really is not worth repairing WHEN (and not IF) it breaks down. Also, it is disappointing that the warranty advertised by Solis does not apply out of the USA -- if they have confidence in their machine, especially with respect to its durability, there is no reason for them not to cover this machine for a year regardless of where purchased unless they receive a high volume of returns for repairs, in which case, only covering the USA would cut their costs considerably.
Now we are without a burr grinder. My husband offerd to use the blade grinder until our new Mazzer Mini arrives in the mail, but sometimes no espresso is better than just OK espresso...