First things first Ė the Solis Maestro is capable of giving a good, consistent grind for espresso with minimal static and mess - if youíre not using an oily bean.
Now some background Ė I purchased my Maestro when I upgraded my espresso machine to a LaPavoni lever model. The Starbucks Barista that we were using for drip wouldnít grind at the fineness needed for espresso and my hand mill insisted on just grinding for Turkish, which was too fine even if I had been a ristretto aficionado. With limited cash in hand, the Maestro looked like the best of a limited set of choices (I looked at the Bodum and one of the Capressoís as well).
In retrospect, it was a good choice. It gave me the grind I wanted with my choice of beans, and the final product in the cup has been consistent.
However Ė Even with a relatively dry bean, itís necessary to clean the grinder frequently. In my case, this translates to cleaning it after grinding about a half-pound of beans. Although the hopper and the outer burr are easy to remove and clean, itís necessary to take a wooden skewer or similar instrument to clean the spaces on the distribution paddle below the burr (it looks like a plastic disk with raised rectangular projections). Using the skewer, the grounds are loosened and then the unit is held upside down and shaken to dislodge them into the sink.
I once (and only once) used an oily bean in the Maestro, and it clogged the machine immediately. I didnít make it through two ounces of beans before the Maestro needed to be cleaned out, and oily grounds tenaciously resist being dislodged from the unit. If you're considering a Maestro for espresso, you'll need to recognize that your choice of beans may be limited.
I have not used the grinder for anything but espresso, so I can't comment on its suitability for drip or French Press.
The grinder is about as loud as the Starbucks Barista. There no surprise here as theyíre both designed/made by Baratza. Iíve had minimal static problems Ė very few grounds stick to the sides of the hopper. The unit as a whole is attractive, an uncluttered modern design, and it looks good sitting on the counter next to the LaPavoni.
I havenít tried grinding directly into the portafilter, and I donít think I will. When the portafilter is placed below the chute, itís hidden by the sides and upper section of the grinder. I suppose one could figure out by trial and error how long to grind if one were going to bypass using the hopper, but it doesnít seem worth the effort to me. Attempting to eyeball the grind seems to me like a recipe for frustration.
Solis advises not running the grinder for more than one minute. Under those conditions, it would seem to make sense to have a timer switch on the unit, but the Maestro only has an on/off rotary switch on the right-hand side of the grinder.
The bottom line is that I can live with the Maestro for a little longer, but I know Iím going to upgrade at some point. My guess is that many other Maestro owners will do the same.