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Baratza Maestro Plus - Don Cummings's Review
Posted: June 27, 2006, 11:14am
review rating: 8.7
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Baratza Maestro Plus
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Arrow The Baratza Maestro Plus has 55 Reviews
Arrow The Baratza Maestro Plus has been rated 7.12 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 5, 2003.
Arrow Baratza Maestro Plus reviews have been viewed 305,843 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Don Cummings 8.66
Tim Eggers 8.27
Gary Miller 8.25
Stephen Leslie 8.16
Peter Hogarth 7.75

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 9
Average Price: $149.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $121.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Sweet Marias Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 1 year Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: Professional Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: For the money, a fantastic buy.  The issues that have caused this unit to be dinged in the past have been very effectively addressed by Solis.
Positive Product Points

Ease of use
Solid Contruction
Consistency of grind
Low mess
Almost no residual grinds left in unit
No static
Ease of cleaning

Negative Product Points

My unit grinds considerably finer than the settings would indicate.

Detailed Commentary

I agonized over my upgrade decision for several weeks before pulling the trigger on this unit.  I wanted the Rocky but simply could not afford to spend that amount at the time of purchase and was in desparate need of an upgrade from my 2 month old Cuisinart Burr.  In the end I decided that the SMP would make a satisfactory bridge solution until I could afford the Rocky.  I was wrong.  Not about it being satisfactory but about it being a bridge unit.  After 3 months of use I honestly can not see the need to upgrade from the SMP.

I love this grinder.

The grind is perfect and consistent and very easy to adjust if you brew with different methods.  

It took some practice to get a handle on the settings and this brings up my only very minor complaint. The grind is several notches finer than the settings indicate.  At the Turkish setting the burrs clog with ground coffee.  I get perfect Turkish grind at one notch below Espresso setting.  My espresso grinds start at 2 notches above the Espresso setting.  Drip one notch above and French press is perfect at the French Press setting.

More on French Press.  My coffee of choice.  At the French Press setting the grind is considerably finer in appearance than with other burrs that I have used. However, there is absolutely no dust. None. When I finish my press pot there is almost no sludge at all and the coffee is rich and perfect.

With pour-over I do need to go 2-4 steps above the Drip setting, but I am able to fine-tune the pour-through time with predictability and each step adds about 15 seconds all other elements remaining the same.

I had read many reviews of the SMP and there were two consistent gripes about it: 1. it had thin plastic adjustment tabs that could break fairly easily under normal use and 2. there was a gap between the hopper and the burrs that would allow dust to drift into the body of the grinder.  When I got mine I was confused. The tabs in question were actually pretty beefy and would require a hammer and chisel to snap them off and the gap was filled with a felt gasket that made it impossible for grinds to get into the body of the unit.

It turns out that the folks at Solis had listened to their customers and upgraded the unit for no charge.  BTW, for SMP users without these upgrades, Solis will ship them to you for free.

As far as other complaints that I have seen about the unit, I believe that the majority of problems can be solved with consistent cleaning. Luckily this is very easy to do.  The top burr lifts out easily and with a small brush, a toothpick, and some forced air I clean my unit to near unused condition in less than the time it takes for my kettle to boil.

The straight-down delivery of the grind eliminates a large portion of any residual grounds. I clean every two days and after grinding for 2 pots of coffee, 8 press pots, and 4 double shots during that time I get less than 2 grams of residue.

I love my SMP and believe that it is an ideal grinder for those of us who enjoy a FP pot as much a shot of espresso.

Buying Experience

I bought it from Sweet Maria's.  I had several questions out of the box and was answered so fast by e-mail we might as well have been text chatting.  I heard about a free upgrade that Solis was offering on the unit so I sent an e-mail to Solis. Within 3 days I had a package from them that contained the upgrade components. (It turns out that they had been installed in mine already and my confusion that I talked about above was explained.)

Three Month Followup

See 1 year

One Year Followup

One year out and I stand by my original assessment of the SMP as a solid, all-purpose grinder for the budget conscious.  It is doing the job nicely and I would still recommend it with the proviso that it is less than ideal for espresso grinding.  It does the job but I will probably upgrade when I upgrade my espresso machine.  On the other hand I bought two more as gifts to family members this past Christmas.  That kind of says it all.

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review rating: 8.7
Posted: June 27, 2006, 11:14am
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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