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Baratza Maestro Plus - Jerry Kalpin's Review
Posted: May 29, 2010, 1:59pm
review rating: 6.3
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Baratza Maestro Plus
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More About This Product
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 305,667 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: 8.8
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 8
Average Price: $149.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $150.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Creative Cookware Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 2 years Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: This is a reasonably priced trouble-free grinder for household use.  It might not grind fine enough for espresso.
Positive Product Points
  1. Well-built
  2. Uniform grinding over a wide range (maybe not espresso)
  3. Excellent static control
  4. Easy disassembly for cleaning
  5. Good customer support
  6. Major components can be replaced at home (if necessary)
Negative Product Points

The timer knob occasionally falls off.  However, Customer Support has an easy fix.

Detailed Commentary

When I first set about replacing my old grinder, I had two things in mind:  

First, I had to eliminate static electricity.  The coffee would stick to the grounds container and also fly off onto the stove, counter, floor etc so each grinding event would be followed by a kitchen cleanup.  

Second, I wanted an even grind.  I didn’t know until later ‘why’ it improves coffee.

It was a blind purchase.  I relied heavily on the newsgroups.  Earlier models, not made by Baratza, had some bad reviews.  The recently made Maestro Plus models had consistently good reviews and I took a chance.

In first use, I was impressed with the static elimination.  The grounds container emptied easily.  The coffee went where it should and not on the counters and floor.  The taste of the coffee improved.  With my old grinder and uneven grind, I was getting under-extraction of the ‘big pieces’ and over-extraction of the fines.  That yielded a weak brew with bitter/sour overtones.  That has never been repeated with the Maestro Plus.

The grinding was slower than expected but that was the cost of static elimination.  The fine-ness is set in a scale of 0 to 40.  I started at 12.  I found that to be too fine, almost espresso.  With some trial and error I settled on 16, which suited my Bunn drip brewer and also my Aeropress.  

A month later my son bought another Baratza Maestro Plus.  So, at some level I am reporting on 2 units.  He prefers the setting of 12 for his use.  I have compared 2 samples side by side, my son’s at 12 and mine at 16.  The difference is obvious.  His is finer with a tendency to clump.  Mine is coarser and free-flowing.  The grind is even and a change of 10% (4 in a range of 40) is noticeable.

As an aside, my son grinds a pound at a time for work and home.  I grind a cup at a time just before brewing.  Our uses of the grinder are different.  His high-volume use and my low volume use, yield consistently good results.  We have never experienced feeding problems.  However, cleaning is important.

I can field-strip the unit in 2 minutes, remove the outer burr and have access for necessary cleaning.  That cleaning is done with a small wire brush (provided) and a soft cloth.  The grounds-catcher is washed, by hand, with mild soap to preserve the anti-static coating.

After 18 months disaster struck:  One Sunday morning my grinder stopped grinding and the normal sound turned into a high-pitched screech.  I dumped out the beans and discovered a pebble lodged in the burrs.  I removed the pebble, removed the outer burr, did a cleaning, but the unit would not grind.  

On Monday morning I sent a note to Baratza Support, describing the problem.  In their view it was a ‘stripped gear’.  I explained that I live in Canada, and because of shipping costs, currency exchange, customs issues etc I would prefer to fix it myself.  They pointed me to their ‘Trouble-Shooting’ page where there are 8 .pdf files, instructions for common fixes.  They also told me that the change-parts for my stripped gear would cost US$10 (including S&H).  I sent them payment (PayPal).  My parts were shipped two hours after their office opened that morning.  What I received for $10.00 was the gear (but metal, not plastic), the burr shaft and two washers.

This paragraph is about the ‘innards’.  There is a beefy open-commutator DC motor (very pretty) with a controller-board.  Machined into the end of the steel motor-shaft is a helical pinion which engages a large thick plastic gear on a counter-shaft that drives the inner burr.  The reduction is at least 20:1.  There is another circuit board, two micro-switches and a timer.  These are all connected using spade-lugs or connectors such that most components can be removed for replacement without soldering.  All you need are:  A screwdriver with Phillips-head and slotted bits, a 4” adjustable wrench, vice-grips and a hammer to help dislodge the old gear.  The use of helical rather than spur gears is a good choice for strength and low noise.  There are rubber mounts to isolate the vibration of the motor/grinder from the chassis.  It is a thoughtful design with provision for home-repair.  

In conclusion, this grinder has a good balance of functionality, quality components and good customer support, all at an affordable price-point.  Sometimes, when you take a chance, you win.

Buying Experience

I purchased the unit from Creative Cookware, who advertised it at the US price + applicable taxes and absorbed the currency exchange and shipping costs.  It was a trouble-free transaction.

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review rating: 6.3
Posted: May 29, 2010, 1:59pm
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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