This grinder was the replacement for my Solis Maestro Plus which met its fate on my garage floor after months of unsuccessful tinkering to get a decent grind:
As you might assume, I write this with a fair amount of malice towards the old grinder. I think that made me look upon the replacement more favorably from the outset. But, as you will see, after brewing several pots of drip and pulling many dozens of shots of espresso my initial positive reactions were proven correct. At this point I will obviously not be able to speak to the long-term durability of this grinder as I've owned it for 1 week. I wanted to wait longer to write this, to increase my credibility, but I had to do it now in an effort to save the $$ of anyone about to go out and pick up a Solis grinder.
The primary factor in the demise of my Maestro Plus was the upper burr housing. As many have noted, it is a small plastic ring that is supported by two plastic tabs, one on either side. These fit into a threaded ring mechanism which raises and lowers the burr when twisted (via twisting the bean hopper.) The Capresso Infinity has essentially the same design; a fixed, conical, lower burr and an upper burr held in place with plastic tabs. The primary differences are a larger grinding chamber on the Infinity and a group of 3 support tabs rather than 2. The tabs are larger and flatter, contributing further to the stability of the upper burr housing. The plastic housing itself is permanently fixed to the burr which doesn't wiggle, even slightly, within the housing.
On the Maestro Plus, there was a small but significant amount of play between the plastic and the metal even when the upper burr was properly seated in its housing. Coupled with the two-tab adjustment design that allows the whole upper burr housing to rock back and forth, the Solis seems destined to produce a horribly inconsistent grind (Beans feeding into the burrs on one side are constantly pushing the burrs closer on the other side, and I could see it through the bottom of the hopper. ) This is further evidenced by the feature list for Solis' latest overpriced grinder, the Virtuoso. The new unit uses 3 tabs (hmm, I wonder why?) to support the upper burr and boasts a re-designed adjustment mechanism for more repeatable results.
As I first took the unit out of the box, I was surprised how small and light it was. I don't mind so much that it doesn't feel like a huge heavy beast. The second thing I noticed was that the grinding receptacle was not held in place as firmly as I would like.
From there I immediately began dumping beans in for the first test. The Infinity has 16 distinct grind settings, categorized in groups of 4 as "extra fine", "fine", "medium", "coarse". I dialed in the first (coarsest) of the four "extra fine" grind settings and turned on the grinder via the timer. That was the finest grind I had ever seen, EVER. I dropped some in a double shot basket, tamped and gave it a whirl. For the first time ever I completely choked my espresso machine; 30 seconds later there was not a single drop in the cup. (The Solis could never do that even with the grind set so fine that there were horrid metal-on-metal sounds being emitted.)
I went up 2 steps coarser, into the category labeled "fine" on the dial. As I pulled the shot things were moving very slowly. It was definitely "ristretto" by many standards. The product was syrupy and delicious and certain cafes would probably stop there and not go any coarser. My personal preference is to fill the cup just a little more so I went up one more step on the dial, still in the "fine" category. The third shot came through just as I'd expect and tasted wonderful, with very few grounds in the bottom of the cup.
I had found my personal "sweet spot" on the grinder and since then I have dialed in this setting repeatedly for dozens of shots with exactly the same results. (I can't overemphasize how much the Infinity shines in the repeatability department when compared to the Maestro Plus. The dial on that grinder gave different results every single day.)
Day 2 of ownership, getting ready for work, and I grind up some dark oily beans for a morning pot of drip. I used the finest of the 4 "coarse" settings. I got exactly what I wanted, just fine enough for good slow extraction without overflowing the basket (I could tell by the line the post-brewed grounds left partway up the basket.) The taste was a miracle, probably partially due to the grinder but also because I had roasted the beans myself 1 day earlier.
Personally I expect to clean my grinder OFTEN because I am fanatical about espresso perfection. Those who seek to mindlessly dump beans and let her rip each day might think twice because the grinding chamber is large and will store a lot of undispensed grounds. All of this is overshadowed by how easy it is to clean. The top burr lifts out easily for quick brushing, and once removed the chamber can be cleared of grounds by leaning the whole unit towards the dispensing side and shoveling them down the chute with a brush. The lower burr is easily accessible with a standard toothbrush, which is a benefit of the larger grinding chamber (couldn't do this easily with the Maestro.) I do this literally every day and I have the whole process down to 1 minute or less.
I found it very easy to overlook the minor ergonomic conveniences that are present on the Maestros but not on the Ininity. The pulse button is unnecessary; the Infinity's timer switch can be used the exact same way if you just apply enough pressure to push it to the left of the 0 mark and hold it there - when you release, it immediately shuts off. The lower receptacle will stay put if you just stick something small in front of it and start grinding. You can also grind directly into a portafilter as with the Solis, so you're not missing anything there.
The most frustrating part about the Solis might have been the fact that most beans would not feed into the burrs without being stirred or jammed in with a spoon. Capresso read my mind when I thought “all it would take is a little something on top of the lower burr to stir up the beans, why couldn’t they do that??”. The Infinity is my reigning champion in this department, with a corkscrew attachment that ensures every single bean is pulled into the burrs effortlessly and quickly: http://cbecker333.homeip.net/webpub/dontsmashityet.jpg I’m literally grinding in ¼ the time it took with the Maestro Plus. The Infinity does all this with a burr that turns slowly, resulting in less heat and no static whatsoever in the grounds receptacle.
RECOMMENDATION: BUY IT
So there you have it, IMO within the $100-$150 price range this thing is the ideal choice for both espresso and drip.