It will either be the first grinder that you buy or the last grinder that you need; it depends upon you.
Positive Product Points
PROS: Great entry level quality grinder, especially if you have only previously owned blade grinders or the under-$100 'top-end-kitchen' toy grinders. Wide range of grind if you are exploring all of your espresso and brew options. Grinds fine enough for good espresso. Relatively slow grind means no heat buildup and less noise. (Not too slow unless you are commonly turning out a dozen shots at one time.) Doser controls grind exit. Fits under cabinets.
Negative Product Points
CONS: Retains up to 4 grams of grind in the pathway - has to be purged. Plastic doser lid keeps falling off. Although units has 34 steps, only 4 or 5 steps are useful for espresso.
Having breezed through the existing reviews before offering this one, I can recognize the personality of this product from all of the reviews - and also get a good idea of the personalities of the users.
Starting with the 'bottom-line', this (or perhaps the Kitchen-Aid 'Pro-line'[not the 'regular'] Grinder, I am told) are the cost-effective entry-level grinders for those with the palate who are finding their feet in the world of the 'home barista'. No, I didn't just put my foot in my mouth. This grinder is practical, useful and durable, but you can outgrow it.
The lack of rubber feet never bothered me - the unit never danced on formica, Corian, or the cutting board. Transmitted noise was moderate.
I am a weigh-and-grind operator, therefore the hopper lid stays off. Since it fits under the cabinets, the hopper is protected. No one talks about how easy the press-fit doser lid can be knocked off onto your portafilter if you are not careful. And I agree that physically inverting or whapping the grinder is necessary to clear the residual grinds from the pathway. I have had the Gaggia about 18 months and I finally spot-glued the doser lid onto the doser.
It has been mentioned that the grind-selection steps limit fine-tuning the grind. I have lately come to the point where my espresso shots would benefit from a more precise selection of grind - say between steps 4 and 5 on the dial. Therefore, I have had to learn he technique of adjusting my tamp pressure lighter while using the 4th step, instead of the 5th. For this reason, if this unit ever breaks down - and it seems like it will outlast me - I will not buy another but instead I have grown into appreciating a stepless or more finely-stepped machine. Also, I will try to find a unit that does not retain grinds.
While attempting to replicate the grind output from this machine with a index-less Hario hand grinder (to take on a trip), I compared the output from both machines with magnification. I am unaware of industry standards, if any, but the grind of both machines seemed 'cut' and 'fluffy' and not 'crushed' and 'crumb-like'. However, I was surprised at what impressed me as the considerable variability in grain size - I expected more uniformity. I thought that uniformity was what improved the taste of quality-ground coffee - but either the grain size of cheap under-$100 grinder toys is way more variable (we all know that blade grinders are this way) or I have a lot more to learn about what constitutes the merits of good grinding (probably both).
First purchase from WLL. Would continue to buy from them.