If your espresso budget is tight, this is the grinder to get.
Positive Product Points
-Fineness of grind -Great price point for heavy-duty burrs -Acceptable level of noise.
Negative Product Points
-Doser is imprecise. Two pulls does NOT yield a double shot. -Somewhat slow. -Lack of a manual. -Brew time is sometimes inconsistency, from shot to shot. After only two weeks of practice,brew time varies from 17 seconds to 40 seconds, even while I try my best to hold everything else equal. Most of this variation appears to be associated with overfilling the portafilter or tamping (apparently tamping too many times) after removing some of the overfill. -Black plastic body doesn't fit next to my stainless steel coffee machine.
Pros definitely outweigh to cons. If your espresso budget is tight, this is the grinder to get.
My reason for buying this grinder was to obtain a 25 second extraction time (brew time). Anything less was simply not acceptable. Anything more had to be adjustable down to 25 seconds. Happily, the $200 Gaggia MDF can deliver on the fineness. I'm still working on the consistency (but am hopeful).
Fineness settings go from the 34 (Course) to 1 (extra fine). Incidentally, there are supposed to be 39 settings. I am narrowing down to the setting of 4 or 5, and I have extra settings to spare in case I ever feel I need to go even finer. The large number of settings is great and means that you shouldn't be stuck with wishing you could grinder between two settings (as with my old supermarket grinder). Each setting clicks into place (by turning the hopper), which means (a) that its harder to grind between settings, and (b) more predicable results, because setting of 5 always means 5 (not 4 3/4; but 5).
Most of my problems come from doser. Still, I wouldn't trade it in for a doserless model (assuming one existed). So it's more of an annoyance than a "fatal flaw". The variability comes from the following: The very finely ground coffee is very fluffy. Right now, I need to tamp it before I know if I have the right amount (my portafilter has a nice line for reference). After tamping, I usually end up under filling or overfilling and have to scope some out of portafilter. In either case, I need to re-tamp resulting in brew times of 40 seconds (I think in leveling out the coffee the second tamp results in heavier than 30 lbs tamp). On those occasions that I dose the right amount the first time, and only tamp to 30 lbs once, then the brew time is only about 17 seconds. Again, with a few more weeks of playing around I believe that I can reduce the variation in brew times.I'm shooting for between 20 and 30 seconds.
Usually, there is a very minor issue of a couple of beans needing to be knocked down into the grinding mechanism when I'm done brewing for the week. Otherwise, I risk two or three stale beans next Saturday when I use it again. Small risk, I'll probably not notice in a few months, but am presently paying very close attention to details until I get the brew times to more predicable levels.
The grinding is somewhat slow taking about 30 seconds per double shot. I don't really care, but it is notable slower than my prior grinding methods.
For some reason Italian's don't seem to include meaningful manuals. The one page pamphlet, covering four languages, doesn't come close. Even my Kitchenaid, which I returned, had a real manual. c'est la vie. You put beans in one end and ground coffee comes out the other; if you need to more than this, you'll need to research it on the internet.
Other grinders I've tried include:
I tried the Kitchenaid Proline, which only gave me a brew cycle of about 8 seconds. Returning it cost me nearly $50. (stay away).
I used to use the supermarket grinder, which gave me a consistent 25 second brew (I had to toggle back an forth once every three seconds between espresso/Turkish). Main drawback was I ground coffee only on Friday for Saturday and Sunday. But I used to be happy. Unfortunately, then the supermarket switched to Mellita and the best I could obtain was 15 seconds. Also, Mellita doesn't have Decaf French Roast (which I had be using to obtain a low-caf. Wife's medical necessity).
Whole Latte Love - No problems, it arrived in two days with no extra shipping charges. Nobody seems to sell the Gaggia for less than $200. You can buy with confidence; you won't be returning the grinder.
Three Month Followup
All kinks have been worked out. I now measure by grinding 17 seconds of coffee beans for a double shot, and must pull the doser like 6 or 7 times to get all the coffee out. I have found that this method gives me a very consistent cup of espresso.
Knowing what I know now, I'd definately have bought the grinder again. No regrets.