Looking at the list above, it looks as if the positives clearly out weigh the negatives of this machine. However, believe me when I say not all points are weighed equally… With that in mind let’s get on with the review!
This is one of the most attractive looking machines and will most likely be the centerpiece of your kitchen. Everyone who enters you’re house will see this grinder on the counter and know you mean business. You used have a choice of several finishes (I owned the red), but now they’ve limited the color choice to pearl metallic, which is the preferred color of most people. Looking at the grinder from all angles, I would say it is the most symmetrical grinder I’ve ever seen, thus adding to its attractiveness.
Make sure you use two hands when taking initially taking it out of the box and moving it around the kitchen because it is pretty heavy. If you own one of their mixers, you’ll know exactly what I mean, it’s roughly the same weight. It is a solid machine with an extremely sturdy base. This is quite exciting because it is one of the few machines I’ve handled where I didn’t feel like I going to break the thing in half. You also won’t have to worry about it sliding all over the counter top like some of the plastic models on the market. Once it is planted down, it isn’t going to move unless you pick it up. There goes the two hand thing again…
The glass hopper and coffee bin was one of the main traits that attracted me to this product. I own a conical burr grinder with a plastic hopper and when ever I removed the hopper after grinding it was like a coffee ground bomb went off. Grinds everywhere! No BS. The static cling of coffee grounds is minimal. Once the unit is finished grinding, simply remove the coffee bin, give it a few swirls (easy to do without spilling grinds, thanks to its tapered shape), and pour the grounds into your filter. Another huge plus is the hopper capacity. This is the only consumer model I can think of that can hold anywhere from eight ounces to a pound of coffee. I guess I could always just add beans more regularly on my smaller machine, but that would require a whole extra step of me pouring the beans in again…
Using the machine is as easy as flipping as switch. Once the desired amount is achieved, simply flick the switch again and presto! You’ve got ground coffee. The machine offers 15 different grind levels, but it is indeed about double that. If you take off the faceplate, you can make minor tweaks to the grind, giving you virtually twice the amount of grind settings as stated on the box.
Playing with the internal grind control dial sounds kind of scary right? Nothing on this machine is too difficult to grasp, especially with the amount of detail given in the product manual. This was probably the best product manual I have ever seen on anything I’ve ever purchased. Complete with a myriad of illustrations, each step is carefully spelled out so that you won’t make any mistakes or risk damaging your machine.
Finally, the amazing warranty and customer service. A few months after purchasing my machine, I started playing around with different brewing devices and noticed that I wasn’t getting the grind consistency that I required. I called customer service and requested a new set of burrs be sent out to me. Instead, without any questions asked, they sent me a brand new machine. A few months later I called in with the same issue, grind consistency, and again they were ready to replace mine with a new machine. Instead I re-cleaned the burrs and the grind slightly improved. Not long after, I brought my burr grinder out of the closet and decided to compare the grind against one another in a brew off. The results??? You’ll have to read on a little further under the negatives to get the full story. Nevertheless, I called customer service and acknowledging that I wasn’t happy with the grind uniformity, they offered to reimburse me $150 for my machine. Had I save my receipt I would have gotten full reimbursement. This was probably the best experience I’ve ever had in dealing with any company’s customer service. They were all professional, polite, and prompt in trying to accommodate me.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for….
One thing that always annoyed me was that beans would always get caught in the crevasses of the hopper. Not a big deal, but there is nothing worse then making a cup of coffee only to have it tainted by a few old beans that were left in the hopper to stale weeks earlier.
Lastly, it is not the size that matters, but shape and uniformity. I’m talking about grind consistency. When it comes down to coffee equipment, I think every professional within the industry will agree that with everything else equal, choosing a grinder that can deliver a uniform grind is probably the single most important factor, separating an great cup of coffee from an ok cup.
Before I purchased the KitchanAid Pro Line, I was using a Starbucks Barista conical burr grinder made by Solis. Once I purchased my KitchenAid, I gave the other grinder to my brother, who would use it for his flavored coffees (YYUUUCCKKK!!!). As I stated above, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what was the cause of this bitterness and dullness in my cup and why I wasn’t able to achieve the same quality that I had before. I discalced my brewer, used different bottled waters, and even changed paper filters, but I still wasn’t getting the liveliness in my cup.
Nearly a year later it hit me that perhaps the problem wasn’t my brew, filters, or the water I was using, but rather my grinder. A little curious, I decided to compare the two grinders side by side to one another. Looking at the physical appearance of the ground coffee, both grinds looked pretty uniform and similar in size, with that the exception that the KitchenAid had a some finer grounds and coffee dust particles. When it came time to brew, the difference was night and day.
As Mark Prince stated in his review of the KitchenAid machine, when testing the grinder he found that the grinds actually curled, making the appearance look courser than it really was. Another trait in a good grind is its shape. You want a grind with the correct surface space so that you can achieve the correct extraction rate for every particle. That is the whole reason we have different grinds for different brewing methods. As I looked a little closer I found this to be part of the case. I wasted pounds of Cup of Excellence coffee testing the grinder. I put it on virtually every grind setting hoping to find the sweet spot for my Technivorm brewer, but nothing was able to deliver the taste that I achieved from my conical burr grinder. Could it have been a lemon machine? I don’t think so because I still wasn’t able to achieve that perfect cup with the first one I had. I’ll leave the conclusion up to you…