When I was using my Solis Maestro, I always felt that I’d have to upgrade at some point. With the Proline, I don’t have that feeling any more.
Positive Product Points
Very consistent grind quality Rock solid construction Glass canister all but eliminates static Very easy to clean and adjust Good instruction and setup book
Negative Product Points
Beans can get hung up in the feed area
The ProLine replaces two Baratza grinders on my counter – a Solis Maestro (for espresso) and a Starbucks Barista (for drip grind) – and it represents a step up in quality in several areas:
The most important is grind quality and the subsequent improvement in the taste of the coffee – both espresso and drip. I’m not certain what the exact physics are, but other reviewers have commented on the “fluffiness” of the ground coffee, and I can confirm it. It may be that the beans are “shaved” rather than “ground”, but that’s probably a simplistic explanation. I really don’t know how the ProLine does it, but the result is a real eye-opener in terms of letting the full taste of the coffee come out.
The second point is the use of glass for both the input hopper and the canister that receives the ground coffee. Static is virtually eliminated and the mess around your coffeemakers will be reduced significantly. The glass seems lightweight but appears to be tempered and can quickly be replaced if you drop it from counter height onto your tile floor. There is a spring-loaded collar that sits on top of the canister that holds the ground coffee, and this keeps coffee dust from your counters.
The quality of construction is immediately obvious. This is a heavy duty piece of equipment with a cast body and enough weight to keep it absolutely stable. I think the mass of the unit helps in reducing the noise level when grinding – it seems much quieter than my Maestro was. KitchenAid has been making high-end appliances for years. We’ve been using our KitchenAid mixer for over twenty years with no problems. Service and spare parts should never be a problem with the ProLine.
The unit is attractively designed and reasonably compact, taking up an overall space 6 inches wide, about 11 inches deep (including the motor and dial overhangs) and 13 inches tall. There is nothing about it that looks flimsy or poorly-fitted. I got a red one, but the grinder also comes in a grey color. There is an “On/off” switch at the right side of the grinder. Nothing fancy about it.
The grind selector is located at the front of the Proline and it moves very smoothly through the detents. You can adjust it while grinding, though I have no idea why you’d want to.
The instruction book is first rate, and it gives clear instructions on readjustment of the grinder if the factory settings don’t give the grind you want. I had to adjust mine to get the Turkish grind I wanted at the “fine” end of the scale, but the task was straightforward. Cleaning the grinder is likewise straightforward. Remove the two large screws on the front and the burrs are immediately accessible. It takes about a third the time to clean the ProLine than it did to clean the Maestro.
Oily beans don’t clog the ProLine. I think this is because the basic design is well thought-out and the motor that powers the unit is a strong one. I can try some roasts that I’ve been avoiding for the past two years. Further, the design of the grinder doesn’t leave extra grounds in the mechanism at the end of the grind, as long as you don’t leave beans hung up in the feed mechanism (see below).
Although the grind selector dial at the front of the unit has fifteen detents numbered 1 (coarse) through 8 (fine), you can dial a setting between the detents and the grinder will hold the setting throughout the grind. This is a really nice feature if you are trying to get the grind exactly right for your machine. Since my wife uses the ProLine to grind for drip at the “5” setting, I wind up moving the selector to a 7 ¼ setting for espresso. I’m actually using a finer grind in my La Pavoni now that I have the ProLine, and I’m using a lighter tamp so that the water will diffuse evenly and not channel. So far, I’m exceptionally pleased with the result.
However – The only fault I can find with the grinder is the design of the input canister and the burr guard, which combine to allow beans to hang up before they get to the burrs. I use the brush that come with the unit to sweep the beans into the grinding chamber but it appears that a slight change in design should greatly reduce the problem.
If you’d like to grind directly into the portafilter, you probably could but you’d wind up with a mess on your hands more often than not. If you feel strongly about loading directly into your portafilter, you'll proably be happier with a Rocky, Macap or other high-end grinder.
Purchased through eBay as a factory-reconditioned unit posted by KitchenAid. The unit came with a guarantee, original packaging and all accessories.
I had no problems at all in the purchase or delivery.
Three Month Followup
Three months of operations, and I'm certain that this grinder was the right choice. Whether I'm using it to grind espresso or my wife is using it for drip, it is absolutely problem free. Most important, the grind is consistent.
One Year Followup
A full year of trouble-free operation. This grinder is bulletproof. Even with the finer grind I'm using, the ProLine is a consistent performer. All the strong points I appreciated when I wrote the first review are still applicable.