Good solid, powerful, grinder that works for me (vac-pot & Moka Brew).
Positive Product Points
Well built, solid & sufficiently heavy Cool looking Powerful motor Small footprint on counter Consistent grind for vac-pot & Moka Brew No static KitchenAid Customer Support
Negative Product Points
Beans ricochet around hopper at end when grinding by volume Ground coffee left in chute Grind "creep" at top of chute exit
Purchased from www.cooking.com using a 20% coupon I found for that site by doing a Google search for "cooking.com coupons". That took $25 off. And they shipped it for free.
I had received a ProLine grinder from my wife as a gift. Didn't work (see my revised review of that grinder). I did an extensive search for a different grinder that would be used solely for vac-pot and my new Krups Moka Brew (review to come). Espresso, which is only a weekend habit for me, is still ground using my trusty Zassenhaus. The finalists were the Maestro, the Rocky doserless, and the Anfim. The Anfim looked really promising, but it's 100 watt motor seems to be a concern for some reviewers. And it's relatively big. (My wife is pretty supportive of my coffee passion, and I want to make sure I don't push it with too-commercial looking machines). And at $260, I kept looking. The Rocky sure has a following. And it seems like a great grinder, especially for espresso. But, again, cost and commercial looks were drawbacks. And for both the Anfim and Rocky, there seem to be quite a few comments about ground coffee left in the chute. And both of these just seem to be overkill for somewhat coarse grinding.
On to the Maestro. Again, a good following, but enough reviews that comment on it's plastic-construction, and burr-set.
While the ProLine didn't cut-it, it wasn't too far off. Figured the the A-9 was worth a look, and the customer support I got when inquiring about some issues with the ProLine made me feel confident. Then when I found the 20% off coupon for Cooking.com, I decided to give it a "go". Also, the bottom line is that I just didn't care for any of the other possibilities for my needs.
I received the grinder in about a week after ordering it, and was impressed with it's construction right away. And something I look for is where something is made. As I seem to remember, the ProLine was China... The A-9 is made here in America. And that makes me think that it's still a true KitchenAid product, not out-sourced to another manufacturer.
My first grind was cause for a bit of concern. I got the grind "creep" others have mentioned out the top of the chute, but it certainly was less than I expected. I also noticed the leftover grounds in the chute. They do get packed in there a little. I've used both a wooden shish-kabob skewer and a plastic wire-tie to empty the chute. Both "tools" take no time at all to clear the chute. I may try a chopstick. It really is no big deal, and I like the fact that I can get to the chute at all (something not all grinders allow).
To make the whole grinding process clean and easy, I pull it away from its resting place close to the wall and set it on a paper towel. The included grind-glass gets placed on the paper towel as well. The beans I need for a morning pot are put in the hopper, and I flip the toggle switch. Grinding does not take long at all. The last idiosyncracy I'm working on is how the final beans ricochet around the hopper before falling into the burrs. These hold-outs sometimes break into smaller pieces as they almost bounce off the burrs, and this leaves a few pieces of partially ground bean in the hopper. Oh well. I've finally accepted that grinding is not a perfect process, and there doesn't seem to be a perfect machine for doing it. They all have idiosyncracies.
Once finished, I pin down the paper towel with one hand, and move the grinder back to its place close to the wall with the other hand (the rubber feet under the A-9 stick to the towel just slightly). The towel, and the few grounds on it, gets tossed. No mess left.
But the results mean the A-9 is here to stay. Consistent grind and a great resulting pot of coffee (using home roasted coffee, of course!) And my wife doesn't mind its looks. (I was really close to getting the Rocky... I think that would have been a different story.)
Cooking.com has been great. Especially if you can find a coupon, or in the case of the Krups Moka Brew I bought from them, look for a sale (got that for 15% off). Free shipping on both, and the shipping time is more than acceptable. And I cannot see a return as being an issue, though I don't anticipate needing to try.
Three Month Followup
Had to return a couple to KitchenAid for various reasons.... On my first, the upper burr broke loose from the motor shaft, on the second, the little medallion that covers the chute would get hung-up, and if it wasn't pulled away from the chute prior to grinding, coffee would burst out of the chute... And go all over the counter.
For my third one, right out of the box, some paint was chipped off the base. Yikes!
But do I still like this grinder? Yes. For vac-pot, moka brew and pour-over drip, it does great. Minimal mess (no static), consistent grind, and relatively quiet. I've gotten used to its idiosyncracies, so now I just hope that it holds up.
Finally, I have nothing but praise for KitchenAid Customer Support. When there's been an issue, a quick phone call results in a replacement grinder being sent out.
If anyone is interested in the A-9, I believe that Abt Electronics (www.abtelectronics.com) is selling them for $99, and shipping may be included.