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KitchenAid Retro Burr - Rob Havelt's Review
Posted: September 4, 2006, 11:06am
review rating: 6.3
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
KitchenAid Retro Burr
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More About This Product
Arrow The KitchenAid Retro Burr has 34 Reviews
Arrow The KitchenAid Retro Burr has been rated 6.12 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 8, 2003.
Arrow KitchenAid Retro Burr reviews have been viewed 162,110 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Lance Goffinet 8.07
Eric Nager 7.66
C. A. Brooks 7.60
Jason Ashbaugh 7.40
Marietta VB 7.17

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 2.8
Manufacturer: KitchenAid Quality: 2
Average Price: $130.00 Usability: 3
Price Paid: $85.00 Cost vs. Value 1
Where Bought: Marshall Fields Aesthetics 7
Owned for: 6 months Overall 1
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Rancilio Rocky
Bottom Line: Cool looking machine - too bad it doesn't work...
Positive Product Points

This is a really nice looking grinder with a huge bean hopper, and that's nice. It has a small countertop footprint, and feels substantial and really sturdy on the outside, as its a Kitchen Aid product, and its built really solid.

Negative Product Points

This grinder produces a really inconsistent grind, and is very much prone to jamming. The Burrs are inaccessible without disassembling the unit, so many times if you grind a corse batch for French Press coffee, it gets physically impossible to set it back to fine for an espresso grind. Its also very temperamental. If there is a lot of moisture in the beans you are using, look for a lot of struggling and mess - I've almost had to completely stop using Lavazza beans since I've bought this. Also, 2 of them have broken in the process of daily use in the past 6 months.

Detailed Commentary

Where do I start? I was really excited when I got this machine, because it looked so cool - which goes to show you, never select form over function. This isn't the most well thought out machine on the planet. In fact, I doubt it was thought out much at all...

Lets start with the actual mechanical difficulties and then the operational stuff.

I've gone through two of these machines since April 2006. The first one lasted about 4 days, the replacement (I returned it to the store and got a new one figuring it was a fluke) lasted about 6 months. The primary problem seems to come from the burr assembly. On both units the assembly that held the bottom burr in place managed to get loose and literally ground themselves into oblivion. That just seems like it really shouldn't happen. but if you look at the assembly, you can totally see how it would. Anyway, when this happens, unless you have a source of replacement parts, say goodbye to this machine, because a screw or burr, or something will get destroyed in the process. Oh another minor point, there was a rubber seal on the tin lid of the hopper that fell off within the first week as well...

Operationally this machine is messy, and inconsistent. Grinds get clogged in the chute, or, the feed to the burrs gets restricted (that's when the real fun begins because instead of the normal usual stream of grinds into the glass collector, you get a spatter pattern of particles flying all over the place in 180 degree 3 foot path).  I did manage to figure out, over time, the trick to reducing the spatter, and get something decent out of the machine - you need to hold down the flap over the chute a bit as its grinding, if you apply just the right corrective pressure on it, you can get a bit of consistancy out of it.

You need to disassemble the machine to clean the burrs, so in normal operation it becomes very hard to switch from corse to fine - almost impossible.

Its very temperamental to the type of beans you use - don't expect to be able to use beans that are somewhat moist or high in oil content - unless you want to fight the machine. To be fair, the owner's manual warns against using beans that have ever been frozen, or using flavored beans.  But based on how this thing works with just, say, fresh Lavazza beans - I couldn't imagine the hell you would have to go through with say flavored beans.

All in all, it looks cool, very cool, and it has some good points - and it works o.k. when its working, but its just not a great unit. I ended up buying a Rancilio Rocky last night to replace it.

Buying Experience

Typical - I bought this at a retail store in the area, and so I had no problems with service or returns when the first one broke after a few days.

Three Month Followup

3 months later and this grinder has taken its righful place in the trash. It was never meant for this life. It ground itself to death after a few months of ownership. The Doserless Rocky that I bought to replace it though is working wonderfully.

I can't stress in strong enough words what an ill-advised purchase the Kitchen-Aid was.

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review rating: 6.3
Posted: September 4, 2006, 11:06am
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
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