Great at grinding for drip brew, but get used to cleaning the chute with toothpicks.
Positive Product Points
Great looking, holds lots of beans, grinds well.
Negative Product Points
If chute lid is left up grouds FLY ALL OVER THE PLACE! Ground coffee remains stuck in the chute and requires digging it out with toothpicks.
See 3 month followup.
There's been enough written about the A-9 for any reader to appreciate that this is a retro design that does a nice job grinding drip brew coffee, the only coffee I make. Build quality is very good and the measuring cup and brush are thoughful touches. The large glass hopper holds a full pound of coffee and is convenient to use and wash. No doubt, since replacing my 22 year-old Braun blade mill with the A-9, coffee tastes much better.
There are two problems which will lead me to return the A-9. The first is relatively minor and can be overcome if the user remembers to NEVER leave the chute lid up when grinding. Grinds fly all over, far and wide, not in the container. If anyone not familiar with the A-9 wants to use it, please forwarn them.
The second problem is a pain in the butt. Grounds get stuck in the chute and you must use one or more toothpicks to get them out. Even though it may appear that the chute is clean, switching the machine on and off quickly will result in additional grinds clogging the chute. This may require a series of two or three clearnings.
I contacted KitchenAid and the customer rep, Mary Chris was responsive, but tended to give the "company line." She indicated that flavored beans or those that were oily may clog the chute and she recommended using toothpicks! She had no response to the problem with the lid. When I emailed back that the beans I was using were neither flavored nor oily, she offered to replace the A-9 with another, or have KitchenAid buy back the machine. I chose the former, but the problem persists. We spoke on the phone and she indicated the machine was recently redesigned and that even my original A-9 was a redesigned model. She acknowledged both problems were common to the A-9.
I really like this grinder, but clearing the chute with toothpicks is abusurd. Moreover, the quick "on-off" switching to get all the grinds out will undoubtedly wear out the burrs prematurely. I'll be returning mine and will look for another grinder.
Three Month Followup
Okay, I've changed my mind about this grinder. After reading reviews of other, more expensive, grinders, I realized most all of them have quirks and problems of some sort. The solution of keeping the chute lid down and cleaning out the grinds with a toothpick is now automatic, quick and easy. I took the advise of lifting the lid slightly (while keeping a recepticle directly in front of the chute to prevent fly-away grinds) and switching the A-9 on and off to force the stuck grinds out. This works 50% of the time.
Obviously, I've kept the A-9 and I'm now satisfied with it. Still haven't used it for anything but drip coffee, but for that, I do recommend it.
One Year Followup
One year later this grinder is a pleasure to use on almost a daily basis for drip and Americano made in my Krups Moka Brew. For that, I use a finer grind two clicks from the finest it can go. I've given A9's as gifts to other coffee drinkers and the feedback is extremely positive, especially when they've been using either a blade grinder or if they'd been buying ground coffee.
Recent reviews of the A9 have noted quality control problems, and the people I gifted an A9 to in November 2004 reported theirs started to smoke and died within a few days. I called KitchenAid and a new grinder was sent immediately. Moreover, KitchenAid gladly sent another color that matched their kitchen. The new grinder is working fine. The A9 is still recommended by me and the going price seems to be $99 as of this writing. It works great for drip and Americano, and I read one consumer review on this site that explains how to adjust the burrs to grind for espresso.