Mahlkonig Vario, QM Doserless, Gaggia MDF, Nuova Simonelli MCF
Nothing I have ever done has made such a tremendous improvement in my espresso!
Positive Product Points
Perfect, fluffy grinds. Fast. No static, no clumping. Doser sweeps cleaner than any machine I've seen (without mods). Easy to dial in; easy to adjust. Hopper lid fits much "tighter" than on most grinders -- of course, it's not air-tight, but it's definitely "more snug" than a Mazzer (or a QUick Mill or a Nuova Simonelli).
Negative Product Points
The plastic finger guard makes it difficult to brush out the chute -- d'oh! it's supposed to -- and cannot be removed without cutting or breaking it off. (As a result, it's still in place.) There is some "popcorning" due to its conical burr, but this only occurs with the last few beans in the hopper. With beans in place, this is not a problem as it never takes place.
Please note: I am NOT reviewing a La Cimbali JUNIOR, but rather a La Cimbali MAX HYBRID, a superb conical-flat combination burr set grinder, a "Max" in the body of a "Junior" and with some other "tweaks" to it as well. (But there is no option for this, and requests to have it added have gone unanswered.)
Nothing I have ever done -- including the upgrade from a Coffee Gaggia to a La Valentina HX -- has improved the quality of my espresso as much! With the same beans, my shots are now richer tasting, smoother, and fuller in body. I am surprised -- no, stunned -- at the difference this grinder has made to my coffee overnight!
The grinder is louder than, say, a Mazzer Mini, but it's also much faster. The volume is sort of low-and-throaty (think Harley, as opposed to Honda), and is not unpleasant. You hear it, but the grinder is pretty fast so the noise is here and gone (or should I say, "hear and gone"?).
The doser is almost magical compared to my Mazzer, sweeping almost completely clean and leaving behind as close to NO grinds in the doser as possible. The doser itself is easily adjustable, via a dial on the top of the centerpost. The tray seems when you pick it up to be a little flimsy, but it catches everything, and that's very little as the doser itself tends to drop straight down and NOT to throw things left (a la Mazzer) . . . even with a pretty rapid THWACK-THWACK-THWACK.
The grinder is very easy to dial in and adjust on the fly, thanks to the front position of the adjustment knob. The on-off switch is very solid. And after one month, I'm still excited with this Cimbali MAX HYBRID grinder.
Bought it from Chris' Coffee Service, and the experience was a 10 out of 10!
Three Month Followup
Once again, I would ask that the reader please note: I am NOT reviewing a La Cimbali JUNIOR, but rather a La Cimbali MAX HYBRID, a superb conical-flat combination burr set grinder, a "Max" in the body of a "Junior" and with some other "tweaks" to it as well. (But there is no option for this, and requests to have it added have gone unanswered.)
This grinder REMAINS the single greatest improvement I've made to the quality of the espresso I make, period. My only complaint is that, when used as designed, there is room for a number of beans to get "trapped" between hopper and burrs. On the one hand, as long as they remain in place and the fresh beans keep passing them by, I suppose it isn't a problem. On the other hand, it is relatively easy to create a modification to the throat that eliminates this "room." But I would stress this is the ONLY thing I've found to complain about in an otherwise outstanding grinder.
One Year Followup
OK, so one year has passed since I purchased my La Cimbali Max Hybrid grinder (CMH). I will confess that the noise of the grinder did begin to get to me. As a result, I moved the grinder to my office where I still use it, and love it, several times every weekday. (At home, I now use a Mahlkönig K30 Vario.) But after one year, the grinder is still superb -- easy to adjust, easy to use, and a sheer delight!
On the "down" side, the doser is really designed for a "full size" portafilter. When I have tried to use my CMH with, say, an Arrarex Caravel -- which uses a 45mm portaflter -- it CAN get a little messy. But with a 57 or 58mm basket, there's no problem whatsoever.
It's still a great grinder, and I would buy it again . . .