First let me point out that this is the stepless doser model with the thumbscrew adjustment knob. (As others have pointed out, it's not easy to switch from an espresso grind to a French press grind with the stepless- it's best as a dedicated espresso grinder. If you want the ability to switch from fine to coarse quickly, get the stepped model. ) I compared this to the Rocky, Cimbali Junior and Mazzer Mini grinders before purchasing, thanks to the kind folks at Chris's Coffee and their awesome working showroom. Nothings beats hands-on, side by side comparisons.
Packaging was secure and thorough, and unpacking and setup were very easy. The manual is fairly clear and it's not difficult to understand the little things they missed in translating to English. However, there is also an extra sheet titled "Supplemental English Instructions for MACAP Grinders," which covers setting the zero point and reminds you that adjustments should be made while the grinder is running, an important point in case you have any bean fragments in the burrs before it is turned on.
I read other reviews of this grinder before I set it up, so I was prepared for the odd method of zeroing and indexing the grind. Macap suggests turning the adjustment just until the burrs begin to touch, then backing off slightly. Fair enough, but then you have to look at the difficult-to-read adjustment disk and figure out where the numbers are. On mine the lowest point on the scale was at the back, which would be hidden as soon as the hopper was attached. So I removed the three screws on the toothed disk, lifted it off, and rotated it so the low end of the scale was at the front. It just so happened that the '1' was lined up exactly at the left side of one of the screws in the stainless steel below the adjustment disk, so I made a mark there as my index point; if it ever rubs off, I know exactly where it goes.
MACAP says to move up 2-1/2 numbers from the zero point to begin checking your grind, but I found that 1-1/2 was plently, and it is now set below that point (finer grind) for all my espresso grinding. Because I have an index mark on the body below the disk, I can mark various points on the disk itself for the minor adjustments for different beans (I find decaf always requires at least a full notch finer grind).
The grind plate, which is meant to catch spilled grounds, is entirely too small and you have to tip the grinder back and fit one of the feet into the plate. I could see the folly with this right away and just put it back in the box. Instead I use a cloth napkin which covers a much larger area.
The hopper is more than sufficient for grinding a lot of beans. It will easily hold a pound and the smoked plastic and black lid are a nice look with the stainless body. The doser also has smoked plastic with a black lid. The motor is very quiet and when grinding beans it's not a lot louder. You certainly know the machine is working, but it's not that screaming whine you hear in some coffee shops. Grinding is quick, though I wish the chute didn't hold so much when grinding is finished; I would guess there's between a half and a full gram of grounds in there. It's difficult to clean with a brush if you don't remove the protective plastic grille that is just above the chute inside the doser, so I take a small can of compressed air and gently spray into the chute, which effectively empties it in an instant.
Dosing works very well, and when you work that lever you really get a feel for how solidly this machine is made. It's heavy and precise and feels as if it will last forever. Adjustment of the dose is very easy by means of a tall pin inside the doser. I do wish there were a better method of holding the portafilter rather than the little wire bracket. Because of its placement, the grounds tend to land in the left side of the portafilter so you will be spilling over one side before the portafilter is full.
Overall this is a solid, dependable, well-made grinder. Individual grind settings are always consistent, even when switching back and forth, and doser amounts are uniform. The thumbscrew adjustment is really nice for making those tiny adjustments, a very nice feature especially for a beginner like me who does a lot of experimenting with tamping and grinding. I'm guessing it will come in handy as I try out blends from various roasters too.