Great machine. Quiet, fast, and infinitely adjustable. Feels like it could withstand anti-tank fire from an A-10 Warthog. It grinds coffee beans.
Negative Product Points
Doser, although well-made, is not so great for a home user. Would prefer a metal catch tray as I suspect the tabs on the plastic one may eventually break.
I'll spare you the full tale of how long it took me to remotely justify spending this much on a coffee grinder. Let's say I'm hoping to recoup my investment by not buying coffee or espresso drinks pretty much ever again, and I've accepted that I'm assimilating into the home-espresso Borg forevermore. I just bought a Rancilio Silvia, and as long as I needed to upgrade from my Braun blade grinder and Black & Decker burr grinder ($15 each) I might as well go all out so I'll never have to upgrade again, right? See, Iíve completely justified it. Let's not talk about it any more.
Mini works great out of the box. Set-up is easy, and the pre-set calibration sticker is basically where it should be on the grind adjustment collar. Dialing in the setting varies a bit with tamping pressure and different beans, but Silvia appears to prefer a small turn toward a coarser grind. Materials are quality and the whole unit is designed well.
Someday someone will offer a grinder with a removable doser and the world will be a better place. Until then we're forced to choose, and after reading many reviews I chose the Mini over the doserless Rocky (I absolutely could not justify the super-expensive doserless Mini E). For me it was more about choosing Mini over Rocky, as I'd read more complaints about Rocky.
In the Mini's case, doser materials and construction are solid. It does tend to throw grinds to the left but if you go easy on the lever pull and lean the portafilter against the left side of the fork itís not a problem.
What is a problemófor the typical home useróis keeping the doser clean. The doser has a lot of surface area and spaces between parts for grounds to accumulate, and the vanes donít make a clean sweep of the bottom. So far Iíve modified the doser as follows:
Take out the silly finger guard. This seems to be the first thing every Mini owner does. It involves removing two screws and it makes the doser much more accessible to clean.
Modify the vanes to make a cleaner sweep of the bottom. I used electrical tape, which has proven effective if imperfect. There's a good step-by-step how-to for this at Click Here (temesblog.blogspot.com)
Place an inverted glass or similar object over the doserís center star, where a lot of grounds land. The above blog lists a modification involving a plastic glass notched to fit atop the center section. I may try this, but in the meantime I tried a non-notched glass, which is OK but slides around and lets grounds underneath, and now Iím on to a notched paper coffee cup, which is simpler to make and good at keeping grounds from slipping under but probably wonít last and doesnít do much for Miniís aesthetics.
With this overabundance of modifications in place my routine now involves filling the grinder with two scoops of beans and starting the timer. When itís done I pop off the doser top (you really only need to keep it on for coarser grinds, which spray everywhere) and brush out the chute, where the most of the grounds buildup happens. Then I add a quick brush of the inside surfaces, dose the doser through a few rotations, and thatís it, with little waste.
Iíve had to tweak the collar setting a few times to produce a grind worthy of Silviaís approval, particularly when I changed beans or as beans get older, but all within a tight range of the initial set point. The stepless adjustment is nice, if for nothing else than to eliminate one more potential scapegoat for my own inability to get the grind right. French press is the only other brewing method I use with any regularity and it seems simple to adjust to a coarse grind. I've found a pretty good setting at just above 7 on the dial.
Re-adjustment back down to your original position (with the grinder on) is easy and accurate, especially with the screw-in lever, even if the collar is a bit stiff, and of course each adjustment gives you yet another chance to clean out the doser. I only grind for French press about once a week and it might be a nuisance if I did it more, but at that frequency (and at Mini's price) I'm fine having Mini pull double-duty. You have to dose the grounds into a shallow bowl or something else that wonít get obstructed by the portafilter fork, which is not easily removable.
FINAL (I HOPE) THOUGHTS
And, of course, the espresso Iíve gotten from beans ground by the Mini tastes great.
If I had it to do over again Iíd be tempted to save the extra money and get the doserless Rocky instead, if only because cleaning the doser seems to take up so much of the time I spend making espresso, but Iím sure the Rocky comes with its own set of pet peeves.
I hope to get many years out of Mini and Silvia together. I also hope the past month is the most time I'll ever spend thinking about a machine that just grinds coffee beans.
Bought from 1st-line, which knocked $100 off the regular $459 price for purchasing the Mini together with the Rancilio Silvia.
Three Month Followup
Overall itís still great. No hassles and makes great espresso together with Silvia. No regrets about not saving a few bucks by buying a Rocky instead. Doser-wise, Iíve found more success once I suspended my quest for a perfect, leftover-free modification setup and simply accepted the act of cleaning the doser. I do wish the catch tray had maybe 2 inches more in diameter, as my counter always seems to end up with a halo of grounds around the tray after I finish dosing into the portafilter, and I heard the larger metal Super Jolly tray doesnít fit the Mini.
If you can stomach the up-front expense, this really seems to be the grinder to get and then not have to worry about upgrades or replacements.