I've only had the Mazzer Mini (hereafter "Maz") for one week--it arrived January 14, 2002--so this will be light on technical information and more of a "first impressions" or "getting up to speed" review. Also, my apologies to Mark (Mr. Geek himself) for disregarding his admonition that I wait a month or more before posting a review of Maz. The world is full of stupid people and I am proud to be their leader. So with that, let's get rolling...
[REV: For those with, or considering a, Livia 90 and trying to decide between the stainless Moka and the Mazzer Mini, you should know that the most conspicuous part of the Mini, the large doser on the front, is mirror-finish stainless steel--in the event you're overly concerned with precisely matching finishes on all of your equipment, the Mazzer Mini is a perfect match for the Livia, better, IMHO, than the overpriced, inferior Moka. Also, conside this: The Moka weighs roughly 15 pounds and costs an average of $450 for the stainless version. The Mazzer Mini weighs nearly *twice* that, at a reported 29 pounds (at Mazzer.com), costs *less* than $400, has a substantially greater hopper capacity, has stepless, "infinite" grind settings, has a superior dosing mechanism, and is quieter. This is why I purchased the Mini over the Moka. To me, admittedly a biased opinion, it's a no-brainer.]
When the UPS driver arrived I was like a father in nervous anticipation of his firstborn child, and removed Maz as though I were delivering him from my spouse's womb myself. I am now the proud parent of a shiney, healthy, newborn baby coffee grinder. Birth weight: 29 pounds!
First, let me state that everything you've heard or read about Maz is true. To "borrow" Carl Lau's (aka FooKooNetwork on Alt.Coffee) words, Maz is truly "a worthy, matched companion" for my Pasquini Livia 90 Auto espresso machine (although he applied them to the Pasquini Moka grinder), or for *any* high-end home or lower-yield commercial espresso machine for that matter. In my estimation, this is a superior grinder to the Moka, or any other high-end home grinder for a number of reasons.
1) Maz is proof-positive that a coffee grinder can be a work of art. If Michaelangelo were to sculpt a coffee grinder, it would be the Mazzer Mini. It is designed with an understated elegance that is equally at home in an antique, country setting as it is in the most modern, stainless kitchen.
2) Maz satisfies every facet of your visual and tactile senses. There simply isn't a more attractive grinder on the home market, including the Moka. Its fit, finish and heft all combine to strike the perfect balance between form and function. It exudes quality and durability that implies it will be grinding your grandchildren's coffee.
3) The adjustment wheel is a solid piece of polished stainless steel that rotates freely (with a little effort) around the grind orifice. It does *not* have stops, making it "infinitely" adjustable. Everyone who's serious about pursuing the ultimate "Gosh Shot" is provided the Ultimate Tool for so doing in the Mazzer Mini. It uniquely provides the ability to correct for very small atmospheric and environmental grind changes from day to day or hour to hour.
4) The hopper has a 600g (1-1/4 pound) capacity for whole bean coffee. Most people order fresh coffee that arrives in one pound bags, which can conveniently be dumped, in whole, into the hopper without having to store a partial pound. Additionally, the hopper is easily removeable and has a stopper that can be closed to facilitate quick bean substitution--a nice feature if it's your only grinder and you wish to use it for other methods of coffee preparation.
5) Maz is remarkably quiet. I've read some Alt.Coffee posts from people who forget to turn Maz off when beans aren't flowing through the burrs, and I can attest to that. Even when beans are being ground, Maz is quite simply the quietest grinder I've ever heard in person, and I've used the Moka and the super-commercial Rancilio MD-50/AT. If you value silence, then Maz is unquestionably the "strong, silent type."
6) While many home espresso afficianados question the usefulness of a doser (a sentiment I echo), the doser on Maz is about as friendly to grind-and-brew use as they come. You can grind with the cover removed from the doser and not a single ground escapes, so it's easy to keep an eye on the grind quantity. There is absolutely **NO** static whatsoever, so all grinds fall directly into the bottom of the dosing mechanism. Clearing the doser requires only a few, quick pulls of the lever, which leaves little of consequence in the way of stale remains.
7) The sheer weight of Maz prohibits him from moving the slightest amount, even through vigorous dosing or grind adjustments. He stays put like the most obedient, well trained watch dog, ever alert, willing to perform his duty at a moment's notice. Mazzer should petition the International Olympic Committee to have "Mazzer Hurling" introduced as an event in the next Summer Olympics. He'll make a perfect buttress against a door in the event a crazed mob tries to break into your house with a battering ram. The various uses for Maz are virtually endless.
In conclusion, the Mazzer Mini is the apex predator of the home grinder kingdom; all others are fighting for second place. It doubtless offers the ability to hone your barista skills to perfection unlike any other grinder on the market. If you have yet to purchase your last grinder, ever, then Maz is the only choice. If you already own a Rocky, Moka, Innova, or any other of the superb pretenders in the grinder universe, then you have my permission to tuck tail and be green with envy, because their master sits in my kitchen.
They all bow before the Mighty Mazzer ;-)