With stepless adjustment and direct-into-filter-grinding it is one of the best ones out there for the money. Simple, sound construction - apart from the stops screws (205 model)
Positive Product Points
Grinds very evenly and consistently, with very good results. Very fine grinding adjustment is possible due to the worm gear mechanism. Strong, low RPM motor softens grinder sound and lessens static buildup.
Negative Product Points
Refilling and emptying the bean holder can become quite messy. Build quality is good and sturdy overall but there is a weak point and a possible problem area: the M-205 model stop screws.
I bought the M-205 after using a blade grinder for several years, and after sharing a friend of mine´s experiences with the Gaggia MM grinder. What I wanted was a more even and consistent grind than my Krups blade grinder could deliver, plus less static and less coffee spill than my friend´s MM could offer. As for the grind quality, this is top notch or very close to it. Very, very good. This grinder really oozes the taste out of the bean. Most of the coffee blends I thought I knew in-and-out actually taste like new nowadays, and for all but one of them this is only to the better. I like the sound of this grinder much more than the others I have had close encounters with: blade grinders (I have heard several), larger professional types and the Gaggia MM. Of course, it is a good thing that you can grind directly into the portafilter or the mocca filter. This makes the grinder very easy and hassle-free to use. There is less coffee spill now than with my old blade grinder. We have had some problems with static coffee, but only on dry, cold winter days (<40% humidity - we live in Gothenburg, at 44.5° latitude, on the west coast of Sweden). I´ll be back with a followup comment after or during the summer months. Me and my friend did a quick test of our grinders with his Gaggia Coffee espresso machine one night. The M-205 came out as the winner with a more even and richer tasting grind, wider grinder range being able to grind more finely, being easier to use and with somewhat less static than the Gaggia MM. And then there is the sound... which is very much in the low-RPM Minimoka´s favour, more "humming" than "screeching". The design is one that blends well with the "sturdy, no-nonsense" Italian brushed-steel look, if this is what you want (I do). It would look nice beside, say, an Isomac Venus or a Silvia, or on top of any brushed steel knock box that is "boxy".
I have some negative points too. A minor one first: the bean holder is a bit annoying to empty. If the bean holder isn´t empty when you lift it off the grinder you must turn the machine upside down and firmly hold the top lid on while you lift the holder off, or there will be beans all over your kitchen counter and on your floor in no time at all. Probably many more grinders share this "bean holder construction problem", but I would like to see some kind of spring loaded lid or the like in the bottom of the bean holder to avoid this. Annoying, even after you get the hang of it. The M-205 stop position screws (maximum and minimum coarseness) have been problematic for me. The reason for them being there in the first place is that on the M-203 model, which does not have them, you could blow the grinder fuse, or in the worst-case-scenario, damage the burrs because there is nothing in the adjustment mechanism to stop the burrs from meeting if you adjust the grind far down enough. In the beginning I couldn´t get a fine enough grind for espresso with the adjustment all the way down to the minimum position - it was more like a coarse mocca grind or a vac pot grind. The grind was also a little uneven, causing my swedish distributor to suspect grovel, a piece of bean, or something like that, stuck somewhere in the grinder area. I fixed this by loosening the worm gear so I could unscrew the upper grinder half and clean up the grinder area and the burrs. Something may have been stuck in between there, because after this fix it works as expected. It may also be that the upper half wasn´t screwed on properly to begin with. See below. If you know your way around machines and are handy enough I would recommend unscrewing the upper half immediately if, and *only if* you have these problems. I intend to do it again in three months or so to inspect and clean the burrs + the rest of the grinder area. Minus points for the stop screws though. There are four of them (one pair of screws for each stop, one upper and one lower one), they are rather thin (M3 or the like) and the lower ones in each stop pair *is glued in!*. I broke one of mine trying to unscrew it. Also, I am suspicious of having them there in the first place. The (very fine) main adjustment threading seems to have at least two, maybe more, thread tracks. Edit: no it doesn´t, I saw wrong. Can only see one thread track now. But my suspicion is still that some grovel, metal chip/flinter or the like, found it´s way into the grinding area of my grinder before I received it. There is something to be said for a simple adjustment mechanism like this though: this is a comparatively easy grinder to take apart, and there really isn´t anything that can break if you want to try doing that. Apart from the stop screws... But the grinder works just as well (mine works even better) without them. All in all, this is a fantastic grinder for the money. I would buy it again anytime - and throw away the stop screws. Or maybe go for the M-203, perhaps even the M-203T with timer.
I bought my M-205 from Caffé Espresso in Gothenburg, the swedish distributor is Monteriva, http://www.monteriva.se. I was in contact with the swedish distributor over the phone and he was quite reachable. Both were very helpful, offering suggestions and help when I had problems with my stop positions.
Three Month Followup
Hmmm... it is more like 8 months I guess. But I had an E-61 machine coming and wanted to wait until I had tested the Minimoka with that for a while. Anyway, it still works great. No problems with grind quality as far as I can see, and it grinds quite well enough for the Vibiemme. Did a general clean-up and burr check just before this followup and the burrs look good, almost like new. The Minimoka is easy to take apart and the burrs are easy to change when the time comes. But I noticed the "axis" is a wee bit offset in its rotation, which bothers me a little. This would mean the burrs could grind a bit unevenly, I guess... Build quality is good though, at least on par with the Isomac Gran macinina (I like to think the Minimoka is somewhat better, but maybe I am wrong). If I would buy it again, maybe I would choose the M-203 with less plastic and no stop screws - my stop screws are just useless anyway as you can see in the detail commentary, so I unscrewed the two top ones, which was a really easy job). Also, I like the looks of the long thin push-button on the M-203 better, and the flat metal portafilter support will be more stable than the rounded plastic one on the M-205. This grinder has been criticized (like most doserless grinders) not only here, but in other places too for spreading coffee powder all around the kitchen. I still don´t feel this is a big problem, but all right - it does spread coffee. A bit. The plastic "tray" that you can see on the images on the minimoka.com site is not big enough to collect all of the sprayed grinds. Some grinds will also bounce off the portafilter, if you overfill it like I do. Anyway, I haven´t felt the need for a doser grinder yet. Getting the right amount of coffee powder into the portafilter is easier than I expected: slightly overfill the portafilter, carefully level the grinds out with a finger and then tamp it. I tried using the spoon to begin with, but soon I put it away. The measuring spoon won´t give you better control, and it feels slow and impractical compared to the grind-directly-method. Of course, a digital scale would be more exact, but that´s just not very "mano", is it?
A final note: My Gaggia MM/Gaggia Coffee friend has a Mazzer Mini now, and of course I was eager for him to come over so we could test it and compare it to mine. Well, you guessed it. We only did a quick test, but soon found out that the Mazzer Mini beats the Minimoka M-205 in almost all respects. The Mazzer has better build quality, it grinds more evenly, it is dead quiet in comparison to the Minimoka, it is more convenient to use, it looks a lot better AND it is a whole lot bigger, and more impressive. The Mazzer Mini actually looks, feels and smells like a proffessional grinder. Of course, it is also costs at least twice as much... The Minimoka still has some advantages though, at least as far as I am concerned.
The Minimoka is easier to fine-tune. Sure, the Mazzer has wonderful precision everywhere, and also in the grinding settings, but it moves in larger steps, or is tougher to move between grind steps than the Minimoka. The minimoka is truly stepless.
For an average home user which works away from home, there is much less coffee waste with the doserless Minimoka than with the Mazzer, which grinds 250g of coffee in less time than I can gulp down a beer... Mark my words: MUCH less coffee waste. No matter how fast the grind time on any doserless, you will never have the same amount of wasted coffee since you can always see exactly how much you grind.
One Year Followup
Yep, here we go for the 1.5 year-followup ;-) I had a nasty experience with my VBM Domobar where it started acting very strangely, and I just couldn´t figure out what the problem was. After a suggestion from a fellow coffee lover I examined the grinder burrs on the Minimoka. That was it! After a change of burrs the grinder now is back in business again. The reason I mention this is that most people that I talked to about this couldn´t believe the burrs would wear down that fast. "If you´ve only used it in your home, how on earth could the burrs already be worn down?" Well, they were. Those of you who own a Minimoka know that from the coarsest practical grind to the finest grind, where the burrs meet, is about one revolution of the top half (many twists on the adjustment screw of course). Well, after changing burrs I could turn it back almost half a revolution to get the same fineness! The old burrs where almost touching each other when grinding for espresso, and I still got only very long lungo´s... This is something to consider, I think. The burrs shouldn´t wear down so soon - I only drink three or four shots a day. Perhaps I had bad luck with my original burrs, but we will see that in another year.... /zix