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Starbucks Barista - Mark Kunitomi's Review
Posted: February 13, 2010, 11:50am
review rating: 0.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Starbucks Barista Grinder
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More About This Product
Arrow The Starbucks Barista has 94 Reviews
Arrow The Starbucks Barista has been rated 7.89 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Starbucks Barista reviews have been viewed 474,259 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
D R 9.50
John Eubanks 8.57
JP Cordill 8.40
Mark Prince 8.33
Jim Robin 8.33

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 5.2
Manufacturer: Solis Quality: 4
Average Price: $120.00 Usability: 4
Price Paid: $40.00 Cost vs. Value 7
Where Bought: eBay Aesthetics 6
Owned for: 2 weeks Overall 5
Writer's Expertise: Just starting Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Cheap and easy way to start making espresso at home. Unsatisfactory for improving your espresso to 'Excellence'.
Positive Product Points

Cheap, you can get one used on eBay or craigslist for a good price.
Beats the heck out of a blade grinder.
Girlfriend friendly or more aesthetically gifted/picky partner friendly.

Negative Product Points

Very loud, its a high pitched loud too.
Inconsistent grind.
Gets severly clogged when grinding dark roasts for espresso.
Made with a lot of plastic, doesn't appear very durable (though I am a second owner and it hasn't broken yet).

Detailed Commentary

As a primer, I haven't tried the Barista for filter or press pot, so if that is your primary interest, I would look to other reviews.

I bought this grinder to replace my blade grinder that I was using for espresso. I bought it used on eBay and upon receiving it, I was pretty happy with the way it looked. It is bigger than a blade grinder, but it is quite compact compared to other burr grinders I have run into and, most importantly, the girlfriend likes the look of it.

I opened it up to apply the grind adjustment hack, which works nicely; but, I also realized how cheaply this machine is made. The body is made of mostly interlocking plastic parts. This means you don't unscrew it to open it up, you have to pry it open and listen to little pops and cracks that you pray aren't the plastic breaking.

Once the hack has been applied, it can grind fine enough for espresso preparation. The change in taste and consistency of my espresso improved dramatically. Using this machine I have really started to learn how to make espresso, so I have learned a lot from using this grinder and made some pretty tasty shots of espresso.

But in learning to make better espresso many of the flaws of this machine have become apparent. To begin with, the machine is really loud and emits a very high pitched sound when it grinds. This creates the worst part of my morning, listening to a high pitched whine before I've had any coffee, ugh.

The Barista also retains a lot of grounds in the machine that do not make it to the exit container. This is a two-fold problem: first, that's coffee that gets wasted every time you clean the machine, and second, there is a significant amount of old grounds from previous days that contaminate your fresh grounds. So, you can either clean every day and lose a lot of coffee, or drink a mix of freshly ground and stale coffee every day. In addition, if you like dark roasted coffee beans for your espresso, the oil will readily completely clog your machine. I LOVE, dark roasts, so this has been incredibly frustrating. There have been mornings that mid-grind, the machine has clogged on a dark roast and I have either left my house without an espresso/latte (in a bad mood), or have cleaned the machine out in a rush (covering myself in coffee grounds).

The last flaw that I have found has been the grind is a bit inconsistent. You leave the machine on the same setting with the same beans and get different coarseness. This is not a huge deal, but consistent grinding makes for consistent espresso, so when you dial in that really tasty shot you can repeat it. With this grinder, that kind of consistency is difficult to achieve.

Although I have written more about the flaws and frustrations of this machine than its qualities, I would definitely buy it again. The only way to truly learn is to make mistakes. This machine has allowed me to make good espresso and lattes, but also, has taught me why a good grinder is so important and expensive. Overall, this grinder has been a good second step into the world of espresso (one past a blade grinder) and has made me learn (from experience) some of the properties that go into really good espresso. Recently, I have bought a VERY old Mazzer Super Jolly (rebadged cafethema) and I am currently restoring it, so I am still using this grinder even though I get annoyed at the flaws.

If you are on a budget (like me) and are new to espresso making; but a Barista on the cheap, make better espresso than you have ever made, get frustrated as hell with some of the features, and then look for a new grinder that fixes those problems (or if it makes good enough espresso for you, enjoy).

Buying Experience

Good eBay transaction (phew), no complaints.

Three Month Followup

Still working

One Year Followup

I have retired this grinder to press pot and filter coffee duty. It just cannot grind fine enough consistently enough for me. On the plus side, this grinder is excellent for what I use it for now. I even got another one for work.

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Posted: February 13, 2010, 11:50am
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