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Starbucks Barista - JP Cordill's Review
Posted: January 20, 2002, 11:45am
review rating: 8.4
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 474,235 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: 7.0
Manufacturer: Solis Quality: 6
Average Price: $120.00 Usability: 6
Price Paid: $89.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Baratza.com Aesthetics 7
Owned for: 1 year Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: Professional Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: A good starter grinder, but you'll want to upgrade very soon.
Positive Product Points

The price was right.  There's a grinds cup rather than a doser.  I really like the timer.  It grinds well enough to get you started with espresso.

Negative Product Points

It's a very loud grinder.  My grinding range seems to float around considerably.  I find more powder than I am happy with.

Detailed Commentary

When I started shopping for a new espresso machine to replace my old steam toy, I never considered I would need to buy a grinder as well.  After doing some research, and coming to realize that I was going to spend quite a bit more money than I planned, I decided that I needed to economize on the grinder, even though the alt.coffee wisdom warned me otherwise.  I bought a refurbished 166 from Kyle at Baratza, which seemed to be considered the most economical grinder that would still work with my Silvia espresso machine.  

My first 166 seemed to work--the burr rotated--but no coffee came out.  After checking for blockages, Kyle very promptly sent out a replacement.  The second 166 worked great.  In no time at all, the 166 was allowing me to make good shots.  I was surprised to find, however, that it seemed to be adjusting between the "clicks" on the dial.  I got a distinctly different pull time just by adjusting the grinder by a quarter click.  I do wonder how workable this grinder is with just the dozen or so settings it's supposed to have.

I never experienced the severe static problems others reported.  I do have trouble with darker roasts sometimes sticking in the hopper, but a slight tap seems to free them.  All-in-all I was quite happy early on with this grinder.

Unfortunately, with the grinder adjusted for espresso, I cannot grind as coursely as I would like for drip and vaccuum brewing.  Also, with either of these methods, I have problems with powder in the grind.  In a vac pot, the coffee will almost always get stuck up north using a glass rod filter.  With press pot, i get a significant amount of sludge in the bottom of the cup, so much that the brew bitters by the time I'm halfway through the pot.  The rotating burr seems to have a slight wobble in it, and doesn't move perfectly concentrically within the stationary burr.

After about 6 months of use, I began to notice the grinding range seemed to be readjusting itself.  At first I assumed the radical adjustmnets in grind I made from time to time were due to the bean varieties, freshness, humidity, etc.  But I was also noticing that the volume of coffee ground in a given time period was changing.  At the coursest setting, for vac, press, and drip brewing, I could grind enough for 8 cups in one full turn of the timer.  A few days later, I might have to turn the timer dial all the way twice to get the same volume.  I am quite certain now that the range is floating considerabley.  I suspect that this goes hand-in-hand with my "infinite adjustability".

After about 15 months of use, I am in the market for a new grinder.  The 166 has served me well, and I do not regret buying it.  I do feel that it is now inadequate for my needs, and I suspect that anyone falling into the a.c. pit will eventually come to the same conclusion.

Buying Experience

Though my first 166 did not work properly, Kyle's handling of the return still made the purchase a positive experience.  When we determined that the original unit was flawed, he expedited shipment on a replacement, and apologized for having delayed my enjoyment of my new espresso rig.  A great guy, and I would absolutely recommend doing business with him.

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review rating: 8.4
Posted: January 20, 2002, 11:45am
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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