I am pleased overall with the Barista, but now my appetite is whetted for a better grinder like the Rocky or Mazzer!
Positive Product Points
The Barista is a quality CONSUMER product. The mechanics operate smoothly: the detents for setting the grind glide seductively through the full range.
Negative Product Points
My biggest disappointments: 1) the grind range is narrow and less consistent than I was hoping for, 2) the burr chamber holds a significant amount of ground coffee that does not get dispensed into the bottom container.
OVERALL LOOK and FEEL:
The Barista is a definate step up from the Braun KMM30 that I have used for about 5 years. It has a much higher feel of quality. The mechanics are well designed for a basic consumer product. (It is by no means commercial quality, but for the $100 range, a good buy.)
I compared it to the other consumer products at the lower end of the price range: Capresso Burr Grinder, Salton Burr Grinder, Melitta Burr Grinder and my Braun grinder, and the Barista has the nicest look and feel. (I have not used the Capresso, Salton or Melitta, so I can't speak for performance.)
I drink the full range of coffees from Turkish to espresso to press pot, and I was hoping for a grinder that could perform at both ends of the spectrum. I was disappointed. The Barista does well at producing espresso grind for my Gaggia Espresso (consistently produces a well-timed shot with crema), but still produces a significant amount of dust for press pot. And the press pot grind could be coarser. The espresso grind is adequate for Turkish, but could be finer. (I actually think my KM30 did better for Turkish since it produced so much dust!)
The conical burr has a lot of play. Not only can it rotate several millimeters (?) within a specific setting, it also rocks side to side since it is only held at two points instead of three or four. This is less of a problem at the espresso setting since the burrs touch and prevent the outer burr from rocking. But at the press pot setting, there is significant rocking, which probably explains the inconsistency in the grind.
The Barista is much easer to clean than my KM30. I do not have to dig around in the corners of the chute to get all of the grind out. But I was surprised at the amount of grind that remains in the burr chamber. As the grind falls off the bottom burr, it lands in a circular chamber and gets kicked horizontallly in to the chute by rotating plastic fins. Ground coffee gets packed between the fins, especially at the espresso setting.
It's an easy matter to purge the unit of stale ground coffee. Before each use, just grind about a teaspoon of fresh coffee to expell the plugs of stale coffee in the burr chamber. Dump the bottom container and continue. (I do like not having to brush out the unit, I just let the coffee beans do the work for me.)
Once the grind leaves the burr chamber, it enters the chute and drops vertically into the container. Little to no grind remains in the chute.
I have not had any problems with static, unlike my KM30. I suspect that one reason some have noted problems with static is that they use a lighter roast. Darker roasted beans are more oily on the exterior which probably helps keep the grind from kicking off dust.
I bought this unit at my local Starbucks during their annual sale. Don't pay full price. I think $125 is a little steep for what you get.