One of the most pleasant surprises with this grinder is the noise it produces, or the lack thereof. It isn't nearly as quiet as a Rocky, which is probably one of the quiestest grinders you can get this side of $500. But in some ways, the Maestro is a quieter than my $600 commercial Rossi grinder.
I say in some ways - because I'm guessing if you measured both sounds, the Rossi would be quieter without beans and with, but the Rossi's noise production is a higher pitch and a very whine-like sound, whereas the Maestro, spinning some 400-500 revolutions slower, is more of a middle-of-the-road machine rumble sound. The result on the ears is much more pleasant with the Maestro. Big kudos here - it garners an 8.5 from me on the noise levels.
Aesthetics and build
Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but I have to say this is one serious looker of a machine. The lines are very angular with a good marriage of curves. The finish on the product is great - there is a gritty texture to the plastics, and the clear parts are glazed to become slightly opaque. Note, this does not prevent you from seeing the bean volume or grind volumes produced, but does hamper it a bit.
When I am asked for my opinion on what makes an ideal grinder, one of the things I stressed was metal - lots of it. Make the casing all metal. Shiny polished steel combined with painted steel. Steel base. More steel. We don't have this in the Maestro, and cost was a major reason why. I can live with it for the most part - seeing the grinder in person has shown me that even though it is all plastic outside, the colours and texture of the plastic really do add to the aesthetics.
The fit and finish of the grinder add to the aesthetics, and also show some common-sense industrial design. The fit of the grinds basket is just about as close to perfect as you can get - in fact, more than few grinds in the basket's housing, and you'll have trouble sliding it in. The lid on top is equally tight fitting, with a nice feel of air suction when you place it on. Rancilio could learn a real lesson here - one of my biggest nits about the Rocky grinder is the poor fiting lids and minimal doser design.
The positioning of the front button is ideal for my big mitts, but for others with smaller hands it might prove more difficult to operate in "one handed" mode when using a portafilter.
| The Maestro and all it comes with - not much in the box but grinder, cardboard form, plastic and a short instruction book. Hey, what'd ya want, a video? No, but maybe a scoop would have been a nice bonus. Maybe even a ritzy metal scoop! (ed.note: the Hario vac pot is a publicity hound - it snuck into this shot without being asked, but is not included in the Maestro box...) |
I do wish this grinder was heavier. There are a lot of things you want to be light in life - your bicycle. Your walkman. Your PDA. Your waist. But I donít want my appliances to be light. I want them to be solid and heavy. The biggest weight issue with the Maestro is this - sometimes when operating it with one hand (into a portafilter) and pressing the front switch, the pressure you apply is enough to actually move and lift the grinder. An extra pound or two of weight would have prevented this. Maybe in a "pro" version, down the road. Note, I'd be discussing this one handed operation further on the next page.
One note on the colours involved. The colour scheme on this grinder matches that on the Solis Master 5000 digital super automatic machine the company offers (dark and dull steel blue and silver), but ironically, does not match the new black and silver colour scheme of the companyís two espresso machines - the SL 70 and SL90. I think this is a mistake, though donít get me wrong - on its own, this grinder looks awesome with the colours it uses. But it is a mistake - it should more closely match the SL70 and 90 current colour schemes of black and silver. Maybe the company will change the colour scheme down the road or perhaps Solis will alter the espresso machines' colour choices, who knows. Solis seems to be a big fan of this dark steel blue and silver colour scheme, so it might happen.
On aesthetics and build, the Maestro gets a passing 7 from me - 5.5 for the materials, but 9.5 for the fit and finish.