A quality, precise, and beautiful grinder that will last a lifetime.
Positive Product Points
The most important reasons to buy this machine are the stainless steel conical burrs, infinite grind setting, the cast aluminum body, and the cost vs. value (especially if you can find it for a deal like I did).
Negative Product Points
Grinds tend to remain in the machine, which will only be a problem if you let it (read my detailed commentary). In addition, the hopper might be a bit fragile (although they do say it is 'indestructible'). I, however, don't expect to have any problem with the hopper. It fits very securely into the machine and the only scenario I can see it breaking in is if the machine somehow fell over onto the hopper itself (I don't even think this would break it). It is a bit difficult to set the grind fineness when you first start using the machine, although it is definitely worth it. It may not be practical for switching between coarse and fine grind settings (read below)
There are several important reasons I bought this grinder. The first thing that strikes you about this grinder is the quality with which it was built. It is exceedingly solid. It could be used to grind beans simply by smashing them with the grinder itself. It is made out of cast aluminum, not the flimsy aluminum sheet that some aluminum products are made from, which makes it very solid. Another important feature of this grinder is the quality of the internals. The conical burrs are made of stainless steel and, from visual inspection, look very solid. I don't expect to have any problems with them for many years. In addition to the quality of the burrs, they can be precisely tuned to the exact fineness needed (extremely useful for getting the perfect pull). I am, however, still trying to dial in the perfect grind setting (I have had the grinder for 1 week). This would be a quicker process if I made more espresso, I typically only make one double shot per day. One thing that I found difficult when I first got the machine was turning the screw on the back to open the machine up for cleaning. It was very well tightened, but I did get it eventually. For the price I paid, this is definitely an extremely good grinder. I have owned an Ascaso Dream for around three years and the iMini is built with the same level of craftsmanship, I am certain it will last a good long time.
As for the negatives, the most glaring is the fact that there is a significant amount of grounds left after grinding. I have read many reviews where people talk about this, but what I rarely see is the fact that it can be solved by simply tapping the machine, releasing the trapped grounds. When I grind, I always stop a bit short and tap the machine, releasing any grounds that did not flow down the chute, usually a couple grams worth. As I mentioned earlier, I feel the hopper may be a bit fragile for anyone who is not careful. If it fell from a significant height, it MIGHT break, but I don't know for sure. Personally, I take very good care of my equipment and I don't imagine that the hopper will break due to neglect. I think it would have been nice if they made the hopper out of glass (I have the same opinion about the Dream's plastic water reservoir). I do, however, realize that this would be heavier, more expensive, and probably even more fragile (not to mention more costly to replace should it break). For these reasons, I am satisfied with my plastic hopper. The last issue with this grinder is a convenience issue you have to pay for when you have such precise grind control. I read somewhere that it can take between 4 and 5 minutes to transition between the most coarse and most fine settings. For this reason, this grinder may not be practical for use with both French press (or drip) and espresso. I have yet to attempt this transition so I cannot verify that it is a problem. I do, however, have a potential solution. Should I switch between coarse and fine, I would simply mark on the machine with a piece of tape and count the rotations of the hopper (once you see the machine you will understand how simple this would be). That way, even though it would take some time, you could effectively go from one to the other.
In my opinion, this is an excellent grinder. It has exceptional value for money and will significantly improve the quality of your coffee, especially if you are currently using a whirly blade grinder (like I was). You can see the difference in the grind quite easily, not to mention the fact that you will be able to get a consistent grind, which will make results more repeatable and problems easier to fix. I have only had this grinder for one week, so my review does not reflect any issues that arise after using the iMini for some time. I will update as I see new pros/cons over time.
My experience buying this machine was positive. I was in constant communication with the vendor via email during the process and they kept me informed of the progress of my order, including sending me the tracking number so I could follow the shipment. I would recommend this vendor to anyone, especially because of the great deal they had at the time ($100 off any order). They even sent me the polished aluminum version for no extra charge (usually a $50 option).