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Baratza Maestro Grinder - T. Guilbert's Review
Posted: January 15, 2002, 9:52pm
review rating: 7.9
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Baratza Maestro Grinder
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Arrow The Baratza Maestro Grinder has 90 Reviews
Arrow The Baratza Maestro Grinder has been rated 7.40 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
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Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Jim Pellegrini 8.38
Bill Womack 8.33
Robert Kugel 8.00
Douglas Herring 8.00
T. Guilbert 7.91

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Manufacturer: Baratza Quality: 9
Average Price: $100.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $100.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: aabree coffee co. Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 2 months Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: Aficionado Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Braun KMM30, Krups blade-type
Bottom Line: A well-designed product that does exactly what it was designed to do; a big step up from the Braun KMM30.
Positive Product Points

The Solis Maestro does what it was designed to do:  grind predictably, and does it well.  It also has much lower static than some other grinders, and is relatively quiet.

Negative Product Points

The grind setting must be set _before_ putting beans into the bin.

Detailed Commentary

We use the Solis Maestro to grind both for a drip coffee maker (Krups Premium) and for a French press (Bodum Brazil); we do not brew espresso at home.  Our immediately preceding grinder, which the Solis Maestro replaced, was a Braun KMM30; the Solis Maestro is a big step up from the Braun KMM30.  

We have been grinding whole beans for each pot of coffee since well before it became fashionable to do so (1970s); for more than half of that period we were satisfied with Krups blade-type grinders.  About five years ago, we upgraded to the Braun KMM30, a generally well-designed product that is perhaps overly maligned by coffee grinder snobs.  The scoop that comes with the Braun is what makes it well-designed, and we suspect that those who criticize it failed to learn how to use the "other" end of the scoop.  But that is another review.  The Braun had two deficiencies:  the first was that it generated prodigious amounts of static electricity, and opening the top of the receptor bin brought a fountain of coffee dust like Fourth of July Roman candles; clean-up was an every-time necessity using the Braun.  The second deficiency was that the flat disk burrs of the Braun wore out surprisingly quickly:  they apparently are made of a relatively soft metal.  Grind times got longer and longer as the burrs wore down.  A lesser problem, which may be a greater problem for some, was the Braun was more competent to grind coffee for drip machines (medium grind) than for French press (coarser grind):  it generated enough dust at the coarse setting that the residue in coffee made in a French press pot was intrusive.  Finally, the Braun was noisy.

The Solis Maestro is a big step up from the Braun KMM30 in every aspect where the Braun was deficient -- we shall have to use it for a while to see how long the burrs hold up under use -- and (except that it costs more initially), it adds strengths where the Braun was merely competent.  The Maestro has a wider range of grinds than the Braun, and at the coarser grind, it generates less fine dust.  The Maestro generates much, MUCH less static electricity than the Braun did, although the static problem is not eliminated, just substantially reduced.  For reasons we do not understand, the Maestro generates much _more_ static electricity at coarse settings than at finer settings.  

We find that we are setting the Maestro to grind finer than we set the Braun.  Because the Braun generated some dust at any setting, and more dust at finer settings, we set it relatively coarse for drip brewing.  We set the Maestro at one click to the right of the "gruppo" icon for brewing drip coffee in the Krups Premium with the "permanent" gold-tone filter.  This slightly increases brewing time and extraction, as the pores of the filter get partially clogged, slowing the drip through:  we observe this by how high the "high water mark" is inside the filter after the pot has fully brewed.  At our preferred setting with the Braun, the line was two-thirds of the way up the side of the filter; using the preferred setting with the Maestro, the high water line is just below the inside rim of the filter.  The total brewing time seems to be unaffected, but the more fully extracted coffee is richer and more satisfying.

As noted above, the Braun KMM30 did not grind entirely satisfactorily for French press brewing; since purchasing the Solis Maestro, we have "rediscovered" French press brewing, and use the French press more often.  We set the Solis Maestro one click to the right of the "drip" icon for French press grinding.

The last brings up the one shortcoming we have encountered with the Solis Maestro.  The instructions caution not to change grind settings when there are beans in the hopper.  From long habit, we tend to measure out one pot's worth of beans into the grinder before we think about the setting.  Several times, we have had to dump the beans out after putting them in, when we discovered the grinder had been set for French press for the previous pot and now we were about to grind for drip, or vice versa.  

The Solis Maestro is _not_ quiet; however, it is much less intrusive than either the Krups blade grinder or the Braun KMM30 were.  The total sound energy is less, but just as importantly, the pitch of the noise is lower and less whine-y.  We find the sound of the Solis Maestro easily the most acceptable of the coffee grinders we have used.

Buying Experience

We purchased a new Solis Maestro from aabree Coffee Company via an eBay auction.  We would happily do business with that merchant again.

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review rating: 7.9
Posted: January 15, 2002, 9:52pm
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