Salton and Braun Blade Grinders and a Braun Burr Grinder
For the money, the Solis Maestro Plus is a very good "Home Duty" Conical Burr Grinder--Try it!
Positive Product Points
Looks good, works well, easy to clean, and comes with clear, easy to understand instructions.
Negative Product Points
The grind selection choices would be easier to remember if they were numbered or lettered instead of dots or bullets.
Over the years I have used inexpensive Salton and Braun blade grinders and a Braun burr grinder. None of them gave consistent results and I always finished with a lot of gound coffee residue all over the kitchen counter. After reading descriptions, consumer reviews, and comparing prices I purchased the Maestro Plus from Aabree for $149, no sales tax, no shipping charges. It was well packed and had clear, easy to understand directions (printed in 2003). It also included a one-page warning about the need for regular cleaning and how to avoid damaging the unit--including the plastic tabs on the removable burr.
I find this grinder easy to use, does not grind at a high speed, like my years old Braun, and produces consistent results on anything from expresso to French press--I've not tried Turkish, and there is a minimum of static build up. I do not store any beans in the hopper as it is not air-tight. I usually grind enough for two or three days, store the grindings in an air-tight container, and lightly clean the inside of the grinder (with a 1/2" diameter round brush) after each use--I try to avoid any two-day old grindings mingled with freshly ground beans. I like the looks of the grinder and leave it out on the sink counter, which is a many shades of gray granite top. After a couple of weeks I do a more detailed cleaning that includes opeing it up and checking/cleaning any residue or clogged material--have not found anything yet. While it has a timer I don't really use it. I grind whatever amount of beans I put in the hopper.
The directions were very clear in stating that before you move the grind selector to any position finer than drip, the machine should be turned on, with beans in the hopper. I suspect that some of the negative reviews were written by people who cannot or will not read directions and perhaps have no idea how burr or any other "close tolerance" grinders function. As far as the platic tabs go, yes they can be broken (by not following directions) and I have a kitchen full of high priced machines that also have many critical plastic parts--take a look at the interior and exterior trim on just about any automobile. Of course I would prefer stainless steel tabs over plastic but I only paid $149 for this grinder.
I have briefly used some friends' Mazzer Mini and a Rancilio Rocky. They seemed to be better built and had a slightly higher grind quality. However, I'm not in a position to shell out $275 to $375 for a grinder that I use to grind approximately 15% expresso, 25% French press, and 60% drip. Coffee snob I'm not. Besides what my wife and I like to enjoy in the mornings before going to work, I want a decent coffee (expresso, drip, or French press) to serve to my guests that compliments the dinner and or dessert. Recently, in a blind after dinner taste test my guests (one owns a Rocky) requested regular coffee (drip). Without giving any clues to what beans I had on hand I ground up some Starbucks Verona, Illy Medium Roast, and Tully's House Blend. The results were interesting. Rocky guy was floored when he found out his first pick was the Tully's. A slight majority of the guests preferred Illy's, with Verona finishing last. This Maestro Plus works well for me.
I had already been purchasing coffee from Aabree because they have fast delivery, great prices, and do not charge for shipping or sales tax. When you speak to them, email or live telephone, they are very nice and helpful. I found that there were not a lot of differences in grinder prices so I naturally used Aabree. Depending on the day and time I order I always expect to receive an order in two or three working days. They are in Oregon, I am in California. Great vendor, I highly recommend them.
Three Month Followup
This is still a great grinder. I have not tried the Turkish setting, but it really does the job on expresso, drip grind, and French press. The grinds are consistent with very little static buildup. And, the only time I have found any fine grinding dust on or around the area where I grind has been when I did not push the plastic tray/cup all the way back into the grinder before grinding. I use it about every other to every third day. I would definately buy it again.