The grinder makes the espresso-- so don't get the Maestro Plus.
Positive Product Points
-No static, very little mess, tight fitting grounds bin -nice timing switch -good grinder for drip or french press
Negative Product Points
-Cheaply made, lots of plastic, right down to the burr supports -Loud! Makes a gawd-awful jet-taking-off squall that you have to shout over -Does not grind finely or consistently enough for espresso
I was unable to pull a good shot of espresso with this grinder. I moved to it from the Kitchenaide Proline grinder, which I had before buying my espresso machine (a Solis SL70 with non-pressurized basket). The finest grind I could get with the Maestro Plus is finer than the Kitchenaide could do, but that's not saying much. When the grounds were examined under a hand lens, they were of highly variable size, with lots of dust between the grains. The only way I could get a pull of longer than 14 seconds was to totally overfill the portafilter, tamp to 60 or 70 pounds, and then crank it onto the group head *tight*, compressing the puck against the dispersion screen. Shot quality was terrible, obviously.
I went to the Baratza website and downloaded their instructions on calibrating the burrs, to try to make the grounds finer. On opening up the case, I was very disappointed to see the all-plastic construction, with a tiny, flimsy screw crookedly holding the burr calibration ring in place. Turns out the burrs were already touching each other without grinding coffee, but the instructions said that's OK: when grinding, the coffee grounds will force the burrs apart so they don't touch. What does that tell you? that there's a lot of flex in the burr support system (=bad!). So, I tightened it up even further, until the burrs rubbed noticeably against each other without coffee beans in there. Snapped the cheap plastic cover back on, loaded it with beans, put in my earplugs and gave it another go: no improvement. Eleven-second shots with no crema.
I gave up on this grinder when I went to a local coffee shop and bought a small amount of ground coffee, just to see what difference it would make in the SL70. My first try was a 35-second pull, obviously too long and too fine a grind, but unobtainable with the Maestro Plus. Looking at the commercial grind with a hand lens, the consistency of grounds and lack of dust was night and day compared to the Maestro Plus grind. I traded the Maestro Plus in for a Rancilio Rocky, and have been pulling excellent, 25-second shots ever since.
If you're serious about making good espresso, do yourself a favour and invest in a real grinder. My experience has shown that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine itself.
Excellent-- EspressoTec was great to deal with, the order was on my doorstep within two days. After returning the well-tested Maestro Plus, they gave me a full refund (less 5% restocking fee), not just a credit. (they did not have the doserless Rocky, so I ordered it elsewhere). Great service, I was sad not to give them my Rocky business.