Worked well for my Krups steam-powered, but isn't nearly fine enough for Miss Silvia... she's a demands more than it can produce.
Positive Product Points
-The grind appears to be fairly even and consistent. -It was the most reasonably priced grinder with conical burrs I could find. -Simple, intuitive operation, easy to clean up after grinding. -It might be a great grinder for drip, press pot or similar, but I don't use those, so can't comment. -It looks nice enough on the counter top. Recessed bean hopper is understated.
Negative Product Points
-#1, as seen in other reviews: Doesn't grind fine enough for (certain) espresso machines. -I always unplugged it when not using it as it seemed to warm up when plugged in but not in use.
I purchased this grinder at a local kitchen supply place with the expectation that I'd be moving up in the world of espresso gear. I knew that the whirly blade would definitely not cut it in terms of proper espresso machines.
On the counter it looks nice enough... clearly there's a lot of plastic involved in the construction as it's not that heavy, but I didn't expect much different for the price I paid for it. The bean hopper that's recessed into the body of the thing makes it look a little less pretentious than other grinders that have the conical hopper sitting like a head on them.
The Breville did a much better job at grinding for my Krups steam-powered espresso machine than the whirly blade. When grinding at the furthest setting of fineness (just past the "Turkish" marker) it would produce a shot of coffee that would almost be considered espresso! It had crema, had a nice thick mouth feel and would leave a fairly solid dry puck in the filter basket.
Unfortunately, it was often so bitter and filled with burnt overtones that I knew the steam was scalding the coffee... but a coarser grind or less tamping wouldn't get the crema or richness. I found myself adding 1 and sometimes 2 chunks of semi-refined cane sugar to sweeten it up and lighten the taste.
With the Breville I found that I was getting coffee at least as good as the mega-chain coffee shops, even if it was "different" tasting... I find the chain espressos weak and watery, even if you ask for a short double. The Breville grinder gave lots of body in the cup, even if it wasn't particularly sweet.
Then I sprung for Miss Silvia of Rancilio fame, having come into a little unexpected lucre.
O, the horror.
Shots that I filled the double basket and tamped with all my force would shoot through in less than 10 seconds to showing "almost clear", forget about blonding... The only benefit was that at least with Silvia I'm not tasting the burnt, scalded tones. I've taken to grinding the beans with the Breville then giving the grounds a 10 or 15 second joyride in the whirly-blade merry-go-round to try to fine them out. Verrrry iffy process. When I nail it just right, I can get a shot going through in roughly 20 to 30 seconds but it blonds very early and the crema is usually quite light.
I have the feeling that the Breville would be an excellent grinder for other uses, or possibly even for espresso machines that use pressurized portafilters... I understand these are much less fussy about grind than non-pressurized like the Silvia uses.
So, with much regret and scornful looks from my better half, I have opened the wallet again to upgrade in coffee grinding fineness and downgrade in technology... bought a reconditioned hand grinder which was cleaned up and tested to grind as fine as true Turkish powder.
I walked into the store, found the grinder and bought it. Ares Kitchen Supply is a pretty nice place to shop, lots of shiny things and helpful sales staff.