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Capresso 551 Burr - Dennis Rogers's Review
Posted: May 5, 2002, 1:50pm
review rating: 8.3
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Capresso 551 Burr
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More About This Product
Arrow The Capresso 551 Burr has 40 Reviews
Arrow The Capresso 551 Burr has been rated 4.96 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Capresso 551 Burr reviews have been viewed 135,249 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Beth Sanguine 9.00
William Fite 9.00
Lance Goffinet 8.50
Benjamin Kieran 8.50
Dennis Rogers 8.33

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 4.4
Manufacturer: Salton Quality: 3
Average Price: $80.00 Usability: 5
Price Paid: $49.00 Cost vs. Value 3
Where Bought: Aabree Coffee Company Aesthetics 6
Owned for: 1 month Overall 5
Writer's Expertise: Intermediate Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Solis Maestro
Bottom Line: You're paying $50 for an annoying mess and a cheap product.  But works for drip and french press and cup quality is good.
Positive Product Points

More even grind than blade grinder
Works well for drip and french press
Plastic parts fit well

Negative Product Points

Static is unbearable
Plastic is flimsly, low quality
Incapable of a very fine grind
Smell of coffee while grinding is horrible

Detailed Commentary

So far the comments are all over the board on this product, with the negative comments outnumbering the positive.  

Although I agree with some of the recent positive comments about this grinder, let me make it clear that I would never spend $50 on a grinder of this inferior quality again, and it was a waste of money in the first place.  Further, I feel that some of the positive comments are misleading.  More details below . . .  

First the positive:

I had used a blade grinder for one year when making nothing but drip coffee.  With the drip method, the uneven grind still produced acceptable cup quality.  Because I used fresh beans, my coffee was still the most preferred in the office over all others.  

I bought the Capresso contemporaneously with the purchase of Bodum 32 oz. Brazil French Press because I knew I would need a more even grind than the blade grinder offered.  I decided to get the Capresso in spite of bad reviews because I figured most negative comments were written in light of much better, more expensive grinders.  So I plunked down the cash.

The good:  My french press coffee tasted great and plunged well.  My drip coffee tasted great.  So I was happy enough with cup quality.  The grinds were not as even as I had anticipated with a burr grinder, but they were even enough for my purposes and the results were good where it mattered - in the cup.

The Capresso is also easy to clean.  The top burr is easy to remove and a convenient brush is included to help remove grinds from the burrs and from the horizontal spout opening.  

And, as others have mentioned, I suppose it looks good - or at least I thought it did until the negative product points colored everything else.

The bad:

First a note on the required calibration out of the box.  You need to follow the directions carefully because the burrs are touching when shipped.  I did this so I don't know what problems may occur if you don't do it.  

There are apparently about 14 different grind setting - from 1.5 to 9.  However (negative point #1), my Capresso could never be set below 3.5; so a drip grind was the smallest I could get.  Further, a 1 or 2 or 3 difference in setting resulted in nearly no difference in grind size.

The controls are fine I suppose.  They are apparently designed for total repeatability in amount and allow automatic dosing for the cup setting.  However, (negative point #2) I cannot report that I received this repeatability nor is the cup settings that useful since different grind sizes take a different amount of time.  I suggest correctly measuring the correct amount of beans at the outset and then grinding them all, however long it happens to take.  I therefore disagree with Don Sucher's review that the controls allow for total repeatability.  Don't depend on the presets!

(Negative point #3)  Static!!  Aaauuggghhhh!  This is the absolute worst and the main reason I gave the grinder away after a month.  Don Sucher notes that no grounds escaped his machine when grinding and that there is no reason for a mess if the machine is kept scrupulously clean.  He gives a thumbs up here.  I strongly disagree with his assessment.

What he says is true enough - no grinds escape when grinding and I've seen no one mention this as a problem in relation to this grinder's unbearable messiness.  The straight-up scoop is this:  When the plastic lid is removed from the grind container, the heavily electrically charge grinds stuck to the top of the lid will immediately cover your fingers.  The lid cannot be handled in any manner to prevent the grinds from continuing to cover anything it goes near.  I eventually performed this process only in the sink and grinds somehow still made their way elsewhere.  

(Negative product point #4)  Static in conjunction with large powder production.  When done grinding, there will be a large amount of finely ground powder stuck inside the grind container opposite the horizontal chute.  You'll want to somehow dump this powder before removing the other grinds.  However you do it, you will get yet more grinds everywhere - the mess continues . . .

(Negative product point #5)  Although Sucher suggest that this mess can be avoided if the grinder is scrupulously cleaned once per week, I simply don't understand this comment.  The mess can't be avoided, period.  Second, the grinder really should be scrupulously cleaned after every use.  The horizontal exit chute will be caked with powder after each grinding session and you will need to use the provided brush to clean it out each time.  Cleaning the burrs once a week is probably acceptable though.

Note:  I never tried oily beans with this grinder.  Maybe they might make a difference somehow.  Mine were all City to Light Full City.

(Negative product point #6).  The smell!  Yes, the smell.  I couldn't stand the smell while the Capresso was grinding.  I don't know if if the burrs were heating the grinds or what, but whatever it was doing, the aroma was not pleasant.

Overall, with the mess, smell, cheap plastic, inability to produce even somewhat of a fine grind, and the excessive powder production, I couldn't help feeling that I had blown $50.

I finally had enough annoyance, gave away the grinder, and bought a Solis Maestro.  Talk about day and night!  What a difference.  Unfortunately I learned my lesson late and my Maestro effectively cost $180 ($50 + 130).  I would strongly suggest that, if you think you might ever buy a Maestro or something similar, don't ever waste your money on the Capresso.  And lordy . . .  don't ever buy this thing for espresso!

However, if you only want to upgrade from a blade for french press purposes and can handle the mess and cheapness, you may be happy with this grinder (the person I gave it to is happy with it over her blade grinder and we're even still friends :)  Of course, I don't know how long it will actually last and $50 bucks is a lot to spend on something of this low quality.

Buying Experience

Bought from Aabree Coffee.  I had no problems whatsoever.

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Posted: May 5, 2002, 1:50pm
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