Somewhat slow Doser not really useful for a home model
This was the second grinder upgrade for me, having started with a whirlybird, then progressing to a cheap burr grinder. I received this unit at the same time as a Gaggia Coffee, and both were a big step up for me. It only took me about 3-4 shots before I figured out how to make consistently high quality shots from this pair.
The unit has 34 grind settings which I find ample both in number and range. Other reviewers here have lamented the fixed spacing of the settings, but I personally am not geek enough to find issue. The manual suggests using a setting of 5-10 for espresso, but I found it worked best at no higher than 4.
I don't really need a doser, and it generally seems to just be in the way, however there are some advantages as well. Since I generally only make one shot at a time, I don't want ground beans sitting in the doser between uses. Thus I find myself grinding a specific amount (measure by the *time* of the grind), and once complete, I'm standing there jerking the doser handle back and forth like 10-12 times before I receive all the grist into the portafilter. Of course I don't have to hold the portafilter there when grinding, which is nice since the MDF grinds a bit slow (which, on the plus side, doesn't heat the coffee as much as a faster grind might). Others have noted that the doser handle is a bit flimsy, and prone to breaking, and thus I treat it gingerly. The doser has six sections and one pull rotates the contents one section. But only it you pull all the way--anything less than a full pull on the handle rotates the section back to starting position. Needing the kid gloves and having this happen can be a bit frustrating. I can understand why others have broken theirs!
I bought this as a package deal from Whole Latte Love (a.k.a. Aabree Coffee): Gaggia Coffee, MDF, Rancilio SS base, plus Gaggia DVD & 8 oz. Lavazza Oro. The package cost me $473.10 and thus the given price i paid above is the MDF's relative cost based upon the individual prices for the 3 main items. Note that without the package the price would have been $199.
This was my first dealing with WLL, and it was just before Christmas 2007 and they were swamped. I ordered online, and the package seemed available. Unfortunately, after placing the order, I was informed that both Gaggia Coffee and MDF were back-ordered through February. I was offered several generous deals for alternate product combos, however I declined as they were all above the sum I wanted to spend. I chose to wait it out. After checking numerous other web sites, it seemed the Gaggias were sold out through February everywhere, indicating the distributor was back-ordered. What ensued was a comedy of errors. Every time I called I spoke to someone who had to get acquainted ith the entire story. At one point my entire ordered was simply canceled, but not at my behest. In the end my credit card was charged the sum total of all the items individually, including the freebies. This took 3 calls to sort out. All in all I placed approximately 12 calls to WLL with respect to this one order.
Surprisingly, a shipment came in *before* Christmas, and WLL unilaterally upgraded my shipping to 2-day Air and I had my entire package a few days before Christmas!
While service may have been technically bad, I chalk it up to the holidays, and I feel I got a great deal, and that WLL went out of their way to make it right. And this is why I'll certainly be returning as a customer some day.
Three Month Followup
Did not have anything to note after three months.
One Year Followup
I am still very happy with the MDF, after a full year. Nothing really to add or retract, but a few usage tips. Get some little rubber tabs (small round rubber sticker things) to place on the feet, in order to make the device more stable, especially during operation. To correct for the doser dumping the grist all towards the left side of the portafilter, rotate the portafilter in its slot while jerking the doser handle.
I did have a problem with a little plastic "pie slice" that sits over the chute section of the doser--it can come loose and will rotate all the way around the doser, but doesn't really serve a function and is easily re-seated. Also, I've noted that I originally had the grind set at "5", and have progressively stepped this "finer" (now at "3" and considering "2"). While my taste may have changed over the year, I do believe that I've needed to set this finer in order to maintain the same effective grind. I don't know what I'll do once "1" becomes too coarse... Thoroughly disassemble and clean? Replace the grind plates?