If you want a dedicated espresso grinder, but Rocky & Mazzer are too much, this is a really good bet, once you make the simple modifications.
Positive Product Points
- Grinds floury once adjusted (simple with watchmaker screwdrivers / small allan key) - Doserless - Small footprint, nice and solid without being industrial - Easy to adjust/modify - No problems with static
Negative Product Points
- Would be better if you could hold your PF lower to make grind fill PF more evenly - Hopper could be bigger, but then again, if you get coffee by the pound, forces you to store 1/2 lb in fridge, which isn't necessarily a bad thing & keeps overall space usage small - Pretty much impossible to grind without leaving some on the counter -- seems to be a problem with most doserless though; solved by a small pan - Best for espresso PF -- can't get anything with a diameter more than a PF into slot, and no timer.
This was on special as part of a package with a Gaggia Baby Class. I was attracted to it because I had heard of problems with getting fine enough grind on Virtuoso and Gaggia MDF (to say nothing of how bad the MDF doser seems to work from vids I've seen). I couldn't afford a Rocky/Mazzer, and more to the point, I really didn't want a machine that would be taller and more industrial looking than my nice little Gaggia (asides from the fact that our kitchen is small, my taste goes more to simple clean lines that overly frilly or industrial).
Out of the box, at the finest setting, with fresh bean from my local coffee shop, the shots came out far too fast, as I expect they would on all machines, but as I understand it, fast shots are particularly common with Gaggias until you get the grind really dialed in. I did get one great shot, but it was a fluke (as the six pucks in the sink would attest to). That said, the shots were not bitter or sour, just weak.
After reading on home barista about a relatively simple modification, I broke out the watchmaker screwdrivers (fun to use them on something other than a computer) and went to work: 1. Take out hopper 2. Take off cover for adjustment wheel 3. Find little allan head screw that stops wheel (easy to find -- its the one hole in the adjustment wheel that is blocked) 4. Loosened allan head screw until the wheel could slide past the round head screw (this sounds complex, but when you'll do it, its easy). 4. Turned wheel to six spots past original endpoint (make sure to mark it with a tiny bit of tape or something so you don't forget) and then put back allan screw six spots back. If this sounds tough, it's really easy, and there's no way to mess it up unless you lose the screw or crank it to far (to be truthful, I grinded at every two stops on the wheel to test, just to be safe). Six gave me a nice floury grind -- shots are still coming a bit fast, but I'm still working on my technique, so I think that's the problem...if not, may try another notch or two, but I want to be careful I suppose (if anyone has gone beyond 6, let me know -- that's as far as I've read anyone doing).
UPDATE: After writing this, I decided to just give it a go -- I'm now 10 notches past original maximum and the machine hasn't blow up yet, and finally my gaggia is close to the 25 second mark without having to tamp to high heaven (although still applying 40lbs). Was in the high teens for extractions with six notches past original max. Will let you know if I have any problems....
Bought from Creativecooking.com as part of a package. Ordered at 3 p.m., arrived in Toronto at 10 am the next day & because company is Quebec based, avoided paying the PST. Part of package that included free little frothing jug (perfect for steam-limited gaggias) and cups (nice bonus). Arrived safe & sound via FedEx. Very well packed.