Why is the 'Bottom Line' the last thing we write but the first thing we read? Anyhoo, in 4 words: DO SA LESS, Great!
Positive Product Points
Doserless which reduces the build up of excess ground coffee. This is particularly relevant for a low(ish) use grinder. Stainless steel finish looks good. Small footprint. Hopper is small enough to hold beans for about 4 double shots - reducing the need to have beans 'exposed'.
Negative Product Points
Plastic lid and hopper - feels quite flimsy and grind adjusting ring quite difficult to adjust. Horizontal outlet results in residual grounds which have to be shaken out. It is quite light meaning it can move around quite a bit.
I had been looking at grinders for a while, and had spotted this one on an Australian online retailer’s website. The price of about $250 (Aust) was quite reasonable, and, after reading the generally positive reviews on CG, had convinced myself that it was the grinder I wanted. After an unsuccessful attempt at bidding for a Mazzer Mini for about AUD 300 on ebay, I decided I would get the Isomac.
The first issue I noticed was the stiffness of the adjusting ring, and the fact that it had a cover on it with the grading markers/numbers. What this meant was, when I first tried to adjust the grind, I had to remove the hopper, THEN remove the ring cover and try to adjust the grind. The result was that the numbers now may or may not correspond to the correct grind setting. I get around this by moving the grinder all the way to the finest setting (where it thankfully stops) and then adjusting back a few clicks. The other problem with this is that I can not adjust the setting without removing the hopper (particularly painful if it is full of beans).
In terms of the grinding itself, I believe it is quiet enough, definitely not super fast, which I think is a good thing, and I don’t get much spillage, given the lack of doser. The Saeco machine I have has quite a small portafilter (diameter), which means that the grounds will sit quite tall in the basket when grinding. Fortunately, the chute channels the grounds to form a ‘peak’ that a few knocks will settle down without much wastage and mess.
Others have commented on the horizontal chute that results in residual grounds. There are two ways I deal with this: firstly, after I have made the final coffee, I just pick up the unit and shake it over my knock box. Alternatively, the next time I use it, I run the grinder for a few seconds to effectively eject the old grounds into a container to throw out. In the end, I might waste up to a table spoon of grounds.
I believe it grinds very uniformly, the adjustment is becoming easier (although I still have to remove the hopper to adjust the grind, which is my biggest problem), and I can grind for each shot (I cringe when I buy a coffee from a café where a doser is full of old grounds). Whilst my espresso machine is far from high end, I can easily adjust the grinder to ‘choke’ the machine. I guess I would like some smaller increments on the grind setting.
In the end, I am happy with the grinder for my use, I think the price was very much worth it.
I bought this machine from Cosmorex Coffee in Canberra, Australia. The chap there: Provided good advice on grinder options; Didn't stock this one and actually had it brought in for and delivered to me with no cost; Gave me a kilo of beans (beautiful roast); Provided a great price.
Three Month Followup
After 3 months (and 1 week), the good points remain:
-Great looks; -Consistant grind; -Easy to clean; -Relatively quiet; -Grind to the cup is still a major positive.
The negatives are:
-Largish increments for the grind settings; -Can not adjust grind without removing hopper; -The small gap between the hopper wall and the inner guard over the burrs means that sometimes, particularly with slightly oily beans, the beans can get stuck meaning the burrs are spinning without any beans (horrible high pitched whirring sound). I get around this by removing the lid and stirring the beans with my fingers whilst grinding – perfectly safe.
Overall, I still love my grinder – I believe it a very good entry level grinder below the Rocky and Mazzer style grinders (which are at least double the price). So, when I upgrade to a Giotto/Tea/Diadema, the chrome looks will match beautifully.