For the price and intended purpose, KitchenAid's KCG200 Retro Burr grinder is definitely adequate, suitable and easy to use.
Positive Product Points
KitchenAid's Retro Burr coffee grinder [model #KCG200] is very rugged in design. The 200 Watt motor easily and quickly goes through beans without any signs of slowing down and getting tired. Once set to the desired granularity, the KCG200 grinds coffe to a consistent level. For those that care about aesthetics, it has a nostalgic look which make it possible to use it for decoration as well. The product's heavy body construction adds to the overall stability but perhaps not enough so as to prevent accidental knock down.
Negative Product Points
The glass bean hopper is made from glass adding to the product's aesthetics but unfortunately also renders the product useless should it fall over and break. Setting the grind level is more difficult than most coffee grinders but this may be a function of its rugged construction. Conversely, once set, it will not easily slip into an undesirable grind setting inadvertently.
Out of the box, the factory settings will probably satisfy majority of the brewing needs for many people. Several people complain that the 'finest" setting is not adequate for espresso - it's a matter of opinion, taste, and experience. If the factory setting is not adequate for the consumer, Erik Francey made an astute observation which makes if very easy to modify the quality of the grind to satisfy espresso brewing. Rather than repeat Erik's suggested innocuous modification, it'd be better to read his post directly: Click Here (www.coffeegeek.com)
Again, people criticised KitchenAid's design that the coffee grinds require to be expelled horzontally instead of a more vertical drop that many other grinders do. The short time I've had it and the few times I've used it, however, I don't view this is as a problem... at all! It is an unfair criticisim. The grinder has a round cover of the orifice through which the grinds are expelled. If left to its own devices, true - the cover does cause some ground to be trapped inside the shute but not that much so as to cause a serious problem. On the other hand, by simply lifting up the cover just a little during the grinding process, the grinder's 200 watt motor easily expells nearly all the grinds. I've also noticed that when I 'assist' the machine in this manner, the motor appears to speed up ever so slightly - i.e. it seems to work less hard. If nothing else, it gives me slightly more 'control' over the process.
I bought this to replace a Solis Maestro Classic which broke down after only three (3) months of use. While too early to tell, I suspect that the KCG200's rugged construction and 200 Watt motor will probably give me more use from this machine compared to the Solis and an older KRUPPS burr grinder I had years ago. Prior to the Solis, we were using KitchenAid's blade grinder [model #BCG100] which too comes with a 200 Watt motor. We still have the blade grinder - it's as strong as ever. So if the BCG100's motor is any indication of reliability of KitchenAid's motors they place into these products, then I'm confident that we will get years of service from the KCG200 as well.
My greatest and only fear is that it might tip over and break the glass bean hopper. If I had my druthers, I'd prefer a rugged plastic construction for the hopper. I can live with the small glass grind catcher it comes with. For that, I can use nearly anything in its place - which by the way is another plus in my opinion. Most grinders' plastic catchers take a beating as people fight against the static electricity in order to empty the grinds from the catcher.
My experience with the machine reveals the following:
1) If is quieter than most coffee grinders 2) Has much stronger motor taking it far less time without (motor) fatigue 3) Provides excellent grind consistency 4) It does NOT make the purported mess that people say it does