Even my wife's glad we spent the money on a decent grinder.
Positive Product Points
Great espresso! Low noise Relatively little mess Looks great
Negative Product Points
Still figuring out how to adjust the doser volume
I was first introduced to the MACAP through Mark Prince's review on Coffeegeek. I upgraded my espresso machine from a Starbucks Barista to an Isomac Millenium a few months ago, and discovered that the Barista's pressurized portafilter was compensating for some pretty lousy coffee preparation on my part (using an in-store grinder, mostly). The Millenium was bringing out some undesirable flavors and bitterness, probably due to more efficient extraction. Attempts to use the dreaded blade grinder produced basically undrinkable swill.
At about that time I started reading Coffeegeek regularly and realized that, true to what people were saying, the grinder makes a big difference. I managed to convince the family finance minister that spending an exorbitant amount of money on a coffee grinder would be a good thing to do...an amazing feat in itself. But really, when you consider the cost of buying a mediocre latte or espresso every day, home espresso has a great payback period. Plus, it's a really enjoyable hobby and a great addition to the entertaining we do.
I had no experience with good quality griders myself, but by relying on reviews I narrowed my choices down to a Mazzer Mini and the MACAP. I figured I probably wouldn't go wrong with either.
I did some shopping around (see below) and wound up getting the MACAP from 1st Line. My wife rolled her eyes when I set it up on the counter next to the Millenium but MAN, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! All of a sudden the bitterness was gone from my espresso shots, and true to what the geeks on this site say, nuances of the coffee flavor emerged (making me consider buying better beans, but that's another story). No question buying this thing was the right thing to do.
Operationally, the MACAP is straightforward. The manual, as you should expect, is of minimal use. It includes a diagram describing how to adjust the doser volume, but I haven't gotten the hang of it so far. One thing to pay attention to is on the grind adjustment, counterclockwise is finer. I started with the adjustment collar at 6 (facing the front of the machine), and so far it hasn't been more than a couple of clicks in either direction to dial in a grind. I don't miss having stepless adjustment at all, and in fact a stepped adjustment should be an advantage in going back and forth from drip grind to espresso.
There's been a lot of discussion about doser vs. doserless, and it was a consideration for me since my house isn't an especially high-volume operation. In fact, though, the doser is very convenient, and the MACAP sweeps it quite clean. I only grind as much as I'll use in a session (3-4 servings) and the doser works fine. I suspect that it's neater than a doserless grinder; if you don't slam the doser lever back and forth Iron Barista-style the grinds drop more or less straight down into the portafilter. I also took the finger guard off to facilitate cleaning.
The other nice attribute is that the MACAP is really pretty quiet. I can't compare to the Mini because I've never heard one, but operating the grinder certainly doesn't interfere with normal conversation, for example.
Overall this was an excellent purchase. I'd do it again in a second.
I shopped around extensively on line and in person for this grinder. I'd never bought from 1st Line before, so I queried their sales rep about product, price, delivery, etc. Emails were answered instantaneously and the information offered was very valuable. I did the same thing with several other sites offering the same grinder, including companies I'd bought from previously, and did not get the same level of responsiveness. I ordered from 1st Line and the grinder was delivered just as promised, in great shape. I will definitely patronize them again.