Expect big improvements in your espresso when moving up from a Solis or Rocky to a Mini!
Positive Product Points
The mini is an exceptionally well built grinder, producing a very uniform grind, quietly and quickly. From it's heavy guage power cord, to it's push-button on-off switch, to it's pf fork, everything about it is heavy-duty. Like all the Mazzer line, it's lines are simple and graceful, making any espresso machine look good just sitting next to it. It's doser works smoothly and solidly. The large, round grinds-catching tray under the doser catches most of the stray grounds, making it a less messy grinder than many.
Negative Product Points
I'd like the grinds catching tray to have a more more positive connection to the grinder--I fear the tabs that hold it in place will be the first things to go. Though the grinder works as well or better than any other I've used, it still could make a cleaner sweep of the dosing chamber.
Mine is a Rio branded Mazzer Mini, in silver, and without a timer. I've had it for just a bit over a month now, and I have been absolutely amazed at the improvement in my espresso.
Prior to getting the Mini, I was grinding with a Rancilio Rocky and a Solis 166, using a Rancilio Silvia and S24. I noticed improvement in my espresso when I went from the 166 to Rocky, but it wasn't dramatic. However, when I got the Mazzer, the difference was amazing. I got that heavy, honey-like flow from the pf on 9 of 10 shots! With the Rocky, it was maybe 1 in 4. The texture of the espresso is different, with more body, and the espresso is sweeter. My espressos became much more consistent. I can pull two espressos in a row that taste resonably similar! The improvement is equally noticeable using either the Silvia or the S24. And there's definitely a bigger improvement in the bump up from Rocky to Mini than in the bump up from Silvia to S24.
I have worked on larger Mazzers, and we had a Mini in the shop, so I knew what to expect in terms of build quality. The Mini is every bit as solid as its bigger brothers, virtualy identical, just scaled down in size. In home use, I really don't expect that I can wear out this grinder.
I really like the push button on-off switch. It has a great feel, and looks cool , too. But I still wish it had a timer. It grinds fast, and I frequently let it go on a bit too long, wasting beans. I will add an external timer as soon as I get a chance.
The grind seems to be very uniform, with very little dust. I also notice no clumping of the grinds as they come out of the shute ito the doser. Both the Solis and the Rocky left little shute-shaped clumps. John at ESI says clumping is indicative of dull burrs, so maybe it will start making clumps after the edges wear a bit. The micrometrical adjustment makes fine-tuning the grind a breeze, though a worm gear like on the Swift would make it even better.
I wholeheartedly recommend the Mini, or whichever grinder of the Mazzer line best suits your needs. I've worked with a number of grinders, including Swifts, and I haven't found one I like better.
I work for Coastal Caffeine, which sells and services coffee equipment on the east coast. We were at the Atlantic City Coffee Fest, and the Great folks at ESI had it on display with the whole line of Rio branded Mazzer grinders. They gave us a great deal on it, so it didn't have to be shipped back to Seattle. Not only did I get a great deal on an excellent grinder which I've been wanting for a long time, I got it from the Espresso Gods themselves, the folks at ESI, while having a great time at the Coffee Fest. What more could you ask for in a buying experience!