This whole recent set of purchases started because of a shameful screw up by me.
I had a cheap Italian-made conical-burr grinder that I bought shortly after buying the Capresso machine I've reviewed on this site. It produced reasonably good, fairly consistent grind, although it was incredibly loud and hard to clean. One day, in a hurry, I was cleaning it and had it apart, but the top cone of the grinder screwed back into place without the step-catch. Of course, I'd forgotten (moron that I am) to unplug it. And yes, I bumped the switch. The motor ran exactly long enough for me to hear the crunch as the upper cone cracked when being driven hard against the whirling lower cone. Oops. (I can't review that grinder, because I threw it away before coming upon this site, and I don't remember what make it was.)
Well, you can't make reasonable coffee without a grinder. So I started researching, which is how I came to find this site.
I spent a great deal of time choosing between the Mazzer Mini and the Macap M4. I figured that, if I was going to spend the money on a decent grinder anyway, I might as well buy something I'd probably not have to replace in my lifetime (especially if I somehow managed to remember to unplug the power next time).
The old grinder was a simple hopper/grinder/chute affair that was made of plastic. It tended to have static, which meant that something close to 20% of the ground coffee went everywhere. I decided, therefore, that only a doser model would work for this. My wife loathed the other grinder because of the coffee-waste-everywhere problem.
From careful reading, it seemed that there was wide consensus that the Mazzer and the Macap both offered very high build quality and excellent adjustability and performance. I ruled out a Rocky because of the issue of noise. It looked to me that the Macap would fit nicely under our unusual over-counter cabinet. And then I found the short hopper option for the Mazzer.
Unfortunately, without a lot of time to go and try the grinders somewhere, I decided I had to do this all on the basis of reviews. I discovered that a local shop that I like, the Green Beanery, was selling the short-hopper Mazzer stepless in a package with a Rancilio Silvia. Since I needed a new espresso machine, too, I went for it. I've listed as the price the one they charge for the grinder on its own, but I paid $1,123.95 Canadian (about par with US that day) for the Mini and Silvia together.
The unit they were selling was one with a timer. I didn't care about the timer, but it was ok with me. I bought a black one.
We don't really drink anything except espresso-based drinks, so we are happy to have the doser and don't care about the ease of re-setting adjustments.
The unit comes packaged extremely well, which is (frankly) nice to see when you are shelling out this much for what is, after all, just a kitchen appliance. It's also very heavy: in the event your roommate ever uses up all your coffee, you can slug him or her with the grinder and ensure that such calamity will never happen again. The adjustment ring appeared to have been set up correctly before packing. I played with it a little, and after about a day I had it set where I wanted. I went through most of a pound of coffee doing this, however.
For such beautiful grinding, I'm quite surprised at how quiet it is. Very nice, that feature.
I'm of two minds about the doser. It is way cleaner than the old grinder was. Because we're not a busy coffee shop (although with this grinder, my consumption is rising pretty steadily), it's silly to keep the doser full. What I usually do is run the grinder, dosing out constantly until the filter basket is just shy of full; then I stop the timer, and empty the doser. This keeps a minimum of ground coffee sitting around in the doser.
The doser is sort of a pain to clean, because of the finger guard. You could leave it off, as I know many have done; but we're wimpy in my house, and afraid of whirling blades close to fingers. Especially because some of us are morons and forget to unplug appliances when cleaning them.
The timer switch is cantankerous. When you turn it on using it, sometimes the machine cuts out even though the timer is still going. You have to bobble the switch to make it go again. I contacted my vendor, and their service guy told me that they all do this. It seems like a remarkably shoddy part on a $500 coffee grinder. This detail is the reason I rate the quality and value as low as I do.
The adjustment is sort of hard to move. My wife has some mobility difficulties, and she finds it more or less impossible to make adjustments. Once the adjustments are set, however, it seems to be unnecessary to fiddle, so this seems to be a minor issue for the kind of use we have in mind. If you made many different kinds of coffee, and needed to do a lot of adjusting, I think the infinite adjustment this offers would be very nice; but you'd probably want to mark your "usual" settings with a sharpie, because the adjustment ring is a little hard to read (it's just embossed numbers in the metal).
By accident, we initially got the standard hopper. With that installed, the machine looked kind of silly in our kitchen -- it looked like it was in the wrong place. That might have been because of where we had it. The short hopper looks just right, though.
We don't generally use the attached tamper, so I can't speak about how well it works (we have a little hand tamper instead).
The above reservations aside, it's still the best coffee grinder I've ever used. The main problem with having such a good grinder is that I notice poorer grinds in restaurants and coffee shops. And, you know, that's such a big problem to have. Yep, criminal politicians, global warming, not quite perfect coffee grinds: I got all the big problems.
As an aside, many thanks to the previous reviewers on this site, without whom I'd never have made a decision.