This grinder was bought as part of a package that included the Pasquini Livia 90, Moka grinder, and stainless steel two drawer base for $1615 direct from Pasquini in Los Angeles. On going prices via the web are $419+ all the way to $560. Given its price, one must have an espresso machine in the same price stratosphere. Seems that the grinder should be about 1/3 the cost of the system and that is the ratio with a Rancilio Silvia and Rocky. It would probably make little sense to spend more on a grinder than for the espresso machine. That said, the probable buyers are those who do not have a high end grinder, such as the Rancilio Rocky, and are buying the Livia 90 simultaneously. It is simply a matter of eliminating the variables of the grinder so that one can then concentrate upon the dosage and the tamping. The height of the stand alone grinder is 15.5 inches, meaning that it will barely fit underneath the standard 16+ inch space between the kitchen counter and the bottom of the cabinet. With the two drawer stainless steel base (4 inch height), one will have to either construct a custom space for it or put the entire system on a cart or table with nothing above it. Although the Moka grinder comes with a built in plastic tamper, it is my opinion that it is just not up to the task. For one, diameter wise it is too small at approximately 54 mm. That is considerably smaller than the Livia 90 portafilter that requires a 58 mm tamper. This presumes that one wants very concentrated shots that are Schomer-ish in density. No doser is going to be very practical for home usage, unless one is continually drawing shots. The doser requires itself to be filled so that there are even doses. But the doser is adjustable and measures by volume. For grinding on a shot to shot basis, this is not all that practical or important. You just overfill the portafilter and then level it off with your finger. This sort of setup is more conducive to never changing the beans. Even if one doesn't change the beans, it is really necessary to completely clean out the grinder in between espresso sessions. As it is with a shot to shot grinding, it will be necessary to brush out the accumulated grind that is sitting in the chute prior to dosing. If one decides to fill up the doser, then there could be significant variations in the weight of the dose because the fine grind can absorb moisture. That variation could be up to 2 grams in the double shot portafilter basket. There seems to be a tendency for the grind to clump up when just sitting there. Of course, if you are really fast, the weight of the grind compacting itself can be negated. If one were to change beans during the same espresso session, then it would be quite a hassle because one would have to completely clean out the grinder and its doser. For that, one needs a grinder brush or something equivalent such as one of those glue brushes from True Value @ $0.19. You can never get all of the fine grind out of the doser, even if one assiduously brushes and tries to coax it out via multiple flipping the doser lever and brushing the floor of the doser. Then there is the matter of the grind that is left in the parallel mill bur area. It isn't much and it is not nearly as a fine a grind that comes out of the chute. Probably weighs less than 1 gm, but it must be removed. That requires either a vacuum cleaner suction or putting the grinder on its side and brushing it out. Even then, there is going to be residual grind in the chute that may take two or more flips of the on/off switch to completely flush out into the doser. Even then, there is probably still a very thin layer of grind in the chute between the burrs and the doser that is inaccessible. Use an oily bean and I have no idea how one could clean it out, unless one were to completely disassemble the unit. The additional grind that comes out has a fineness of what is thrown into the doser under normal usage. This cleaning out procedure probably takes two minutes or less.
My characterizing the built in plastic tamper as inadequate assumes that one wishes to push the envelope of performance of the Livia 90. The viable options, if one is going to hard tamp, are either the Schomer Ergo packer or a Reg Barber tamper or something equivalent and 58 mm in diameter. Otherwise, consistency becomes a problem from shot to shot.
The numerical values on the ring of the grinder go from 0 to 25. These are relative numbers and not comparable from Moka grinder to Moka grinder because they are not in synch with the threads. One must then do one's own calibration by trial and error - draw shots and look at them and probably time them to fall into some range. The instructions with the Livia 90 indicate a shot time from the flip of the switch of from 18 to 20 seconds. There is no reason to restrict oneself to these values. The common wisdom is a shot within a 20 to 28 second window. The termination of the process is determined by sight. Different beans may have different grinder settings for a variety of reasons. So that this is not something that one can just set and forget about it. This is another reason to grind from shot to shot so that one can adjust the grind dependent upon the shot time interval. The grinder is not infinitely variable, but seems to have half stops between numbers, meaning that there are 51 possible grind settings. I would hazard a guess that the range that one is going to use may be only three or four half stops max. A full two half stop adjustment (one interval, say from 4 to 5) is quite large and will definitely affect the shot timing, if it comes out at all or pours out like a waterfall!!
It is simply not practical to use this grinder for more than espresso. If one uses a French press or a vacuum pot, it is just a lot easier to have a grinder that is devoted solely for that purpose. Aside from changing the numerical value on the ring, there is the multiple flippings of the dosage lever.
The quality of the grinder is equally as important as the espresso machine. For Livia 90 users who wish to eliminate the grinder variable, this certainly fits the bill. Along with the Livia 90, the Moka grinder is another one of those pieces of equipment that one will probably never have to be replaced in home usage. Fixed, yes, because everything eventually wears down.